Monday, April 30, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 21

It's interesting how the Amalekite was defensive, basically asking Aaron, "Who do you think you are judging me? How do you know my intentions? You don't know me."

That sounds a bit like people today who are called to repentance... and get all defensive.

Aaron's response had nothing to do with their intentions. He went right to the gospel and what they believed. Then, he turned to the scriptures to teach them.

It's the best way.

Verse 15 kinda cracks me up. "...and thus they were delivered for the first time out of prison..." Poor guys! I wonder if they would have done the same thing if they knew how many times they would be cast into prison. I've heard people ask themselves that: If I knew this would be so hard I wouldn't have signed up for it.

I'm guilty of that.  I guess that is why we don't get to know the future.  We really do have to wade through the crap.

Well, we did sign up for this- and guess what- we kinda had an idea our lives would be this hard. Lol. Sometimes I feel like, if my life were scriptures, it would read "...and thus she was delivered for the fortieth time out of a wailing fit of tears and frustration..." Lol!

Of course there are a lot of other wonderful things in this chapter, but that's all I have time to write today!

What did you think/learn today?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 20

I've missed a couple days of scripture reading and blogging.  My problem is - if I don't do it first thing in the day I don't get around to it.  My days are filled.  My kids are coming and going. 

My exercise habit suffers from the same bitter reality.  Sadly, everything can't be done "first" everyday.  Something has to come in second.

So, today I repent.  Today I read Alma 20.

The first six verses are a beautiful example of faith. The Lord told Ammon where to go, and he followed the direction. Lamoni is one of my favorite people. He was totally excited to share the gospel with his dad, but when he heard Ammon had to save his brothers, he set his personal agenda aside to help his friend. After he decided to go with Ammon (and not because he thought Ammon needed his help- see vs 4, but he wanted to to do his part) he found out that Ammon receieved his direction directly from the Lord.

Lamoni did not doubt or second guess. He simply got his his horses ready and went with him.

I also had a few thoughts about anger as I read through these verses.  First, DANGER, DANGER!  Anger always harms others and yourself.  Second, the size of a man may be measures by the size of the things make him angry.  Seriously, anger gets you know where.  So, why do I always fall into it's trap?
I was also impressed with how love is what changed anger.  Love can overcome bitterness, hate, anger, and resentment.  Love can replace it with with peace, unity, and concern for others.  Ammon's example of love and commitment spoke equally with his word.  Love does change everything!
What did you think/learn today?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 19

The main purpose of this chapter is told in the last verse, "and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe in his name."

This is The Good News”!

One of Satan's greatest tools is to make people believe that they do not deserve to be forgiven. Shame and guilt are his greatest weapons (you could probably add fear to that, too). Perhaps one of the reasons this chapter is in here is to show that if a man like Lamoni could be converted and forgiven, any can be, by the power of the Atonement.

Vs. 5 is one of my favorite verses. If proves that God has a bit of a sense of humor. “he doth not stink.” LOL. I am the first to admit if someone smells. I’ve been known to ask someone to take a shower.

I also love in vs. 6 where it talks about the light of everlasting life. I could go on and on about light and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ- there are many correlations: they travel by light, they appear by great light, light fills people souls, it cleanses, it converts, etc.

This chapter is also a great example in scripture of how the faith of women changes a nation. First, Lamoni’s wife had great faith. She believed in the prophet and in healing power. Of her it was said, “there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites.” Second is Abish. So great was her faith that she ran to share the good news with others. She didn’t worry about what others might think of her. She just bore her testimony with boldness. As a result many of the people were converted.

So, what did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 18

I love this story!

In this story Ammon is a type of Christ.  He is faithful (vs. 2).  He preserves the flocks (vs. 2).  He has great power to contend against enemies (vs. 2).  He is an expert (vs. 3).  He has great strength (vs. 3).  He works hard (vs. 8-10).  He kept commandments (vs. 10).  He was filled with the Spirit (vs. 16).  "I will do" was his motto (vs. 17).  He knows all things through the Spirit (vs. 18).

I thought it was interesting in vs. 10 how Lamoni defined a faithful servant as one who "doth remember all my commandments to execute them." Exactness is hard to come by.  Sometimes we look at keeping the commandments more like a buffet and pick and choose which commandments we want to keep.  To follow all of the commandments- not just the ones that we like or are convenient, but all of them is the way to go.

It would be nice if the Savior can say the same thing about us that Lamoni said about Ammon, "surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man (woman); for even he (she) doth remember all my commandments and execute them."

To be more obedient we need to follow Ammon's example and ask, "What wilt thou that I should do for thee?"  "what desires thou of me?"

I love how in verse 17 Ammon shows his willingness to serve Lamoni in anything he desires "which is right." His dedication to choosing the right supersedes all- even a king.  "That which is right I will do."

When Ammon finally had King Lamoni's attention, he started teaching him based on their common ground: the Great Spirit. When a missionary or teacher takes that approach, they go on the journey with them and make it a positive experience, not an overwhelming one.

He went at the pace that was good for King Lamoni. He explained how the Lamanites got to where they were- cleared the air, so to speak. Then, in verse 30, he expounded on the Plan of Redemption. To be a fly on the wall for that conversation!

The Plan of Salvation is my favorite lesson! 

I can't wait to read the rest of the story tomorrow.

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Amla 17

Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah had parted 14 years earlier. Alma had spent much of his time preaching to the Nephites (Alma 1-16). The sons of Mosiah had spent 14 years preaching to the Lamanites in the land of Nephi (Alma 17-26). Their reunion must have been an emotional one. It would have been for me. Years earlier they had made a life changing decision to serve the Lord by taking the Gospel to the Nephites (including some apostate groups) and Lamanites. They had been truly converted after their experience with the angel (Mosiah 27). Although they had suffered many afflictions, they returned as seasoned men of faith and understanding.

During their “missionary reunion” Alma and the sons of Mosiah must have been fascinated by the growth and maturity they observed in each other. First, in Alma 17:2 we find Alma rejoicing exceedingly just to see his old friends. Secondly, he was pleased to see that they were still “brethren in the Lord” and active in the church. Third, to add to his excitement they had grown in their understanding of the gospel doctrines.

How did they do it?

They had searched the scriptures diligently.

They were prayerful.

They had fasted.

What were the benefits of all this? They had the spirit of prophecy. They had the spirit of revelation. They taught with power. They taught with authority.

Verse 5 "...they did labor much in spirit." I envision that to mean their fasting and praying, their angst for the sins of the ones they were teaching, and their patience in their suffering as they faithfully wait for God's will to take place. Sometimes we think that being righteous is a ticket to a blissful, carefree life. Though there is joy in it, living righteously is work- hard work. But what a wonderful work it is.

Verse 18: The brothers were "set apart" for their callings. Much like we are today......except we teach primary, not murderous Lamanites. Lol.

I love Ammom. His greatest joy came from being an instrument in the hands of God (which we will read mo about later.) There were many keys to his success:

• He wanted to serve the Lord.
• He was willing to do whatever the Lord asked
• He was humble
• He looked at others as his brethren, and loved them (even his "enemies.")
• He looked at the tragedies in life as opportunities

I'm not a personal fan of collecting severed arms. Picture the reality of that situation: the force and strength of actually chopping a man's arm off. The blood and gore, the strength and determination.

It was not the conventional missionary moment. He didn't sit down with them and say, "Hey guys, the Lord teaches us to be nice. Wanna hear about it?" Nope. He chopped off their arms. Sometimes the Lord uses us in unexpected ways to fulfill His purposes.

Regardless, Ammon did what he knew what right, and Monday we get to find out the fantabulous outcome!

What did you think/learn today?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 16

I guess it's true.  What goes around comes around. The people of Ammonihah- the ones that burned the believers- were decimated by the Lamanites. Every single one of them. It reminds me of the scripture that says that the adversary leads people way after him, but does not watch out for them.

