Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 40

The obvious topic of this chapter is resurrection and paradise, but that's not what got me thinking today. It was the pattern that Alma followed to receive his answer regarding a subject he did not know much about. In vs. 3 he states that he inquired diligently of God that he might know.

I find it interesting to note that God did not tell him everything. He told Alma just enough. And, Alma was ok with that. He said repeatedly that he didn't know everything, but he did know the most important thing: that God knows everything, and everything will happen the way it should.

There is a lot to this gospel plan- so much that we could never comprehend it in its fullness here on earth. But, the mysteries of God are open to those who SEEK it. That's an exciting notion: we can learn His mysteries, His ways, line up on line, precept upon precept, as we diligently inquire of Him. I'm sure it's an understood fact that our answers also come in proportion to our faith and how we live that faith as well.

Alma had a great understanding and relationship with Heavenly Father. He trusted God, and didn't doubt why he wasn't given all the answers. It was enough for him to know that God was in control.

I think it's natural and expected for us to think for ourselves, to connect the dots and to even speculate on how things work. I think this can and should be done in a gospel setting. It is healthy when coupled with faith and trust in God, always knowing that ultimately He knows all and gives us only what we need, and being OK not knowing everything. It can be dangerous, however, when we speculate and consider our speculations and opinions to be the truth, simply based on the fact that they make sense to us, or we like our way of thinking. Many have thought themselves away from God doing just that. When speculation and study is done without faith and the correct Spirit, the Adversary can take our efforts and turn them against us. He does it with doubt, fear, pride and anger- but so slyly that we cannot see what he is doing. It's a dangerous slope to slide down.

Truth is truth, regardless of opinion. There is only one truth, and it is God's. Proud men may rail against that, but they are the ones who will end up like the souls in verse 14- miserable in the end.

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 39

The two key words to this chapter, for me, are Perspective and Priorities.

Corianton lost the eternal perspective and consequently had misplaced priorities. I don't think he was a terrible person- it's easier than we think. I think everyone is two weeks away from inactivity. That means it only takes a couple weeks or so of not hearing the word, feeling the spirit, renewing the covenants and associating with others in the gospel before we begin to forget why we went to church. It gets easier to miss church or other responsibilities because the demands of the world appear to take precedence.

One good thing that has come from my daily scripture blog is that is it a constant reminder to put first things first. It takes time and effort- daily. I'll admit, sometimes I am just so tire, and I struggle to find focus, but this has compelled me to not only read, but to read with intent to find meaning and apply that to my life. It has made a big difference in my life, my testimony and my ability to use the scriptures to teach others. It's been a wonderful for me.

What did you think/learn today?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 38

It is never too late to gain a testimony and live righteously, but how blessed are they who learn in their youth. How much more work they can do, more good they can do as they grow in the gospel. Alma was pleased that Shiblon was faithful, but he still wanted to emphasize a few things:

Obedience brings blessings of prosperity
They that endure will be blessed
Bear afflictions with patience and long-suffering
Trust God
Testimony comes from the Spirit
Salvation only can come through Christ
Teach others
Be diligent and temperate
Be humble
Be bold
Bridle passions
Work hard (don't be idle or lazy)
Be filled with love
Pray sincerely
Be sober (serious)

If my children never learn much from me, I'd want them to learn those things.  Sadly, I've fail at least one.  :(  It is a pretty good To-Be and To-Do list, one that I think all could benefit from following.  I guess the only way to really reach "the one" is to practice it myself.

I know it's hard for me to see my children suffer. None of them have been stoned or imprisoned (yet- fingers crossed) but they have had their little share of difficulties. It's hard when I can't make it go away. I shouldn't try to. All I can do is follow Alma's example and point the way to where thy can receive strength, deliverance, peace and rest. I can teach them how to receive their own testimonies, and live and and teach in a way that prepares them to feel the Holy Ghost testify of its truthfulness.

What did you think/learn today?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 37

As I read I "command you that ye keep a record of this people," and "keep all these things sacred," I thought about all the blog posts and notes I am making for my grandson in this Book of Mormon.  This testimony will be passed from generation to generation.  How exciting is that?

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass...and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

I love this. I often feel very small and simple, wondering if I can do any good. It is nice to know that God can still use me to accomplish great things- not in spite of me, but maybe because of me.

"He doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round."  God is in charge!

Verses 33-37 are among my favorites. They lay out what to teach and what to do.

Teach: Repentance, faith, humility, meekness, withstand temptation, and do good works.

Do: Learn wisdom, keep commandments, pray in voice and in thought, love the Lord, counsel with the Lord, give thanks to the Lord.

If we do all these things, we will have eternal life.

Some might complain that teaching and doing all these things is hard, but Alma says in verse 44 that "it is as easy to give heed to the word of it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass..." If we look for the blessings that come from obedience, we will see the ease of the way.

Finally, he tells us to "look to God and live." Look to God. It's that easy.and

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 36

Alma takes it to the next level in the next verse when he says "I would that ye should do I have done." Not just listen to me, but follow me. I find this hard to do. There are some things I don’t think my kids should follow. Luckily, we have a Savior who is perfect and can say that without fail.

I love how he teaches in vs. 3 and vs. 27 that a righteous life is not free from troubles and trials. The difference is the fact that the righteous are supported by the Lord during their trials, while the wicked go it alone. Alma teaches his people through example. He tells them the principle: (3) Whosever puts their trust in God shall be supported in their trials. Then, he backs it up with personal testimony: (27) And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind. The he ends with hope and faith in that principle (27) and I do put my trust in him, and he will deliver me.

I love the lessons taught in vs. 12-14… when we stop making excuses for our behavior, progress begins. Here, Alma accepts full responsibility for his sinful ways. He could have blamed his friends, but he did not.

In vs. 15-18 Alma begins to experience Godly sorrow. We the Atonement of Jesus Christ begin to work in Alma’s tormented soul.

We must be humble before we can recognize the need for the Savior’s help in our lives.

Spencer W. Kimball taught “That first step is the turning point at which the sinner consciously recognizes his sin. This is the awakening, the conviction of guilt. Without this, there can be no true repentance because there is no acknowledgement of sin.”

Bruce R. McConkie taught “Alma serves as a pattern. The horror for sin that engulfed him should be felt by every wayward member of the kingdom; then repentance would be forthcoming as it was with our Nephite friend.”

I am moved by the stark contrast between the exquisite bitter pain of sin and the exquisite sweet joy of repentance that Alma spoke of. He painted such a beautiful and vivid picture of the vast chasm between the two. Because of the word (vs. 26) Alma was able to bring many to the sweet taste of that joy.

