Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolutions - the "To Do" List for the first week of January

So the Christmas decorations are starting to come down and the world’s attention is turning to the celebration of the new year. With New Years people frequently turn their attention to the Harbour Bridge, Big Ben or Times Square.


I really do have to ask, why? I looked it up and found more than 20 different “New Year” type celebration’s throughout the whole year from varying cultures and countries.

At least, the central message of Christmas is the initiation of a new order, a new kingdom in the world: the kingdom of God characterized by peace but also by justice.

I think the largest part of the New Year’s celebration the process of making resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions: to make them or not to make them? That is the question. The dilemma of this annual ritual, is more or less, the process of remembering the glories and follies of hope. Perhaps it is more effective to think of the New Year is a moment of looking forward, of imagining things anew, of committing ourselves to a grander vision of life.

I know there is someone who will keep his resolutions this year. Remarkably, and without fail. He has not failed for a long time. He was there when I needed to open my heart and receive hope. He was there to hear my confession of sin. He kept his resolutions, down from last January and indeed from the beginning of time, and I have all certainty that in 2012 he will do the same.

As we move into the New Year and take stock of the world in 2011, making our resolutions to be thinner, fitter, better people, the most important New Year’s resolution we can make is to remember the message of justice that shapes the Christmas story and to resolve anew to participate in the work of God’s kingdom, striving for justice and peace in our still imperfect world.

So, even though I may forget my good intentions or plans on any given day, and may be tempted not to bother, God’s resolutions give me hope. I know I will forget and mess up and get lost and despair this year, and surely January expectations will not carry me through to December. But I know that god will not fail me. I will be able to pick myself up and start again.

It is actually nice that New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday. Each Sunday I have the opportunity to start over, seek god’s mercy, and work towards being a better, stronger, nicer person.

Maybe I can grow a bit kinder, a bit holier, a bit steadier. Maybe I can be lifted up when at the point of despair. Maybe when I remember God I can be refreshed like by a New Year party, full of fireworks on TV and friends and countdowns, for God will be ever fresh, ever youthful and hopeful, and I get a chance to start anew each time I repent and turn to Him again.

So this year, rather than New Year’s resolution I will be making Sunday resolutions. I’ve decided to make my journey to betterment more in bite size pieces. My hope is that is will make it possible to be better, fitter, happier and maybe even thinner by December 31, 2012.

Book of Mormon Study - 2 Nephi 4

Lehi counsels and blesses his posterity—He dies and is buried—Nephi glories in the goodness of God—Nephi puts his trust in the Lord forever. About 588–570 B.C.


I love this chapter. It makes Nephi so real to me. He saw angels and had visions- but he had frustrations and disappointments. He was hard on himself. I can relate to that.

But I love that he doesn’t let negative feelings drag him down. He turns to God because he trusts him.

This is what I’ve learned: God’s word lifts the pure in heart, yet annoys the wicked. God’s word reminds them of truths they already know, yet refuse to agonize. I’ve come to the conclusion that anger is a sin. It leads us away from God. Sin is a state of mind – a state that keeps us from feeling God’s love. Anger is a waste of time and energy.

Don’t get me wrong, I still can get plenty mad. However, I am practicing keeping anger at bay. I am practicing letting go and trusting God more.

I call this chapter Nephi's joy prayer- because that's what I feel when I read it. He has such a love and testimony of the Lord and His goodness. He knows where he receives his strength from. He demonstrates just how you can let go of anger and embrace God’s love and peace.

Of course verse 34 is one of my favorites: Oh Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever.

It has been said that the hearts of men will fail them. Partly because they lack the faith in God that Nephi had.

Like Nephi I pray that my heart does “not slacken my strength because of mine affliction… may the gates of hell be shut continually before me…[that] I may walk in the path of the low valley… [that I may be] encircled around with the robe of [His] righteousness… [that He will continue to show me] mine escape...”

What did you learn today? Tomorrow is a conference talk. Happy New Year! May you continue to read with me. And just think, you now have a jump start on Sunday School reading.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 2 Nephi 3

Joseph in Egypt saw the Nephites in vision—He prophesied of Joseph Smith, the latter-day seer; of Moses, who would deliver Israel; and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. About 588–570 B.C.


Short and sweet today:

A couple of things struck me today.  First, in vs,. 12, that the Bible and the book of Mormon work together to "confound false doctrine and to lay down contentions, and establish peace."  In vs. 17 I am reminded that there is power in studying and using the scriptures.  And finally, in vs. 19 "the words which are expedient in [God's] wisdom" are the words recorded in the scriptures.  That means that every word has meaning and has been chosen carefully to give us the most bang for the buck, so to speak.
The second thought was this: "And out of weakness he shall be made strong."

Sometimes I feel pretty weak. It's comforting to know that if I strive to be obedient that through the Atonement I can be made strong in my weakness.
 
That's it for today.
 
What did you learn?  Not much commenting going on.  I'd love to hear what others are learning.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 2 Nephi 2

Redemption comes through the Holy Messiah—Freedom of choice (agency) is essential to existence and progression—Adam fell that men might be—Men are free to choose liberty and eternal life. About 588–570B.C.


What an amazing chapter! Spiritual and temporal death, the Atonement, agency, The Fall, mortal probation and more! This is SO my FAVORITE subject. Ask anyone who really knows me. I obsess over The Plan!

What amazes me even more is the answers that I find to my everyday life questions here in the Book of Mormon.

For the past couple of years I have struggled with “letting go” of my son. He is rude. He hurts others for pleasure. He is angry. He lives to tease and to make his younger sisters scream.

I pray earnestly to find the answer; a way to help bring the peace into the home; a way to bring my son back to the Savior.

So many answers are found in this powerful chapter.

vs. 2 I read this as if I were the parent talking to my youngest child: "And now, Lilli...behold in your childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of your siblings. Nevertheless, Lilli...thou knowest the greatness of God; and He shall consecrate thine afflictions for your gain. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed..."

It hits me hard. I don't need to act like a referee. I don’t need to drag people up the street to church. I need to teach my family more about the gospel, about God, so they can learn from their experiences and not resent them. I need to practice what I preach. I need to live gospel principles and allow them the freedom to choose as well… no matter how hard it is.

Of course I'll have rules, guidelines and boundaries in place, but when they grow up in the light of the gospel they will see things differently… even if it takes a life time and beyond. Their afflictions can be consecrated for their gain. The gospel gives purpose and perspective to pain.

The rest of the chapter covers all the things that my children need to know: the need of a Savior, the blessing of agency, the purpose of this life.

Vs. 3 reminds me that I need to teach my kids to serve.

This is The Plan… in a nut shell.

Vs. 4 reminds me to teach my kids the true nature of God. God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. His purpose has always been the same; to bring to pass our eternal life and great happiness. All laws, rules, and ordinances have been designed and set into motion to fulfill His goal for us and to give us great possibilities and opportunities.

Vs. 4 also reminds me that salvation is freely offered to everyone. It is up to us to accept or to reject that gift. This is GRACE. Salvation is free; we can’t earn it! We CAN ACCEPT it through obedience.

Vs. 5 reminds me of a principle of agency; All men taught good and evil! God gives us all knowledge needed to return to Him and to make choices.

Temporal law came into effect because of the Fall of Adam, which subjected all mankind to physical death. Spiritual law includes the commandments of God. All people suffer a spiritual death (separation from God) as a result of not keeping the spiritual law completely.

Something else to consider is that another name for Christ is the Law or the Lawgiver. In that case (looking to Christ) the law gives us the map back. The Law guides. However, commandments and laws don’t save us.

Vs. 6 reminds me that Christ is the way to salvation.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ frees all of mankind from the effects of the Fall and provides a conditional escape from the effects of personal sin. As Lehi told Jacob, “salvation is free” (2 Nephi 2:4). We are not saved because of any act of ours but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

There are requirements we must fulfill, however, to receive all of the benefits of the Savior’s Atonement. Lehi said that salvation is granted only to those “who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (v. 7). If we would claim the conditional benefits of Christ’s Atonement, we must exercise faith in Him sufficient to repent of all our sins. There is no other way to receive the full benefits of this redemptive act. (See Book of Mormon Student Manual [Religion 121–22, 1996], 23).