I am also struck by the thought that faith in prophets and revelation show by Zoram in verses 5-7. He was the chief captain over all the armies, and because he knew Alma was a prophet of God, he went to him for direction from the Lord, then followed it.

How many times do I rely on my own understanding without counseling with the Lord?

How often do I think I know what's best?

Far too often... sadly.

The Lord gave us minds to use. He doesn't expect us to never make our own decisions. But, the greatest decision we could ever make is to turn our will to His will. As we do that and live His will, in time, our will becomes His as we become more like Him.  At least I hope so.

I love in the last verse it says "having victory over the devil." We are in a war against Satan. We often refer to the war in heaven before the world was... that war is still in full swing.  Only the battle front has changed.  We are still battling for our agency.  Our greatest weapons are humility and faith as we access the gift of the Atonement.

What did you think/learn today?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - conference Talk

Today I read Elder J. Devn Cornish  talk entitled The Privilege of Prayer.

I've always thought I'm lousy at prayer.  This talk really confirms this feeling.

I loved a couple of the principles of prayer that Elder Cornish shared:

God "knows each of us individually, and He loves us, everyone.

God will bless us with something as simple as a piece of chicken.

God "wants to bless you."

God will not "infringe upon our agency."

We must approach Him in an attitude of worship, recognizing His greatness and giving Him praise and thanks.

We must "freely acknowledge our dependence on the Lord and express our desire to do His will,"even when it's not the same as our desires.

We must ask for the thing we both want and need.  More importantly, we must be "honest".  Willing to commit and do my part.

We must approach the Lord in the spirit of repentance.  That repentance must be specific, profound, and lasting.

We must also forgive.  "We must drop the matter completely, letting the Lord take it from there, if we desire to be healed."

Prayer is a protection.

God really is in charge.  I don't control of anything.

We must "live" our prayers.

I have so much to work on...


“Et tu, Brutus?” was uttered by Caesar as he took in the depths of his betrayal by his own nephew. The assassins attacked Julius Caesar so savagely, that they themselves were injured in the melee.

The scene in The Sound of Music comes to mind where the family is hiding in the cemetery and all the gestapo leave except for Ralph. The family starts to leave and you think he is not going to rat on them and then he does.

Lady Macbeth happily jumps on the bandwagon to kill the king and take the throne. She has no qualms about the betrayal because it will lead to power.

In King Lear Goneril and Regan’s betrayal of Lear raises them to power in Britain, where Edmund, who has betrayed both Edgar and Gloucester, joins them. However, the play suggests that betrayers inevitably turn on one another, showing how Goneril and Regan fall out when they both become attracted to Edmund, and how their jealousies of one another ultimately lead to mutual destruction. Additionally, it is important to remember that the entire play is set in motion by Lear’s blind, foolish betrayal of Cordelia’s love for him, which reinforces that at the heart of every betrayal lies a skewed set of values.

William Shakespeare must have had some personal experience with betrayal. So many of his plays revolve around a betrayal theme.

It’s hard when friends and family betray each other.

As I’ve contemplated the results of betrayal on relationships, health and well being, and society in the past couple of days, I am also reminded of Judas’ betrayal of Christ. This infamous member of the Twelve Apostles betrayed his friend for money alone – thirty pieces of silver.

Betrayal happens when someone close to you (or you, for that matter) decides to throw you under a bus, in a manner of speaking, to achieve something they want for themselves. They don’t mind hurting you to get what they want. It happens often in this broken age. When Jesus told us that there was no greater love than one laying down his life for another, he meant my own!

Personally, I am struggling with my feelings when it comes to those who steal-behind-my-back-but-not-really-because-I-know-you’re-stealing. I find it hard to trust people. Between people who arrange for me to teach a student with the promise of payment that never comes (yet in loo of payment is willing to trash a reputation causing a lack of future students all the while taking advantage of free lessons), betrayal of values and faith, hiding and lies of indiscretions, the loss of confidences, I’ve come to the conclusion that very few people are trust worth (I guess, even me).

Most of the time, we are blindsided when a friend or someone we love betrays us because we don’t see it coming. That’s what makes it betrayal. That’s what makes it sting.

I struggle with this. Is the lesson to be learned to keep my mouth shut? Is the lesson to keep moving with my head down low?

Forgiveness is a unilateral process where we can truly take our foot off the throat of those we consider to have wronged us. Forgiveness does not exonerate the betrayer; it frees the victim from the ongoing pain of the other’s actions and opens the opportunity for us to find healing inside and the freedom to move on with what God has for us. But forgiveness is not just a choice of the will; it is a process where we bring out hurt and pain to the Savior and he works us through them to a place of true release and forgiveness. It may take a few months or even years, the trick is to not stop short of it being complete; to keep discussing it with Jesus as he untangles your hurt and leads you into a real forgiveness of others.

A part of betrayal I often over look is my limited field of vision. I have not walked in everyone’s shoes. I don’t always have all the information. I do not comprehend the big picture.

After the initial “letting go” process comes reconciliation. Reconciliation is a bi-lateral process that can only happen when both parties are ready to sit down and honestly explore each other’s story with a spirit of compassion and humility. It cannot be forced and can only happen when all parties truly value the relationship over anything else. It recognizes that the most important thing Jesus asked of us is to love each other as we are loved by him.

Reconciliation, too, is a work of the Spirit to prepare each heart to truly listen to each other’s story, laying aside our own assumptions and judgments, admitting our mistakes, caring about each other’s pain, and resolving any outstanding issues by God’s grace and mercy. Reconciliation heals the relationship and allows a friendship to grow onward.

I struggle with this too. I guess that means I am still human. It’s that letting go thing. Everyone I know is like this. LOL. At least I am not alone. I think it comes down to trust.

Neither forgiveness or reconciliation requires us to trust the one who betrayed us. It allows us to love them again, but trust, once violated, can only be won back by the demonstration over time that the person values the relationship above his or her own self-interest. We are never told to trust someone beyond our conviction that they will lay down their lives for us in moments of conflict.

I think I understand this, at the same time, I wonder.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 15

Alma must have identified with Zeezrom. They both had a history of fighting against the church, had amazing conversion stories and both did what they could to spread the gospel and repair the damage they caused... something I really don't ever want to identify with.

I was impressed with Amulek. He gave up his worldly riches for the word of God. Could I do that? I sure hope so.

What did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 14

In Alma 14 the story takes over the principles.

It's hard to imagine the level of evilness and cruelty of these once faithful people! It's hard to imagine being forced to witness this horrific scene.  It's hard to imagine Alma and Amulek, standing there, forced to watch it. Amulek wanted to use the power of God to try to save them, but Alma was told it wasn't to be.

Most of us tend to think of faith as an action word- because most times it is. But, in this case, they exercised enormous faith in their inaction. The Spirit of the Lord told them to stand by and let them die. It doesn't make sense...initially.

The Lord had His reasons, as he always does, one of which He shared with Alma: so they may witness against the men at judgment day. Can there be a crime if there is no victim?

Alma and Amulek knew the power of God could save them from an earthly painful death, but this power was to be stayed until later in the chapter, in verse 26, when they were given permission to use the unearthly power of God to break the bands that bound them. The power of God also shook the walls of the prison, crashing them down around the wicked and cruel perpetrators.

They had faith that God would work in His time through them.

Brings me to one of my favorite scriptures, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding..."

Richard G Scott said, "...every time you try your faith - that is, act in worthiness on an impression - you will receive the confirming evidence of the Spirit. As you walk to the boundary of your understanding into the twilight of uncertainty, exercising faith, you will be led to solutions you would not obtain otherwise. With even your strongest faith, God still not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow."

As we exercise faith in following the Lord's will four things happened:

1. The believers were delivered to the Lord in glory, never to be tormented again by unrighteous husbands and rulers. If you think about it- the kind of men that could do this, they were probably cruel to their wives and children in daily life.