Spencer W. Kimball also taught, “If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented… He has got to go through a change in his system whereby he suffers and then forgiveness is a possibility.”

I love his testimony of work. He worked endlessly according to his testimony and faith, the Lord gave his great joy in the fruit of his labors. (25)

Jeffrey R. Holland: “Christ is the power behind all repentance. . . . Alma had been touched by the teaching of his father, but it is particularly important that the prophecy he remembered was one regarding ‘the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.’ (Alma 36:17.) That is the name and that is the message that every person must hear. . . . Whatever other prayers we offer, whatever other needs we have, all somehow depends on that plea: ‘O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.’ He is prepared to provide that mercy. He paid with his very life in order to give it” (However Long and Hard the Road [1985], 85).

We must be humble before we can recognize the need for the Savior’s help in our lives. Focusing on Him will not only help us be humble but will bring us greater joy.

Brother Holland also taught, “Our will quite literally changes to receive His will. We may have avoided church attendance, the sacrament, the bishop, our parents, our worthy companions—avoided anyone we had sinned against, including God himself—but now that repentant heart longs to be with them. That is part of the joy and light of the Atonement—the ‘at-one-ment’—which not only binds us back to God but also brings us back to a special unity with our best natural self and our most beloved human associates” (However Long and Hard the Road, 86–87).

Repentance is like soap; it can wash sin away. Ground-in dirt may take the strong detergent of discipline to get the stains out, but out they will come." - Elder Boyd K. Packer, "To Young Women and Men," Ensign (CR), May 1989, p.53

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 35

The Zoramites were upset because the word destroyed their craft. It's in the wind of politics and the world these days? I could go more into it, but I don't want to get too political and chase the Spirit away, lol. But, I have seen it time after time: people denying the word of God because it messes with their personal agenda. Some people get upset that His will doesn't follow their will.

I was impressed with what the people of Ammon did.... "they did receive the poor... did nourish the... did give them lands for their inheritance... and did administer unto them..."

I guess that is the only way to combat the prevailing attitude of then and of today.


Other than that, I didn't really get much from this chapter... accept the warm fuzzy feeling of getting into the scriptures and accomplishing a goal.

What did you get out of this chapter?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 34

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. So much good stuff- teaching styles, testimony, expectations, etc. And of course, testimony of my Savior!

Three things popped out at me this morning, though. The first one is Amulek's first words to them. He basically said, Come on, guys, you knew this- but we will tell you again. It sounds like what I say to my children! How many times do I have to tell you...? God is so very patient with us as we learn and relearn His plan.

In this chapter Alma sits down, and his companion, Amulek, takes over. Amulek refers to Alma’s words about developing a testimony of Christ. Amulek reminds the Zoramites (and us!) that to gain a testimony we must have faith and patience (Alma 34:3) . He also reminds us that we must DO something… “prepare your minds”. We must prepare to learn from the spirit, including lessons ahead of time and praying for understanding. I think writing things down that the Spirit teaches me also helps me learn. In vs. 4 he reminds us that we need to write the word on our hearts and to try the lessons taught.

Amulek reminds the poor Zoramites/us to “plant the word in your hearts” –this means to ponder, pray, and try out and experiment with the question at hand.

Because men sinned and transgressed, men would be hardened, fallen, lost and must perish. (Alma 34:9).

It strikes me that the Atonement was more than a kind offering from a gentle man. It was absolutely necessary.

Amulek prophesizes there would be a “great and last sacrifice” (Alma 34:10,13, 14) Verse 10 also describes this as an infinite and eternal sacrifice. No regular moral man could atone for the sins of another mortal man. Jesus Christ could. He, the Son of God, is an infinite and eternal being (read D&C 20:17), the Creator, himself. He was not subject to death. His willing atonement, his willingness to take upon himself all the pain and suffering of our sins, adversities, and infirmities-which caused him to bleed from every pore (read D&C 19:18-19) reaches to the past (all those who have died), present and future (all those who will die). The Atonements “effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out in to the endless expanses of eternity” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 64. The Atonement is timeless.

Amulek teaches that the Law of Moses…the commandments taught them by Moses in the Brass plates, required, among other things, that animals like lambs be brought to the altar and killed and sacrificed as part of their process to repent and come to God. Through the Atonement the law was fulfilled and animal sacrifice was ended (Alma 34:13 –14).

The Savior’s sacrifice makes mercy and salvation possible if you choose to have faith and repent. (Alma 34:15)

If you do this you will be encircled in the Lord’s arms of safety and free from the terrible demands of justice (Alma 34:16, D&C 19:16-18). The cleansing power of the spirit makes us new creatures.

Amulek pleaded with the poor Zoramites (and us) to do several things:

Alma 34:17to have faith to repent – and repentance takes work!

Alma 34:18 to pray – over our work situations, our families, to avoid temptation and the fruits of our labors. And we shouldn’t forget to pray for the welfare of others.

Alma 34:19 to be humble

Alma 34:28,29 to be charitable – 1 Peter 4;8 teaches “Charity preventeth a multitude of sins.” We are under obligation to serve other.

I love in verse 31 "if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, IMMEDIATELY shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you." Not someday, later or tomorrow- but immediately. That, to me, is the greatest message of hope the Atonement has to offer. It is accessible immediately to us. We can be blessed immediately if we are humble. The Atonement can work immediately in our lives. It all depends on our choices and our faith. The ransom has been paid. It is up to us to accept it.

And of course, I love Justice and Mercy. What an amazing truth. I used to think that we were not able to pay the price for our sins. But we are. The price is death. Through the mercy of Jesus Christ our price has been renegotiated, our payment plan arranged. He is truly our mediator, or advocate or Savior and our friend.

Then Amulek added a warning (Alma 34 32-35) Do not procrastinate your repentance—prepare now to meet God. The gospel training we receive as we study, pray, and obey prepares us for what is ahead. We need to remember that time and circumstances we quickly rob you of opportunity. Procrastination is the thief of eternal life. We must act now! Waste is a lack of increase.

Bruce R. McConkie said: “I knew a man, now deceased, not a member of the Church, who was a degenerate old reprobate who found pleasure, as he supposed, I living after the manner of the world. A cigarette dangled from his lips, alcohol stenched his breath, and profane and bawdy stories defiled his lips. His moral status left much to be desired. His wife was a member of the Church, as faithful as she could be under the circumstances. One day she said to him, ‘You know the Church is true; why won’t you be baptized?’ He replied, ‘Of course I know the Church is true, but I have no intention of changing my habits in order to join it. I prefer to live the way I do. But that doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I know that as soon as I die, you’ll have someone go to the temple and do the work for me and everything will come out all right in the end anyway.’ He died and she had the work done in the temple. We do not sit in judgment and deny vicarious ordinances to people. But what will it profit him?”