Vs. 8-10 remind me of the role the Savior pays as the Redeemer of the world. Only through Christ; through His merits, and mercy, and grace can we gain salvation… that He laid down His life for the sins of the world… that He took it up again and to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead… that He makes intercession for all… that He is the judge… and that all actions have consequences affixed to them.

The chapter then explains the Fall and the reason for the Fall in The Plan.

The fall of Adam and Eve resulted in the ability to bear children in mortality and introduced opposition that allows us to do good. It was a necessary step. There had to be choices; there had to be opposition. This is the next great principle of Agency.

Vs. 11 Lehi taught his sons that the following principles are needed for man to exercise his agency: Law, opposition in all things, knowledge of good and evil, and how they are necessary for our agency. Watch for ways our use of agency affects our freedom.

Vs. 12-13 reminds me of the principle that without The Plan, without agency, without God, there is nothing… including us. I wish I could help my son truly understand this principle. He wants to have it both ways. Can’t happen.

Pres Benson taught, “Opposition provides choices and choices bring consequences - good or bad.”

Vs. 13 reminds me of another great principle of agency. Without laws, we could not progress because we could neither keep the law and be righteous nor break the law and be wicked.

Happiness is righteousness, and we know what righteousness is: Righteousness is obedience to God's law!

Vs. 16-18 reminds me that of the role of the Advisory. Do we need Satan? No.... Our Father's Plan of Salvation does not call one. Heavenly Father didn't need or call for two volunteers... He only needed a Savior. The Plan ALLOWED for a Lucifer, but did not DEMAND a Lucifer, so we can do very well without him. The Lord needed a world where the full effects of the law (consequences) would not immediately fall upon us. In other words, we had to come to a world where agency allowed us to choose right or wrong WITHOUT rewards or punishments always coming immediately following the choices we made. If I have agency and law, then I have opposition... for I will see both the good and the evil of the choices I make.

Vs. 5, 18, and 26 remind me that knowing good from evil gives us the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, which is necessary for us to be accountable for the use of our agency.

Vs. 16 and 26 reminds me that God has given us the power to choose.

Vs. 26-30 reminds me that by making correct choices we keep our freedom and are not restricted by the consequences of sins; by making wrong choices we must be acted upon by the punishment of the law, which is captivity.

Vs. 27 wraps all the principles of agency into one nice package. It reminds me of the following story: There was an incredibly large group of people assembled: on one side of the group stood a man, Jesus, on the other side of the group stood another man, Satan. Separating them, running through the group, was a fence.

The scene set, both Jesus and Satan began calling to the people in the group and, one by one, each having made up his or her mind, each went to either Jesus or Satan.

This kept going, and eventually Jesus had gathered around him a group of people from the larger crows, as did Satan. But one man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and just sat down on it. Then Jesus and his people left and disappeared. So too did Satan and his people. And the man on the fence sat alone.

As this man sat there, Satan came back, and appeared to be looking for something that he'd lost. The man said, "Have you lost something?"

Satan looked straight at him and replied, "No, there you are. Come with me."

"But," said the man, "I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor Him.

"That's okay," said Satan. "I own the fence."

I wish I could help all my loved ones understand the principles of agency. This is one God’s greatest gifts! I struggle to allow my kids to choose. I have hope that it is what He wants me to do.

What a blessing the scriptures are! Through them I gain peace. Through them I gain the strength to let go and to allow God to work miracles in the hearts of those I love. How grateful I am for the answers God gives me through them.

What did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book of Morman Study 2 Nephi 1

Lehi prophesies of a land of liberty—His seed will be scattered and smitten if they reject the Holy One of Israel—He exhorts his sons to put on the armor of righteousness. About 588–570 B.C.

As Nephi brings his family to this new promised land (the Americas), he wanted them to understand, we must understand, that there is a law associated with living in this great land. The law is this: Because it is a land of promise, when one accepts the blessing of living in such a land, one must agree to live by the rules of that land (rules made by God, not by man). It is a Land of PROMISE... You accept living on it with a promise... God says, "I promise you things and you promise Me things." America becomes a covenant land!

Vs. 6 - The Lord has let Lehi know that, "I direct and control, largely, who comes and inherits this land."

Vs. 7 - Consecrated = especially set aside or dedicated for sacred purposes

"You never need to fear losing your freedom, for you will always be free..." (Before the first shot was even fired during the Revolution 1812, it was already decreed who would win war! During the years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union never was a threat to America! ) BUT!!! ... If you ARE brought into captivity and lose your freedom it will be because of iniquity!"

vs. 10 - The word "dwindle" is an interesting word. It seems to suggest a slow moving away from... they slowly lose their righteousness. The Book of Mormon is a message to our own day and time. When we look at v10 we ask, "Where do we stand as a nation today?" I find the answer is scary.

Vs. 12 - visitations = the sending of punishments; events that demonstrate God’s judgment.

Remember this is father Lehi’s final pleading with his family before his death. He is giving a deathbed sermon. He’s pleading with them. He feared for their well being.

Vs. 14- Arise from the dust and hear the words of a trembling parent! Lehi saw the destruction of his own descendants- his family. And he was staring at the two people that could have, if they had faith and simply obeyed, changed all of that. Laman and Lemuel could have softened their hearts, and changed the lives of thousands upon thousands of their descendants. It's no wonder Lehi spoke with such passion, such emotion, that caused him to tremble.

But, even though he knew, alas, his words were falling on deaf ears, Lehi had the eternal perspective. He understand that, regardless of what anyone else does in his family- or the world, past or future for that matter- that HE was redeemed, and that HE was loved.

Lehi understood that he couldn't control his children. But, he was still responsible to teach them.

Lehi also understood that the only thing he could truly control was his own standing before the Savior.

So, even though he was on his death bed, he had two rebellious and angry sons who had already plotted to kill him at least once, and his posterity would be decimated, he knew he was encircled in the arms of his Savior's eternal love- and there he found his peace.

But- he still kept trying to teach his children and be obedient himself until the day he died.

What a great example to me- and one I needed to read about this time in my life. My kids are getting older and are making choices of their own. It was easier in some respects when they were younger and I could just tell them what to do, what to wear and what to say. I had so much more control over them. (I can have my delusions can’t I). I was secure in that, because I kept them happy and safe.

But, they are older now and making more and more choices on their own. Many of those choices I don’t agree with. There is a part of me that wants to keep that control, to keep them happy and safe. But, they are becoming their own people and must choose for themselves. If I take away agency I can no longer claim my own faith in God and in His plan.

That is terrifying to me.

It is hard for me to let go. It's hard for me to see them make choices I wouldn't necessarily have made for them, choices that bring themselves pain and sadness… and pain and sadness to others.

If only they would listen to the words of a trembling parent!

There are days my heart breaks and I water my pillow with the tears of “what if…”

But, I take heart and find peace in knowing that all I can do is be obedient and teach them. In the end, I will stand alone to face my Savior and will be accountable for MY actions, not theirs (if I have done and taught all I could.) In the end, are accountable for who we will be when we stand before Him.

And, in the end, they will face Him alone, too. Although, I promise, I will be waiting on the sidelines offering all the love and encouragement I am allowed to give.

I feel a connection with Lehi on those parental grounds

Vs. 13-15 - Wake up, this is important stuff, it may not be exciting stuff, but it’s important stuff. He had seen the vision of the destruction of his posterity. But there still is a chance.

The scriptures often use sleep as a metaphor for being spiritually lazy. Sometimes prophets, like Lehi to Laman and Lemuel, have to use frightening images of chains and hell to roust us from our spiritual slumber. Laman and Lemuel were physically present but in spiritual la-la land when Lehi Tried to wake them up (Bytheway, 5 Scriptures, p 122-23)

Vs. 21 - This verse is my favorite. This verse is the message I want my own son and my grandson, to hear and to take to heart.

