Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fix You. . . .

If you are reading this blog, please know you are reading a secret.

I am having a difficult time with something, something that I have never before had difficulty with. This particular something, I have never even needed to try at because it always came that natural to me. And now, I am struggling and it's heart breaking to me because time is running out. Time is staring me right in the face and I can do nothing but count the seconds that go by each time I falter, holding my breath as they pass me by.

I am not afraid of failure. I simply do not want to hurt over it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day By Day. . . .

I recently wrote a blog post, Spiritchal As Me. . . . about the new LDS youth curriculum, and I came across an article that the church put out discussing the importance of the new lesson plans. I found it to be very edifying and felt the need to share. I hope you enjoy it.

Church Leaders Discuss the “Hastening of Work”

By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor
8 January 2013
In the midst of changes that require Latter-day Saint teenagers to take a greater role in missionary preparation, family history and temple work, and Sunday instruction, leaders say the youth of the Church have been “called to action” and asked to “arise and shine forth” (D&C 115:5).
The changes, which all came to the forefront during the Church’s 182nd Semiannual General Conference this October, make one thing obvious: “The Lord has something He wants to do,” said Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy.

Elder Pieper, Executive Director of the Priesthood Department, recently participated in a Church News roundtable discussion with other General Authorities and officers to discuss the changes that will impact youth in many areas. Also participating in the roundtable discussion were Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department, Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy and Assistant Executive Director of the Missionary Department, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education; Dennis C. Brimhall, an Area Seventy and managing director of the Family History Department, and Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president.

Making reference to an announcement by President Thomas S. Monson lowering the age young men and young women can begin missionary service, to new youth curriculum, and to a First Presidency letter asking that youth get involved in family history research and take family names to the temple, Elder Pieper said he did not see the “three strands coming together” before conference. “I remember going to conference … and asking myself, ‘How did all of this get correlated?’ It was obvious it was the Lord’s hand.”

The Lord was saying, “Let’s get to work and build the kingdom. It is time to step forward and really begin to do things,” Elder Pieper added.

Elder Packer agreed, noting that there “is that underlying feeling of hastening of the work that comes from all of these things that are in the hearts and the minds of the people.”
Making reference to a revelation the Prophet Joseph received in 1832, Elder Zwick said the Lord’s words are clear: “I will hasten my work in its time.”

“The Lord Himself is taking charge here,” Elder Zwick said. “When you think of it in its time, I don’t think there has ever been a generation of youth that have been prepared for the curriculum like we are today. I don’t think there has ever been a group of youth that have done as many baptisms or more ordinances for the dead as this group have done. I don’t think there has ever been a group that have been as close to temple work and all of the facets of that as this group. And certainly all of that has come at a level where it prepares them for missionary service and builds a sure foundation for additional responsibilities in the years following their missions.”

It is a very powerful message that God trusts His youth, said Elder Brimhall.

“It is just like when the Lord does anything—all the things fall into place at the right time, and that is what is happening with this,” said Elder Johnson, noting that those working on the new youth curriculum did not know there would be a shift in the age when missionaries can begin service. “I don’t think it’s by coincidence. That’s the way the Lord works, and I think the youth are prepared. They are ready for it.”

That also speaks well of parents, who have prepared and will continue to prepare their children well, said Sister Burton.

Elder Packer said if one sits back and examines the changes, they indicate a renewed “focus on fundamentals.”

“I can see other things that have been nice to do sliding into the background a little bit and a real focus on what is key and necessary,” he explained.

Elder Walker said one of the most wonderful things that has recently happened is the First Presidency letter encouraging Church members to complete their family history and take those names to the temple. “We have had a cultural phenomenon over the last few years where the youth of the Church have gone to the temple to do baptisms for the dead like never before. And the First Presidency authorized the youth being able to have their own limited use recommend, which has been a really wonderful thing. … But many of them were just involved in going to the temple and doing the baptisms.”