At the end of his talk, Amulek included another recipe for a meaningful, fulfilling life - Receive the Holy Ghost (instead of contending against it), be humble, take the name of Christ, worship God wherever you are, be grateful daily, be watchful, pray continually, have patience, bear your afflictions with hope (Alma 39 –41).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Conference talks

Today my good home teachers came to visit my family.  We chatted about how simple the procedure of sustaining the church leadership is and how it is a sign of our commitment to the gospel and to following the prophets.  When we sustain the prophets and apostles we need to commit to following their counsel.  As I thought more about this little chat I recommitted to studying our current scriptures.  I recommitted to studying the current Conference issue and to apply the the thoughts, inspiration and teachings found there.

I know it makes a difference.  I was able to study the last Conference issue with success and I feel closer than ever to being a real saint... one that can follow the counsel of the Prophet who taught us that we should "live so that we are worthy sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father."

Today I read President Thomas S Monson's opening address entitled As We Gather Once Again.  What a perfect reminder of what Conference is for!!!  "... to strength one another, to extend encouragement, to provide, comfort, to build faith... to "seek answers to questions... to be enlightened and uplifted."

"May you find the incentive and the courage to {make changes where needed} as you listen (and study) the inspired words to be spoken."

Truly, this work is unstoppable.

I felt that President Monson wants us to look for the good in the world.

I came away reminded that I needed to increase mt devotion to the gospel, increase my love and care for others, and increase service.

So much to think about...

I also read President Boyd K. Packer's talk entitled And a Little Child Shall lead them.

Here are the things that stood out to me:

"... happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them."  I have 5 kids.  They are what bring my much disappointment, frustration and anguish, but they also bring me much joy.  I know have the opportunity of adding a grandchild to the mix.  Now that is what this is all about!  I have never felt such joy as hold him and watching him respond to his mom and his dad!

"Repentance and lasting hops that forgiveness brings will always be worth the effort."  I really want my children and grandchildren to understand this principle... I just need to understand it better myself.

The "first calling - from which [you] will never be release - is [family].  My son said yesterday that he only needed 100 hours of practice and he didn't need me anymore.  I reminded him that he was always going to need his mom.  He rolled his eyes, but I know he knows I am right... even if he thinks his friends and their family is far better than his own family.  My hope is that someday, he will see the light.  Mom is still cool.  I can always dream.

I "learn far more about what really matters from [my] children than [I] did from [my] parents"... and I had awesome parents.

My life really does revolve around my kids.  As they all start flying away I'm finding that I don't seem to have a place in the world.  At least one set of grand kids will live near me so I can still have purpose.

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 33

For some reason, this verse struck a chord with me as I read Alma 33:

11 And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son.

I was reminded of a great talk on the Atonement today in Sacrament Meeting.  A young man that I am close to and is the best friend of my wayward son was also giving his farewell talk before he leaves on his mission tomorrow.  His testimony was powerful - an answer to prayer because my son heard it.  Now the prayer is that it will move him - that it will be a seed to be planted and grown.  My relationship with my Savior is most prevalent on my mind and in my heart today.

It is interesting to me the Lord gets upset with these people because they don't understand what the Savior did for them, and their relationship with Him. That's how important it is.  But as I watch my son, I am beginning to see that this "upset" is more sadness and disappointment.

In the scriptures we read that Eternal Life is to know God and Jesus Christ. I have to remind myself of that when I get wrapped up in the minutia of life: chores, work, errands, housecleaning, laundry, dieting, etc. I have to bring myself to the place- mentally, spiritually and emotionally- where I can put those things into perspective and look to Him for my worth, not my clean house, the success of my children, the scale or anything else. I need to look at my relationship and testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ and Our Father, Heavenly Father. If that is OK- everything else will work itself out in the end.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 32

Faith, humility, mercy, angels communicating, and afflictions. Full chapter. I love this chapter! I love how, once again, a tree is used as a symbol of a gospel principle.

In each situation the tree represents the same thing… Tree of Life = Jesus Christ/ His gospel; Olive Tree = light and there about 20 symbolic connections between the olive tree and Jesus Christ; Tree of Faith = Jesus Christ…

Alma compares “the word” not faith to a seed. “The word” refers to the gospel, centering in Jesus Christ. Alma is not just describing what faith is or how it is developed. He is describing that faith in the gospel can DO… thus Alma 32-34 should be studied together.

I wish I understood faith more. Perhaps my issues with faith come from wanting that “perfect knowledge” and lacking sufficient “hope” – that trust in things not seen which are still true.

I think there is great power in faith, when truly understood. I know I have faith, and I have a testimony of faith- but there is so much more I don't know.

I understand – at least a basic understanding – that we will know that our testimony is growing when we feel a swelling motion that enlarges our understanding and it will be delicious to us. Faith starts by believing and trusting in His name and then believing in His word. This “desire” is the beginning of true faith.

I love vs. 26-27 “… Now, as I said concerning faith – that it was not a perfect knowledge – even so it is with my word (It takes time to understand the scriptures – time and work and the Spirit). Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, (we need to want to learn and to try His word. We have to use our brains and DO something. He’s not asking us to believe, he is asking us to TRY) and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my word. (It doesn’t take much to make a miracle.)

In order to “grow” a tree, we must “plant” a seed. Here, the seed represents a belief in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement for all mankind – in His gospel; even just a “desire” to believe His doctrine can be the seed we need to plant.

The “ground” is our hearts; where we think and where we feel and desire. Our ground must be prepared – made soft, yielding and humble not hard.

Having planted the seed we must continue to nourish our tender (immature) testimonies carefully that it can grow strong – even deep rooted – if not sun/wind/storms (trials of life) will kill it (not able to endure to the end).

It must become a “tree” to produce fruit and ultimately Eternal Life, peace, comfort, joy, and blessings of living the gospel and living with the Spirit.

This is an individual process. It is not automatic. Just because you were born into a family who attends church or just because you are baptized doesn’t mean you are done and ready to “produce”.

I know that by faith mountains can be moved. Mountains- big, massive rocks. That's power. I know faith can heal. With faith we can see God.

But there is so much more I don't know, so much more I want to know.