What is a REAL man?

Well, the world projects lots of images of what it thinks manhood is.

What about the "slam dunk man”? We see athletes on the fields or on television and try to be just like them... Kids are lowering their basketball hoops so that they can slam dunk like the star athletes... even worse, people are lowering their standards in attempt to follow the examples of misguided idols.

What about "the Marlboro Man" image? Do you realize that the Marlboro Man commercials was the most successful add campaign of the century? Compare the Marlboro Man to the Pillsbury Dough Boy... Hmmm.... which is more macho?

What about "the Coors Lite / Bud Light man" image? The world would have us think that REAL men drink swear, and fight) The world would have us think that Stalone, Norris, Schwarzneger, and Van Dam are the REAL men we want to be like... the fighting, guns blazing kind of men.

What about the “MULAN” man? The world also defines manhood as being men who conquer women. Many teenage young men feel the need to prove their manhood.

Brother Brad Wilcox says that working at the college he sees a lot of young men trying to project what they feel manhood is. "Real men don't have nerve endings anywhere in their bodies... Real men wear dark sunglasses ... even at 6:00 am... Real men don't wear shirts... Real men have a lady's garter hanging from their rearview mirror... Read men play loud music..." And we see these little boys trying to appear as men and laugh to ourselves and say... "Yeah! Now THERE goeth a real man!" But sometimes, some of the manhood images the world projects are more dangerous and cause serious destruction to the soul. But now, we will see the final message which Lehi gives to his sons Laman and Lemual before he dies... Father Lehi is going to give us one of the best definitions of manhood in all the scriptures.... He's going to tell us what a REAL man is! ...

Vs. 21 How old are Laman and Lemuel now when Lehi says this to them? They are married and have children. THEY measure manhood by age, but manhood is not measured by age.... Manhood is measured by character! When he tells them to arise from the dust... what dust is he probably referring to? The dust in the scriptures usually is symbolic of the dust of Babyon! A REAL man shakes the dirt of the world off of himself. This goes hand in hand with the idea of washing the dust from your feet.

Also in v21, the boys are told to be determined in one mind and in one heart. REAL men have a full and determined commitment - a SINGLENESS of purpose - to God and His plan. The aura of manhood in the world is that they have to be independent of everyone else..., be kind of a rebel... Those who behave like this are really little boys using a crutch of manhood.... they are trying to appear manly. But Lehi says, "Don't be someone who has to go off and try to prove himself independent... Become united, at one, with God!"

Vs. 23 - REAL men are aware of God's purposes - they're not apathetic, but are spiritually awake. REAL men put on God’s armor. REAL men accept His protection, coverings and counsels. REAL men overcome captivating habits, whether they be drugs, pornography, a bad temper. The devil says it's the evil man who is different… come forth out of obscurity. C. S. Lewis, in rebuttal would say that all bad men are so boringly alike. Lehi says, "Come out of obscurity! Let your light shine before men and be a model of goodness! Be willing to stand up for what you believe. Don't sink into obscurity!"

Vs. 24 - REAL men don't rebel against others whose views are glorious and who keep God's commandments... rather, they FOLLOW them! REAL men are instruments in His hands.

Lehi pled with his sons to awake, “put on the armor of righteousness” and to “rebel no more” (2 Ne 1:23-24).

Being awake has many advantages over being asleep When we’re awake, we hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost and can benefit from divine direction in every area of life. The words of the prophet are heard and seen as the divine counsel they are, when we are spiritually awake.

I do love Mulan’s version of a MAN (with a twist of my own).

To the men in my life I wish to plead,

Let's get down to business - to defeat the wrong,
Do you think it takes nothing to defeat the throng?
You're the saddest bunch I've ever met
But you can bet before we're through
Mister, He’ll make a man out of you

Tranquil as a forest
But on fire within
Once you find your center
With God you will win
Shake off the dust, put on the armor of God
And you will finally get a clue
Somehow He'll make a man out of you

Commit to God’s plan, His work and His love,
Say goodbye to those things that hold you down
Be an instrument in His hand
Rise above and don’t look back
Awake! And start right now!
Overcome the natural man, god will show you how!

(Chorus:)
Be a man
You must be swift as the coursing river (Living Water)
Be a man
With all the force of a great typhoon (rolling forth of the Gospel)
Be a man
With all the strength of a raging fire (the Spirit of God)
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

Time is racing toward us till the time arrive
Heed my every command and you will survive
With me you're suited for this war of wars
So ARISE, I will help you through
YES! I can make a man out of you?

“Be a man!”

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 22

Israel will be scattered upon all the face of the earth—The Gentiles will nurse and nourish Israel with the gospel in the last days—Israel will be gathered and saved, and the wicked will burn as stubble—The kingdom of the devil will be destroyed, and Satan will be bound. About 588–570 B.C.


1 Nephi 22 is Nephi’s commentary on the words of Isaiah found in 1 Nephi 20–21.

OK- this is why I totally love Nephi. Don’t feel bad, none of Nephi’s brothers understood him and they had lived only about 100 years after Isaiah! They had to come and ask what the heck Isaiah is talking about.

Nephi responds with what sounds almost Spock-ish (logically speaking) with a 'well, it appears that...' and goes on to explain the last two chapters in simple terms that they (and many others) get. Love him!

vs. 1 he reminds us that God always provides a way to understand that which is revealed.

vs. 2 he reminds us that we need to seek the Spirit because all things are made known through the Spirit.

vs. 3 he explains that the things found in the scriptures pertain to multiple levels… both temporal and spiritual.

Vs. 10 we are reminded that His power will be visible and his truths will be more evident.

Vs. 16-25 remind me that Righteousness destroys Satan’s power. In fact, righteousness is the only weapon of choice. We come unto Christ through obedience and in turn he gives us hope, strength, love and direction. I think about that a lot these days. The world seems to be destabilizing beneath or feet. It is a scary feeling. But, then again, I remind myself that I know the Rock upon which my faith is built- and it is eternally firm. If I stand in holy places I will not falter. Righteousness of the people bind Satan! We can bind him personally for us today!

I know that I will be preserved eternally, come what may here.

I have a Savior and I need not fear (verse 22.)

I love the prophecies of the latter days. It's an exciting time and I love being a part of it!

I love being part of the gathering of the four corners (even if it is just my own little corner.) It makes me feel connected to Isaiah, and to Nephi, because they both prophesied about me.

Nephi ends the chapter humbly by reminding his brothers that it's not just he and Lehi that have prophesied. But he points the attention away from himself back to the scriptures.

Then he ends with a promise- even to Laman and Lemuel, telling them that if they are obedient and endure to the end, they, too, can be saved.

And thus it is.

What did you think/learn today?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Salad Days 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, and 269

Sunday, December 18, I had a salad with salad greens, leftover chicken, and honey mustard dressing.
Monday, December 19, I had spinach, feta, and honey mustard dressing to go with my Cranberry Chicken.

Tuesday, December 20, I went out to McGraff's Seafood restaurant because we were Christmas shopping.  This was my salad with my grilled salmon dinner.

Wednesday, December 21, I was still busy with Christmas projects.  I got a Chef's salad from the grocery store.  I did need to pick off all the cheese.

Thursday, December 22, we had this salad with dinner.  It was fairly basic, but yummy.

Friday, December 23, I had a taco salad with lunch.

Saturday, December 24, we had this lovely green salad with our Christmas Chili.

It's a good thing because this was breakfast.  LOL.  Don't worry.  All wheat and milk free.

Sunday, December 25, this was the salad we had with our ham and potatoes dinner.

Today, December 26, I made this salad for dinner.  I used salad greens, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, salami, feta, carrots and creamy Greek dressing.  It was a yummy Mediterranean type salad.

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 21

The Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles and will free the prisoners—Israel will be gathered with power in the last days—Kings will be their nursing fathers—Compare Isaiah 49. About 588–570 B.C.


