Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Favorite Event of the Year!

My New Song

I just released a song that I wrote and recorded. It's called "Faith is".  Take a listen - I hope it uplifts you. If you like it, please share it with others. Thanks!

                          Read more about the song here

Casting Out Satan

A week ago I was gathered around the dinner table with my siblings and in-laws enjoying dinner. My little sister brought up a show she had watched about people who were plagued by various demons. A demon that tells you - you are no good, a demon that creates an addiction, a demon that tells you to lust after things that are the opposite of God's laws. Pretty much anything (thought or behavior) that brings on depression is the root of Satan. If you are unhappy for any reason, you have a demon nearby feeding you those negative thoughts. She went on to say that the show concludes with the instruction to cast Satan out in the name of Jesus Christ.

We have heard this before in the New Testament where Jesus cast out devils. In Doctrine and Covenants 35:9 the Lord says,

And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.

I remember when I was young always imagining that to be plagued by demons and devils must look like a scene from a horror movie. Now I know that's not always true. I also used to think that a person who was suffering from the powers of Satan must have invited him in somehow. That too, is not always true. When we are about to embark on something very pleasing to our Heavenly Father, that's when Satan is most powerful and most near. He doesn't want us to succeed at doing good works and receiving blessings. In fact, I had a personal experience this week that confirmed this.

I had just released a song I recently wrote and recorded. All day long I was getting the kindest words and feedback about it. That evening I received 2 emails about the song. The problem with email is that we lose out on important components of communication and the words are left to the interpretation of our own imagination. Satan had me interpret these emails in a negative tone of voice with sarcasm. Then the thoughts came, "You just aren't good enough." - "Look at how you've humiliated yourself. This is just the beginning." - "What were you thinking? People are laughing at your voice. You are a joke." 

These thoughts would not stop, and of course I just assumed they were my own thoughts - my conscience telling me what I didn't want to hear. As I began to slip into a depression, I felt weighed down and hopeless. It was strange that I must have received 30 or more compliments that day and these 2 emails seemed to erase everything good. I didn't like how I was feeling. It was then I remembered the conversation my family and I had at the dinner table just days earlier.

I knew that Satan putting these thoughts into my mind and I was allowing him to. It was time to take some quick actions. I said out loud will full faith and boldness "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave Satan."  Just like that he was gone. The weight came off of my body. I suddenly felt a rush of joy and peace. Then I felt a warm, heavenly embrace as if someone had wrapped a warm cloak around my body. I felt all tingly from head to toe and I knew that I wasn't alone. I could feel more than one person around me - loving me and applauding me for calling on the savior. I couldn't help but smile. I was then guided towards my bed and it felt as if I was floating on air. Like I was being carried - I felt so light weight. The previous nights I had struggled with sleep from all the cares of the day but this time as I felt my head hit the pillow I felt so safe and so at peace. It reminded me of how a child feels when a parent tucks them in and then stays close by to watch them fall asleep.

This was a testimony to me that whenever a bad thought enters our mind all we have to do is call upon the name of our Savior and exercise our faith. His name alone will remove Satan from our presence. It can be thoughts, trials, challenges, fears, anxieties, or any sorrow/suffering. Cast out Satan's power over you and hand it over to the Lord. He will lift you up, comfort you, protect you, and wrap his arms around you.

You can expect this to happen often when you are going through an area of improvement in your life. Whenever you try to spiritually progress, serve someone, kick a bad habit etc., you will be met by the adversary. He does not want you to improve or progress or help others to do so. He will do all he can to knock you down on your knees. But when you are on your knees, remember the Lord and cry out unto Him. He will save you in your hour of despair and there is no limit - His love is endless.

I say this in His holy name, amen.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christ is Coming...

I have had dream after dream about the need to prepare for the Lord's return. It's been so frequent that I started writing them down in a journal so that I can ponder on the meaning and warnings. I asked my husband if he wanted to hear about them and he gave me a firm "no". He doesn't like hearing about things that have to do with the last days. What's even more interesting is that my husband who does not ever remember his dreams, like talking about dreams or ever hearing mine - out of the blue yesterday said "I had a weird dream." I asked him to tell me and he did. To my astonishment it was the exact same dream I had 2 days earlier - which he did not know about.