The letter, he continued, promises the youth that their temple experience will be greatly enriched by doing family history work. “When you think about young people anxiously engaged in doing the work in the temple and they understand the doctrine and the rationale, they are not just anxiously engaged in an activity. That really helps to prepare them spiritually for all these wonderful things that are in store for them.”

Elder Packer said that recently he heard of a young woman who stood and shared her testimony of family history work: “This is a whole lot more fun than what the old people said it was going to be,” she said.

Elder Brimhall said family history work gives youth today perspective.

“That is the Spirit of Elijah,” said Elder Walker. “That is the turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children. When children’s hearts are turned to their fathers and their grandfathers and their mothers and their grandmothers, they have got the perspective you are talking about.”

Family history work, Elder Packer added, will change how the youth make decisions. It will change how they feel about challenges that come along. “If Grandpa did this, I can do it too.”

He said that a temple president reported that when youth stand proxy in baptism for a name they come out smiling. “When they do it for an ancestor they have tears in their eyes. They feel deeper; they feel something more.”

Helping the youth gain perspective is also a goal of the new youth curriculum—where learning resources replace lesson manuals, said Elder Pieper. The curriculum will allow youth instructors to determine what they need to build into each Sunday experience to prepare youth for temple and family history work and missionary service.

“The new MTC is the home,” said Elder Packer. “The new family history center is the home. This teaching model [the new curriculum] is going to help the youth and the parents, both, in that role.”

Elder Pieper said the changes bring a “real urgency” to parents, who are feeling that urgency.

The message to parents is “Church leaders trust you as parents and trust these young men and young women who are being raised in your homes,” said Elder Zwick. “You can trust them too. They are going to go out with the inspired gifts that you demonstrated and lived in your home. They are just going to get out there and do it a little sooner.”

It is interesting that one year ago the Church began using in-field training for new missionaries coming out of the MTC, said Elder Johnson. “That was not done in connection with the missionary age change, but it is needed now,” he noted. “Sometimes the Lord does that—He puts in place something that is very good and helpful, and if we could see down the road a little ways we can tell it’s not just very good and helpful, it’s necessary. That’s the way He works.”

Elder Zwick said after the missionary announcement was made, many youth tweeted responses across the globe. Some spoke of the convenience of the change. “Then you had the other side who said, ‘This is not about us. This is about the Lord hastening His work.’ … This is about the Spirit of the Lord preparing these young people. He is hastening His work, and they are responding to a prophet’s invitation to serve.”

Sister Burton recently met a stake president who called the now increasing number of young women preparing for missionary service “powerfully pure.”

“I can remember being with President [Thomas S.] Monson on a temple trip,” said Elder Walker. “President Monson said, ‘I think the youth today are stronger than they have ever been before in the history of the Church.’ I think his decision to do this is partly an indication that is how he feels about the youth of the Church.”

All the changes move the “Church to where it needs to be, where it’s prophesied to be,” said Elder Johnson. “The Lord knows what the future is, and … this is just one of the many things He is doing to advance that kingdom, to help it roll forth.”

Elder Pieper said, when contemplating all that happened during general conference this October, he sees “a prophet with keys, flinging doors open and saying, ‘There you go.’ We are inviting you to come and get engaged in this work,” he said. “It is the Lord’s time now. We all know that. We all felt it. The Church is feeling it. Of course it will work.”

Isn't that wonderful?! How exciting it is to come to the realization that we are in a time where the youth are needed more than ever. That their testimonies are needing to be fully engaged and strengthened because they are going to be challenged in the future. This also includes my testimony.

My husband was recently called to be an Indexing Specialist in our ward and I had the privilege to help him talk to the youth about this work that they are being asked to do. He spoke to them concerning the nature of covenants and how once you die, if you did not get the opportunity to do make these covenants while you were living, you could not progress without them being done in your name on this earth. He expressed to them how important temple work is because it is something that cannot be done in Heaven. He asked them to imagine all those people waiting anxiously for their name to be sent in for work. For their name to be submitted for baptism. And how they carry this opportunity on their shoulders as a responsibility to help those waiting. To help those countless spirits that are in need of their help.