Isaiah is hard to understand for so many. I believe that many get frustrated because they know that we are supposed to study his words, for they are great, but it's difficult to understand, what with desolate places, kids on shoulders, and nursing fathers.

I think that's why I love Nephi so much. He glories in plainness. President John Taylor once said, "It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it."

Truth be known, I think Isaiah actually does that. I think it is us that complicates the lessons. He was brilliant. He is the most quoted Old Testament prophet. Even the Savior Himself quoted Isaiah and said that we should study and understand his words. His prophecies a tapestry of images and pros.

Sometimes I think Isaiah is a little like understanding a foreign language. It's beautiful- but I have no idea what they are saying. So, often, I have my study guides (interpreters) and they help me out :) I now have come to a point where I can begin to see the imagery on my own. Yeah!

Here are a couple things to remember as you read the words of Isaiah as quoted by Nephi:


1 Ne 20/Isa. 48 - About the Jews/House of Israel
1 Ne 21/Isa 49 - About the Israelites in America
1 Ne 22 - commentary on how the gospel will be restored.

So the first clue is to check 1 Nephi 22 if you don’t understand something in 1 Nephi 20-21.

1 Nephi 20
Vs. 1 swear = make covenants, promise
Vs. 2 stay themselves upon = Rely on, depend on, remain faithful to
Vs. 4 obstinate = stubborn
vs. 5 don’t give credit to idols
Vs. 8 treacherously = dishonestly, without loyalty
Vs. 8 transgressor = one who breaks the commandments
Vs. 13 Spanned = Reached across
Vs. 19 Seed . . . offspring of thy bowels = Descendants (children, grandchildren) (Eludes to Abraham’s covenant.)
Vs. 21 Clave = Split

1 Nephi 21
Vs. 1 the pastors of my people = leaders
Vs. 1 called me from the womb = foreordained me in the pre-mortal life
Vs. 6 light to the Gentiles = example to the Gentiles

Old Testament prophets sometimes used the language of legal contracts or treaties to talk about sacred covenants. The material in 1 Nephi 20–21 can be compared to a contract the Lord made with Israel and a lawsuit brought against Israel for breaking her covenant with the Lord.

The Contract
1. Preamble (1 Nephi 20:1–2). Hearken, O Israel, to the Lord.

As quoted in 1 Nephi 20:1–2, the prophet Isaiah chastised the house of Israel for claiming to follow the Lord without keeping His commandments. They felt that because they were His covenant people and lived in the holy city of Jerusalem, God would always protect them. Isaiah reminded them that it is not where you live but how you live that is important (see vv. 18–22). That same principle is true today.

2. Historical Review (1 Nephi 20:3–8).

In 1 Nephi 20:3–8, He cited some of those evidences and explained why those prophecies were necessary. From the beginning, God has revealed many events that would occur far into the future. One of His purposes in these long-range prophecies was to prevent wicked men from giving credit to idols or false gods for His marvelous works (see vv. 3–5). God has also revealed events that have occurred suddenly, so the wicked could not say, “I knew that” (see vv. 6–8).

3. Conditions of the Contract (1 Nephi 20:9–11, 14–15).

The Lord promises to defer His anger and redeem Israel from Babylon.

4. Witnesses (1 Nephi 20:12–14, 16).

The earth, the heavens, and Israel are called to witness what God has done and will do.

5. Curses and Blessings (1 Nephi 20:17–22).

The Lord contrasts the results of Israel’s wicked and righteous acts.

The Trial

1. The Summons (1 Nephi 21:1–6). God’s servant says “My judgment is with the Lord.”

2. The Plaintiff’s Charge (1 Nephi 21:7–13). The Lord declares that (unlike Israel) He has kept and will keep His promises.

3. The Defendant’s Plea (1 Nephi 21:14, 21, 24). Israel offers excuses for her lack of faith in the Lord’s promises.

4. The Judge’s Verdict (1 Nephi 21:15–20, 22–23, 25–26). The Lord assures Israel she will be redeemed.

Note that Isaiah sometimes speaks for himself, sometimes for Israel, and sometimes for the Lord in the first person. Because the speaker can change without warning, it is sometimes not immediately clear to modern readers who is speaking. The servant in these verses may refer to Israel or to Isaiah. However, both Israel and Isaiah serve also as types of Jesus Christ, and these verses are clearly Messianic. Ultimately, it is the Lord who issues the summons. We’d now like to have the plaintiff read the charge against the defendant.

This is what struck me today.

Verse 16. The Lord says, "I have engraven thee upon the palms of my hands."

Symbols of the Savior are everywhere in our lives. We should remember Him. He remembers us because he has us “engraved in the palms of his hands.” When I have taught this chapter to my seminary students, I drew a dot on the palm of their hand. I asked them to consider as they went through the day and see the dot on their hand, think of the Savior and think how often he must Be thinking of us.

It is a stunning and moving visual for me, and brings the Atonement to life. The Savior was a real person, who lived and breathed, loved and hurt, laughed and cried. He felt joy. And he felt pain. And he has done it all, in part, for me.

I am responsible for the marks in his hands.

That is a sobering and humbling realization and moved me to tears .

I love my Savior and am so grateful for his sacrifice for me. I feel unworthy (I am) yet grateful (I am) for the love He has and his willingness to have me engraven on his hands.

I am a part of Him now.

Where ever He is, He takes me with Him.

And that makes me want to do the same for Him. I can't engrave him on my hands, but I can on my heart, so profoundly and so deeply that even resurrection cannot remove it- only perfect it.

Thanks Nephi. Thanks Isaiah. That was a good read this morning and a great experience.

What did you think/learn today?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Moments

We have a tradition of putting all of the presents for one person into one box.  We didn't have large enough boxes this year, so most people got two.  Lillian opened her first box and pulled out a fancy new Sunday dress.  She didn't say anything and tossed it aside grabbed the next dress - a lovely black and white striped dress that reminds me of Wednesday on the Adams Family.  " I love it!" she screamed.  So much for fancy Sunday dress. 

Hannah got Loves potion lotion.  "Lilli, if I put this on and you smell me you will fall in love with me."  "Eww! I don't want to do that.  you're my sister!"

Lilli opened her present from McKay and flew off the couch creaming ":Barbie!  I got a Barbie."  It was a little "wind-out-of the-sails" moment though.  It was only Barbie clothes.  But it did remind me of when McKay got a Barbie horse and carriage when she was about the same age.  We got pictures of her going nuts.  sadly, no pictures of Lilli.  I can't find my camera and I even cleaned my room. 

John handed me a present that said "to gorgeous from sexy"  (I know.  Keep it together now.)  Chad said, "Who?"  John said, "don't worry.  She'll know who it's from."  Lilli exclaims, "Oh no she won't!"  Takes awhile opening presents when you are all losing it from laughing.

Hannah has this thing with laughing.  Watching Elf the movie with her is an experience.  Enough said.

I think her favorite present was an uke from Chad.  But she did nearly cry when the Jessops said they were all chipping in taking her snowboarding with them tomorrow.  Why is it the presents I slaved over never get the credit?  Oh well.  She's happy.

Everyone is singing "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."  "... to kids from 1 to 92...." Chad pipes up,  "Man, 93 year olds are totally screwed!"  Not my favorite choice of words, but it did break up the tension caused by slightly un-willing participants in family caroling. 

The most amazing this is Chad's ability to wake up when there is something in it for him.  Last night, true to form, Chad wouldn't go to bed.  He even announced that he wasn't going to get up until 11:45am because we weren't planning on doing presents until after church.  The girls didn't want to postpone everything, so we decided to open stockings before church.  John set his alarm and started the traditional Christmas music at 7am.  Chad hopped up.  He ran around the house gathering all the sisters.  He kept everyone moving and we got all the presents open and everyone (except Chad) ready for church on time.  What?  Oh.... and he has been up all day.  No naps.  What the heck?

