Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Lesson

It was my turn this month to prepare the Relief Society Presidency Message and give the lesson on the first Sunday of the month. Sometimes lessons and messages come easily. But not this time around. I found it a very difficult task to accurately relay the Lord's message to these wonderful sisters. So many of our sisters have faced, and are still facing, difficult challenges and trials in their lives. My heart broke for them! I wanted so much to be able to prepare a lesson that would help them at this time of their lives. I wanted to strengthen them so that they can be prepared for the challenges that they faced.

I know how much the Relief Society presidency loves them and prays for them. Our hearts ache, and we wish we could do so much more for these sisters that we care for. As I studied and prepared, I felt so impressed over and over again to tell the Sisters how much their Heavenly Father loves them and understands what they are going through. I really hope they were able to feel the love of our Heavenly Father, and be strengthened through the Spirit.

Although you some of you were not able to come I thought I would share some of the quotes from my lesson:

The Savior desires to save us from our inadequacies as well as from our sins. Inadequacy is not the same as sinfulness—we have far more control over the choice to sin than we may have over our innate capacity. The Lord will not save us in our sins, but from them. However, he can save us in our inadequacies as well as from them. A sense of falling short or falling down is not only natural, but essential to the mortal experience. But, after all we can do, the Atonement can fill that which is empty, straighten our bent parts, and make strong that which is weak. (Elder Bruce C. Hafen, The Atonement: All for All, May Ensign 2004)

“An affirmative endowment of grace is the gift of hope, which blesses us with the state of mind necessary to deal with the gap between where we are and where we seek to be. Such hope can literally be life-sustaining when given us by the Savior, for the light at the end of life’s darkest tunnels is the Light and the Life of the world.” (Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ, April 1990 Ensign)

Here is the Newsletter Message:

Dear Sisters,

At this holiday season where we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I would like to invite you to embrace the peace that comes from our Savior Jesus Christ. Elder Bruce C. Hafen teaches that “some church members feel weighed down with discouragement about the circumstances of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts. Frequently, these feelings of self-disappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may not be fully to blame.” (Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ, April 1990 Ensign)

Elder Hafen continues, “The Savior’s atonement is the healing power not only for sin, but also for carelessness, inadequacy, and all mortal bitterness. The Atonement is not just for sinners.” Many of us are facing many different trials and challenges in our life. Some trials are caused by our own choices, while other challenges come because of decisions others have made. Elder Hafen also said, “If you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger.      If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away. (The Atonement: All for All, May Ensign 2004)

Our hearts may get broken, but they do not need to stay that way. Part of the Lord’s mission on earth was to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4: 18). We may get discouraged, but we are not alone. He has promised that he will not leave you comfortless: [He] will come to you. (John 14:18) Rejoice in that thought: He will come to You! Jesus Christ has said, Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. (Doctrine and Covenants 6: 20)

Please know how much your Heavenly Father loves you! For in the gift of His Son hath God prepared a more excellent way (Ether 12: 11). My dear sweet sisters, I bear you my testimony, I know God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be healed. The peace and joy that comes from living the gospel cannot be found elsewhere. This holiday season let us find the peace that comes from the Gentle Healer.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Lecture

If you had to give one final lecture in life, what would you say? What important knowledge would you want to impart to the world? This was what my last assignment was for my entrepreneurial class. Although it was written for students beginning their entrepreneurial journey, I thought I would share with all of you today.

If I had to give advice to someone wanting to begin the entrepreneur journey, these would be the things that I would try to pass along:

1.      You can live a life full of meaning and purpose. Dream big dreams. Begin the journey today. Jeff Sandefer has said, “If you want to be a hero, you must decide to be a person who acts, rather than a person who says “I can’t.” You can. You can make deliberate choices that will change your life.”

2.      Decide NOW who you are and what you stand for. When temptations and trials come, you have already decided what lines you will not cross. Clayton Christensen said “it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time.” In Matthew 16:26 it says, “For what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what should a man give in exchange for his soul?”

3.      Your family is important. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships—even more than our Church callings—are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother. Being a successful Church leader is not enough. Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it.”

4.      It is important to surround yourself with good people: people who will strengthen your weaknesses, people who will not abandon you when things get hard, people who will give their honest opinions, but will support your decision once it is made, people who will mentor you along the journey, and people who will provide good internships.

5.      Elder Gay counseled business students not to base their businesses on the world’s capitalistic marketplace. Instead he challenged them to base their business on higher principles – those of consecration and service. Our purpose? To Go To The Rescue. Clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2:19) He also warned that if we are not doing the work Heavenly Father wants us to do, then whatever we are doing doesn’t really matter, even if we are helping millions of people. It doesn’t matter if it is not what the Lord wants you to do.

