Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - 2 Nephi through Jarom

Here are my thoughts on all the chapters I read over the past week.  Hope you are keeping up with me.

2 Nephi 27

Don’t you just love the stark difference between the learned and the wise.

I’ve heard that one difference between a smart man and a wise man is their motivation and intention.  I am sure that there are many people much smarter than me, but, I know I can be wise.

I would much rather be a wise person who didn't know a lot, that an extremely intelligent person who causes damage with their perceived knowledge.

2 Nephi 28

Verse 32:  . . . for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long...

 I love that! Despite all the things the Savior knows the people will do during these last days, He still is merciful, and lovingly offers the saving effects of the atonement to them… to us.

It talks about appreciating scriptures too.  It's exciting to know that we have His word, now, and that He will continue to teach us and inspire us line upon line.

He wants us to learn. He wants us to understand. He wants us to know WHY we are here and WHAT we can do now to experience the greatest degree of growth and joy.

He wants us to have His perspective and characteristics.

And He is here, now, offering all of that to anyone--ANYONE--who is willing to listen and partake!

2 Nephi 29

He is the same yesterday, today and forever--across the globe and across time.

Sadly, there are many who don't want more of Him.  I am simply amazed by that!

Of the Book of Mormon Ezra Taft Benson said;  The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today  Those people never had the book - - it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after who the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we need for our day.

God hand-picked, out of centuries of writing and prophecies- ever one of the 6,604 verses in the Book of Mormon because HE wanted us to have each of those verses, every word, to read today. 

It wasn't Mormon who chose, but God.

Read it, share it, testify of it.  We are to flood the world with it.

We will get rejected, for sure.

But, for the few that won't reject us, they will be eternally grateful.

2 Nephi 30

You've heard the saying "Knowledge is power."  The end of this chapter testifies to the deep truth of that saying.

In that day (the Millennium)all things shall be made known. Knowledge will freely be available. It is this knowledge that will give the animals the ability to live peacefully with people. It is this knowledge that will bind Satan.

Joseph Smith once said that a man is saved no faster than he has knowledge.

Knowledge has the power to open our eyes, change our perspective, change our character, change our behavior, bind Satan, and lead us to salvation.

For me, that makes me so want more knowledge!

I think that's one of the reasons why I love my scripture study. So much knowledge in there, and even more that the Spirit gives me as I study and pray.

2 Nephi 31

Verse 3: ...for He speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding...

Verse 10: And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

Verse 12: ...follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

So many see following Jesus as merely 'accepting' or acknowledging Him as their Savior--but it is more. We need to do as He did, and He lived His Father's will and kept His commandments.

Disciples do.

I love that Nephi finished the chapter with his testimony of following the example of the Savior and enduring to the end.

I am not sure there is an example of a more powerful teaching companionship than in this chapter, where God, the Savior, and a prophet of old are the teachers, and we--you and are—are the students they are teaching.

It isn't a story of someone else's conversion (like Enos, Alma the Younger, King Lamoni). This is our story--our conversion. 

They are speaking to us.

And what will we do with it?

2 Nephi 32

This chapter says some pretty powerful things about the Holy Ghost, angels and prayer, but what caught my eye was verse four and my new favorite word: "IF"

In bold letters I have written below this verse, "It is our responsibility!"  We can have it all, IF we choose to.  We can have knowledge, IF we choose to.

In verse four Nephi states very clearly that if we don't understand the words he spake, it was only because we asked not.  We didn't put in the effort; we didn't try.  It is on our shoulders.

It comes down to a simple choice, and yet, so many will not make that choice. So much so that it causes Nephi to mourn (vs 7) because they men choose not to believe and they don't search for knowledge, nor understand it when it is given them so plainly

It's up to us. Do we want it or not?

2 Nephi 33

This chapter is his final farewell, and what a beautiful one it is.

He speaks of the thing of greatest import: The power of the Holy Ghost, the truthfulness of the scriptures which he has written, charity and his intentions, the necessity to believe in Jesus Christ and judgment.

I love the very last sentence, for it really sums up who Nephi was at the core: for thus hath the Lord commended me, and I must obey. Amen.

That's Nephi's bottom line: obedience. He didn't merely act obedient, he was an obedient man.

Ezra Taft Benson once said, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power."

Jacob 1

Jacob was a no-frills kinda guy. He was given a responsibility, and he took it (vs 8), and beyond that, made sure he had the proper authority (17-18) he went out working as hard as he could (19) to fulfill his duty.

He didn't complain; he worked. I admire that. You get a calling, you accept it and serve. It's how we learn, grow and share.  It's how we show our love for Him and gratitude.

Jacob 2

Pride is the root of all evil. Isn't that what they say?  It has the power to blind the eyes, harden the heart, and destroy the soul.  And yet, it is probably the most wide-spread sin. Jacob makes it very clear here that it's to be purged.

I love how the Lord cares for His daughters. His love and esteem for them is obvious, especially in this chapter. I love Him even more for that.