McKay was handed a box.  "From mom and dad and Me?  Why is this present from me?"  John and I bust out in a rousing chorus of Happy birthday.  "OOOHHH!"  Yesterday I asked if I could borrow $100.  I sent her to the bank for it.  Back in October we had done nothing for her 18th birthday.  I know.  We are bad parents.  We just promised $100 toward a future laptop for college.  I found a great deal and so with Christmas allowance, birthday money and her money, I was able to get her that laptop.  We will never see her again.  She will stay in her room chatting with Myles forever now.

My favorite gift to watch her open was from my mom.  We weren't sure what it was.  "Maybe it's a dress."  She holds it up and models it.  "It looks a little like a jelly fish."  "I think it's a hat with Reggae braids."  She put it on her head.  "I'll call Grandam and ask her."  Grandam wasn't home.  Grandpa said it was a new fad in scarves.  She had made it.  "Oh.  I get it."  Good thing is wasn't a dress.

"I like my smells."  So glad she meant perfume and not the aroma wafting through the house due to the myriad of less-then-healthy foods floating around the house.

Kimber wanted my "Santa's-head-on-a-stick" my boss had given me when she was a baby.  I didn't want to give it up.  Hannah and I were walking through a craft store and we found a Santa head.  "Santa-head-on-a-stick!"  Done!  We were making one for Kimber.  Kimber started screaming when she saw it.  I think she likes it.  However, I think her favorite present it the car Yvonne and Isaac bought them.  They could use that.  Oh.  and the spa day Yvonne promised her.  My presents were mostly lame.  I'm a Santa head hunter!  Better run!.

Hannah found some great glasses for Ray.  They are a straw!  Ray put them on and demonstrated.  We all laughed and laughed.

So that does it.  Christmas and presents have come and gone.  We are now the proud owners of a kazoo, a foot tambourine, a uke, piano books, uke lessons, piano lesson, 8 movies, 2 cds, ankle weights, new clothes, roller blades, a couple books, tickets to Broadway shows, reading lights, new jammies, new socks, light up shoes, boots, church shoes, a laptop, make up, hygiene produces, water bottles, about 10 pounds of candy, more food than is legal, and an few extra pounds that will take months to work off... oh and I gave John a 3 day 2 night vacation for just him and I February 17-19.  :)

Love Christmas memories!

The Best Gift I have Ever Been Given

To my friends:


Today, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts regarding the Savior and what makes up 90% of me. I know I’ve shared it before, but I can’t help myself. How can I help from singing, baring testimony of the most important thing in my life?

This is what I have come to understand: God lives and loves us. I have been occasionally blessed with a small fraction of His love for each of you, my family and friends. These experiences have blessed me with greater knowledge of what love truly is and that He is concerned for each of us, individually and collectively.

I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that what he did in scarcely more than three decades of mortal life was not just chance. He chose to do what he did. He is no ordinary man. He is my Teacher, my Exemplar, and my friend. I believe that through Him there is life, life eternal. I believe that He brought the gospel of Salvation to the World and the World understood it not. He is God’s Almighty Son doing the work of his Father. He ransoms my soul. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Only Begotten of the Father. He is both God and the Son of God. He is Wonderful, Councilor, and Everlasting Father and through Him I find peace, hope, comfort and joy. No mortal standards can measure his stature and greatness. He is the promised Messiah. He is my Savior.

I know that Joseph Smith is His Prophet in this dispensation. I have been greatly blessed in my testimony of Joseph. I know that the words of John Taylor ring true. Next to the Savior, no one has done more for man kind than Joseph Smith. I know that he served well and was the instrument through which our Heavenly Father and the Savior restored the gospel in these later days.

I know that Christ has provided us help through a living prophet today.  President Monson is a prophet. I know that listening to and following his counsel can guide my family and me to safety and we will be able to return home. All Prophets plead for us to come unto Christ. That message will strike us individually, causing each of us to make a small change here and there, bringing us to one with Him.  I love to read their words!

In addition, I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that through reading, studying and ponder the words of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon I can draw closer to my Heavenly Father and to the Savior. I know other book that has the ability to speak to me, through the power of the spirit, as does the Book of Mormon. I also believe in modern revelation because I don't believe our Heavenly Father would leave us alone.

I often thank God for prayer and answers to prayer and for revelation. I believe that only true way to know how to understand is through prayer and personal revelation.

I have learned that the Savior needs each of us to deliver his message. He needs us to assist him in lifting the weary and the down-trodden. I have learned that we are vital to the process and must prepare ourselves to hear and then to follow so that we too can feel his love. I have learned that He is aware of our every need and that He indeed knows and loves each of us as individuals. I have learned that His love is beyond description. After make covenants through the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greatest thing we can gather on this earth is love of God and love of His children through obedience, faith, hope, and endurance.

I have truly learned from each of you. It is my honor to know you, to count you as family and as friends. What a blessing it is to celebrate the birth of the Savior! May God bless you and your families in this season and through out the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Book of Mormon Study - Conference Talk

Today I read the Conference Talk by elder LeGrand R. Curtis entitled Redemption.  This talk touched my heart.

He started his talk by reminding us of the many names we know the Savior by and how those names remind us all of the role the Redeemer plays in our lives.

The end of the talk gave example after example of tose who have experienced the power of the redemption.  My heart and mind turned to my loved ones that currently choose to reject the Lord and the love He extends to them.

It was a very humbling 30 minutes.

What conference Talk did you read?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Losing Chad...

To my recollection, my mom lost everyone of her children at one point or another throughout all the years that we all lived at home.  However, I think the child that was lost the most was my sister Anna.  She was left at the church countless times.  She was left at home.  She was even lost at the park on multiple occasions.  On time that sticks out in my mind was summer day of concerts at the park.  My mom made me (a teen) go to the police station to collect her.  She wasn't wearing matching shoes and she told the policeman that her name was Anna-Banana and that her mom's name was mom.  She was perfectly content sitting on the bench, feet swinging merrily, eating treats from a brown paper bag when I went to collect her.

I seem to have inherited the lose-your-kid gene from my mom.  The kid I lose the most is Chad... although, many of the times he's been lost is because he chooses to hide.  More than once he's been left alone at home.  Once, when he was about 9 months old, my friend left him swinging in the backyard swing while she ran to the store.  He was fine.  He was sound asleep in the swing.  A couple times we engaged the ward in looking for him, only to discover he was hiding under the trailer because he was mad.  Once, I lost him after lunch.  I called my friend and we search for hours.  We found him in bed, soundly sleeping under the covers.

He has been sleeping a ton lately... all day.  It would be the result of him staying up all night.  At any rate, yesterday he commanded me to wake him up every hour.  He didn't really want to get up because he said his eyes hurt.  Every hour I tried to get him up.  He kept sleeping. 

How he sleeps is beyond me.  We don't play nice.  We vacuum.  We play loud music.  We bang around in the kitchen.  We go in and out of my room all morning.  (For reason unclear to me he won't sleep in his room. He only sleeps in the chair in the family room or in my bed.  ARG!)  The dogs run and bark.  Case climbs all over him.

Around 1:30 in the afternoon I noticed he was missing.  I asked the girls if they knew where he went.  We all started yelling.  "Chad!"

We couldn't find him.

We looked in the bathrooms.  We looked in all the bedrooms.  We looked in the yard.  We looked in the garage.  We looked in the sewing room just off the garage.  We looked in the laundry room.

No Chad. 

I went back into the garage yelling his name. 

I was ready to call the Jessops to see if he was there.  He often just takes off these days.

Then I heard odd noises in garage but could see where they were coming from exactly.

Where was he?

I went back into the house.  There he was.

"Where were you?"

"In a sleeping bag on the mattress in the attic."

"What?"

"There's too much going on down here.  I just needed a nap."

Next time I lose Chad I'm starting in the attic.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

We didn't really make treats this year.  However, I got Hannah to make chocolate dipped Oreos and these stinking cute chocolate covered cherry mice.


Ok... the pictures don't do them justice.  But they were cute in person.  Trust me!