What are your thoughts about faith? What have you learned? How have you developed yours?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Salad Day 403

Tuesday, May 15, I tried a new salad that is a definite "do that recipe again!"  I found a recipe called Tomato and Sugar Snap Salad.  I used about 8 oz. of sugar snap peas and steamed them a little... not too much because I wanted to have a little more crunch.  I let them cool as I cut up 2 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 cup of thinly sliced red onions, 1/4 cup balsamic salad dressing, 2 Tbs. of chopped fresh basil, and 1/2 cup of feta cheese.  It was so yummy!  I can't wait to try it again with the peas from my garden.  I even enjoyed the left-overs today for lunch.

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 31

How interesting Alma's reaction to the Zoramites. He was so saddened by them, showing even more sorrow for them then the Lamanites he had served. The Lamanite's did not know God, and therefore made poor- and violent - choices. But, the grief that Alma felt was due to the fact that the Zoramites took something which was sacred and perverted it.

The damage of pride goes deep. But, how often do we see people around us, placing themselves above others for all manner of reasons? So sad.

I do love how it speaks in the beginning that the power of the word is stronger than the sword.

Alma 31:5 "it had a more powerful effect...than a sword, or anything else"

The central theme of the Zoramite account is the answer to the question about the reality of the coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, these chapters of Alma 31-34 are vital to the divine design of the BoM as another testament of Jesus Christ. (BoM Reference Companion,)

The Zoramite prayer is a SELF centered prayer… Heart set on gold, silver, vain things…We are better… We cannot mix with others; we are separate…Boasting; pride. Do you ever look at somebody else and immediately dismiss them in your mind as being unimportant, beneath you, or a “nobody” because they are poor, heavy, unattractive, nerdy, “stupid”?

All of us have talents that others don’t…does that make you any better than they? Satan is the master of pride—he instigated it in the pre-mortal world. Whether you verbalize it or not (like the Zoramites), when we compare ourselves to someone else and find we are better, faster, higher, smarter, richer, more this and more that and we look down on them for not being the same, then we are no different than the Zoramites. All of us will be judged by our thoughts, words and deeds.

Boyd K. Packer said: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”

What Alma says next in his prayer is rather unexpected. His prayer is for others… Give us patience… Their souls are precious… Give us power and wisdom to bring our brethren to thee… Grant us success to bring people to Christ.

What did you think/learn today?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Foot in Front of the Other...

I really haven't had my heart in this fitness thing.

I think the last couple of years have been disappointing. I thought that discovering my allergy to wheat, soy and milk would change my weight. It didn't. I stayed the same. As a result I basically got to the point that I don't care...

It's a lie. I do care. I do want better health. I'd love to find clothes in a store that actually fit me. I'd love to find work out clothes that fit me. I tried yesterday and was not successful.

So I'm in a quandary.

At any rate, I got up today determined to do better today than I did yesterday. So far it is working even if I did eat a box of Reeses Pieces. What could I do? It was a gift. I did walk a mile and a half. I did eat healthy meals thus far. I did go to bed at a decent hour. I'd say that is more pluses then minuses.

Here is to the next foot in front of the other.

Angry Birds

 I helped out with the high school's spring play - Honk! the Musical.  At the end of the show I wanted to do something for the cast and crew that didn't brake the bank.  My daughter and I wandered around the store looking for inspiration.  We finally settled on a flock of birds.  The show was about ducks and geese and other assorted birds.  We took Tootsie Pops and covered them with various colors of tissue paper.  We aren't fancy, so we taped them together and taped small pieces of yellow tissue paper on their faces for beaks.  I drew little eyes on the "birds and pulled out the paper at the bottom to make "wings".  We then arranged them in a floral vase and added extra feathers as a garnish.  They turned out so cute!  I was surprised.  We called them our little "angry birds."  Only one bird had angry eyes, but we labelled it "angry birds" because we were both a little frustrated with behavior around us.   There is nothing like doing something nice for someone else to make things better.  It's even better when you do something crafty and even a bit trashy.  LOL.  Neither one of us think it was the best looking crafty thing we have ever seen.  However, it did help us feel better.  LOL.

The Most Talented Hannah Boyack

Hannah is growing into one incredible performer.  She is only 14 and sings like a pro.  She always amazes me.  In April, she was asked to sing for the Mr. and Ms. Central pageant.  The pageant earned money for a kid in the school who needed extra help because an operation had left him paralysed.  I believe the song she chose was perfect.  His family is doing all they can to help him be in dependant and to truly "fly" on his own.  Her song at the end of the show, while judges finished their tallies was perfect.  Maybe someday she will be famous.  Meanwhile, she is a star in my heart.

Hannah singing Fly, Fly Away

She also was given the opportunity to sing with the Salem Chamber Orchestra cello section.  They came to Monmouth to perform for the elementary schools.  They requested that a students sing a section of Summertime from Porgy and Bess, as part of their program.  Jeff Witt selected Hannah.  The group0 expected a high school student,.  They were shocked to learn she was only a 8th grade student.  They were so impressed with Hannah's talent that they changed their original plan and had her sing the entire song.

Hannah singing Summertime from Porgy and Bess

She is most definitely the best 14 year old singer I've ever heard!  Maybe it will pay for school someday.  ;)

Someone is getting BIG!


Benjermin is getting so big!  Kimber and Ray blessed him this month.  My parents came over from Bend.  Ray's grandparents came from Utah.  My mom helped me make his blessing outfit.  John got him a Missionary tag.  He was so cute!  He was nice through the blessing.  No crying.  Kimber is doing a great job as a new parent.  I have to say, being a grandparents is the best!  One of the best parts of being a grandparent is that you can spoil the kids... you actually have the means.  When my kids were little I was too poor to spoil them.  I'm having a great time finding little things to will bring a smile to a face... like a great stroller I found at a second hand store and the airplane jumpy thing.  :)

Honk the Musical - Family adventure...

This spring we all tried something a little new... well new for Chad.  Chad decided to try-out for the school musical - Honk.  He was cast as the role of the bull frog.  He also played a bird in the beginning scenes of the show.  Hannah was cast as Henriette the hen.  She had a couple singing lines and I have to say she was my favorite bird.  Lillian was cast as one of the Ugly Ducklings 7 siblings.   She did a great job.  Even without a mic I could hear her strong voice during the songs she was assigned to sing.
Chad brought the house down with his hilarious portrayal of the Bull frog.  He was ask to make the frog seem a bit spacey and very "hippy".  He must have been successful.  When the local paper came, the reporter asked the director, "Just how stoned is that frog supposed to be?"  LOL.  Thankfully, I can report he was NOT stoned.