The youth were energized. Especially when the Bishopric challenged them to an indexing competition. But what struck me the most was similarly spoken of in this article, "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers." Malachi 4:6 Those that came before us, those of the past, are in need of help from the people of today, and we need to find them and help them. I believe the youth will soon set the example of how we should "hasten the Lord's work".  That through them, we will be able to bring forth so much love for all of God's children. I am excited to partake in the spirit of the work and honored and so blessed to know I have three girls coming into this age.

So I ask you this, Isn't it wonderful?!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hands. . . .

So apparently, today is the National Day of Service. I did not know this. I wish I would've known this because I would much rather be out doing good in the world, instead of manning an empty office. But here I am, and here I write. This idea of a day of service reminds me of a conversation I had just yesterday about people of the world. I will explain . . .

A friend and I were discussing a recent event in which a person, through evident rage, accused someone else of things that we know were fabricated and exaggerated beyond reason. That these accusations were not the first and will no doubt, not be the last. This person doesn't even know the accused personally, only in passing, and still has created such anger towards them as to threaten their livelihood, character, and moral standing.

This friend and I discussed and contemplated why someone would do such a thing. Why would someone fixate upon a stranger to the point of becoming a maniacal person and plot the demise of their "foe". Why? My thought was this, that the Natural Man is after power. That power is what the world sees to be supreme. And that you should do anything to attain that power, including but not limited to, tearing others down. You can take almost any situation where two forces come together against each other and define it as a struggle for power. Our brother Lucifer wanted power. He wanted all the glory for himself. Is it no wonder his only goal is to tempt us and make Christ's plan fail. That way his plan will work and will overthrow God's plan giving Satan ultimate power. So being that the earth and all who dwell on it are considered fallen from grace and in a natural man state, I believe the earth in majority is after power. That the natural man views power as absolute.

Now, this brings me to the opposite side of the spectrum. If the Natural Man = Need for Power, what do you think the Spiritual Man is after? I believe in the comparison, that the spiritual man is after the giving up of power. Unlike Satan, Christ taught us to serve our fellow men. Instead of tearing them down, we should build them up. Even to the point of turning the other cheek. One of the greatest examples I think of are when Christ washed the feet of his disciples and then asked them to go out and wash the feet of their fellow men. John 13:1-17 Christ knew that Judas was to betray him, yet he washed his feet. In that simple act, Christ showed love for the one who would turn him over to those that would crucify him. Christ was given great power from God, and yet he set it aside to serve not only those He loved, but those who did not believe in Him.

How apposing those two sides are to each other. What other completely different paths can two men take? The same goes for us, which path should we take? The choice is ultimately up to us, we do have our free agency. However, there is one idea that I hold to be a guide of truth to help me navigate my journey as a natural man and also as a spirit. I believe that things of this earth are influenced of Satan. So whatever the world/majority deems important is not. And whatever the world/majority sees to be unimportant, truly is. This is my answer for many of my theoretical "forks in the roads" of life. It has brought me inner strength to know that regardless of how the world sees what I do and how I think, I know that the Lord supports me, and THAT is all that matters to me.

So as this day of service commences, I will continue to reflect upon the nature of service and the greatest exemplar of such in hopes that I will become more like him.

So I ask you, Have you done any service today?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Which Part Is Mine. . . .

I have had an itch to write all week, but couldn't decide what to write about. I have about 3 blogs rolling around in my head at the moment but have decided to write about something completely off subject. My ex.

Well not exactly about my ex, but more about my past marriage and all my fears that were involved with it. Since my divorce, I have noticed a few lady friends that were/are in the same boat I was in and felt the need to help them in some way, but never really knew how. For example, how do you tell someone they are in a bad marriage?

I must first state that I am not an advocate of divorce. However, I am an advocate for happiness, and sometimes that is the result of you finding your happiness.