Jacob 3

This is like a family proclamation for the Nephites.  
The key is to stay pure in heart and look to God. Twice Jacob speaks of firmness of mind.  That, to me, means that made a cognitive and purposeful choice to believe. We Decided we will believe, and stick with it, and we'll be blessed.  I've always said that faith it a choice. And it's a choice that opens us up to so many blessings.

Jacob 4

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon.

I love Jacob's humility. And I dearly love his knowledge, understanding, and love for Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father that is shown in these verses.

Verse 4, of course, is a favorite of mine, as it is of most I am sure.

In verse 11 he speaks of us being presented to God, having faith and a good hope. But here he specifies what we should have hope in: Glory in Christ. And for them specifically, glory in Christ before he manifests himself in the flesh.

This verse also tells me that when we die there is a first judgment where we will be present unto God.  The righteous will be presented as the first-fruits of Christ. The wicked will be presented as not.

This first initial judgment makes sense, as we know that it will be the first-fruits of Christ that will come forth on the morning of the First Resurrection with Him. Reason calls for a judgment, or presentation, before God of our worthiness or standing in Christ.

Jacob 5

The Allegory of the Olive Tree depicts the gathering, scattering and final gathering of Israel.

What touched me as I read these verses was how much the Lord loves his Olive Tree- us.  He planned, worked, pruned and nourished- all so that He could save the tree.  He stated more than once, "It grievest me that I may lose this tree."

Saving Israel isn't a casual undertaking.  The Lord put his best servant (Joseph Smith) to work in the field.  Then, in verse 15, He says, "Let U go down..."  He worked in the vineyard with His own hands.
The Lord, our Savior, loves Israel- the blessed nation.  He loves us so much that He came down, in the flesh, to live among us, teach us, be an example to us, and ultimately sacrifice Himself for us.

As I read, I realize the tender love Heavenly Father and the Savior have for me. The work, the planning, the sorrow and the He experiences as He goes about His work and His glory is real.
The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.

It's interesting what we get out of the scriptures at different times in our lives.

Repeatedly the Lord is clear how much He finds joy in our success. It is also very clear that we really are His work and His glory, for he repeatedly says, "for mine own purpose,' or 'unto mine own self,' etc.

I also love how the word WE and US is used. We, down here, are not alone in this work of gathering Israel--missionary work. He is laboring beside us, preparing people, inspiring people, and leading us to where we need to be to plant seeds and reap the harvest.

It's not an easy work. There is a lot of rejection in missionary work. In verse 70 is tells how the Lord sent out his servants, and they came back with only a few.  But, it is the work we've been called to--and we will be blessed for doing it (verse 75.)

Elder Dean L Larson said: "You have come to the earth when the foundation has been laid for this great work. The gospel has been restored for the last time. The Church has been established in almost every part of the world. The stage has been set for the final dramatic scenes to be enacted. You will be the principle players. You are among the last laborers in the vineyard. This is the yoke that is set upon your necks. This is the service for which you are chosen."

We have a responsibility and a calling, and He is depending on Us to step up and do all that we can to spread the gospel and bring His children home.
Jacob 6
I will be out of town this week. I'm still reading, but my posting here will be sparse!

I have grown to love Jacob, and will miss his love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as is apparent in verse 4.  He truly understood the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel and the nature of God and our Savior.

Jacob 7

Sherem--the first true anti-Christ of the Book of Mormon. How would you like that as your legacy?

It was interesting to note in verse 4 that he was extremely intelligent, having a perfect knowledge of language and, it seems, the psychology of people. I always tell me kids that they have gifts, but that they should use their powers for good.

Sherem didn't.


I love his story!

I love how he had so much faith in God that when the Lord told Enos he was forgiven; Enos believed him; for he knew God could not lie.

There were wars and missionary work happening.

It's hard for me to grasp what it really might have been like for them in their daily lives. I hope someday I'll be able to catch a glimpse of it. Until then, it is enough for me to understand the lessons they are trying to teach me: Be obedient and be prepared! (verse 9)


What joy they must have felt when they discovered the people of Zarahemla!  Can you imagine?  They thought they were alone in this great land, then to discover another people.

I wonder what the blending of cultures and beliefs were like.  What an awesome experience!

I love verse 26, where Amaleki pleads with us to come unto Christ. Isn't that the message of the entire Book of Mormon. It is the message, in fact, of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It permeates every nook and cranny of our religion, in every time and in every place.

Come unto Him.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - Days 14-16

So… I am still reading.  Are you?  I just don’t always have time to write my thoughts.  Thus, today I will give you my thoughts on 2 Nephi 10- 26.

2 Nephi 10

Don’t you love verses 23-25?  They speak of agency. Agency is what we fought so hard for… why we really are here.  Jacob lays all of this heavy, depressing stuff on them, then he says, "Hey, cheer up, though. ‘Cuz you get to choose for yourself." Kind of funny when you think about it.  Jacob is right, our agency is reason to rejoice. We do get to choose what we want. The interesting thing is what choice is important: The Lord's way or the devil's way.