Surviving Santa

I still don't understand this whole Santa gets all the credit for Christmas present glory.  Seriously!  I'm pretty sure Mrs. Claus does most of the work.

This year I haven't really felt the Christmas spirit like I have in Christmas' past.  Perhaps it was the busy schedule.  Maybe it was the lack of caroling this year... the first year in 21 years that we didn't go caroling.  Perhaps it was because we didn't really make Christmas treats this year. or that my annual Christmas book (aka letter) wasn't done until the 23rd.

Maybe it was the crabby teen grumping because the rest of us wanted to listen to Christmas music and that he was "forced" to spend the day with his family.  It's not like I gave him any assignments, for heaven sake.  Maybe it was the the argument with the same teen that there is no way we could know that Jesus birth was a miracle.  Babies are born everyday.  "For all we know Mary lied about who the father of the baby was."  ARG!  Let me tell you.... there is no arguing with a heart that is slowly turning to coal.  Grinch!

Yup.  That is it.  I am having trouble "feeling" Christmas this year because my heart aches for what might have been and the contention that lurks in the family room.

How did Lehi and Sariah and Nephi do it?  I have Laman and Lemuel wrapped in one no-sleeping-at-night-beating-up-my-sisters-say-every-hurtful-thing teen living in the room next door.

Still... I gave it my best shot.

This year I made PJ's.  Every Christmas Eve we open new jammies, read the Christmas story; and drive to look at Christmas lights before setting out stockings and bed time.

The girls really wanted footie jammies.  I looked high and low and finally found a pattern that would work.  I didn't have time to bwgin sew until Wednesday evening.  Life had been crazy busy.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  I made it.  I get to go to bed at a decent hour on Christmas Eve.  Nice!

Even Benjermin fit into Kimber's jammies


This year we made jammies that Ray could actually wear.

I liked Lillian's pattern best.   They turned out super cute.

Here is the whole gang. 

I need to make a couple adjustments to McKay and Hannah, but they are happy.


We even made some for McKay's friend Myles.  LOL.

Now it's time for dancing sugar plums.  Something needs to burn calories... even if it's the sugar plums.

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 20

The Lord reveals his purposes to Israel—Israel has been chosen in the furnace of affliction and is to go forth from Babylon—Compare Isaiah 48. About 588–570 B.C.


I decided to read first today.... before I went back out to my Christmas Bat Cave to finish off Christmas projects.  This way I can avoid the lack of posting, or even worse, the lack of reading due to fatigue.  :)
In an effort to "liken" the words of Isiah I mark the following in 1 Nephi 20:

vs. 1 waters of Judah  = waters of baptism


vs. 4 thy neck is an iron sinew =  you are stiff-necked or proud

vs. 10  furnace of affliction = tests or trials

vs. 14, 20  Babylon = the world, wickedness

vs. 18  righteousness as the waves of the sea = continual or everlasting righteousness


I really am a little distracted these past couple of days. 

"No rest for the wicked."  LOL.

The last verse really hit me: The wicked have no peace. LOL!

That's something I've known- but to hear the Lord say it it seemed to sink in a little deeper.

What did you think/learn today?

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 19

Nephi makes plates of ore and records the history of his people—The God of Israel will come six hundred years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem—Nephi tells of His sufferings and crucifixion—The Jews will be despised and scattered until the latter days, when they will return unto the Lord. About 588–570 B.C.



First, I did read yesterday... it was just at O' dark thirty.  Trying to be the real Santa is exhausting!
What a great chapter filled with faith, obedience, record keeping (Scriptures), prophets, prophecies, protection from the Lord, the Savior, the house of Israel...Wow- who knew you could squeeze so many things onto a small chapter!  Amazing!


But - the thing that struck me were actually the first words of the chapter: And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did.  It goes right back to "I will go and do..."  I want this kind of attitude and reaction to what god asks of me.


Simple. The Lord asks and you do it.


You just do it when it comes to reading the scriptures with your family.  This chapter reminds me of the kind of effort God expects of us in regards to teaching gospel principles to our families.

Elder Carlos E. Asay:  “How many times have parents heard a son or daughter complain, ‘Let’s not read the scriptures. They deal with people of an ancient day and are boring.’ When complaints of this nature are voiced, it is likely that the parents have failed to do what Nephi did. Said he: ‘I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning’ (1 Nephi 19:23)” (Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home [1992], 39).

"Liken- ing" is hard... but worth the effort.

This list of questions helps me apply the "liken" principle.  Maybe it will help you.

QUESTIONS TO HELP US LIKEN THE SCRIPTURES TO OURSELVES



1. What significance does this particular event or principle have for me today?


2. If I were in this particular situation or faced with this challenge or question, how would I react?


3. What flaws or strengths would I find in my own character?


4. What do I learn about God and his dealings with his children from this event?


5. As I study the lives of men and women in the scriptures, what do I learn about the things that please or displease God?


6. Why was this particular concept, principle, or event included in the scriptures?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 18

The ship is finished—The births of Jacob and Joseph are mentioned—The company embarks for the promised land—The sons of Ishmael and their wives join in revelry and rebellion—Nephi is bound, and the ship is driven back by a terrible tempest—Nephi is freed, and by his prayer the storm ceases—The people arrive in the promised land. About 591–589 B.C.


This will be a short one-

I love how this chapter shows the symbiotic relationship between Nephi and the Lord.

The story of the voyage to the promised land can also be seen as a metaphor (symbol) for our earth life. For example, many people, such as Nephi’s brethren in 1 Nephi 18:9, concentrate on earthly interests and forget God and their dependence on His power.

In verse 10 Nephi speaks to his brothers and tries to help them change there behavior. It reminds me of the light of Christ or our conscience that pricks our hearts to alert us to the need to change direction.

The storm and the non-working compass remind me of how sin binds us and we begin to flounder in the temptations of the world around us.

We must learn to listen to and feel the Spirit.

The Lord showed Nephi form time to time what he should do.

Nephi prayed often to the Lord. Do we take time out to pray and have a relationship with the Lord we he can teach us?

Contrast with Laman and Lemuel - on a downward spiral of harder and harder hearts until past feeling.

The Lord showed Nephi great things.

I love the Lord. I love that He tells me what to do from time to time. I love how he expects me to work on my own from time to time. I love the direction He gives me and the freedom I have to follow it… or not… to succeed… or to fail.

I also love that when I search for Him, He is always there. I've seen great things. I've felt great things. I've done great things. And they have all come from Him.

What did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 17

Nephi is commanded to build a ship—His brethren oppose him—He exhorts them by recounting the history of God’s dealings with Israel—Nephi is filled with the power of God—His brethren are forbidden to touch him, lest they wither as a dried reed. About 592–591 B.C.

We have very little of their story in the wilderness. But the first two verses always get me! The women gave birth to kids in the wilderness, ate raw meat, and were strong like men.

Wow.

I won't complain anymore that my epidural wore off in the middle of labor, that I eat frozen ice cream, and am strong like my 8 year old.

Verse 3 is one of the "And thus we see" verses. I love them because they get to the bottom line: and thus we see that when people keep the commandments they are blessed. I can think of countless times when God has nourished, strengthened and provided for me and for my family. Although I must admit that I don’t always see His hand while in the midst of the trial. I am a work in progress. 

This chapter is also significant because here is where Nephi is the one that starts to receive inspiration from the Lord and lead the family. His father taught him well, and he is ready to take the reigns.

Verse 7 “… Arise, and get thee into the mountain.” This is a commandment to get to the temple. How many times have the prophets councelled us to go to the temple more often? How many times have I known that I needed to go to the temple to know the answers to a problem? I need to make a greater effort to go to the temple each month. It is onlt an hour away. What is my excuse? No excuse is a good excuse. Come Wendy!

verve 9 “whither shall I go?” god will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. I love that Nephi teaches us that we should ask “how” and “where” it is best to obey, then to get to work!