2. They have righteous witnesses to stand against them at their judgment day, further ensuring their eternal (painful) reward.

3. The perpetrators were set up to be in one place at one time, to suffer and die in a most painful and terrifying way (earthquake, walls crushing)

4. Alma and Amulek's character grew. They had strong faith before, but because they exercised faith by following the impressions they received, regardless of how much it went against their desires, their characters became more like the Savior, their faith became stronger. And they were able to use this stronger faith to call down the powers of heaven to shake the earth, loose their bands and collapse the prison.

I know God has a plan for each of us. His plan brings us joy. But, there are times when He withholds our answers and desires- even righteous ones - until the time is best suited for our eternal benefit. Alma and Amulek are a shining example of that.

Amazing, amazing, chapter.

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salad Days 372, 373, 374 and 375

Saturday, April 14, I was boring... just plain salad greens.  Then I got busy.  I should have blogged my next couple of days as soon as I made the meals.  They turned out yummy!
Sunday, April 15, I made a spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and Italian dressing to go with Mexican rice and chicken cooked in green sauce.  It was a hit!

For lunch, Monday, April 16, H helped me make Zesty Chicken Soup.  It was a great way to get veggies in the day.  We placed about a pound of chicken (a quart of my home canned chicken), and 4 cups of water in a Dutch Oven.  We then added 1 onion all chopped up, 2 celery ribs, chopped, 3 tsp of minced garlic, 1 can of Mexican diced tomatoes, a jar of our home canned tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 cup of salsa, 3 medium zucchini's all chopped thinly, 2 medium carrots, chopped, 1 cup frozen white corn, 1 can green chilies, 3 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp basil.  We let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  I entered all the ingredients into a calorie calculator and found out it was about 200 for 1 1/2 cup serving.  Yummy!

For dinner we made coleslaw to go with creamy rice and fish.  I have to admit, we cheated a bit and used store bought coleslaw dressing to go with our cabbage.

Today, Tuesday, April 17 we made fruit salad with cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, and mixed berries.  I love a good fruit salad.  I can't wait until fruit is more in season!  Soon.  Very soon. 

I also made these yummy California Chicken Wraps.  For these wraps I put 1 TBS of hummus on a tortilla wrap.  Then I put shredded chicken, chopped roasted sweet red peppers, soy cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes and fresh basil on the wrap and rolled it.  Wow!  It was good!  The recipe book said that one wrap was just under 300 calories.  It was yummy and it was filling. 

H loved them.  She even took an extra one to choir so that she would have a yummy snack before play practice.  I have to admit.  This was the best wrap I've had in a long time.  We will be making this recipe again!

For dinner I made an Antipasto Salad.  I whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 TBS balsamic vinegar, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and set it aside.  Then I mixed 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, 1/4 cup feta cheese, 1 cup kalamata olives, 1/4 fresh basil, and 1 can of drained garbanzo beans in a bowl.  I added the dressing mix and let it sit for an hour.
I made Bacon-chicken sandwiches to go with the Antipasto Salad.  I made my sandwich on GF bread.  For everyone else I used those thin hamburger bun things I found at the store.  I baked the chicken after I smashed it between wax paper and sprinkled it with Cajun pepper spice. I also used turkey bacon to save on calories.  I assembled the sandwiches by putting 1 tsp of mango chutney on each bun and stacking the chicken piece, two pieces of bacon, a thin tomato slice, soy cheese, and baby spinach.  It was so yummy!  This is another repeat recipe!  Switching out a few things dropped the calories from 599 in the recipe to 470 calories.  Not bad!

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 13

Sometimes I wonder what would it have been like to hear Alma as he spoke these words. He felt it so passionately, to the point in verse 27 when he said it caused him anxiety even unto pain. I have felt that way when I think of my children. I want the best for them. I want them to happy, to make good choices, to receive blessings and have faith. I want it so bad it hurts.

But, Alma felt this for people he didn't know. Perhaps it’s a bit like when a Bishop says he loves each member if his congregation, or when President Monson says he loves and appreciates and prays for each member of the church (all 16 million of us.) Is it possible to feel that way for people we don't know, and perhaps never met?


Well, I haven't felt love for others I don’t know to the extent of Alma, but I have on a smaller level. It happens when I am sharing my testimony of the gospel and the Savior. It happens because I know how I feel, and I want that for the people that I'm testifying to. I want them to feel what I'm feeling. I want them to feel the Savior’s love… I especially want this for my family.

I know this feeling doesn’t really have anything to do with me. It has all to do with Heavenly Father allowing someone to feel the love that He has for someone else. I know I don’t really have the capacity to love that much. But I know God does! That's how I feel about my kids always (well, most always, lol.) And, when I open the windows to heaven as I testify (the same thing that happens to all of us when we testify of the truth) I feel it for others.

It's quite miraculous.

I also love the straight-forwardness of Alma. He wanted them to be humble and to have faith. He spoke of the importance of the Priesthood and of course, the Savior. He spoke of the love of God and repentance. It was beautiful exhortation.

What did you learn?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 12

Wow- this chapter covers judgment, works, probationary time, the Plan of Redemption, Agency, Commandments, Repentance, The Fall. AMAZING CHAPTER!!!!!!!!

Alma's purpose here is was two-fold: to establish the words of Amulek and to explain the scriptures further. Amulek got Zeezrom's attention, now Alma could go in a preach further.

The first part of this chapter reminds me that our thoughts can be made known to another by the Spirit. This discernment is a gift of the Spirit. Though Heavenly Father knows our thoughts, He respects our privacy and does not frequently reveal them to others. However, He does allow those who live in tune with the Spirit to be prompted in various ways to help others.

In verse 5 Alma tells Zeezrom something that is real- and very frightening. He says that t he devil "hath exercised his power in thee." It is a scary reality. I think we get so caught up in our own lives, saying that we can do what we want, because it's our life. But, what we forget it that God can work through us in our decisions, and so can the Adversary.

It's never just us alone. All of our choices and actions benefit ever God or the devil. Whose side do you want to be on?

It also strikes me that God is not the only one with a plan. Satan has a plan too! Check out verse 4-6. “… a very subtle plans to the subtlety of the devil… that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down according to everlasting destruction.”

Hmmm… If he has a plan we had all better watch out!

This chapter gives a beautiful glimpse into the purpose of this life. God's plan is so important that since the beginning of time he sent angels to teach men of His plan.

We are so blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much. He has given us the Plan of Salvation, and His Son. I read this chapter and I feel so blessed.

Thankfully, God reveals to us His plan. Sometimes we see revelation as the mysteries of God, something that is difficult to understand. But, mysteries of God means truths that are withheld from the world but given to the faithful through revelation (see Alma 26:22).

What must I do to learn the mysteries of God? (Alma 12:10–11) I harden my heart I receive “the lesser portion of the word” and if I soften my heart I will receive “the greater portion of the word.”

The Spirit will guide us as we diligently study the gospel and heed the truths we learn. The Savior set a perfect example for us in applying the gospel to our lives.

So much of who we are and how we live starts with what we think.

Elder Boyd K. Packer: “If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits—even degrading, personal habits. If you can learn to master them, you will have a happy life. I would teach you this. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. . . Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. . . As the music begins and as the words form in your mind, the unworthy thoughts will slip shamefully away” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 46–47).

President Packer: “The course of our mortal life, from birth to death, conforms to eternal law and follows a plan described in the revelations as the great plan of happiness. The one idea, the one truth I would inject into your minds, is this: There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy. Understand that and you will be better able to make sense of life and to resist the disease of doubt and despair and depression” (The Play and the Plan, 1–2).

The basics of The Plan are spelled out nicely in this chapter:

Although the veil prevents us from remembering our premortal life, we lived before we came to earth and we will live after we die.

Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind is lost and fallen.