So, A - he actually remembered a dream, B - he wanted to tell me about it and C - it was the same dream I had. I felt a confirmation that this dream and message was significant indeed. The Lord wanted me to know for a surety that this message was important and from Him by relaying the same dream to my husband and allowing him to remember it.

For now, I will keep this dream private but I will tell you that it's message is very clear that drastic change is coming to this nation and world. Christ is on His way and will be here sooner than we realize or expect. Most of us are going to be caught off guard and unprepared. Now is the last little moment to get ourselves ready for that great and dreadful day.

Do whatever it is that you need to do to be ready to meet the Lord. Take care of any lingering sins, study your scriptures like you never have before, and pray as often as you tweet or facebook! As you purify yourself you will be in a position to receive instruction and messages from the Holy Ghost and if you pray for it, it will come. The Lord will tell you what you need to be doing to prepare you and your family for what is coming. You will feel peace, protection and safety.

As I said above that the Spirit has been directing me towards so may things that are all pointing to change and a hastening of the Lord's return. It has never been as loud and clear as it has been this month which tells me things are about to speed up. Last Sunday, in sacrament meeting, the bishop announced a CES fireside that night at 6:00 and Elder Holland would be speaking. I love Elder Holland, he is one of my most favorite apostles because he tells it like it is - with no sugar coating. I nudged my husband and asked him to remind me to watch it that night.

Well later that night I sat down and read some spiritual blogs and then was about to shut the computer down when I felt that there was something else I was supposed to still read or view. I decided to go to to see if maybe there was a new article or video posted that would be inspiring. As I did I saw the large image of the CES fireside at 6:00. I looked at the computer is was 5:58pm. Oh, how I thanked the Lord for reminding me!

I watched this fireside and I'm telling you Elder Hollands words moved me like they never have before. I haven't felt the Spirit that strong since girls camp 1994. He was very firm when he said that times are changing and as saints we will no longer flee those that persecute (as in days of old like Moses, Lehi and the pioneers saints). The saints are spread too far across the globe and there are no new places for them to go to as a refuge. We will stand firm in our Holy places and defend ourselves. This was powerful to me. He made it clear that the Lord is coming soon and when He comes how happy we will be if we are caught in the very act of service at His return. We need to become a more Zion-like people. Serve more and love more so that we are prepared for His return and are able to live a Zion-like life because we had already been doing so. Check out Elder Holland's fireside here

Then today, at the Brigham City temple dedication I heard something that really moved my spirit. The temple president said we need to always have our temple recommends current. He said that when the Lord returns He will visit His temples. We will receive an invitation from our Stake president and bishop to go to the temple to see the Savior in person. It will be such a glorious event that the bishop and his counselors are not going to be at the church house doing temple recommend interviews they will be at the temple. If you don't have have a current recommend you will miss out on that glorious opportunity. We need to be using our recommends so that it becomes habit to be at the temple and to be living a clean and pure life.

Furthermore, a week ago  was reading the Ensign and a certain article really stood out to me. How Disciples of Christ Live in Times of War and Violence. by David Brent Marsh. Never before have I seen an Ensign article preparing us as saints to live in a time of war and violence. This was new and really astonished me. Also, Quentin L. Cook has an article titled Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom. I see a pattern here of a strong message the Lord is trying to get to us. 

Lastly, on Tuesday while I was taking a shower, my 4 year old decided to take an ink pad to the basement wall. She made a mural about 2 ft X 2 ft right next to the TV. When she told me about it by blaming it on her baby sister I went down to assess the damage. Realizing it would take some massive effort to clean that wall, I didn't have the time or energy to do it and wanted to save it for later. I got the strong feeling to just take care of it now. It was time for lunch and the girls were hungry and I really didn't have time, but that feeling came again. I went and grabbed my cleaning supplies and went down to the basement. I noticed right then that the girls had put it on channel 11 and a BYU devotional was starting. I haven't watched a BYU devotional since who knows when. Because the ink mess was right next to the TV, I could see and hear the message loud and clear. Again, this was no coincidence. When I finished the last little blotch of ink, the devotional ended. Humbled that the Lord continues to guide me to this message through so many clever ways, I had a difficult time being mad at my daughter for what she had done, it was inspired by the Lord. 