We can choose to align our will with the Lord and have eternal life, or to the devil, and have eternal misery and destruction.

When he puts it that way, the choice seems like a no-brainer. But, in our day, the choices can sometimes seem so watered down, even innocuous. Missing church once in a while, taking off after Sacrament meeting, not fasting or paying tithing, going to a movie on Sunday...

None of the above will bring immediate discomfort, or call down rain-fire from hell.  But, when putting all of our choices into one of the two categories Jacob listed, which ones do they fall under? There isn't a third option that says: or you can choose stuff that makes no difference.  Nope, there are only two choices. The Lord's will, or the devil's. It's pretty simple.

2 Nephi 11

I love you Nephi refers to Jesus Christ as MY Savior. Not The, but My. He understood that the Savior died, not just for a collection or group of  people, but individuals. For himself.

It reminds me to look at MY Savior that way. He knows me. He knows I'm sick. He knows what I need. He can give me the strength to get well. He can forgive me. Only He can save me.

2 Nephi 12

The first of Isaiah and prophecies  Are you ready? Do you feel like you’re about to go into a foreign movie in a language you don't understand? You've heard good reviews, and now the premise, but can't understand a word they say?

BUT, the more I and study Isaiah, the more I understand.
Verse 2 and 3 are about the restoration of the gospel, and of temples.

I love in verse 3, where it shows the two-way, symbiotic relationship we should have with the Lord: and HE will teach us of His ways, and WE will walk in His paths.

We are here working WITH the Lord, and through Him, for our salvation. We are not alone or lost. What a comforting feeling that is.

Then you read about all those that have chosen not to walk after His paths, either out of ignorance or rebellion. (and when you think about that, there really are only three states a person could ever live in: ignorance, obedience, or rebellion. Everyone on the earth falls into one of those three.)

Left to our own devices, without a Higher compass to guide us or law to define what is right, most of us would gravitate towards the middle of good, or lower.  And, by Isaiah's prophecy, we can see that many will be lifted up in pride.  I have written next to verse 22: Don't trust in the arm of flesh.

2 Nephi 13

I love it when Isaiah throws out a beautiful, plain bone among his bits and pieces of prophecy.  Verse 9: The show of their countenance doth witness against them...

When we are judged it will be what on what we've done or thought, but who we've become.  How much have we become like Christ? How much of his image do we have in our countenance?  We cannot fake that, nor excuse it away.  Our countenance will witness to Him of who we are and what we've become.

That being said, what we think, and what we do lead to the state of that countenance, so they are extremely important, as show in verse 10: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

I know, for me, I don't want to feel the shame spoken of in verse 17. I want to be able to hold my head high and be told it is well, as in verse 10.

2 Nephi 14

Of verses 5-6 in this chapter, and the matching verses in Isaiah 4, Orson Pratt once said: The time is to come when God will meet with all the congregation of his Saints, and to show his approval and that He does love them, He will work a miracle by covering them in a cloud of His glory. I do not mead something that is invisible, but I meant that same order o things which once existed on earth so far as the tabernacle of Moses was concerned, which was carried in the midst of the children of Jacob as they journeyed in the wilderness...But in the latter days there will be people so pure in Mount Zion, with a house established upon the tops of the mountains, that God will manifest Himself, not only in their temple, and upon all their assemblies, with a visible cloud during the day, but when night shall come, if they shall be assembled for worship, God will meet with them by His pillar of fire; and when they retire to their habitations, behold each habitation will be lighted up by the glory of God- a pillar of flaming fire by night. 

2 Nephi 15

To me this chapter is about knowledge. The early House of Israel were not good stewards of the knowledge that had been given them, thus over time it was taken away.  Verse 13 speaks of that: Therefore, my people  are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge...

We've all heard it said that 'Ignorance is bliss.' But it is clear here that it is not.

Joseph Smith said: A man is saved no faster than he has knowledge.

2 Nephi 16

This chapter talks about callings. Though the manner in which our callings were extended were different, the authority by which we were called is the same.

And though the language we accepted our callings was different, our willingness to accept them and serve are the same.

Isaiah must have felt overwhelmed. I know sometimes when I receive a call or an opportunity where I have been asked to do something that might be out of my comfort zone I have felt overwhelmed. Sometimes, during those times, the adversary works extra hard on me, making me feel unqualified, unworthy and unable to do what I have been asked. At those times, I need to turn to the Lord for help, support and guidance, as Isaiah did.

Accepting a calling is an act of faith. It is the Lord that calls people.

How can I say no to the Lord? After all He has done for me?  "I know you died for me, but I'd rather not...."  I couldn't imagine.

2 Nephi 17

I was struck by verse 9: If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

I think that is a truth that transcends the conversation and speaks to life. When we choose not to believe in the Lord and His purposes, we will not have a foundation to stand on. We will not be 'established,' strong, firm, or immovable.