Death was a result of the Fall of Adam and is a necessary part of the plan.

Earth life is a probation and a time to prepare to meet God.

If there were no plan of redemption, there would be no Resurrection.

All people will die and be judged.
God teaches the plan to His children according to their faith, repentance, and holy works.

God gave commandments after He taught the plan of redemption.

The Atonement of the Only Begotten Son is central to the plan of redemption. The Redeemer made the plan of redemption possible. The definition of redeem: “to buy back; recover; free from captivity by paying a ransom; rescue; restore; repair.”

President Packer: “Some are born with so little and others with so much. Some are born in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering. Some experience premature death, even innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We have seen a lot of that recently. Do not suppose that God willfully causes that which, for his own purposes, he permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven” (The Play and the Plan, 2).

What did you think/learn today?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - conference talk

Yesterday and today I read a conference talk. 

The first talk I read was Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit by Matthew O. Richardson.  This was one of my favorite talks in October, and not because I teach seminary.  I loved this talk because it was answer to how I could better reach the big C.

I need inspiration on how to be a "real" mom... and a "real" teacher.

I am searching for a way to teach him without restricting learning.

The "real" teacher is the Holy Ghost... even in and maybe especially in the home.  Parents "should not teach in front of the spirit or behind the Spirit but by the Spirit so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.

Reading this talk reminded me of the impressions I had in October when I first listened to it.  I needed change my way of teaching C and better emulate the way the Spirit would teach C.

I needed to remember that I am teaching a person not lessons or concepts. 

The Holy Ghost teaches the truth of all things, but He doesn't teach them all at once.  He teaches them one at a time.  I need to remember to teach the lessons that each child is ready for.  None of my children is at the same place spiritually.

I needed to remember to stop and listen... to more than just the words.  I needed to carefully observe and then discern what to do next.

The thing is, my first instinct is normally to fly off the handle, yell a little, holler some more, take away everything but bread and water, until I get conformity.

I needed to remember that reaching the heart of my kids needs to be by invitation, prompting, encouraging, and inspiration, not force.  Case in point... I finally changed the requirements to get a driving permit from complete church activity to just keep a clean room and sleep in your own bed.  Church was obviously not going to happen.  But I somehow needed to teach responsibility and a way to make it in the world as an adult.  It took nearly a year.  Finally, a clean room... sleeping in a bed and not the family room chair... and major attitude change.  Still no church, but I mom can hope.  At least we are moving in the right direction.

I need to remember that I can not do what my kids can do for themselves.  I can not feel for them.  I cannot learn for them.  I cannot act for them... I cannot repent for them.  They need to do it for themselves... even if it's hard on the mom.

I need to create an environment where we all learn to value, not just learn about values.  I need to help my family understand and live basic gospel principles.

I need to be "real."

Today I read Choose Eternal Life by Elder Randall K. Bennett.  This talk went so well together!

We are all "free to choose liberty and eternal life."

Sadly, we often think we can live IN both the safety of righteousness and the dangers of worldliness.

Elder Bennett reminded us that prophets teach by the spirit by inviting, encouraging, teaching, reminding and warning us.  They know our safety depends on choosing to follow the insights we gain in daily scripture study, pondering and prayers, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and the council of the prophets.

I had to make a self check with his suggested questions.  I've got some work to do.

I'm hoping that I can remember these lessons and be the kind of parent my kids need and deserve.

What have you learned fro Conference lately.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Salad Days 370 and 371

If you read my previous post you will remember I've been crazy busy for the past two days.  Although I was up by 5am both mornings, I was gone from 6am to 9pm both days.  there was no time for pretty much.... anything.  Thankfully, I saw an idea on Pintrest that I had to try...


The person who thought to do this was a genius!  When you put the dressing on the bottom, followed by hard, crisp veggies, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce, you keep the lettuce crisp and not soggy.  You've got the perfect salad to go.  When I pulled it out of my bag all the people were amazed.  They fought for the best view to watch me shake it up and eat it.  It made me laugh.

It's the end of the week so I'm running low on salad fixin's.  The last two salads had: Honey Mustard dressing, shredded carrots, green peppers, feta cheese, olives and lettuce.

It's the best way to travel in style!

Book of Mormon Study - Conference talk

sorry I've been missing in action.  It's been a crazy couple of days.  I get up at 5am and teach seminary at 6. Wednesday and Thursday I needed to be at the HS by 7:30.  I ran in from Seminary, changed, threw together a lunch and headed off to work.  I'm so grateful "work" isn't a full time, every day kind of thing.  Wednesday I was at the HS working the OWC band and choir contests, followed by play rehearsal and setting up for Thursday's auditorium rental.  I didn't get home until 9 pm at which time my children needed help with homework and other responsibilities.  I crashed and fell into bed around 11... no time to blog.  Thursday I drug myself out of bed at 5 and was teaching my class at 6.  I ran home to change and was at the HS by 7:30 for an elementary school production at the HS.  I also spent time helping with Senior Projects, more play practice, the second show for the elementary school, and the removal of the sound shell.  Once again, I didn't get home until 9:30 pm.  My poor family.  Once again, there was no time to blog.

So, here is what I missed... two conference talks.

First, I read Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk, Covenants.  I had a few thoughts.  I love the ideas that covenants are more significant than merely an agreement between two people.  God sets the terms and we have the opportunity to accept or reject the terms.  His covenants are eternal.   They can be found throughout the plan.  Covenants are a part of our identity.  We are also responsible for helping fulfill the Abrahamic covenant.  God is counting on us.  We also have the right to receive His doctrine and to know and understand the plan of salvation.  To keep covenants is to keep commandments.  To keep covenants is to serve the Lord.  To keep covenants is to know who we are and what god expects of us.  I'd like to be known as a covenant keeper.  Better keep working.

I also read Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk, Teachings of Jesus.  What do I really believe about Jesus Christ and what am I about it?  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God.  I believe that He is the first born spiritually.  I believe His physical father is also His spiritual father.  I believe He is in the express image of God the Father.  I believe Jesus Christ is the Creator.  I believe that in the beginning the Word (Christ) was with God the Father and that the Father designed the plans and Christ created all that we know.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the God of Israel.  I believe that through Christ I have gained life... in this life and in the life to come because of He is our creator and because of the Atonement.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.  He lights my path and shows me the way.  I believe the Savior He is the most perfect at doing the will of the Father.  Thank the heavens!  Without His willing obedience there would be no Plan in action.  Oh to be able to conform and to have my will be the same as God's will!  Jesus Christ is the perfect example in following the will of God.  Christ as given us the Holy Ghost to guide us, to teach us and to testify to us.  He has given us commandments to guide us.  What can I do because I believe these principles?  I can focus on eternity.  I can keep the commandments and my covenants with God.  I can access the blessings of the Atonement through faith in Him and through repentance.

It was good to examine my testimony in this way.  What a rush!  He lives!  He loves!  That is enough.

What have you learned from Conference lately?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 11

I’ve wonder why they spent so many verses on the money system. Perhaps it is to point out that six onties of silver was a generous amount. I wouldn't have known that without the explanation in the first few verses.

Even though it was a very large amount, Amulek still resisted, saying that a righteous person wouldn't give into a bribe. Maybe that's what they talk about when they say in the last days that men's hearts will fail them. They will give in to the temptations of worldly goods and pleasures.

We are sometimes faced with the temptation to trade our testimony for personal gain or selfish interests. True happiness comes from living righteously.

To live righteously is to work for our wages. To live honestly is to pay a fair wage that do work for us. Perhaps, to live righteously is to work to learn not to get gain. To live righteously is to never trade our testimony for power, popularity, money, or worldly pleasures. To live righteously is to teach what the Holy Ghost permits us to teach. People must be ready to learn before the Spirit can witness the truth.

I also love the explanation that Jesus Christ will not save His people IN their sins. (Alma 11:34.) Christ saves us FROM our sins when we approach Him with humble hearts.

