Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Truth

There always seems to be one person in my facebook network who (for reasons never stated) decides to no longer believe in God and be very, very vocal about it. I have known three in the last 2 years. The things that they each have in common is that they were all married in the temple at one point, are returned missionaries, have been divorced, and now are very open about their love for alcohol, getting drunk, sexual activities and use very vulgar language in their status updates.

What's very good about it is that no one cares to judge them or question their new lifestyle but for some reason these three people feel the need to continuously attack the gospel and all of it's principals. They are very defensive even though no one is criticizing. It's almost as though they are looking to stir the pot and create contention. It seems as thought they must feel some sort of guilt and this is how they deal with it. It's as if they are not happy but they want to convince everyone they are. At least that's how it started.

They post status updates several times a day about how ridiculous the gospel is and in a sense they mock it. Then after that gets old and they aren't getting a reaction anymore - they then claim that now they no longer believe in God. Instead of leaving it at that - they make a big effort to convince other people to do the same. They become consumed by the topic and all their status updates only have to do with denying God, and "the foolishness of people who believe in God".

This has been pressing on my mind lately. It's one thing to believe something and it's another thing to attack others all day long for not believing the same as you. If you were truly happy with your beliefs, why would you feel the need to put others down? It's almost as if you are not happy. Deep down you are torn apart - yet you are trying to convey to others that you are happier than you have ever been and you finally have found the truth and have been liberated! It's as though deep down you really don't believe what you are preaching. You know that the message you are sending isn't the truth. It's a just a truth that you have made your own truth.

The Holy Ghost is a witness of truth. When the Holy Ghost stands behind your message you are building up others, not tearing them down. You are looking to spread positive news, not negative. You have an open mind and are not looking to argue or prove a point. You are humble about it and loving. That is how you discern truth from error.

Without the Holy Ghost you are quick to be deceived. Satan preaches that whatever is convenient and benefits YOU is the way to happiness. The Lord's way is not always convenient or easy and usually involves helping OTHERS.  When you deny God - then you have no one to answer to. You create your own rules - whatever makes you happy. After all, there is no sin if there is no God - right? How appealing to those who do not want a guilty conscience, or have to face responsibility or accountability for their choices.

When I heard President Uchtdorf''s CES talk today titled "What is Truth?", I couldn't have been more happy to hear him nail this subject right on the head. This is very worth your time if you have 30 minutes. The Spirit is powerful in his words.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reaching Through the Veil

This weekend, I was able to dig out a large box of old photos and documents from past ancestors, that still to this day no one understands how I inherited it. I got the box from my mom, she got it from her mom but neither of them ever looked through it or knew what was in it. My Grandma doesn't remember who gave it to her.

I truly believe that I ended up with it, because someone on the other side of the veil knew I would do something with it. In fact, as I've explored the old documents in there some dating back to 1910, I've delighted in learning about these people whom I truly believe have some sort of stewardship or watch over me and my family. Their stories had been forgotten and unkown throughout the last few generations. I was about to resurrect them!

It's like having discovered a giant treasure box full of precious jewels. I still can't believe that I have these items and I can't wait to piece the photos, letters, and stories together to further my family tree and genealogy work. It really feels as though unseen visitors have been guiding me, urging me and influencing me to learn about them.

I found a patriarchal blessing from 1923. It was very fascinating to read and very different from any blessing in my family that I have ever read. The woman's name in whom the blessing belonged to (Lucille Oakden Karzis) was also written on the back of several post cards, letters and photos. I did some research and found out she is my great grandmother's sister and it doesn't appear that she ever had children. It does not mention anything about a husband or children in her blessing either - very interesting. She received this blessing at the age of 29. I really wanted to scan in her blessing thinking it might be okay as it is very old. Then I felt that it was still sacred and should be treated that way.

Something I do want to share is the interesting signature I found at the bottom. Here it is:   Hyrum G Smith

Clearly he must have been directly related to the late prophet's brother Hyrum Smith. So I did some research and yes, he was! I then googled Hyrum G. Smith and got to know who he was a little better.

After learning more about him and then reading these beautiful words in the blessing he gave my ancestor, it was a surreal experience. To think that this blessing had been hidden away for so long, and these people forgotten by today's generations. I feel it's my duty to share what I learn about the amazing fore-bearers who built up Zion before our time. In doing so, I truly believe I am making a personal connection with these individuals through the veil by honoring their lives and who they were. I firmly believe that I will be blessed by making this a priority.

Here is a little bit about what I learned about Hyrum G Smith:

Hyrum Gibbs Smith (July 8, 1879 – February 4, 1932) was Presiding Patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1912 until his death.

Smith was born in South Jordan, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory to Hyrum Fisher Smith and Annie Maria Gibbs. At the age of 32, he was ordained a high priest and Patriarch to the Church on May 9, 1912 by Church President Joseph F. Smith. Hyrum G. Smith's paternal grandfather John Smith was the Presiding Patriarch immediately before him. John Smith was the son of Hyrum Smith, the elder brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the LDS Church. The father of Joseph and Hyrum, Joseph Smith, Sr., was the first Patriarch to the Church.