Verse 13: "I will be your light in the wilderness." The Lord is my light in all things. There are times when it's hard to see- and knowing that the Lord can shed light on things brings me peace, hope and joy. He also promises he “will prepare the way,” “… deliver… from destruction,” and “the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one.” Woot! There is hope!

Verse 30 Nephi reminds his brothers that the Lord was also the light to the Israelites in their journey, too. We too, should remember the lessons from the past.

Principles Nephi taught:

v. 35 Lord esteemeth all flesh as one, righteous is favored.
v. 36 - Lord created the earth.
v. 38 - leadeth away the righteous but destroy the wicked.
v. 40 - He loveth those who are willing to have him be their God.
v. 50 - If God command me to do all things I could do them. -

Nephi was past faith and had complete knowledge in God.

I LOVE verse 41: ...and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished. Nephi was speaking of the Israelites. All they had to do was look- and they still didn't. Living the gospel may not be terribly easy, but it sure is simple. And yet many don't do it. They complicate their salvation with sin, justification, temptation, guilt and excuses. Just Look!

This chapter is so full of wonderful things- but I think I'll stop here this time.

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 16

The wicked take the truth to be hard—Lehi’s sons marry the daughters of Ishmael—The Liahona guides their course in the wilderness—Messages from the Lord are written on the Liahona from time to time—Ishmael dies; his family murmurs because of afflictions. About 600–592 B.C.


Nephi’s brothers take the truth of this dream to be hard. Apparently, they don t like where they see themselves in the dream.

One of my favorite lines in the scriptures is in verse 2: "wherefore the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth the to the very center."

Isn't that the truth even these days?

If we were to put this into today’s terms it might go something like this:

“I speak to you today according to the truth in a language not familiar to me. Nevertheless, I trust you will understand these words and take heed.

You really need to get your act together! From what I can see, a good many of you are floundering. You sleep too much; you spend way too much time on this thing you call Facebook, not to mention, that thing where you sit for hours and chat with your friends texting. And what’s most abominable, I can see that your attitude towards your family is very negative and rude whenever anyone talks to you. What’s up with that? Sounds a lot like my brothers. What are you doing with your life? What are your goals? Are you reading the words of our Lord as found in the scriptures?

If we weren’t hard working and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, we would have perished right from the start. Yes, your life is much easier in many ways than ours was. Yet I perceive your life is also much the same. I see that many of you lose your way because doing the right thing seems hard and takes discipline. Yes, I see that Satan is working hard on this generation, and future generation, as he did on mine. You must trust my words of counsel and start living the gospel of Jesus Christ more fully today! I see now why the Lord commanded me and other prophets to write the things which my people experienced and learned; it was for you!

I hope I have written enough to help you learn from our mistakes. I exhort you to read my history, pray for help in keeping the commandments and gaining a testimony that this is the way you should live. If my people had been more diligent in doing this they would not have ultimately been destroyed. Nevertheless, there were many that did live righteously and we are rejoicing today in the kingdom of God. We are watching over you and some are literally fighting the angels of darkness for you at this time. God bless, and if you take these words to be hard, then I pray you will be humbled and start on a different course today. Your brother in the gospel, Nephi.”

The beginning of this chapter is a high-point for Nephi. He just received an angelic vision, he stood up to his brothers and they were actually listening to him. He got married. He had joy and great hopes at this time. Things were looking great for him...

Then the Lord tells them to pack up and leave it all behind- again.

Then- his bow breaks, his brothers get mad, even his dad- his leader and hero- began to murmur.

Talk about going from light to dark!

But Nephi stays faithful and is blessed. It's that faith the caused the Liahona to work again.

That's a perfect reflection of life: Things are going great, then we are tested and based on our faith, we are blessed by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, among other blessings.

It seems pretty clear as we read, but much harder in our world today. Lost jobs, sleepless nights,injuries, children straying and so forth.

Nephi teaches us that faith and enduring truly is the key.

President Thomas S. Monson taught this about on Our Personal Liahona: “The same Lord who provided a Liahona to Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage - not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. Every worthy member of the Church is entitled to receive such a precious and priceless personal treasure....

“A patriarchal blessing is a revelation to the recipient, even a white line down the middle of the road, to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness. A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities. I say eternal, for just as life is eternal, so is a patriarchal blessing. What may not come to fulfillment in this life may occur in the next. We do not govern God’s timetable. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

“’For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isa. 55:89).”

(Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light,” General Conference, October 1986; see Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 65-66)

When was the last time you read your patriarchal blessing?

What did you think/learn today?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 15

Lehi’s seed are to receive the gospel from the Gentiles in the latter days—The gathering of Israel is likened unto an olive tree whose natural branches will be grafted in again—Nephi interprets the vision of the tree of life and speaks of the justice of God in dividing the wicked from the righteous. About 600–592 B.C.


Finally!  It's taken me all day to get blogger to allow me to post today.

This chapter has too many things for me to focus on.  Here are a few of my crazy thoughts.

Verse 3- Nephi inquired of the Lord and received clarification. The reason his brothers were disputing (which men often when they try to clarify on their own) is because their hearts were hardened and they didn't turn to the Lord for answers.  The truth is there are just somethings that cannot be understood unless we study, ponder and ASK!  Only through the help of the Spirit we begin to see that god has for us to see.  It's not that God doesn't want us to think for ourselves- but there are certain things that we don't know unless we ask. We can only learn of spiritual things through the Spirit.

Vs. 4 reminded me that a man's character is his fate.  I best work on my character everyday.
In verse 8 he even asks his brothers if they inquired of the Lord.

Their response was classic: Well, He didn't tell us, so why should we ask.

Nephi reminds them: If ye have faith, and ask, you will get answers.

I think that's a great lesson for us these days.

vs. 21-32 have some great spiritual definitions that I hope everyone caught.
In all.... a great read.

What did think/learn today?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - Conference Talk

Today I read the talk, "It is Better to Look Up" by Elder Carl B. Cook.

I was impressed.

He quoted Pres. Monson, "It is better to look up!"

It is so true.  It reminds me of "choose to soar with the eagle instead of scratch with the turkeys."

I work hard at redirecting my focus.  I want to be known as a "glass full girl" not a "glass half empty" person.

"Believe in God; believe that he is...; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth."

I love how Elder Cook reminded me that following the prophet is a great way to start looking up.  No one has a better attitude than Pres. Monson.  He is the perfect example of "optimism, wisdom, and love for others."

If only I could develop his attributes.

If I wasn't trying to do better at looking up, I'd be all depressed at my lack of a "can do" attitude.

What talk did you read?

Primary Gems

Today I could barely get out of bed.  Every piece of me aches.  Working through Friday and Saturday has taken every ounce of energy I have.  I almost didnt' have time to eat or to drink water all day both days.  Friday started with breakfast for both seminary classes, moving the sound shell at the HS, driving kids around, and spending 7 hours outside on a cold foggy hill setting up and running the Stake Live Nativity.  Saturday I worked at the HS for 5.5 hours working on the set for Cinderella and then went to the Stake center to work on the Live Nativity and to take it all down for 6.5 hours.  I was exhausted and my feet hurt to walk on them.

It hurt to sit in Sacrament Meeting.  At least Janica Duncan and her sister helped make me smile.  Actually, it was my husband's "blonde" moment that got the smile. 

He leaned over, "They look like twins."

"They are twins."

"That explains a lot."

Turns out that they confused him a bit.  He had helped pass the sacrament.  His first pass he handed the tray to Janica in a red dress (her sister).  His second pass he handed the try to a lady in black and green outfit (Janica).  He was a little confused.

After Sacrament Meeting I headed to Primary.

We have a new Chorister.  Amanda always bring a smile.  Here are a few of my favorite "Amanda" moments from today:

"You are not leaving Primary until you know these songs so better start singing."

"Please sing a little louder.  I need something to help my mood since Kenna (her daughter) just took off her coat.... again."

Or the moment she took off singing without the rest of us and sang a little solo.  She hates that.

Or the moments when she mixes up the words in the song.