I also love the clear doctrine regarding Jesus Christ as the Eternal Father. Many people are confused by this doctrine. He is:

He created the earth, which sustains our life. He is our Father through His Creation. (See Hebrews 1:1–2; Moses 1:31–33.)

He brings about the Resurrection. He is the Father of our resurrected bodies. (See 1 Corinthians 15:22; Alma 11:42; Mormon 9:12.)

He provides a newness of life through the Atonement. He is the Father of our spiritual rebirth. (See Moroni 10:33; Moses 6:59.)

He changes our nature as we repent and follow Him and makes us part of His family. He becomes our Father as we take on ourselves His name. (See Mosiah 5:7–8; 27:25.)

Still, it is important to understand that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate and distinct beings.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “Since it is the prophetic purpose to lead men to full salvation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, when [prophets] speak and write about salvation, almost without exception, they mean eternal life or exaltation. They use the terms salvation, exaltation, and eternal life as synonyms, as words that mean exactly the same thing without any difference, distinction, or variance whatever” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 129).

These are a great definitions to write in your scriptures:
• Redemption: Deliverance from the effects of the Fall and sin through Christ’s Atonement.
• Temporal death: Separation of the spirit from the body.
• Reunited: Brought together again.
• Restored: Returned to a former condition.
• Recollection: Memory.
• Arraigned: Called to account for actions.
• Mortal: Subject to death.
• Corruption: Decomposition as a result of death.
Of course anytime the Savior is spoken of, I love it. Verses 42-44 are mastery scriptures, ones that missionaries and teachers alike have used to teach people about The Atonement and the resurrection and judgment. Love it!

What did you think/learn today?

Salad Days - Starting Over Day 369

OK... for the next 365 days (minus 4 days since I've already done them) I will eat a salad, or a soup and salad, and post it here on my blog.  My goal is to be more prompt with my posts.  My goal is to post recipes for the salads and the soups I try.  my goal is to get my family to follow suit and get on the "veggie-band-wagon".  My goal is to go an other 365 days straight with a salad or a soup as a meal, or at least the major part of the meal.

Today for lunch I made this creation.  It was very yummy.  I'm not sure what to call it.  What do you think?

Saute 1/2 cup sliced yellow and red sweet bell peppers, 1/4 cup sliced onions, 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms.

Place sauteed mixture on a bed of 3/4 cup fresh spinach.

Add 9 black olives.

Drizzle 2 Tbs. of Raspberry Vinaigrette and top with 1/8 cup of feta cheese.

All together it came to 211 calories, and it was very satisfying.

DONE! Salad Days 360-365 plus 3 days to spare

 The time has passed.  I made it.  365 days with at least one salad per day.  Sunday, April 1, McKay made a Chinese Chicken Salad.  I was pretty good.  Sadly, I think I am the only one who really ate it.  I ate it for breakfast and lunch, Monday, April 2 too.  I do need to teach her how to chop cabbage more finely, however.  The chunks of cabbage are a little hard to eat then shreds of Chinese cabbage.

Tuesday, April 3 was John's birthday.  We had a nice dinner, including a nice green salad.  I even tried a new dressing... it was tasty enough.

Wednesday, April 4, I enjoyed a Chef Salad.  It is nice to have an old stand by.

Thursday, April 5, I made a Greek type salad with tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, yellow and orange bell peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese and about 1/4 cup of the sloppy joe meat we made the kids for lunch.  That was pretty good.  Not as good as a real Greek salad.

Friday, April 6, was the BIG day.  I had made it... but I missed it.  I am in the habit of salad now and completely missed the fact that I had eaten salad everyday for 365 days.  I didn't even celebrate with a special salad.  Instead, I ate a plain green salad.  In fact, I didn't even remember that I had made it until I started writing this blog.  LOL.
Saturday, April 7, we made sausage dogs for the family.  It was a busy day, so I got a German potato salad from the store....

... and a Green Pea salad for Lillian.  Both were pretty tasty.  so were the sausages.

Sunday, April 8 was Easter.  We had a fruit salad with fresh pineapple chunks, bananas, apples, strawberries, and grapes,  mixed with a bit of coconut milk and pistachio pudding mix.  It was tasty.  Too bad I forgot H can't eat pistachios.  She had to take Benedryl to sing in the Easter Concert.

Monday, April 9, I made Split Pea soup with the leftover Easter ham and had a green salad. So what do we do now?  Well, I've decided to keep going.  However, I've decided to expand it to soup and/or salad, and I'm going to do better at adding recipes.  I'm not sure who is reading this, but at least then my kids can have some recipes as they all begin to fly the coop.  I guess I will have to do better at keeping up too.  Also, it's too bad I'm not better at the whole picture thing.  Most definitely things taste better than they look.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 10

Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Youth may even have gifts, including the gift of the Holy Ghost, and yet be like counterparts of old who ‘knew it not’ (3 Nephi 9:20). Concerning the gospel message, they may be like busy and preoccupied Amulek” (Sermons Not Spoken [1985], 2). “Amulek . . . is a classic case of an essentially good man being out of touch with the great spiritual realities; he resisted the things of the Spirit because, though he was basically good, he was preoccupied with the cares of the world” (Meek and Lowly [1987], 12).

This chapter gives a new meaning to Independence Day. Amulek was oppressed by a hardened heart. This brought him limited perspective and joy.

We have a choice. What will we choose?

“I would not hear;” “I would not know…” Rebellion is a choice. There are days I don’t like it. But I know I have no right to take the gift of agency from someone else. I just have to accept that rebellion is a choice… and find some way to touch hearts.

President Spencer W. Kimball: “Many voices of seducing spirits advocate carnal pleasures and unrestrained physical satisfactions. Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephite prophet who said: ‘. . . if it were not for the prayers of the righteous . . . ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. . . .’ [Alma 10:22.] Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 7; or Ensign, June 1971, 16).

I think more prayer is in order.

On the fourth day of the seventh month, an angel appeared to Amulek, and he was freed from his oppression of disbelief. His eyes were opened and he could see the hand of the Lord in his life. That single event changed his life, and himself, forever.

That and, of course, his willingness to obey.

Now, I'm not saying that on the Nephite calendar the fourth day of the seventh month is the same as ours- the 4th of July- but I thought it fit. Tehehe. :)

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a prophet in your home, blessing you and your family? When Amulek brought Alma into his home, he stayed with them and blessed them all. How amazing would that have been?

" the prayers of the righteous ye are spared..." The power of the righteous is great. I feel empowered when I read this.

Can I just say here how cool Amulek is? The lawyers were trying to trip him up, and he shut them down. Through the power of God, he was able to discern their thoughts and stop them before they even started. He spoke boldly and courageously before his peers and people. So cool!

What did you think/learn today?

Not a Morning Person

(The following represents a morning at the Boyack house).

The big C is NOT a morning person.

8:15 am (the alarm has been going for at least 15 minutes).

"Good morning!  What would you like for breakfast?"

"urmma mumble mumble mumble."

"What was that?" I say in my most cheerful voice.

The irritation is clear.  The voice raises.  "I said CORNFLAKES."  He stumbles to the shower.

I put the cornflakes, milk, bowl, measuring cup (he's on a diet and is VERY picky about how much he is consuming), cup, OJ, and spoon on the table.  Meanwhile, I make oatmeal for the rest of the family, get the girls moving on their day and ask H to clean off the table to we can start school.

"H!  I told you not to touch my stuff.  Where's my stuff?"

"In your backpack.  I was cleaning the table off."

"Gah!  You don't listen!  I told you not to touch my stuff," he yells.

"How long has the milk been out?"

"I just put it on the table."

"Well L always leaves it out and it gets bad (BTW the last 3 times it was left out by C.  I put it away)."

"Well C, I got up early and set an alarm so it would be warmed up for your breakfast."