2 Nephi 18

2 Nephi 18:17. “I Will Wait upon the Lord”  Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles spoke of the spiritual strength that follows when we place our trust in the Lord: “As we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we must
battle our pain day by day and sometimes hour by hour, even moment by moment; but in the end, we understand that marvelous counsel given to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he struggled with his pain of feeling forgotten and isolated in Liberty Jail: “‘My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; “‘And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes’ (D&C 121:7–8). “My dear brothers and sisters, when pain, tests, and trials come in life, draw near to the Savior. ‘Wait upon the Lord, . . . look for him’ (Isaiah 8:17; 2 Nephi 18:17). ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:31). Healing comes in the Lord’s time and the Lord’s way; be patient” (in Conference
Report, Oct. 1998, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 17).

2 Nephi 19

I love verse 6, with the celebration of His birth and the beautiful names and titles He holds.

But the one sentence that struck me this morning was the very last one in the chapter: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still."

I love that! I love that, even though we mess up, He will always be there, waiting for us to change. The Atonement is always there for us.

His hand is stretched out still. And all we have to do is take it.

2 Nephi 20

2 Nephi 20:16–19. The Wicked to Be Destroyed in One Day
• Isaiah used the fall of Assyria as a type and shadow of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. Elder Bruce R. McConkie instructed readers of this
passage how to arrange and understand the writings in the context of the Second Coming: “It is Isaiah, speaking of the Second Coming, who says: ‘And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.’ So it is said of the day of burning when the vineyard is cleansed. ‘And [the fire] shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body,’ the account continues.  ‘And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.’ The wickedness of men is so widespread, and their evils are so great, that few—comparatively—shall abide the day. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day’—the day of burning, the day when every corruptible thing is consumed, the day when few men are left—‘that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.’ (Isa. 10:17–21.) They shall be gathered after the coming of the Lord."

2 Nephi 21

Joseph Smith once said that a man is saved no faster than he has knowledge. How exciting will it be with the knowledge of God will cover the earth?!?

In D&C 121:32-34, the Lord Himself speaks of that: Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things--Things which have passed, and hidden thins which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose of the end thereof--Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.

He continues to extend a beautiful promise to the righteous: And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory. Wherefore, fear not even unto death: for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.

2 Nephi 22

When Isaiah chooses to write plainly, it sings to my heard. I echo his phrases:

"O Lord, I will praise the..."

"I will trust, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he has also become my salvation..."

I love this phrase:  "Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." This makes me think of the woman the well, and, for personal reasons, bears a sweet significance to me.

2 Nephi 23

Verse 3: I have commanded my sanctified ones.I have also called my mighty ones...

This is is the Lord speaking.  I wonder who, in our day, are the sanctified ones, the mighty ones. I assume it is many members of the church, and many who are searching for the gospel.  I know that I strive to be one of them. I want to be the one, when the Lord says "Whom shall I send" that is raising their hand super high (Think ooo, ooo Mr. Cotter, Mr. Cotter high) and saying, "Here am I. Send me."

The Lord has a great work to do here on earth. Now.  And He NEEDS sanctified and mighty ones.  We are so used focusing on how much we need the Lord, but He really NEEDS us.  Are we going to be there for Him?

Verse 16: Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes...  For me, I don't take this as literal.  I think when the Lord is talking about children, He is speaking to the things that the wicked in the last days have created in their greed and wickedness, perhaps expensive homes, dishonest businesses, anything to do with pronography, etc.  I imagine when the Savior comes all that is unholy will be abolished. All those thing people put their wicked hearts and minds to will be dashed to pieces before their eyes.

2 Nephi 24

I love verse 7: The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing.

The earth is a living entity. It is written that it groans under our sins (don't remember where.) It is nice to know that after all the bad stuff happening now, that the earth will be able to rest at some point as well.

There is such a buzz about taking care of the earth. Recycle, carbon foot print, etc.  Here we read that the earth will rest when wickedness it gone. I guess if people were really concerned about the state of the earth, they'd not only recycle, but repent as well.  (Can you see that on a bumper sticker? lol)

The rest of the chapter is pretty depressing. . .  which begs the question: if it's depressing (and sometimes not) why do we have so many of the old prophecies on our scriptures?

I taught the New Testament this past school year and have come across something really cool: In the first four chapters of Matthew, Mathew mentions NINE times that what is happening is a direct fulfillment of prophecy. Nine times.

It lends credence to the reality that God's plan is an eternal plan, orchestrated from the beginning of time.

2 Nephi 25

After reading verses 1 and 2, I didn't feel so bad for not getting Isaiah's prophecies totally--until I got to verse 4 and learned I didn't have the spirit of prophecy, and that's why I didn't fully understand.

But- here's my question to you: Are we, just regular disciples, capable of having the spirit of prophecy Nephi speaks of here?  I mean, I know we can have the spirit of personal revelation in our studies, and in that way learn.  But, specifically speaking to the 'spirit of prophecy' in verse four, do you think Nephi is saying that prophets understand Isaiah's words completely, but everyone else needs help?