Although the journey is a difficult one, you can be successful if you remember that God has blessed you so that you can help others. You can make a difference in this world. You can live a life full of meaning and be on the Hero’s Journey. Are you ready to begin? Go to the Rescue.
What would you want to say in your last lecture? Please comment below and let us know!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Challenge to Become

This week I was able to read a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks entitled The Challenge to Become. What a fantastic message. It made me stop and think about what I have become, and what I am becoming, with my life. Am I doing good works? Yes. That's nice. But am I Becoming more like my Savior? That is more important. Elder Oaks said:
"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become." 

Elder Oaks relates a parable to help us understand this idea of Becoming.
 "A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:
“All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”
This parable parallels the pattern of heaven. The gospel of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life, the fulness of the Father, and reveals the laws and principles by which it can be obtained."

As I think of my journey that I am taking, yes, I would like it to be a hero's journey- a journey where I can do the most good.. But what I want most from my life is to Become like my Heavenly Father. All that He has is ours. It has been ours from the very beginning. We lose our birthright, our inheritance, because of the choices that we make.

I love the challenge that Elder Oaks lays before us. He says:
"Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships—even more than our Church callings—are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother. Being a successful Church leader is not enough. Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First Steps on the Unknown Path

Sometimes I feel that God is directing me on a certain path, but I am not sure that I am ready to get on that path yet. I am not sure what I am afraid of more - being successful at it, or failing all together. I see, the little things, He put on my path that show me the direction that he wants me to go, but I don't see the outcome of the journey.

I think I have come to the point where I need to make that "Leap of Faith" and let the Lord know that I am willing to accept whatever he has in store for me. The Spirit is willing. The Flesh is Afraid! I know that once I get on this path, there is no turning back and life will never be the same. I think I need to have the Faith in Myself that I can become this person the Lord wants me to become. I can lead the way he wants me to lead, and I can build up his kingdom the way he wants me to.

I have been reading over Elder Bednar's talk Your Whole Soul as an Offering Unto Him, and I have been likening it to what I have been learning in my class this semester- to be on the Hero's Journey. Elder Bednar discusses the differences between Sacrifice and Consecration. "Sacrifice requires us to willingly offer anything and everything that we possess for the sake of the gospel of the Savior—including our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, our lands, and even our families; all things, including our very lives if need be. 

Consecration is related to but different from sacrifice.  The word consecrate means to develop and “dedicate to a sacred purpose.”  Sacrifice is what I will offer, surrender, yield, or give up.  Consecration, on the other hand, is to fully develop and dedicate to a sacred purpose.  

As we live the law of consecration, we are willing not only to offer anything and everything we possess for the sake of the gospel, but we also promise to develop and devote our best selves—our time, talents, and strength—to the building of the kingdom of God on the earth.  

Consecration includes and encompasses sacrifice and much more.  We are not only willing to offer up our possessions, but we will become the best we can be and assist however possible in building the kingdom in righteous ways.  

We will not only die for the gospel, but we will develop ourselves and live for the gospel." 

Developing ourselves and others to help build up the kingdom of God. And most importantly LIVE for the gospel. What a great goal to have in life! But in order for me to do that, I need to gather up my courage and my faith and take that first step on the Hero's Journey...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Images Reflected

It was my turn this month to prepare the presidency message for Relief Society. I feel impressed to share what I wrote here on my blog:

My Dear Sisters,

If there is one message I can bring to you this month, it would be this: You Are Not Alone!
Your Heavenly Father loves you! He understands your needs, your challenges, and where you are on our pathway back home to Him. Many times we try to disguise what we are feeling or hide it from others. Maybe we don’t know how to express what we feel. Maybe we feel guilty about how we are feeling. Or maybe we think others won’t understand what we are going through. Whatever our reasons, know that you are not alone. We are all on this journey to return back home together. We are here to help one another, to strengthen one another, to lift one another. And when the time comes when we feel we cannot go another step, or do one more thing, we are here to help carry one another, until we are ready to move forward.

We are daughters of God! He has promised us, that if we endure this journey, all that He has will be ours. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “In the same way we cross a bridge or follow a path, we live the gospel one step at a time-- “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). The  more steps we take, the more clearly we understand that life on earth is, in fact, a journey to a familiar destination. We have been in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son already. We have felt Their love and we have loved Their light already. And now we are walking in that light--following that light-- back to Them.” (Hales, Robert D. Return: Four Phases of Our Mortal Journey Home. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2010.)

One day, after really struggling with the things that were going on in my life I wrote the following words:

Images Reflected
are not always what they appear.

On the outside
a canopy of disguises covers
the innermost strugglings of one’s soul.

Images Reflected
do not portray the ongoing battles
that weaken the spirit.

Personal wrestlings for
Spiritual Growth often conflict
with worldly desires.

Choices are made.
Consequences Final. Although it is hard,
I know why I struggle.

One day, I shall return
Home. To My Father.
Upon myself, I hope to find

His Image Reflected.

Sisters, please remember that life is a journey that we are all taking together. How glorious it will be, when we finish our journey, and see each other again, back home in the presence of Our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and we truly see in ourselves  their image reflected.