The main characteristic of the frog is that he thinks he is funny.... but he is not.  Chad used his grandpa as his inspiration.  LOL.  All the "froggettes" acted like grandma and rolled their eyes.  It made me laugh every time.... all too familiar!

Hannah fits right in with the high school crowd.  She will be a freshman next year.  She will be a major contender.  Not only did she prove herself to be as great actor (hence the best bird in the yard), an untouchable singer, but she proved that she works harder than any of the other high school students.  She never missed a set building day.  She handled all the cordless mics.  She was the last student to leave because she was working.  She also defended the underdog and was a joy to be around.  Those high school students should feel intimidated.  She is a contender.  She has made her mark.

I think is was also memorable because we all got to see Chad dance once again.  LOL.  The dancing wasn't his favorite.  I'm pretty sure he complained ever time he had to go to dance practice.  It might be what holds him back from ever doing a musical again.  That is ok.  I could use him on the sound board.  I really don't have a good sound guy.  I'd love it if he would try his hand at sound.

Lillian and her fellow baby ducks sat for a good 20 minutes in these "eggs" I made.  I took me awhile to dream up how to create eggs the actors could "hatch" from.  I finally used, fleece and hula hoops.  Don't ask.  It was pretty crazy that worked.  I even made a "double-yolker" that two kids "hatched" from.  In all, I'd say the eggs were a hit.

This was by far the simplest set I've designed.  Originally, we were going to take the show to all the elementary schools.  In the end, the elementary schools came to us.  We did two shows with 600 students each.  Our night time audiences were respectable as well... between 175 and 250 each performance.  Not bad.  We paid for the show and have seed money for next season which includes Little Mermaid Jr, Once Upon a Mattress and The Importance of Being Ernest.

In all.... it was a great experience... all but the fact that I had very little help on the set.  Most of the painting and building was Hannah and myself.  Good to know I can still operate a saw and a cordless drill without too much flinching.  LOL.

We all had a GREAT time!  Sad if you missed it!

Salad Days 391-402

Hard to believe I've had 402 days in a row with some kind of salad.  I think it's great... but I'm disappointed that all these salads haven't reflected on the scale.

Thursday, May 3 I had a yummy chef type salad.  John made it for me.  I got home late due to Honk rehearsals and I was too tired to make food.  What a nice boy.

Friday, May 4, I went wild and added sprouts.

Saturday, May 5 was a busy day with tech for Honk and family in town for the baby blessing of Ben.  I only had time for a basic salad greens salad.

Sunday, May 6, I had a roast pepper salad.   It's one of my favorite salads.  After church and a meeting for my summer job, I headed to the Jessops for dinner.  They served burgers and I made a salad of all the fixings on the table.

Monday, May 7, I made a salad with salad greens, dried cranberries, pecans, red onions and raspberry vinaigrette.  It turned out good.

Tuesday, May 8 I ate a green salad with tomatoes, onions and everything "free" ranch.

Wednesday, May 9 I made a salad with greens, red onions, olives, and tomatoes with Italian dressings.

Thursday, May 10 I made a fruit salad sprinkled with granola.  It was yummy with a little honey flavored Greek yogurt.

Friday, May 11 I had a basic salad... once again.

Saturday we had two shows of Honk.  Between shows we had a local restaurant, SanAntonios, delivered dinner.  I made my choices into a taco salad.  It is a yummy place to eat and it was a delicious salad.

Sunday, May 13 was Mother's Day.  I had to laugh that my family made a Jello salad for my Mother's Day dinner.  Can't get much more "Mormon" than that.  LOL.  This salad was raspberry Jello, raspberries (my favorite) and Cool Whip.  It might be cliche, but it was yummy.

Monday, May 14 I felt adventurous and made a Grilled Beet Salad.  We were able to harvest a few beets and carrots left over from last years garden.  First, I cut up the beets in bite size pieces and cooked them until they were soft.  Meanwhile, I prepared 1 medium onion cut into wedges, a few carrots, sliced, and olive oil.  When the beets were soft, I added them to the carrots and onions and "grilled" them in the oven on broil.  I'd use a grill, but we don't have a working one.  I grilled them for about 20 minutes.  While they were grilling, I made a dressing with 3 Tbs of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp of rosemary, 1 clove of minced garlic,1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  I thought that the chicken sausages I was making would go well with the mix.  I left off the Gorgonzola cheese because I used the chicken sausage... and the pecans, because I didn't have any.  It turned out really good.  That should be a repeat salad.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 30

I did read on Saturday and Sunday.... I just read Old Testiment stuff for my seminary lessons this week.  There really hasn't been a minute to spare this weekend.  Honk closed Saturday.  This week I'm off and running with a Band Concert and a Dance Recital in the HS space.  Still have one crazy week ahead of me.

Alma 30 was an interesting chapter for me because I realised why I felt so strongly why I needed to let C make his own choices regarding religion... no matter how hard it was for me.
"Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve."

We must all choose for ourselves.  Hard to watch loved ones choose something that isn't the gospel.

"...if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him."

It is hard to not want to levy punishments for not going to church.  I am realising more and more that there is more power in an invitaion and allowing a choice to happen.  Rules still need to exist, but "men should be judged according to their crimes."  Lack of faith is not a crime... though it is a tradgity.

The story of Korihor is tragic.  It is so familiar.  It hurts.

How can people miss that God is real?  All things prove that He is.  The earth.  The beauty on the earth.  Animals.  People.  Scripture.  Sad too many miss it.

The devil does not support his children. He uses all kinds of tactics and techniques to get us to follow him, and yet the only thing he can deliver is pain, sorrow and hell. Harsh words, but true.

I found it interesting, in verse 53, the pattern that was used by the adversary to ensnare Korihor.

He came to Korihor in an appealing way.

He disregarded truth and replaced it with lies that please the carnal mind.

He instructed Korihor to repeat those words until...

Korihor grew to believe them himself.

This verse tells me that Korihor didn't believe what the devilish "angel" told him up front, but it was appealing to him, so he followed it and taught it to the point he actually believed it himself.

There is a term in psychology called cognitive dissonance. It is the unsettled feeling we have when our actions do not align with our beliefs. To get rid of that feeling one of two things must happen:

We change our behavior to match our beliefs or

We change our beliefs to match our behavior.

Korihor chose option two. That is actually not uncommon. That's why many fall away from the church. They commit sin, big or small, and rather than changing the behavior (repentance) they change their beliefs to match/justify the behavior- ie, it can't be a sin if there is no God saying it's wrong, etc.