Art by Jon McNaughton
The speech was titled The Hard Work of Understanding by Judge Thomas B. Griffith a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He spoke about the constitution, patriotism, our govt. system and the importance of understanding it all.He cautioned that though we are all passionate right now as a nation about our political views that it does not cause us to become enemies. That we love and respect each other. I know this has election has been a sensitive issue for many and I see each weeks, passions turning to anger and contention. This is exactly how the civil war began. It turned family members against each other.

Wow! This last month has been a powerful one. Never before have I been led by the Spirit in so many miraculous ways so often - to the message that Christ is on His way, than I have this month.

In Micah 7:6 in reference to our day and time it reads:

 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

In Luke 12:53

 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

In Matthew 12:25 Jesus says:

 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Let us remember that God's people are not a contentious people. During these coming troubling times we must exert patience, love, service and stand firm on our morals, values and principles. Do all that you can to prepare you and your household as the Lord comes soon.  

I say this in His holy name, Jesus Christ - amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Protection in the Last Days

In these last days we need spiritual protection more than ever! There is a literal army of good and evil fighting minute by minute throughout each day. Though we cannot always see it we cannot forget that it is real.

As evil runs ramped during these last days, we will see many things that we'd rather not. With protection we do not have to fear. This recent talk from Elder Russel M Nelson is a great reminder of how we can keep from being afraid when frightening things happen in the world around us.

I love this picture I found on facebook! It sums up everything I wanted to say in this blog post.

Psalms 91:11

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

I know that when we attend the temple, read our scriptures and pray we are blessed with the protection from on high. We can't afford to go through life unprotected. It is my prayer that we do all we can to keep ourselves and our families safe from Satan's power and the destruction of the last days. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Standing Alone for God

Here is a talk I gave a while ago about president Monson's talk Dare to Stand Alone:

As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Has that happened to you?  Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone? As holders of the priesthood of God, it is essential that we are able to face—with courage—whatever challenges come our way. Remember the words of Tennyson: “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”

Increasingly, some celebrities and others who—for one reason or another—are in the public eye have a tendency to ridicule religion in general and, at times, the Church in particular. If our testimonies are not firmly enough rooted, such criticisms can cause us to doubt our own beliefs or to waver in our resolves. - Pres. Monson

In Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, found in 1 Nephi 8, Lehi sees, among others, those who hold to the iron rod until they come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, which we know is a representation of the love of God. And then, sadly, after they partake of the fruit, some are ashamed because of those in the “great and spacious building,” who represent the pride of the children of men, who are pointing fingers at them and scoffing at them; and they fall away into forbidden paths and are lost. What a powerful tool of the adversary is ridicule and mockery! Again, brethren, do we have the courage to stand strong and firm in the face of such difficult opposition?

President Benson:

“In all ages, prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. …

“For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some individuals will fall away, but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its Head—even Jesus Christ.

“While this generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time: [it is that] God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest … children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly.”

Said President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“You cannot afford to do anything that would place a curtain between you and the ministering of angels in your behalf.

“You cannot be immoral in any sense. You cannot be dishonest. You cannot cheat or lie. You cannot take the name of God in vain or use filthy language and still have the right to the ministering of angels.”

“We are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”

There is a certain type of people that I call "fence sitters". They are at a place in their life spiritually where they consider themselves in the middle. Doing just enough to get by and justify that they are on good terms with the Lord. They go through the motions of attending church or reading scriptures but then talk bad about others or have poor integrity. 

Becoming casual in the gospel or doing things that you know are wrong outweigh the good and please Satan in more ways than one. You may despise Satan and all he stands for and would never dream of following him. However you are doing just that when you “ride the fence”.

Often times when we are not serving the Lord we are not doing it deliberately. We are not trying to rebel or purposely sin, or hurt the Lord. Most often we just aren’t thinking about the repercussions our choices have. We aren’t understanding the grand scheme of things or looking at our life with an eternal perspective. We are just living in the moment for the here and now.

I always say, “If only I knew then what I know now… I would have handled that situation better, chose differently.” Use that as the faith to avoid temptation and ride the fence. After this life, you will pass through the veil and remember everything! You will look back on your life….and possibly say “If only I knew then what I know now… I would have..” Avoid that sorrow and live your life so that instead you’ll rejoice and say, “I knew it! I knew it was true!” 