I will echo the words of Nephi at the end of verse four: I too, delight in plainness! The simplicity of the gospel is beautiful!

I love how the Nephi refers to the restoration of the gospel as a marvelous work.  When you look at God's plan in its entirety, you understand the joy that this must bring to the heavens and to men. This is the only time in all of earthly history where the gospel will not be taken from the earth again.

All of the keys are here. Temple work is being done for the dead. Missionary work is being done for the living. Miracles, revelation, scriptures, gifts of the Spirit . . . all are here to stay.

All of this is happening, as Nephi states in vv 16 and 18, so that ALL men can be convinced of the true Messiah and His Atonement. Not just the living, but the dead as well.

We certainly do live in exciting times!

Nephi's testimony is sweet : I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby men can be saved.

You can't get much plainer than that.

V. 24: Nephi tells us to do two things: Believe in God and be reconciled with Him.  It isn't enough to just believe in Him, we must align our will to His, and DO what He wants us to do.

He speaks to this in verses 29 and 30, that we must worship Him with all our might, mind and strength, and our whole soul. And beyond that. we must keep the performances and ordinances of God. It is believing and doing.

And of course, we love verse 26...for me I love that the rejoicing in Christ comes with the talking and preaching of Him. That is where I find some of my greatest joy.


2 Nephi 26

I love how it is made very clear how much the Savior wants us to come to Him. He invites all of us, because He loves us. Nephi mentions that a number of times.

For some reason, verse 16 struck me... and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voices shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit...

It was the familiar spirit part that caught my attention. Why would the voices of those that lived so long be familiar to us now?  I've got my own thoughts on this. I think one reason might be that we, as has been prophesied, are the noble and great ones. In some ways, the veil is a bit thinner for us. We feel the spirit and learn, yet at times we feel more like we are remembering something we've forgotten, rather than learning something new. I like this idea.

I also like the idea that the noble and great ones of today spent time with the noble and great ones from the scriptures in the time before we came here. We are educated and set apart to come to earth at this time. Doesn't it make sense that we would be taught much of what we are 'relearning' here and how? And perhaps even by the same people...

Mostly, though, I think it's familiar because the Holy Ghost makes it so. It rings true in our hearts. We feel it. It just makes sense.

Conference Thoughts - Being Accepted of the Lord

I taught RS today.  I was assigned the talk by Erich W. Kopischke entitled Being Accepted of the Lord.  It is a bit out of the order I was going in, but I wanted to comment on it anyway.  I will also post an addition blog for last weeks Conference talk.  I was traveling with family from camping and didn't record my thoughts.  I'd better get on that.

"The feeling of being accepted by someone we love is a basic human need. Being accepted by good people motivates us. It increases our sense of self-worth and self-confidence. Those who cannot find acceptance from desirable sources often seek it elsewhere. They may look to people who are not interested in their well-being. They may attach themselves to false friends and do questionable things to try to receive the acknowledgment they are seeking. They may seek acceptance by wearing a particular brand of clothing to generate a feeling of belonging or status. For some, striving for a role or a position of prominence can also be a way of seeking acceptance. They may define their worth by a position they hold or status they obtain."

Nothing could be more far from the truth.  The first people we all seek approval from is our parents. Even when we differ in our method, opinions or interests we continue to seek the approval of parents and family members.  I think this is an example of the wisdom of our Father in Heaven.  Family units are His unit, His organisation, designed to help us feel Him and remember His unconditional love for us.  What we do in our earthly families should reflect our heavenly family.  Thus, seeking our earthly family's approval mirrors seeking our Father in Heaven's approval for us as individuals.

As we get older we branch out.  We seek the approval of friends and peers.  We seek out people with similar interests.  We seek to belong.  

Now I have never read the book about love languages.  I just try to observe what ways the people who are important to me feel loved the most... and then I do my best to to that action, even if it isn't my style.

Sadly, I often feel criticized for how I choose to show love to people who are difficult.  I often feel judged for how I choose to teach others, especially my children.  I often feel the disapproving eye of those, even those who are close to me, as I choose to interact with those that have made choices that are not in line with my core values.

Yet, I feel peace.  I was taught to pray about my problems and that God would inspire me how to handle them.  I was taught that answers will come.  I was taught that answers are found in the scriptures.

I may feel sad that many don't understand what I choose to do.  I may feel lonely on my journey.  Yet I feel peace because I know that I have received answers and I am doing my best to follow the promptings of the Spirit.

I am far from the best parent in the world, but I give it my best shot.  That shot includes honoring agency, even when the choices sting.  That shot includes serving, even if it appears I am a door mat.  That shot includes avoiding contention.

This talked help me put me feelings into perspective.  As I seek the Lords approval I will feel the Spirit more strongly in my life and I will be guided as to what actions I need to take to guide my children and those around me to seek the Lord as well.

The key to return to seeking the approval of the Lord.