"Gah!  Why do you think your funny?  Where are my shoes?"

"I assume they are in the family room on the floor where you...."

"Who put them there?  Everyone touches my stuff!"

"How's your room look?  did you make your bed today?"

"I'm airing it out."

"What's the matter?"

"L is looking at me.  She's so annoying!  Did my clothes get in the dryer?"

"I don't know C.  Didn't you do your laundry? (I know he started it because the rest of the laundry is now being trampled on the laundry room floor where he dumped it).  Maybe we should send it out to a laundry service.  I bet they will do a bang up job."

"I need money for that choir thing."

"Do you want me to loan you some?  I thought you had some money in your room."

"I don't like to borrow."

"Are you ready to go?"

"Gah!  No one ever listens!  Just go start the car and wait for me." (I waited for 10 minutes).

He gets in the car and slams the door.  "Drive fast... without getting pulled over.  You made me late."

We arrive at the school.  "Have a great day!" I say with a smile.  "I love you."

"Why do you always tell me what to do?"

Some days are like that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods." - C.S. Lewis

This is one of my favorite quotes. This chapter made me think of it. Alma uses the words 'remember' and 'forgotten' six times. The people of Ammonihah were once believers, but over time they had "forgotten" what they once believed.


Our circumstances and moods fluctuate, and for some, so does our faith. Times get tough, obedience is difficult, fears take over- we begin to forget our testimonies. Doubt creeps in we falter.

Keeping the faith means that regardless of the change in circumstances and even our moods, we maintain our testimonies of our Savior and His gospel. It's not always easy to do, but we read here the price of those who don't.

What did you think/learn today?

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 8

Amulek is the epitome of the right guy at the right time, doing the right thing. He was a righteous man, he listened to the angel he saw in a vision (how can you not?); he let Alma in, studied with him, was taught by him and eventually, was asked to preach with him.

We know that Amulek was almost, if not as equally, a powerful teacher and speaker as Alma. He must have developed an amazing testimony.

I long for that kind of faith and testimony.

I wonder, in my life, how many blessings and opportunities I've had, just by being the right girl at the right time doing the right thing.  I wonder how many I've missed.
I also love how, when Alma receives a message from the Lord, he not only did what he was asked. He went about it "speedily." That shows a willingness and eagerness to follow Him. What a great example these two men are to me.

Have you seen blessings in your life by being the right person, at the right time, doing the right things?

Easter Morning

For years now, I have done a "Spring" celebration on the Saturday before Easter and consintrated on the death and ressurection of the Savior on the actual day of Easter.

I only have one "smal" child this year.  Last year I colored eggs and got supplies, but none of her siblings would Easter Egg hunt with her.  She had to call friends to come "hunt" with her.  They were all busy.  She eventually got the other kids teenage friends to come and hunt with her.

This year, I assumed it was going to be the same... her siblings wouldn't want to participate.  I tried to find friends to come to party with her.  Everyone had plans.

Thankfully, our good friends the Tapasa's plans changed and stopped by.  My 14 year old was shocked that I assumed she didn't want to do it.  She was excited to hunt for eggs.

 I will never be able to understand the teenage mind.

Lilli got her Easter egg hunt.

However, the best I saved for this morning.

I had heard of making "Ressurection Rolls" and made sure I had all my supplies.  Ingredients: Pillsbury crescent roll dough, cinnamon, sugar, and large marshmellows.

I woke her up and told her I needed her help to make breakfast.

I had her roll the marshmellow in the cinnamon and sugar and then wrap the marshmellow in the crescent roll dough.  I even let her sprinkle a little extra of the spice mix on top of the rolls.  After placing them on pans, we baked them for 10-12 minutes at  350°.

As we made them we chatted about Easter and what the real meaning was.  We talked about what each ingredient symbolised: the marshmallow - body of Jesus; the cinnamon-sugar mixture – the oil and spices Jesus’ body was anointed with at barial and why his friends may have used them; the dough – the tomb; the cavity in bun – the empty tomb.

The last one she didn't quite understand.  She thought the oven was the emoty tomb.

She was excited to share the breakfast with the family.

The rolls came out.  She was explaining that the marshmellow escaped out of the rolls with holes, but that the ones without holes still had the marshmellow. 

It's been a great morning!

He is risen!  It's glorious morning to remember.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 7

Alma established some very important- critical- truths in this chapter.  Check it out:

1.) Joy comes after the trial, or "after wading through much affliction and sorrow."  (vs. 5)  I think child birth is a perfect example of this principle.  I'm glad I don't remember it all too well.  I do remember it was a TRIAL and I was sorely afflicted.  LOL  However, I have felt no greater joy then in my children.  I think teens are also an example of this principle.  Some of my greatest "afflictions" have been experienced as I raise teens.  One has made it out completely and has started her own family; one is nearly gone and starting adult life.  I can say that when we all make it through the teen years there is much joy to experience.  Sure hope the rest of them make it through those pesky teen years and we can all experience a little JOY!

2.) Not only should we trust God, but God trusts us to make the right choices in life. (vs. 6).  I think this is remarkable.  It is comforting to think that God believes that we CAN make the choices that will bring us back to Him.  He trusts us that will choose Him over all that is offered by worldliness.

3.) The most important thing above ALL ELSE is the Redeemer and His Atonement. (vs 7).  If only we all remembered this principle at all times.  What a different world this would be.  He is the center of The Plan.

4.) The Lord God has power to do all things- whether we understand them or not (vs. 8).  This means we can trust that He will do what He says He will do and He can do all that He says he can.  He can create worlds and all that are in then and on them.  He can erase pain, anguish, and disappointment.  He can save us from our mistakes as we approach Him.  He CAN do it all.  He has it all.  God the Father gave the power to Him to execute The Plan.  He CAN.

5.) Repentance is the way to prepare to meet Him (vs. 9).  Repentance is to return.  Repentance changes our hearts.  What better way to prepare?

The Atonement is broken down and explained so nicely in the next couple of verses.

6.) Jesus was the Son of God (vs. 10).  Plain and simple. 

7.) He experienced suffering and afflictions and temptations in order to take upon our pains and sicknesses (vs. 11).  What is so marvellous about this is that He choose to.  He didn't have to.  He simply choose to because He loves us that much.  He over came that we may overcome spiritual death.

8.) He allowed Himself to die, to loosen the bands of death for us (vs. 12).  It doesn't matter who you are or what you did, the resurrection is for all.

9.) He took on our infirmities so He can be filled with mercy, and know how to succor and comfort us (vs. 12).  He knows our true needs.  He can help us develop the strength and wisdom to resist our problems when we approach Him in humble prayer.  He experienced.  He knows.  We should listen.

10.) The Son of God suffered physically in order to pay the price for our sins. (vs. 13). The price for sin is suffering.  He suffered that He can pay that price when we approach him with repentant hearts.  Sadly, many of us choose to suffer for ourselves rather than humbling and softening our hearts.

11.) His sacrifice offers us deliverance (vs. 13).

12.) Repentance and baptism are the ONLY way to take advantage of the Atonement in our lives (vs. 14).  King Benjamin described repentance as knowing who you are and what you are - thus, know yourself!  Repentance is remembering your true divine nature; to know you are a child of God and then to act accordingly - Godly.  :)

13.) Sin leads to our eternal destruction (vs. 15).  Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost lead us to eternal salvation.

14.) His path is strait, meaning a narrow and safest passage, and straight, meaning without a bend, angle or curve. (vs. 19).  There is no other way.  There are no short cuts. 

15.) The Lord is always consistent and right (vs. 20).   Once again... His way is the ONLY way to joy and peace.

16.) We have a duty to follow God (vs. 22) and it is our testimonies that make us aware of that duty.