Not really knowing where to begin, I'll say this, at age 19 I had never really had a boyfriend but knew all I wanted to do in life was be a wife and mother. I didn't even want to pursue a career because I was going to be a wife and mother. And not just any wife and mother, but a damn good wife and mother. So I went to college not for an education, but to find a boyfriend. And I did. I found a very handsome man who was a return missionary and was interested in me. (What else does a naive 19 year old LDS girl want? Right?) It felt amazing to have someone like me. To really like me. And not just the, ya you are awesome can you hook me up with your friend like me, but the I think you are beautiful like me. The I'd like to make-out with you like me. The I want to marry you like me. It was wonderful and exciting and satisfying to have someone genuinely like fat, old, ugly, me. To have someone make me feel pretty, and wanted, and feel like a swan. Unlike every boy before that always made me feel like an ugly duckling.

So what else does a 19 year old naive girl do with that boy? I married him.

There were flags, huge blatant flags that I ignored because I loved him. Huge, bright colored flags dripping with excrement I let fly because I wanted him to love me.

It was as if I let everything that made me, me, shrivel up and die because I wanted him to love me.

I was very defensive and protected him more and more as it was more and more evident to everyone else but me, I was unhappy. It was as if the colors of my spirit went from the bright pinks and greens of spring to the charcoal colors of a bleak January. I was torn. And this tear was sometimes unbearable because I now had three girls with him. The guilt I felt for not being blissfully happy with my marriage weighed on me four fold because it now affected my girls as well. I knew that every choice I made affected the person they would become as an adult, and this frightened me.

I knew deep down I needed to try. I needed to put forth every effort I could to make my marriage work. I didn't want to stand at judgement and have the Lord tell me I didn't do enough to keep my family together. So I kept trying, until one day, I just couldn't any more. After ten years I knew my marriage was over. A part of me welcomed the release and the other part of me still  held on for dear life.

Once it was over, I realized I didn't know who I was any more. I literally didn't know my favorite color, what my favorite food was, or even what make-up to wear because I'd changed all of that to try and please him. To try and get him to want me. All those years, all that compromising, all the excuses and trials and pain and yes, even joy, I felt still left me feeling like an ugly duckling.

I felt raw. Like someone had skinned me alive and left me in a cool breeze.

So why bring all this up? Why . . . . pick at old wounds? I say all of this because I know for some, they are very fresh and real wounds to them. I say this so they know, they are not alone. That someone else has gone through it and survived. I have survived. And so will you.

I DO NOT regret my first marriage. I DO NOT hate my ex husband. I DO NOT EVER wish to change my past. My past is what helped create who I am today, and I only ever look back as a motivator to continue forward. I love my ex because he gave me three beautiful girls. I love my divorce because I discovered strength within myself I never knew I had. I love my past marriage because it taught me everything I truly wanted in life. Again I will state, I am not an advocate for divorce. I do not state that it is the answer for all your troubles. But I will say without happiness, you will shrivel up and die inside. It will create an endless ache in your chest that will only pull you in like a black hole each time your heart breaks. The more you put your happiness in the hands of another, especially someone who does not cherish it, the more your heart will break each time that person is not successful in creating that happiness for you.

I want to leave you with a light of hope. Because sometimes when life seems so dark, and you have voices telling you things that only bring you down, and that you deserve only "this much", I implore you to find happiness where it truly lies. My Heavenly Father was the only person who made any sense to me. Everyone else's opinions and judgements, and expectations about my life were like a flood of muddy water drowning me slowly. It wasn't until I prayed every last breath I had before finally succumbing, did the water turn clear and I was able to see the path I was to be on. I know that if you depend upon your Heavenly Father, he will lead you to happiness. He will lead you to the happiness you are starved for, whatever it may be.

So I ask you this, Have you seen your reflection today?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spiritchal As Me. . . .

So I have a new calling in my ward. I am leaving the I-don't-understand-them-that's-why-God-gave-me-girls-cub-scouts behind and venturing into the all too familiar world of the Young Women's. I will be teaching the Mia Maids (14 -16 year old) and I was thrilled until my husband pointed out something frightening to me this past Sunday. Let me back up a bit.