You see, that’s what a testimony is. It’s what we know to be true. If we really know the gospel to be true – all of it, our lives will reflect that. When we don’t understand the gospel to its fullest, our lives reflect that.

What is your attitude about the gospel? I love learning the doctrine. I love to read and study the deep subjects of the gospel. I want to know the mysteries of God. This is exciting to me. However, I can know the doctrine inside and out but it doesn’t do me any good if I don’t understand the basic principles of the gospel and apply them in my life. 

They go hand in hand. The more I study the doctrine the more I am reminded about the importance of the principals. The more, I am reminded the more I want to live them. The more I live them the more I am blessed and strengthened so that when the time comes to stand alone, I have the faith, strength and courage to do so.

In the hymn “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?” the chorus sings 

“Who’s on the Lord’s Side Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly; who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?”

The battle of good and evil has been going on since the beginning of time. This battle is real and we are all in it whether we choose to be or not. We know from the scriptures that eventually the battle will end and good will prevail. We should all want to be on the Lord’s side and help fight the fight.
In any battle, a soldier that let’s down his guard our sits on the sidelines will eventually meet his fate. Don’t let that happen to you. Stand up for what you know is right. Live what you believe. Serve the Lord faithfully in all you do. Don’t sit on the sidelines, fly below the radar or ride the fence. You are not defending or serving the Lord when you do this. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in. When you are not strong you are weak. When you are weak you are vulnerable to the influence of the adversary. 

Many people knowingly serve Satan while others serve his purposes without understanding how they are doing so..

Ok, so why is this message so important and how can we make sure we are on the Lord's side?
In our time music and the media is Satan's biggest weapon. There are so many top 40 songs that contain lyrics that completely defy God and all He stands for. The melodies are catchy and popular and its so easy to want to tap your feet to the beat and get these songs stuck in your head. There are so many movies with great reviews from the critics, and they receive awards, praise and recognition by the world but they are full of questionable content that also defy God and all He stands for.
When we bring these "weapons" into our homes and minds we are unknowingly fighting against the Lord. lWe are serving Satan and supporting his purposes. Filthy language, pornography, premarital sex, vulgar talk , jokes and imagery are all things that even if we don't personally participate in them we are supporting them by watching them and laughing at them.

If they are offensive to Him they are offensive to me. We should be more careful that we do not become desensitized by all of this. We should find these things offensive.

Doing our best to stand up for righteousness even if it means standing alone, will bring us great blessings as we show our love and obedeince for the Lord and his commandments. I say this in the sacred name of Jesus Christ amen. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Camping Trip to Remember

As August was nearing to an end I decided to book a reservation at a campground so that we could enjoy one last weekend of summer before school started.  We typically camp one day once a year. We're not camping people but we know how much the kids love it and it's cheap!

So, it looked like Labor day weekend was going to be our weekend of choice. A few weeks later, it was here and I spent all Friday morning loading up the car with the kids. While we were packing, a man came out to fix our window frames that needed some touch up paint. After he finished painting he said, "So where you headed this weekend?"

"Oh, just camping up at South Fork". I said.

"You realize it's going to rain right?" he replied "Hope you don't get washed away."

No, I hadn't been following the weather. Seeing how I had already paid for the reservation weeks in advance, there was no going back on this one. Rain or shine, we were going camping. It was a beautiful sunny day. If a little rain did roll in later, it wasn't going to hurt us.

My husband came home at 12:30 and we finished loading up and went on our way. It was a beautiful drive and it felt so good to get away from life for a day. When we arrived, we quickly set up the tent and then changed into our swim gear. We wanted to take a dip in the very shallow Weber River.

We strolled down to a cozy  river bank and spent a couple hours splashing with the kids and skipping rocks. With hardly any other campers in sight, we were glad to be able to have the place to ourselves. We knew it would get busy around dinner time and felt we had really lucked out on our timing.

After waving to a couple of kids floating by on tubes, we decided the scorching sun was getting the best of us and we headed back to make dinner. As my husband started up the coals, I prepared the dutch oven with a yummy pizza roll recipe. It didn't take long before our pizza rolls were puffy and golden - cheese oozing out over loads of crisp bacon. It smelled delicious!