17.) Oh the Eternal To-Be List! (vs. 23 & 24):
Easy to be entreated
Full of patience
Full of long-suffering
Temperate in all things
Diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times
Ask God for your needs, both spiritual and temporal
Always give thanks to God for what He gives you
Have faith
Have hope
Have charity
Always abound in good works

18.) If we do the above things, the Lord will cleanse us from our sins (vs. 25).  What a relief!  "Perfect" is not on the list.

19.) We are blessed with peace according to our faith and good works (vs. 27).

What and AMAZING sermon Alma gave! How beautiful it was then, and how applicable it still is today!

What did you think/learn today?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 6

God's house is a house of order. Alma saw that there was a work to be done, first in the church then outside.

He made sure leaders were called by the priesthood. Then those who didn't want to be there were kicked out, and those who wanted in were baptized. The church was purged and planted, and once again healthy. Only AFTER that happened did Alma feel like he could leave and serve his mission.

I also think the pattern for Alma's testimony was interesting as it was spelled out in verse 8. His testimony of Jesus Christ gave him the spirit of prophecy, which gave him the revelation of truth.


What did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 5

I love this chapter! It is long though. When I teach seminary I take a couple days because I don’t want to miss any of the gems that are found in this chapter.

Perhaps I will write about this in concepts.

First concept: Remember!

Alma first asks a series of questions designed to stir their hearts and minds up to remembrance of all that God has done. Alma the younger is asking them the same questions the angel asked him when he had his experience.

...and they awoke unto God...their souls were illuminated

What beautiful descriptive words.

Second Concept: Faith in God can lead to a mighty change in our hearts. This spiritual rebirth cleanses us from sin and makes us more like Christ.

I love having a list some of the characteristics shown by those who have experienced this mighty change include the following:

• They “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).

• They are “changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness” (Mosiah 27:25).

• They are “awakened . . . out of a deep sleep” and “illuminated by the light of the everlasting word” (Alma 5:7).

• “They humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God” (Alma 5:13).

King Benjamin and Alma both demonstrated the power of the preaching of the word of God in bringing about the mighty change (see Mosiah 4:1–3; 5:1–2; Alma 5:7, 11–13).

I seek this “mighty change” and hope to someday achieve it.

Most people I know want to be “saved.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assured—we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event . . . or as conditioned upon a future event... But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 76; or Ensign, May 1998, 55).

The following are summaries of the six different meanings of which Elder Oaks spoke:

1. We are saved from the permanent effects of death. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected.

2. We are saved from sin through Christ’s Atonement and by following the gospel plan. Repentance is an important part of being saved from the consequences of our sins.

3. We are saved when we are “born again.” This happens when we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ by accepting baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and taking Christ’s name upon us. We must also faithfully keep and renew that covenant relationship.

4. We are saved from the darkness of ignorance as we learn about the gospel plan. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light into our lives.

5. We are saved from the second death, which is final spiritual death, because of Christ’s Atonement. Everyone, except for those few who become sons of perdition, will enter into a kingdom of glory.

6. Our hope is that we will be finally saved in the celestial kingdom. In addition to the other requirements, this salvation, or exaltation, also requires that we make sacred covenants in God’s temples and remain faithful to them (see Conference Report, pp. 76–78; or Ensign, pp. 55–57).

I think verse 14 could be the central message of this entire passage of scripture.

“… have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change of heart?”

Paul called this the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:16). It is think as Christ thinks; to believe as Christ believes; feel as He feels; to do as He would do. A change of heart could be a symbol of our entire soul… a soul that has a complete commitment to the gospel and is full of the spirit of vigor.

Can I imagine the voice of the Lord taking to me? What would I like Him to say? What would He actually say? Do I have the image of God in my countenance?

I can’t imagine.

For example… yesterday- not so much. Lol. It was kind of a rough day. I wasn't in the best of moods; not as kind as I could be; not as patient, not as good. I feel badly about it, and this chapter didn't help. Just kidding.

Seriously- this chapter did help. It was a beautiful reminder of who and how I should be.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “We can contemplate how far we have already come in the climb along the pathway to perfection; it is usually much further than we acknowledge, and such reflections restore resolve. . . . “. . . We can allow for the reality that God is still more concerned with growth than with geography. . . .“This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us if we remember that there are no instant Christians” (Notwithstanding My Weakness [1981], 9, 11).

Third Concept: Pure testimony is a real and powerful influence that can change lives.

Alma understood that bearing testimony can change the lives of others just as the pebble changed the surface of the water. Many of the Zarahemla Church members were caught up in pride, craftiness, and contentions (see Alma 4:19).

Alma gave up his position as chief judge to dedicate his time to building up the Church (see Alma 4:11–20). He began in the city of Zarahemla. Alma 5 is similar to a general conference talk from the prophet Alma. The message he gave is one of the most important in the Book of Mormon. Alma went among them to “preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty.”

Prophet Joseph Smith: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 121).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “To bear one’s testimony is to make a solemn declaration, affirmation or attestation that personal revelation has been received certifying to the truth of those realities which comprise a testimony” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 786).

Alma used the power of his testimony of the Savior to reclaim Church members who had strayed.

Alma taught these principles:

Vs. 20–21 Only those who are cleansed by Jesus Christ will be saved.

Vs. 22–25 Those who are guilty of wickedness cannot have a place in the kingdom of heaven.

Vs. 28–29 Those who are proud are not ready for the kingdom of God.

Vs. 30–31 Those who mock or persecute others need to repent.

Vs. 33-34 Christ invites ALL men to Come, to eat and to drink freely.

Vs. 38–39 Those who are not of the fold of Christ have the devil as their shepherd. Those who are of Christ’s fold will be called by His name and they will know His voice.

Vs. 40–41 Those who bring forth good works listen to the Good Shepherd.

Vs. 46-48 We can all know for ourselves through the Holy Ghost.

Vs. 48 Jesus Christ will come and take away the sins of those who believe in Him.

It's the Spirit that gives us our testimony- not our experiences. it's how much we open our hearts to the Spirit and allow him to testify of the truthfulness for the gospel. The same things happened to the twelve apostles. Even thought they walked with Jesus, it was when they were pricked in their hearts that they knew.

Sorry this is so long (providing someone is still reading this)  It's taken me nearly all day because I'm constantly interupted... kids... school... missionaries for lunch.  But I got done just before I needed to head off to rehearsal.

What did you learn today?

Let then eat CAKE!

Yesterday was John's birthday.  Now, we don't usually go nuts on the adult birthdays around here.  Just the kids.  But it is a big day and we must do something.  Now let's make things complicated.
John's on a diet.
We can't even make him a cake.
I wracked my brain as to how we could celebrate.
Then is hit me!

Hannah has been really into making finger jello ever since Sister Kristy taught her what to do.  And I remembered that somewhere I had experienced layers jello with some kind of white or creamer jello between the layers.
That's it!  I think to myself.  Cake.

So I got Hannah stared on making finger jello in layers.  I looked on the Internet and got some recipe for making the white stuff.  It took most of the day.  So this is what we did.  We gathered our ingredients... ok two of Hannah's favorite jello flavors... something read and something Orange (sorry. I wasn't paying attention.).  We ran to the store for some condensed milk. and we started making JELLO!

4 packages JELLO (3 oz each) -orange, strawberry

6 envelopes KNOX unflavored gelatin

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

First, we mixed 1 cup condensed milk with 1 cup hot water. We set that aside. Then we mixed 2 envelopes Knox gelatin with 1 cup hot water and the combined it the with milk mixture and set it aside.

Then we combined Orange JELLO, 1 envelope Knox gelatin and 1-1/2 cups hot water. Then we let that cool before we poured it into a 9×13 pan and placed it in refrigerator to set for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes we poured about 1 cup of the milk mixture for the next layer. Back to the refrigerate to set.  We then went faster only taking 15 minutes to set between layers– yay – much faster!