Starting in this new year, 2013, the LDS church has changed the curriculum for how teachers will be teaching the youth of the church. Following in the footsteps of the eight year old reorganization of the missionary manual, Preach My Gospel, the youth will now be taught by the Spirit, not a pre-written lesson plan as it has always been in the past. Basically I will be preparing a discussion lesson based on an outline the church has issued called, Come, Follow Me. I am to pray, study, and prepare based on the personal needs of my class room in hopes of involving the girls more fully and in turn, blossom a testimony within them through a more personal lesson. In all actuality, to me, it seems way more simple than the previous alternative. Basically, this way I'm baring my testimony for 40 minutes instead of trying to bring excitement to someone else's written word. However, this past Sunday while the Bishopric was explaining the new program to the ward, my sweet and way too insightful husband leaned over and whispered something in my ear that took most of the excitement right out of my heart. He asked me, "Do you know what this means?" In which I replied, no, shaking my head. "It means the teachers are going to be held more accountable for the youth in God's eyes. They are going to be held more responsible for the youth and what is being taught, in Heaven." I was instantly placed in a state of shock for the remainder of the meeting.

It had suddenly occurred to me how important this calling is. All the questions of my youth were now flooding back to me. Especially the ones that have still gone unanswered. I knew if I were to create the environment the Lord wanted me to by successfully executing this new curriculum, I was to be prepared to answer those questions. I had at 33, suddenly felt the shift from being a student, to being a teacher. And not just primary answers that I had always known to primary questions of kids still aboard their parent's testimonies. I was now the teacher to the kids I still feel I am, needing to answer the pivotal questions they would be questioning. The questions that will shape their own personal testimonies and possibly set them on a permanent path in life. Can we say, "hit me like a load of bricks?" Ha!

Good thing I have the Lord on my side, huh? I do love how this church is a church of constant learning. Constant revelation and personal growth. I know I do not know enough to teach these girls. And I have an overwhelming desire to prepare these girls for the future that is to come, the future that is prepared for them and the one that will inevitably be a difficult one. Subsequently, I will be doing that for myself as well.

I guess what I would like for you to take away from this blog is how important our learning here on this earth really is. The church is full of "primary answers". And for all of you who attend church, know what I am talking about. They are the answers to questions that have been being asked of us since we were in primary and are still being asked of us in adulthood. Why do you think they are still asking them of us? I believe it is because of three things: #1- There is always someone new to the church that needs to learn them. #2- We are what we do over and over again. Just like in theatre, you perform what you practice. And #3- We have not really learned them. It is my belief that we, self tremendously included, have not surpassed our primary answers to be able to understand and ask new questions. We are still in a primordial state.

So you might be asking, what does this all have to do with the Young Women's program and me? Simply this, I believe the church and Heavenly Father wish for us to learn past those primary answers and ask the questions that will truly shape our testimonies for the better, creating within us better saints and better spirits more willing and able to combat the forces that are against us on this earth and in the hereafter. Now you might think I'm digging too deep into this new program, but really am I? Are we not at the door step of the second coming? Are we not the chosen people reserved for this dispensation because we are the ones the Lord knows will prevail over the most evil of times? Or do you still believe those primary answers are all that we need to know?

I'm not trying to start a debate or even a friendly argument. Nor am I stating those primary answers are not as important because they are. They are the basis of everything we learn after them. But, all I am hoping to achieve here is to generate a thought, that will turn into a question, then create a train of deep pondering, that will turn into a desire to find out more, bringing you closer to the answers that will shape the person the Lord knows you are capable of being. Ultimately, stirring the pot a bit and seeing if we can better ourselves (myself).

Also, if you were curious about my song choice this go round, I simply found it a way to bring humor into my rant, because I know I am not as spiritchal as I try to sound on my soap box. Besides, it was a terrible movie but the songs are just so much fun.

So I ask you this, Do you know all of your primary answers?