I got out the dipping sauces I had made, a garden salad and some grape soda. This dutch oven Italian dinner was much better than the typical hotdog roasting we were accustomed to. As we enjoyed the cooling down brought on by the cloud coverage, my husband decided to light a fire. That was when the first raindrop fell. Within seconds it was really coming down and we ran to the car for cover. We finished eating dinner in the car and waited until it died down. "That wasn't so bad." I thought.

"We better roast marshmallows soon" he said. "This fire is burning quick."  Suddenly, I felt rushed. It was only 5:30pm. We weren't supposed to do s'mores yet. We just had dinner. We were supposed to do s'mores around the fire at sundown. Realizing if we didn't have them now we wouldn't have them at all, I complied. Before I could open up the graham crackers and chocolate bars, my husband had already roasted 8 marshmallows. "Hurry and put them together while they're hot" he said.

What? The kids and I didn't get to roast our own? What was the big hurry? We loaded up our crackers and enjoyed the gooey, chocolatey mess. There seemed to be a break in the rain. Once we finished up, the rain began again. It was light enough that we decided to enjoy it. We put on our rain jackets and sat around the fire until it had burned out. We went on a walk, came back and played games in the tent and then got ready for bed. The rain was gone.

About midnight the rain came back. As it pattered down on the tent we were all awakened. It came and went throughout the night and then about 5:00 AM the lightning came. It flashed around us lighting up the tent like noonday sun. 4-5 flashes every 2 seconds. Thunder cracking before we could count to 2. It was right above us on that mountain top. Realizing there was water all around the tent and we were surrounded by tall trees, I suddenly felt as far from safe as a person could get.

Feeling the thunder in the ground I clenched my pillow. I looked over and saw my son and daughter holding each other tight. "Hey guys, I want you to pray right now that we can survive this storm safely." I called to them.

 "We already have been." my son replied. I then began to say my own prayers. "Father please be with us and keep us safe." I repeated over and over. Afraid to end my prayer, I just kept talking to Him as a way of comfort to ride out the terror of this brutal storm. I felt like a helpless little person in the midst of a war zone with bombs dropping all around me. All I could do was huddle and pray and hope to not get struck. My husband and I wanted to be safe in the car but didn't want to take the chance of being a walking target on our way to the car. We stayed low.

If only I had listened to the window man. Was that a warning that I had ignored? It was all my fault that my family's safety was being jeopardized. I had just wanted a peaceful, memorable night with my family - well, I guess this was going to be memorable. As, I lay there wide awake unable to sleep,  blinded and trembling from every flash and crack of thunder around us, I wondered if we were not going to be harmed by the lightening  that we might be washed away down the mountain instead. It had been raining for 3 and a half hours straight. Hard and heavy.

It was then I realized that I had two choices. I could continue to lay there in fear or I could trust in God that no matter what happened He was with us. That would bring me peace. I chose the latter. I was soon able to fall back asleep, realizing that we had all been saying prayers and that God was listening.

At 6:30 am we got up as daylight began to arrive. We assessed the flooding outside. Water all around us but under our tent was completely dry. We noticed some families had left in the night. Hearing some falling rocks we looked up and saw several landslides on the hillside. What a storm it had been! We were kept safe.

The clouds were clearing up and some squirrels came out to watch us as we fired up the coals for pancakes and bacon. As we blessed the food we thanked Heavenly Father for keeping us safe. The sun came out and things warmed up. We were able to enjoy the rest of our day outdoors and had a wonderful time.

When we arrived home that afternoon I checked my messages and my mom had called several times leaving frantic messages. "It's all over the news that a severe weather alert has been issued for all over Weber county especially where you care camping. You're phone is turned off. I'm worried. Call me."

We then saw this headline on the news about a boy being struck by lightening in Weber county.

I had been reminded in a humbling way that without faith, what good is prayer? Asking and then believing offers peace and comfort. Putting your fears in the Lord's hands and then trusting Him is key to not being overcome by fear. This scripture came to mind:

Luke 8:25

And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

In a world of tempests and storms all around us, we need not be afraid. The Lord is all powerful and with Him on our side we can find peace and strength to endure. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.