"Alma counseled his son Helaman, “See that ye look to God and live.”1 The ultimate source of empowerment and lasting acceptance is our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They know us. They love us. They do not accept us because of our title or position. They do not look at our status. They look into our hearts. They accept us for who we are and what we are striving to become. Seeking and receiving acceptance from Them will always lift and encourage us."

I take great peace in the examples of loving parents that are found in the scriptures.

Lehi never kicked Laman and Lemuel out of the camp... even when they were rude... when they were selfish.... when they only wanted their FATHER'S money and weren't willing to work for their own means... even when they were terrible to their younger siblings.  Lehi continued to believe in them.  Lehi continued to teach and to counsel them.  Nephi and Sam demonstrated the teaching of their parents as they forgave their brothers   Lehi continued to INVITE.  Lehi continued to INCLUDE.  Lehi continued Love. His love trickled down to other family members and generations later they were still inviting, including, and loving those family members that had left.

Alma the older also followed this pattern.  Let's face it.  Alma the Younger made life hard for his parents.  I imagine that he was a stinker!  I imagine that he was rude and disrespectful  and lazy.  That did not stop his father from praying for him.  That did not stop the teaching and the loving.

"I will share a simple pattern which, if applied, can help every one of us find ultimate acceptance. This pattern was given by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.”2
This pattern consists of three simple steps:
  1. 1. 
    Know that our hearts are honest and broken,
  2. 2. 
    Know that our spirits are contrite, and
  3. 3. 
    Be willing to observe our covenants by sacrifice, as commanded by the Lord."
Simple patterns are often the hardest patterns to follow.  We like to make them complicated.

See.  That is where the problem lies.  Making the process of feeling god's love so darn hard.  But it is not hard.  Start with yourself and then let that light you feel help those around you that you love.
"We need to know that our hearts are honest and broken. How do we know that? We begin by engaging in sincere self-reflection. The heart is the center of our feelings. As we look into our hearts, we screen ourselves. What no one around us knows, we surely know. We know our motives and desires. When we engage in sincere, honest reflection, we do not rationalize or deceive ourselves.
There is also a way to judge if our hearts are broken. A broken heart is a soft, an open, and a receptive heart. When I hear the Savior say, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,”3 I hear Him knocking at the door of my heart. If I open this door to Him, I am more responsive to the invitations of the Spirit, and I am more accepting of God’s will.
As we sincerely and prayerfully ponder the extent to which our hearts are honest and broken, we will be taught by the Holy Ghost. We will receive a sweet confirmation or gentle correction, inviting us to act."
Being honest with your self takes work at times.  However, I am confident that if we are doing our best we will know where we stand with God.  The mere fact that we ask will be the key to opening the flood gates of all the love God has to offer us.
"We have to know that our spirit is contrite. The word contrite in the Oxford dictionary is defined as “feeling or expressing remorse at the recognition that one has done wrong.” If we have a contrite spirit, we acknowledge our sins and shortcomings. We are teachable “concerning [all] things pertaining to righteousness.” We feel godly sorrow and are willing to repent. A contrite spirit is willing to listen “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.”
A contrite spirit is manifest by our willingness and determination to act. We are willing to humble ourselves before God, willing to repent, willing to learn, and willing to change. We are willing to pray, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”
Perhaps this step is the hardest.  "Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way...." comes to mind.  I often catch myself in a "my way or the highway" mentality.  The Lord is definitely teaching me that His way is the only way.  Yet, I often catch myself bucking the very plan I fought for... agency... choice... accountability... family... love... repentance... forgiveness...
"The third step to being accepted by the Lord is a conscious decision to observe our covenants through sacrifice, “yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command.”  Too often we think that the word sacrifice refers to something big or hard for us to do. In certain situations this may be true, but mostly it refers to living day-to-day as a true disciple of Christ."
"When you are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

See... I choose to do what I do because I know that service is the way to reach my heart  as well as the hearts of the people I love.  Just because I serve does not mean I did not teach.  In serving I am hoping to teach a greater lesson.

"Seeking and receiving the acceptance of the Lord will lead to the knowledge that we are chosen and blessed by Him. We will gain increased confidence that He will lead us and direct us for good. His tender mercies will become evident in our hearts, in our lives, and in our families."

I love that promise.  My family needs the blessings!

“Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
“And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.”
I know that the Lord is there.  I know that He is knocking.  He wants us to know that we are approved of.  He wants us to know that we are loved... unconditionally.  He wants us to know that He answers prayers.  He wants us to know that we are beautiful and lovely.  He wants us to know that we matter.  He wants us to know that we have value... great value as jewels in His crown of glory continually reflecting His light.  He wants us to know that He will forgive.
All we have to do is open the door.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Week at the Boyacks

It's been a couple of weeks!  So much has happened!  So this picture didn't happen this week.  What did happen is that John finally gave me pictures he had taken with his phone.  These people are the people he served on the school board with for the past couple of years.  I think he will miss the people.... not the hours so much.  He claims he will try school board again... after life slows down.  I see two things wrong with this thought.  First, will life ever slow down? And second, I think he will find other things to fill his time.  At any rate, this picture represents his final duty as a school board member.