Korihor was too evil, too stubborn, too wicked- and too late.

Option one is the more difficult of the two- but it is the only way (in a gospel sense) to obtain Salvation. Anything less might make the immediate unsettled feeling disappear, because may have successfully (in our minds) justified our behavior by changing what we believe- but it does nothing for our eternal salvation.

Interesting chapter. Sad- but one that makes me think.

What did you think/learn today?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 29

I read yesterday, but I was too tired to blog.

I have often wished I had the voice of an angel... in more ways than one.

I have the words "My Joy Prayer" written next to this chapter. I love it! It is such a sweet and intimate look into Alma's soul. His joy comes from being an instrument in God's hands. Mine does too.

It's good to see the human side of him. Even he struggles to be happy with what has been allotted him- as good as it was. I know I've struggled with that, too at times. I wish I could do more- be more, help more, serve more, etc. Sometimes I have to pull myself back and remind myself of all that I do have that already brings me joy.

God is merciful. He grants unto us only that which we desire. Ultimately, it is really us who choose who we will be and where we will go. We can blame it on everyone and everything, but in the end, we really get what we want. Interesting way to look at things.

What did you think/learn today?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 28

We are now in the War Chapters.

It's amazing, when they do the recap of the past 15 years, just how much carnage and sorrow there was. Even in the sorrow, the Nephites knew that peace and understanding would only come from the Lord. They fasted and prayed in the face of adversity and pain.

We also learn in this chapter what causes the inequality of men. It's not intelligence, race, station or any other earthly factor: It is sin. That is the only thing that differentiates us in God's eyes. That's one of the reasons I love to go to the temple- we are all equal, and share a sense of unity and oneness in purpose and potential.

Sometimes I get frustrated, when it feels like I am doing all I can and sometimes it seems that I'm just not making a difference. I have to tell myself that maybe, just maybe, things would be or could be worse if I weren't trying my hardest. Sometimes we don't see the difference we make-but God always does.

What did you think/learn today?

Shadowing the Savior in Seminary

It is a long week.

Saturday I had the last tech rehearsal for Honk and family came in town for baby Ben’s blessing. After rehearsal, my mom helped me make a baby blessing outfit. Sunday we blessed my first grandson and through a brunch to celebrate.

I don’t usually work on a Sunday, but an important meeting for a new job I’m doing over the summer was moved to Sunday afternoon. I spent a couple hours in meetings. Then I stopped by the Jessop’s for dinner in celebration of Jon going through the temple for the first time since he leaves on his mission in a couple weeks.

Monday was spent getting Honk ready and doing all those little finishing touches. I’ve been have trouble with the sound system and I spent some time on the phone with the sound engineers to work it all out. Then I buzzed over to Salem for orientation for CET. CET is shaping up to be a wild ride. What did I get myself into? LOL. With a quick stop back at the HS on the way home to solve one last problem before Tuesday’s marathon, I finally got home around 9:30pm.

Tuesday I went straight to the HS from seminary. Let me tell you, it is hard to get 3 kids out the door in 10 minutes! I went to work hanging and setting 6 new lights, changing 4 lamps, and reprogramming the board… and once again trouble shooting sound issues. I sure wish people would stop pushing buttons! I finished just in time for 550 kids to arrive from area elementary schools for your 9:30 performance. We got a quick lunch before we prepped for 630 kids for our second performance. I ran home and taught 3 voice lessons and headed back to the school for our 6:30 performance for local senior citizens. Home late left me with little time to prep for Seminary.

My usual MO is to spend all Sunday afternoon studying the material and sketching out lesson ideas. Then I spend about an hour prepping the lesson the day before. That has not worked this week. I am way behind!

Today I needed to teach the end of Jeremiah and Lamentations. I didn’t feel ready. I had found an idea labeled “Windows into the soul of a prophet”. I introduced it by reminding the students that Jeremiah was a extraordinary prophet. Called to work with people though rampant apostasy and bitter opposition, he never faltered and rarely flinched throughout his ministry. His life and writings are exceptional treasures and worth a great investment of time and reflection. And some of the verses will require time and reflection. Jeremiah is distanced from us not just by time and geography, but by language and idiom and circumstance and translation. But your knowledge of the plan of salvation and the unchangeableness of God will sustain you. Pay a price and the results will be spectacular.

We talked about how Jeremiah’s time and the conflicts around him were much like is happening in the world today.

Eyes are often said to be the windows to the soul. I wanted to explore the windows of Jeremiah’s soul so that we could all gain a better understanding. Then I gave a “window” to pairs of students with a few quotes and scriptures to read and discuss and had them teach that principle to the rest of the class. Here is the “window” and what the kids shared as their insight:

Window #1. A CALL TO SERVE. Jeremiah was called to his ministry by God. Jeremiah, like so many others called and sent was afraid. But God doesn’t let send people to work things out on their own. He gives us everything we need.

Jeremiah was to root out, pull down, destroy, and throw down. He was also to build and to plant. Which do you think prophets would rather do? Which do they most often have to do? Consider the following verses and determine which Jeremiah would be doing most of the time:

Window #2: PERSECUTION. In his call, the Lord warned Jeremiah that the kings, the princes, the priests, and the people would oppose him, and they did. But the antagonism against him become much more personal than that. My students pointed out that Jeremiah was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter.

Window #3: LOVE. He was motivated to do what he did because he loved the people. Jeremiah had charity for his people, deaf and wicked and hateful though they were. He loved them.

Window #4: DISCOURAGEMENT. Nearly everyone gets discouraged. Bad days come with distressing regularity. Sometimes doing the right thing at the right time is hard.

Window #5: NO SUCCESS. No one was repenting. No one was listening. The people were rejecting him.

Window #6: TESTIMONY. Some people change paths when the road is too difficult, choosing instead a path that is not so steep and rugged, or even reversing directions entirely. Jeremiah had enough excuses and enough difficulty to consider such an alternative. But he could not turn away from the thing the Lord had commanded him to do. His testimony gave him courage.

Window #7: COMMITMENT. The testimony of Jeremiah sustained him when his instructions were difficult, dangerous, and even deadly. That testimony became the foundation of his commitment to the work and the word of the Lord.

Window #8: SUFFERING. Jeremiah’s labors with Judah seem to have dragged him into a state of almost continuous suffering. We talked of all the examples in the scriptures.

Window #9: ENDURING. Jeremiah kept going. He finished his assignment from the Lord.