Or when she took the kids down the hall to "carol" the Bishop.  After that we got requests for "caroling" at other church doors.

My all time favorite of the day was, "You guys did so good I think I'm going to flash you."

Don't worry.  She only turned on her Christmas light bulb necklace.

Sure gave me a belly ache laughing.

She always says they are going to fire her.  There is NO CHANCE!  She is hilarious!

Salad Days 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, and 260

Saturday, December 10, I enjoyed a simple salad of greens, tomatoes, and feta cheese.  I'm finding simple is good... mostly because it's easier and I'm too tired to chop more stuff.
Sunday, December 11, I had the same simple salad... except I also added tuna.  Very tasty.

Monday, December 12, I enjoyed salad greens, tomatoes, and turkey bits.  I also tried a new salad dressing Mango.  Yummy!!!!

Tuesday, December 13, I enjoyed a salad with tortilla chips, salad greens, feta cheese, and salsa.  It was good.

Wednesday, December 14, I had an Italian salad with greens, tomatoes, olives, pepperoni, and everything free Ranch.

At dinner I had a Chinese Chicken salad.  It was a nice change.  I really should branch out more.

Thursday, December 15, I enjoyed a fruit salad from Safeway.  I'm just looking to mix things up a bit.

Friday, December 16, was a crazy day.  I only had time for a salad of spinach and Mango dressing.  It was a long day.  What can I say.Saturday, December 17 was also crazy busy.  I didn't have time for food.  Half way through the Live Nativity, McKay went to Subway and got me a salad with all the veggies, tuna and oil and vinegar. 
So, there you have it.  I am now caught up on my salad report.  As of today, I have 100 more salad before I complete my goal.  The count down begins!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 14

An angel tells Nephi of the blessings and cursings to fall upon the Gentiles—There are only two churches: the Church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil—The Saints of God in all nations are persecuted by the great and abominable church—The Apostle John will write concerning the end of the world. About 600–592 B.C.


Love, love , LOVE verse 1- if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks-

I have a lot of stumbling blocks. This is one of the greatest miracles of the Atonement: Not only has a provided the way for me, but He has promised to clear the way too IF I listen to and follow Him. This blessing is for everyone I know! I think that is so exciting!

I also love verse 7 when it talks about a marvelous work and knowing that I am a part of that- something a angel from heaven told Nephi two thousand years ago.

Verse 14: We are few but we are armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. Yay! That makes me feel strong :)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “There is only light and darkness; there is no dusky twilight zone. Either men walk in the light or they cannot be saved. Anything less than salvation is not salvation. It may be better to walk in the twilight or to glimpse the first few rays of a distant dawn than to be enveloped in total darkness, but salvation itself is only for those who step forth into the blazing light of the noonday sun (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 54).

It is like adding all the lights together to get one giant light.

Each of us adds to glory and brightness when we add them to others. It makes us stronger,

We all play a role in the building up of the Kingdom and bringing out God's plan.

What did you think/learn today?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book of Mormon Study - 1 Nephi 13

Nephi sees in vision the church of the devil set up among the Gentiles, the discovery and colonizing of America, the loss of many plain and precious parts of the Bible, the resultant state of Gentile apostasy, the restoration of the gospel, the coming forth of latter-day scripture, and the building up of Zion. About 600–592 B.C.


This chapter was full prophecy, scriptures, apostasy, restoration and so forth.

Nephi’s vision continues in chapter 13 with a prophecy about what will happen on the American continent after Nephi’s seed is destroyed. Notice how detailed and accurate this prophecy is. Notice also how much Nephi knew about the future of his people on the promised land before they even left the area around the Red Sea.

The part that sticks out to me in this chapter is how much is dedicated to the scriptures. That speaks to the importance of the ancient records. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Bible. I love how they work together to teach truth.

1 Ne 13:20-34 - Gentiles stumble when plain and precious truths removed from the Bible

What was lost? Moses 1-8 is JST of Genesis 1-8: nature of God, man; Mos. 1:41 (references to Satan only mentioned twice in Old Testament).

Nephi was shown how the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other scripture would come forth in the latter days.

I love that the Lord has planned from the beginning of time that I can hold these sacred records in my lap as I type on a computer about them. How blessed am I?!  Crazy!

What did you think/learn today?

Splat



My day didn't get much calmer.

Today was the first of two nights of the Live Nativity put on by our stake at the Stake Center in West Salem.  This year has been a  wild ride.  Lights have been lost.  Lights weren't up.  I only had 2 hours to put 1000's of lights in trees and bushes.  I needed to string extension cords and somehow get power all over the parking lot.

I was heading up the hill to the Stake Center when I saw the next weird event in my day unfolding before my eyes.

A beautiful hawk was sitting on the side of the road.  It spread it's wings and took flight.

"NO!"

There was nothing I could do.  Slowing down didn't even help.

Splat!

I was facing the poor thing, spread eagle across my windshield.

I heard it bounce along the top of my car.

 I couldn't stop.  There was line of cars behind me.

A huge smear impaired my vision. 

I pulled into the parking lot.

"Could my day get any weirder?" I screamed as I ran across the parking lot to my husband.  Really!  could it?

Busted


My son is in the middle of a rebellious streak at the moment.  We often find ourselves choosing our battles.  At this point, fighting a 16 year old over putting on a seat belt is not on the top of the list.... not when you'd rather get the kid to class.  Today was no exception.

Things were complicated a little because we had played musical cars in the morning.  McKay needed to go to work; John needed to go to work but also needed to go to North Salem after his work to get a Spider Box for the Live Nativity I was responsible for lighting tonight; I needed to cart kids and equipment around. At any rate, I wasn't really sure where my wallet ended up.

We hopped in the car; Me - without a wallet, and Chad - without a seat belt, and headed to the high school.

Chad was in a crabby mood.  He got up late, even after I had tried for an hour to get him to move.   He couldn't find his shoes.  He yelled at the rest of us for moving his choir music and then found it in the car where he had left it.   It was a good morning.

I was approaching the stop light at the corner near the high school when a police car passed me heading in the opposite direction.  I saw his light flip on as he flipped a "u-y" in the road.

"I wonder who he's after," I say. "I bet it's us."

Chad grabbed the seat belt and put it across his body.

I pulled into the parking lot.  The policeman was right behind me.

There we were right in front of the main entrance of the school.  All the windows facing us.  Tons of kids gawking at the excitement in the parking lot right out side the office.

The policeman walked up to my window.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?  Your passenger isn't wearing a seat belt."

"I'm sorry.  I asked him to when we left home.  I didn't notice he didn't do it until I was nearly here. He's a pain in the butt when it comes to putting on a seat belt.  Sometimes I just have to pick my battles.  Oh, and I don't have my licence.  I'm afraid it went to work with my husband this morning"

"I see.  How old are you son?"

"16"

"Do you have your licence?"

"No.  She won't let me."

I smile.  The policeman smiles.

I gave him all my information.  He wrote it all down.  He took all Chad's information too.  He went to his car.

"Can I go to class now?"

"NO.  Just stay put.  I will be a few minutes.  You will be late to class," said the policeman.

While the policeman did his thing in his car, Chad and I chatted.  He was pretty worried and was a little freaked out that I wasn't a little more freaked.  What's done is done.  Why freak?  I was a little sad about getting a ticket for not having a licence.  But I knew I was going to make him pay for the ticket for not wearing a seat belt.

After 15 minutes the policeman got out of his car.  But he didn't walk up to my side of the car.  He walked up to Chad.  He handed Chad the yellow ticket.  My name was no where.  It was all Chad.  I had to fight to control the giggles and the smile. 

"I told you," popped into my mind... but I didn't say it.

The policeman explained that the fine would be set at the court date and that Chad had to appear in person and was to bring his parent.  The ticket was for Chad. 

The policeman got in his car and drove to the other side of the parking lot.

Chad got out of the car and headed to class.

"This sucks!  You got off scott free."

He slammed the door.  I drove home smiling.