Last week we got ready for camping.  John got out some suitcase thing out that he stores all his hiking things in (personally, I don't see a suitcase on a hike but it works for him).  Lilli decided to help him out by digging in the case and finding treasures. She found a wig that John got for April Fool's day way back in the Praegitzer days.  Lilli was not impressed with John's look WITH hair.  I think I laughed for 15 minutes.
 The biggest event of the week was that Myles and McKay came for their annual visit.  They were tons of fun.  Myles got in the kiddy pool with Lilli to swim a few laps... and they went to the park to play in their jammies... and played games.  McKay also spent some time in doctor's offices.  She got her teeth cleaned... got a physical... and got her wisdom tooth pulled.  She did it all here because she is still on our health insurance and Kaiser Permanente doesn't have offices in New Mexico or Utah.
 Ben and Kimber would come and play a ton while McKay and Myles were here.  The funny thing about Ben is that he will climb onto anything and try to take it for a ride.  I think that this is one of his favorite toys in the back yard... if you don't count the dogs... or Lilli.

 Half way through the week we finished packing up to go camping at the beach.  I hate that process.  It feels like it takes a week to pack up your crap so that you can leave the comforts of home to live in a tent (even a tent on wheels).  Then, after you get back home, sore from sleeping on a bad mattress and barely able to walk because your back is out, it takes a week to clean it all up and put it all away.  Meanwhile, while you are camping, everything you do from cooking to cleaning, takes three times as long than if you were home.  Yet, I sacrifice, once a year at the very least, because my family likes to go.

This year Myles' mom and sister joined the party. It took us most of the day to get to Nehalem Bay.  On the way I was amused by the real estate sign sitting in front of a cemetery.  It may be the only piece of real estate I could afford.  LOL.  We also stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for ice cream and fudge. Oh yeah, and we stopped at Fred Meyer for the stuff people forgot who were already at camp.

We had two cars with us because we needed to bring home more people that went with us, so we caravan-ed along until we were able to park and set up camp.  I was impressed with myself that I backed the trailer into it's spot all be myself.

 When we got to camp Ben and Kimber came to help.  They had been camping with the rest of the Jessops for several days.

 Ben was very helpful...

He carefully examined everything John was working on...

We got camp set up just in time... it began to POUR.  Thankfully, I had planned foil dinners in the Dutch ovens, so we all got to eat.  After dinner we all hunkered down... except for Chad.  He took off for a run just before dark.  He planned on being gone about 30 minutes.  He still has a seven minute mile.  We wondered how he was doing when the down pour came.  We knew he would be soaked clear through.  Around 11pm, John and I were very worried.  If we were soaked and cold, Chad had to be more wet and cold.  We knew he didn't have a cell phone or shoes because he didn't want to risk them being damaged on the beach.

We said a little prayer with the girls and started casing the campground.  The flash light John sent with Chad was sub standard and we were afraid  he may have even been lost in the camp ground in the dark.  I even walked across camp to the Jessop camp to see if he was visiting them, but there camp site was dark.

Now, Chad is independent in some ways, and I normally wouldn't worry too much if he were gone for a couple hours on a run.  In many ways Chad reminds me of my brother David... that "I am invisable!" mentality.  One time David ran home from Sunriver in his undies because he didn't have shorts and got lost... and I remember a time my parents were very worried about a cross county ski trip David went on...

Anyway, John and I were worried and at midnight we called 911 to ask what we should do.  They took down Chad's basic information and said they would send an officer out to the camp ground.  I knew Chad couldn't be doing well by this time.  None us us were prepared for the weather.  Around 25 minutes after calling 911 Chad came into came.  He was soaked.  

He was barefoot (running on the beach).  He only had a pair of shorts and a tank top on.  He was hold his soaked sweatshirt.  His arms were blue up to his elbows and his lips were blue.  We called 911 and said that he made it to camp and start to warm him up.  He was shaking so hard.  We had him strip to his undies and climb in a sleeping bag next to me.  His blood sugar was pretty low so we fed him nearly a pound of fudge.  After he started getting color back into his face and arms we sent him to the shower.  He stood in the hot shower for over an hour and we finally got him tucked into bed around 3 in the morning.

It turns out that he had run south down the beach until he hit the jetty (about 5 miles) and was heading north, back to camp, when the rain hit.  When the rain hit the beach it got very dark.  He couldn't see the markers marking the trails back through the sand dunes to camp.  His sweat shirt was wet and began to chafe his nipples.  He didn't like that so he took off his sweatshirt, think he'd find the way to camp soon.  When he took off his sweat shirt his head lamp went flying.  He couldn't find it in the sand.  He kept running north up the beach. (about another 6 miles).  Eventually, he decided to try crossing the sand dunes.  The grass on the sand dunes were hard on his feet.  He came out of the dunes into some neighborhood (in Manzenita). He wandered through neighborhoods until he came to the highway.  He finally recognized were he was, and found that he was a long way from camp. (The most northern part of Manzenita).  He started walking south down the highway.  He started shivering where we had turned off toward camp.  He had stopped running when he got to roads because his feet couldn't run on the pavement.  That made him even colder.  He walked another 6 miles to camp.  He knew this was bad and knew he was getting the symptoms of hypothermia.