Window #10: LAMENTATIONS. Every word of Jeremiah was fulfilled. Many times the people and the princes and the priests imprisoned him. Often they determined to kill him. But when the judgments of which he had prophesied had finally come, what did he do? He lamented over the loss of his people.

As I wrote down what the kids were sharing as “The Windows to a Prophets Fire” I began to get excited! I was learning! This list confirmed that Jeremiah, like all prophets, was a shadow of Jesus Christ!

Window #1. A CALL TO SERVE. Jesus was called to his ministry by God.

Window #2: PERSECUTION. Christ was opposed on every turn. Christ was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter.

Window #3: LOVE. He was motivated to do what he did because he loved the people.

Window #4: DISCOURAGEMENT. The Savior was did experience some level of discouragement. In the Garden of Gethsemane He felt the weight of the world. At that moment, when the Father needed to leave Him, I’m sure the Savior felt the weight of discouragement.

Window #5: NO SUCCESS. Many people reject Christ’s message. Many refuse to repent. Many choose to not listen.

Window #6: TESTIMONY. Christ’s knowledge of the truth carried Him through His difficult hours.

Window #7: COMMITMENT. Jesus showed us the way by committing to God’s plan.

Window #8: SUFFERING. Christ suffered for us. Through His suffering we are all saved.

Window #9: ENDURING. To endure is to finished. Christ finished the work He was sent to do.

Window #10: LAMENTATIONS. Every word of Jesus Christ is fulfilled. He mourns the loss of any of us who choose a different path.

At any rate, it was exciting to teach and learn by the Spirit this morning.

I don’t do justice to the feelings of the morning or the lessons I’ve learned.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 27

Alma 27 is a chapter about joy... real joy.  However, I can't say I've ever been so happy that I've fainted, have you? (vs 17).

Must be nice :)... having that much JOY.

Serious note: Faith and Forgivness- that's what this chapter means to me. The king had the faith in Ammon and in the Lord to do whatever the Lord told Ammon. We can show the same faith as we follow our prophet today.

I also think of the willingness of the Nephites to take in these Lamantites into their land. Remember, these are the same bunch that was hunting them down and warring with them less than a generation ago, and the Nephites had the capability to love, forgive and accept.

I hope I'd be able to do that, but sometimes I don't know. It's not easy to forgive and let go, to accept and move one. Change is hard for some. Dysfunction and grudges become as comfortable as old faded jeans. Anger and resentment, entitlement and pride all taint our ability to change and forgive. It's hard- but not impossible.

I have lots of other thoughts -but I will write them down an other day!

Please share some of your thought with me! I'd love to hear them :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 26

I read Saturday, but I wasn't home long enough to blog.  sunday we blessed baby Ben.  It was a busy day.  I did study my scriptures though... to get ready for Seminary... once again.  no time to blog.

Today I blog.

This is perhaps one of my most favorite verses in all the scriptures:

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

What a brilliant combination of humility and faith. The older I get the more I realize the less I am- the thing is, I don't feel bad about it. I know how small I am- but I have to know that to know how tall God can make me. I know that He can mold me into anything He sees fit: a powerful teacher… a decent writer… a good mother… a good artist. Whatever righteous desire I have, He can do it, if He chooses. The key is to always give the credit where credit is due.

This one hits me as well:

22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God

My favorite words of Ammon are "...for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation." Everything he cherished, everything he was dedicated to the Lord.

My hero.

What did you think/learn today?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 25

As I read Alma 25 I was struck with just how much heart ache could have been avoided if the Lamanites and the people of Amulon (former priest of Noah with his diapers in a twist) had just let go, repented, forgiven and moved on. Amulon on his posy successful fooled the Laminted into anger and many dies as a result. What a waste!

They really had nothing to be mad about. In essence, they were mad because Abinadi was right.

The truth is we all suffer with the same temptation. We want things our way. We want God to answer prayers, but with our answers. We don’t really want to relinquish control. We want to be the one in charge of making sure everyone pays their just dues. It is hard to let go and let God. It is hard to stop controlling every aspect of life and let God take the reins. But it must be done… and it takes work… real work.

In a way, I think this is true conversion… letting go and letting Christ carry our burdens, meanwhile, working hard and doing all that we can to be like Him. Our good works become our practice for becoming more like Him. We must practice… not that we will “arrive” any time soon. It is true, “Practice makes perfect.”

After fighting the process for awhile, they finally wised up and “did bury their weapons of war.” They “did walk in the ways of the Lord.” They “did keep the commandments.” They “did look forward to the coming of Christ.”

Notice what the they started with… “bury the weapons of war.” We, too, must “bury” our weapons of war. We must rid ourselves of the things we hang on to that don’t serve us and help us to move forward. We must forgive (not erasing what has been done, but turning it all over to the wisdom of God). We must repent in faith. We must leave things behind.

When we do we will be like the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi and we will “retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation.”

In the scriptures we read how the Jews had Jesus right there, but didn't see him as their Savior. They 'missed the mark.' The Nephites (including the converted Lamanites) saw the law of Moses for what it was, a precursor to the Savior. They knew that while they were 'doing' the things the Law required, they were still 'looking' to the Savior to come. They weren't distracted. They didn't miss the mark.

As I go about fulfilling my callings, visiting teaching, teaching my children and all my other service in the church, in the community, and at home, it sometimes gets overwhelming. I have to keep myself in check, so I don't 'miss the mark.' The purpose for all of these things is to keep our minds and efforts on the Savior and His Atonement, and its effect in my life and those around me. Commandments are to help us focus on what is important and to help us practice being Christ-like.

What did you think/learn today?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Salad Days 376-390

April 18 I made Coleslaw.  It is surprising how quickly you can make a little bowl of coleslaw.  Still.... it's tasty and it does the trick of getting veggies in the day.
April 19 i made an Anti-pasta salad.  It was ok... not my favorite.  I won't even bother telling you how I made it.

April 20 I made a Grilled onion and Mushroom Salad.  I like this one.  I sauteed an onion and a box of sliced fresh mushrooms.  I added that to a bed of salad greens and a sliced tomatoes.  It's a tasty one!

April 21 I had a Subway salad.  I got the club.  I had oil and vinegar as a dressing.  Sure miss Ranch of Bleu Cheese dressing though.

April 22 I had a plain green salad.  Boring.  But hey!  I still got a salad even if I hadn't been to the store yet.

April 23 I had a Taco Salad.  In many ways, I'd rather have a creamy enchilada... but I resist.  I eat a Mexican flavored salad instead.