Meanwhile, we combine the red JELLO, 1 envelope Knox gelatin and 1-1/2 cup hot water... cool... pour carefully over the milk mixture, then place in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

Repeat the milk mixture…

Finally, we added fat free sugar free cool whip.

What a pay off!!!!

Ok... so I figure four boxes of jello at 30 cal., Knox with an additional 50 calories, condensed milk about 200 cal., and everything free cool whip at 15 cal per serving (2 TBS.), I figure if you ate the whole cake you'd get 770 cal... that's less then a burger with fries at your favorite burger joint.  But if you cut that "cake" into 20 pieces, each piece would be 40 cal.

Now that is a reason to PAAR TAY!

John loved it!!!! 

He got cake and his diet too!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 4

Today’s reading of Alma 4 reminds me of this story I’ve shared in seminary before:

Once a king had a great highway built for the members of his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited as many as desired to participate. Their challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best. On the day of the contest the people came. Some of them had fine chariots; some had fine clothing, fine hairdos, or great food. Some young men cam in their track clothes and ran along the highway. People traveled the highway all day, but each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king that there was a large pile of rocks and debris left on the road at one spot and this got in their way and hindered their travel. At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a bag of gold. He explained, “I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This bag of gold was under it all. I want you to return it to its rightful owner.” The king replied, “You are the rightful owner.” The traveler replied, “Oh no, this is not mine. I’ve never known such money.” “Oh yes,” said the king, “you’ve earned this gold, for you won my contest. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow.”

Oh the Nephite cycle!! Maybe I should just say, Oh the people cycle!

In verse 10 it says:... the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fall in its progress.

I have written next to this verse: Are you a stumbling block?

Well? Am I? I sure hope not.

People watch us. They watch to see if we live what we claim to believe. When we don't live we what claim to believe, it leaves others confused… and in some case angry and bitter. If we as members of the church are negative, angry, and not living the gospel, what incentive does that give; what example does that give to those who aren't members of the church? Does our behavior- the lives that we lead- draw people closer to the Savior or not?

Elder Robert D. Hales: “No matter our circumstances, we can be an example to others, we can lift them, we can inspire them to seek righteousness, and we can bear testimony to all of the power of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 113; or Ensign, May 1997, 82).

A few things that I really loved:

Verse 14:...for Christ's sake... The things that the humble followers did, they did for Christ's sake. I pondered what that meant. My interpretation is that everything good that we do, we do because the Atonement has allowed us to. They say that he suffered for our sins, so I know that some of the blood and tears that he shed were for me. Conversely, I'd like to think that the good things that I do can ease his burden, further his cause and bring my Savior joy- that maybe I can lighten his load by choosing the right. I love that.

Verse 15: ...nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail them... They were humble, and the Spirit didn't let them down. Love it!

I love the humility of Alma. Not that prestige was important to him- but he gave up a prestigious position for the sake of helping rebuild the kingdom. That inspires me to ask myself: How much would I be willing to give up to further the Kingdom? I've covenanted to dedicate all that I have to do so. I hope I do.

Pride was their issue and pride is ours issue too. Pride – that universal sin – led “church” members to be snobs; to think they were better than others; to be intolerant and to be mean. Pride caused these Church member Nephites to be more wicked than the non-member Nephites. Sadly, we are in serious jeopardy of making the same mistakes.

Honestly ask yourself: Do I give what is needed (time, courtesy, or talent) to those who need my help? Do I seek for costly clothes and that which is vain? Is my heart set on riches? Do I set the right kind of example with respect to cheating, swearing, gossiping, being kind, and forgiving? Do I have respect for and tolerance toward those both in and out of the Church, who do not believe as I do? And thus, am I a stepping stone? or a stumbling block?

In Alma 4, there is no external enemy, no wars or contentions, but in a very real way the situation was more desperate than when the Lamanites were invading. What was the source of that danger?

There are interesting similarities and important differences between the descriptions of the Church in Alma 1 and Alma 4. In the second year of the reign of the judges, the Church and its members prospered (see Alma 1:31), while just six years later the Church “began to fail in its progress” (Alma 4:9–10).

President George Q. Cannon, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “We are to be tried in all things, and sooner or later we must be tested by prosperity and plenty. Many people who remained faithful Latter-day Saints while they were poor may be unable to stand when they are rich. Riches [have] a very corrupting effect upon the human heart, and it requires a very pure people to be as honest, virtuous, humble and upright when surrounded by luxury and wealth as when they are in poor and destitute circumstances” (Gospel Truth, ed. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1957, 1974], 2:319).

Verse 19 teaches that Alma preached the gospel, taught the scriptures, and stirred the hearts of the people to a remembrance of their duty and to the Savior. He used the word off God to “pull down… all pride and craftiness, and all contentions. He bore testimony. He had experience with this. He should know.

We just had General conference. Our prophets, seers and revelators taught us many great things.

Will I step up, listen, do, and change? I hope so. I’d like to see the “cycle” broken.

What did you think/learn today?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 3

I often think life be so much easier if the wicked had a red mark on their forehead. When I really stop and think about it, the people of today do a fairly good job of "marking" themselves.

Well, lucky for us we have the Holy Ghost, the gift of discernment and clarity of mind to see the wickedness to avoid  around us.  We are blessed to have living prophets and standards to help us stay on track.

How frightening the Lamanites must have looked to the Nephites. I cannot imagine living with the daily threat of war and death. If I ever saw a Lamanite running after me with his loin cloth, war makeup and ax, I would probably die on the spot of a heart attack.

Our war is a bit different... yet the enemy, oddly, looks similar.

“For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet:

“Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it’s ‘the style,’ it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard: “There is an entire subculture that celebrates contemporary gangs and their criminal conduct with music, clothing styles, language, attitudes, and behaviors. . . “I do not believe that you can stand for truth and right while wearing anything that is unbecoming one who holds the priesthood of God. To me, it is impossible to maintain the Spirit of the Lord while listening to music or watching movies or videos that celebrate evil thoughts and use vulgar language” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 51–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38–39).

But the sad truth is that there are millions of people around the world that live in daily fear of war and death. Depending on where you are in the world, the sound of gunfire and bombs is a part of daily life. Guerrilla warfare is the controlling force. Broken governments, civil war, oppression, bloodshed and sorrow is a part of the lives of millions of people.

I don't know if I could do that.
For the Nephites and Lamanites, in just one year tens of thousands of souls lost their lives. Here is where the perspective comes in in verse 26: "...tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey....(27) For every man receiveth wages for him who he listeth to obey."

There is a toll to be paid, if not in this life then most definitely in the next. In fact, the toll paid in this life is simply an extension, a preview, of the price we will pay- whether good or evil- in the next. If we are righteous we have the sweet gift of testimony and faith the help us through difficult circumstances. We choose to have faith, we list to obey they voice of God. And though we suffer because we are mortal and have agency, just as all around us do, that faith is what consecrates our trials for the eternal rewards we will receive.

The same rules apply to the wicked. Though they are wicked, they might find some happiness/pleasure in this life. But, without that faith and testimony, their lives are shallow. They attached greater meaning to positions and power, pride and prestige, assuming that these are the purpose of life. They follow the flesh, never seeing beyond this world to the higher, broader purpose to life. They choose to obey the adversary, and become tools in his hands for the physical destruction of the righteous.

Life has difficulties for everyone- the righteous and the wicked. The difference is who we choose to follow.That will affect how we see this life and what we strive for. These all determine where we and up.

It really does come down to choices. This life is full of joy and sorrow. Everyone is faced with difficult circumstances- some more that others.

But, it's not our circumstances that define us. It's our choices.

Who we list to obey, how we choose to act every day; how we choose to view the people in our lives; what we choose is important to us. It is up to us.

The Lamanites followed the Adversary. They didn't follow the Lord. They had no faith, no testimony. This affected everything they were, and yet, because they looked at life through the eyes of his world, they could not see it. A tragedy we see still around today.

What did you think/learn today?