He was so glad to see camp!  We were glad to see his!  Seriously, we came so close to ending that camping trip tragically.  We are so grateful that God answered our prayer to find him before it was too late. 

The next day Chad slept in a bit (we couldn't blame him for that... his body was beat after that ordeal).  I went to Lincoln City to get Emma Thurston.  Her family, including Case, were camping next to the Jessops.  She had been at a school activity and her mom didn't have a way for her to get to camp.  I volunteered to help get her.  Case and I enjoyed a nice drive.  Case was surprised to see brown cows. Chad told him that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

When we got back from the drive, we packed up lunch stuff and headed for the beach where the castle team was practicing for the competition.  Everyone had fun playing in the sand and surf.

Our camp is down that long stretch of beach.  I'm thinking Chad ran all that sand before getting lost in the neighborhoods.

Friday came along and it was a rest day for the castle team.  John hopped on his bike and rode to Cannon Beach.  Remember the last time he rode this stretch of road?  You might want to read it again at Bicycling Adventure. This ride wasn't nearly as taxing for John.  He made it there and back and could still walk the rest of the day.  He found that the practice castle was still standing and that it was attracting a ton of attention.  He got to tell the crowd all about the amazing team of builders and invited them all back to watch the magic happen on Saturday.

Chad is very dedicated to his work outs.  He couldn't find a gym to do his arm work out so John and I were his resistance back at camp.  I can't believe the irony in that.  LOL.


On Saturday we went to Cannon Beach for the competition.  I think there were over 3500 people on the beach.  The Pro team left before 7am so that they could be ready when the "go" was given.  I had signed up Lilli, Hannah (she didn't get used on the Jessop team this year), Kimber, Emma, Ivy (a Thurston/Williams guest), Case and Ben to have a plot of their own.  Ben loves to help and that wouldn't do over at the Pro plot.  Lilli has always wanted to be involved and has never been allowed.  Hannah needed a new place to create since she was kicked off the Jessop team.  Kimber needed help keeping Ben happy and busy.

They did great!  They created Aqualand with sculptures of water animals.  They attracted tons of attention because Ben was so cute as he shoveled sand and used butter knives to "carve".

The pro team worked hard.  They moved tons of sand and gallons of water.  This year Ray taught Myles and McKay to carve.  Chad lifted buckets and cleaned up edges.  At the end of the day they didn't place in the top 3.  However, I think that is lame.  They did have the only castle on the beach.  Isn't this a castle making contest?

It took 30 minutes or more to drive off the beach.  Funny that they say all cars have to get off the beach because the tide is coming in.... but there were too many cars to get off by the time they wanted them gone.

Before we left camp the kids wanted a picture on the "5" tree.  Silly kids.

After we got back from camp we started the endless process of putting things away.  Ben started the process of emptying Grandma's cupboards.

McKay and Myles got to see Lilli play softball for one game.

McKay got her wisdom tooth pulled.  She wasn't impressed with the pain or the process.

Then McKay and Myles left for Utah.  They took Chad with them.  He is going to play with them for a week and then gets to spent time with a cool missionary that served in our area, Elder Gibson.  Chad will be going to Youth conference with Marshal Gibson at Goblin Valley too.  Hopefully, he will get to see some Boyack family as well.  I am also hoping that Chad will help McKay get her house together.  McKay and Myles moved to Bluffdale, UT on their way to Oregon.  Myles got a job as soon as they got back to Utah so that will leave McKay to unpack by herself.

Hannah, Lilli, and I went to rehearsal for Secret Garden.

Lilli has made some new friends at rehearsal.  They all were trying to imitate the Robert Stare.  Robert is the Assistant Director.

John and Lilli are trying to teach the baby chickens that they can go to the top part of the chicken coop for warmth... oh, and cleaning their pen this week.

And look!  My garden is growing well!  You should see the raspberries!

I also designed all the sets for CET over the week.  I had planned my plans before this week.  However, I had not put them to paper nor made the models.  While I drew all the plans Hannah helped me make the models.  She would cute the pieces so I could add color before gluing them down.

There are giant books for Into the Woods JR.

These are all the parts for Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.

This is the set for a play at the park during the Salem Arts Festival, Couch Potato.

I spend hours making plans like these.  These are the art blue prints for Couch Potato.  Sometimes I have to draw construction plans too.  But I like to pull things from stock.  I am hoping not to have to build much this year... just paint stuff.

So, this has been the past couple of weeks.  Thanks for checking in!