April 24 I had salad greens topped with Italian dressing and a tablespoon of Feta cheese.

April 25 I had a chicken salad with salad greens, toasted pecans and Italian dressings.

April 26 I was working on the Honk set and my friend got me a chicken salad with Raspberry vinaigrette for Burgeville.  It hit the spot.

April 27 I was still working long hours with Honk, had a Stake Activity with Lillian and didn't have time to eat.  I caved and got a salad from subway.

April 28 I went to a restaurant with my hubby.  I got a Fajita salad... Well I made it a salad.  We shared the Fajitas.

April 29 my daughter helped me make a yummy chicken pasta salad.  It was so yummy I ate it April 30th too!  We used rice noodles, veggies, and an oil and vinegar dressing.

May 1 I had a Chef salad with Honey Mustard dressing.

May 2 I had an Asparagus salad.  I like asparagus... but I wasn't too impressed with the salad.

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 24

These past couple of chapters have got me thinking.

Men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire. (See Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 192.)

Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.)

They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.)

Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to LIVE for Him.

Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians.

They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.) (Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6 7).

These changes can continue throughout our lives as we faithfully keep our covenants.

The people in these chapters made this mighty change work for them. I want it to work in my life too.

We can see how powerful the influence is that parents have on their children and grandchildren. When one person rejects or leaves the gospel, often times they become the worst of enemies, and that influence affect others for generations to come.

The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi took their temptation, their weaknesses, and buried them deep. They wanted to insure that there would be no chance that they would return to their destructive ways. They did much more than covenant not to take up weapons of war again- they would offer their own life rather than take another’s; quick to be selfless rather than selfish; become an industrious people [ it has been said that the Savior choose His disciples while they were at work; while Satan chooses his disciples from those who are idle]).

What would I write on “a sword” and bury that it might be a testimony to God and to men of your commitment to live my standards and to keep my covenants?

The Lord works in many ways... verse 26. I totally agree. Sometimes I can only see one or two possible ways to get what I think I want/need, so I find myself petitioning the Lord. Sometimes things go my way, but most often He has another way He wants things to go. Most of the time I don’t get it. But I hope to understand… someday. One of the greatest lessons in this life is to learn to accept that His ways are higher than mine. It may be one of the greatest lessons, but it may also be one of the hardest lessons.

In this chapter a thousand righteous people were slaughtered. At face value, that appears to be a tragedy. But when looked at through God's eyes and purposes, it was His way of converting more. The righteous that were slain were brought back to Him in glory (I have to believe that their pain was lessened as they died) and more than a thousand were converted because of it.

I know in my life I've gone through some very painful things that I see later (or hope to see) were for my benefit and growth, as well as those around me.

The Lord does work in many ways. The key is always trusting Him, even (or especially) when His ways don't always make sense.

What did you think/learn today?

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 23

A couple words stick out to me as I read this chapter: hope and conversion.

There is hope for anyone who wants to come to the Savior with a humble heart and repents. There is hope for our friends and family that are lost, for our enemies, for ourselves.  Good thing too.  We all need it.

Also, the power of conversion is amazing. True conversion is lasting. Though it requires work to keep up, our testimonies are etched into our hearts. We perceive life, our Savior and ourselves differently. Conversion changes us and where we will end up.

What did you think/learn today?

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 22

I didn’t get to post for a couple of days. My computer is having issues. But I did read.

One of the main lessons I learned in Alma 22 is to understand our need for a Savior, we must first know that God lives, that He created all things, and that because of the Fall and our own sins, we are cut off from God’s presence.

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

Ammon started with the basics of the gospel and taught Lamoni by first asking him about his believe in the great spirit. Then he taught him about the creation and the Fall so he could understand why we all need Christ. Aaron did the same with Lamoni’s father.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “A knowledge of God and of his laws is essential to salvation. No one can be saved in ignorance of God” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 43).

After teaching the king about God, Aaron read and explained the scriptures to him. Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “Aaron taught the word of God in a way that emphasizes God’s love and our need for Him” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 52; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 39).

He focused on the Creation, Fall, and the Atonement.

Verses 10–11. God created the heavens and the earth.
Verse 12. God created man in His own image.

Verses 12–13. Because of transgression, man is fallen and is in a carnal state.
Verse 13. The plan of redemption was prepared during the premortal existence.
Verse 14. Fallen man cannot “merit anything of himself.”

Atonement of Jesus Christ
Verse 14. “The sufferings and death of Christ atone for [our] sins, through faith and repentance.”
Verse 14. Christ’s Atonement breaks the bands of death (all will be resurrected).

I always have to pause when I read things about the Atonement of Christ. It is growing in meaning for me I guess.

I like the questions Pres. Ezra Taft Benson asked us all to ponder: “What personal meaning does the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary have for each of us? “What does redemption from the Fall mean to us? In the words of Alma, do we ‘sing the song of redeeming love’? (Alma 5:26)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 107; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

The second great principle I learned from Alma 22 is that giving up our sins and being willing to sacrifice all we have brings eternal life and the joy of knowing God.

Sometimes we are called on to make material sacrifices to receive some of the blessings of the gospel. And though the ordinances are always free, we must meet the requirements to receive them.

King Lamoni’s father was willing to give up EVERYTHING to receive the joy of the gospel. Am I willing to give up everything?

Darn pride! Always gets in the way.

The message has remained the same through the years.

“When we too are willing to give away all our sins to know him and follow him, we too will be filled with the joy of eternal life” (Howard W. Hunter, in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 80; or Ensign, May 1993, 64).

“Giving away all our sins is the only way we can come to know God. In contrast, those who hold back some of their sins will be held back. So will those who refuse to work humbly and honestly with the Lord’s appointed. Partial disclosure to appointed leaders brings full accountability” (Neal A. Maxwell, in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 42; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 32).

“Prayer, fasting, pleading, importuning—all are involved. Striving each day that we live to mirror the Master in our thoughts and actions is necessary. . . .Those who yield ‘their hearts unto God’ (Helaman 3:35), who are willing to give away all their sins to know him (see Alma 22:18), soon find that what they have given up was no sacrifice at all. They feel no sense of loss but rather a deep rejoicing” (Alexander B. Morrison, Feed My Sheep: Leadership Ideas for Latter-day Shepherds [1992], 45, 50).

“Brethren, each of us must surrender our sins if we are to really know Christ. For we do not know Him until we become like Him. There are some, like [the father of Lamoni], who must pray until they, too, have ‘a wicked spirit rooted’ from them so they can find the same joy” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 63; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 43).

Time for some humble reflection.