Smith died of pneumonia in Salt Lake City.[1] After his death, the office of Presiding Patriarch was left vacant for several years, but was eventually filled by Smith's nephew Joseph Fielding Smith. In 1947, Hyrum G. Smith's son Eldred G. Smith became the Patriarch to the Church.

 I can't wait to learn more and share!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Power of Perseverance

Yesterday, while having some time to reflect and think about anything that my mind so decided to, the thought of perseverance came into my mind. I thought about many things in my life that for some reason I had decided to embark on (knowing it was not my talent, skill or something I enjoyed) which I knew would be a challenge - yet I completed with a smile.

The first that came to my mind was a 5K race back in high school. My business marketing teacher said that if anyone was willing to run a 5K race in Salt Lake City that weekend we would get enough extra credit to bump up our grade. Not knowing what a 5K was or what it had to do with our class I was game - just for the extra credit!

I'm not an athlete, I don't enjoy running and I have never trained for anything. Being 17, I was invincible and figured it couldn't be that hard. I talked my brother into going with me. When we arrived that Saturday morning, it was cool outside and we were 5 minutes late. In fact, by the time we ran over to the starting line, we couldn't even see the backs of any of the runners. They were all long gone. We signed in, put our numbers on and began to run. We decided it would be a lot of fun to try and come in first place. Yes, we were very confident.

We ran full speed ahead! No steady jog, but rather running as though we were being chased by some wild animal. Panting for air, not stopping for water, we found our way through the crowd of runners and pushed our way to the front. Laughing and joking the entire way, we never knew if we'd really come in first - but forgoing stopping for any bathroom breaks was quite the sacrifice.

Finally, we saw our destination ahead. We picked up steam and pushed our limits until we crossed that line. As we came to a stop and fell over panting for air and struggling for a drink of water, we looked around and saw no other runners. After talking to someone sitting in a chair, we learned that we were the first runners to cross the line! That was an empowering moment!

No, never again have I run another 5K nor do I desire to, but knowing I completed something that I did not enjoy, and exceeded my expectations - was powerful!

Last year, when building our new home, I was excited to decorate my kids' rooms. The bedspread I had in mind for my youngest - did not exist. I could see it in my mind and it was cute! I searched online for weeks and found nothing even close to it. Finally, I realized my only option would be to make it. Hiring someone to make it was too costly, so I knew I was on my own.

I happened to own a used sewing machine that I had found 10 years prior. It was from the 1970's and missing some parts. I had only used it to hem some things and even then it was quite the feat! I never knew if I really was just a bad sewer or if it was the machine's fault. What I did know was that sewing was not enjoyable to me at all.

I found some ladies in my ward who are expert quilters and asked for their help. I picked out my fabric, bought the supplies and we got to work. Whenever I took the quilt home to work on it alone, I messed it up every time and they would have to help me take it apart and redo what I had done. This was very frustrating and what I thought was going to save me time, actually used up more time.

Finally after 2 months, my quilt was finished! (Funny thing is, I only put it on my daughter's bed for special occasions because I don't want anything bad to happen to it. I'm afraid if I ever wash it, it will be destroyed) I was proud of myself for completing it and not giving up!

No, I don't plan to ever quilt again, and I ended up selling my sewing machine on KSL, but I am so happy I had that experience because it taught me a lot about myself. It was humbling to be challenged, to struggle and to rely on others for help. At the same time it was powerful to know what I had accomplished. I had turned a beautiful vision in my head into something wonderful, without using a pattern of any kind!

To give a little more insight as to why this was so empowering to me, let me go into a little more detail. I don't know about you, but I am the type of person who lives outside of the box. I don't do well with systems or pathways set in stone - that are not flexible, or allow me to improvise or implement my own ideas and get great results. So, basically anything like chemistry, math, following patterns, knitting or crocheting, playing sheet music, etc. I am terrible at. If I don't do it by the rules it turns out wrong, sounds horrible, or falls apart.

In fact, in High School I almost failed a creative writing class because I could not write within the box that the teacher had set for us. He had his own style and set of rules, anyone who wrote outside of that did not excel. Being a writer all my life and winning awards for my creativity - this was a struggle indeed! Nevertheless, I worked hard redoing every paper and in the end was able to get a C.

In Jr. High School, I had an art teacher who never found it in his heart to give me an A on any assignment. I learned that in his class, art was not in the eye of the beholder. He had set a standard with guidelines, if we painted outside of the rules we did not excel. It put a poor taste in my mouth for art, and took the joy out of it. However, I did my best and never gave up! I got a B.

I later learned that I excelled in areas where I had the most freedom - cooking, decorating, and creating! I hated following recipes and always tended to change them. I liked to decorate with unique items that I could make myself. Anything technical though - such as french braiding hair, making homemade rolls, performing a music piece, etc. I was horrible at because they each had a set of rules that needed to be followed. Homemade rolls involves chemistry and following a formula/recipe exactly. With braiding hair, it involves patterns and skill; and with music - if you play the wrong notes or mess up on the timing, you ruin the song.

With public speaking, making a salad, or decorating my living room - it was impossible to mess up. There were no rules to follow. It was easy to improvise if I forgot a thought, was out of an ingredient or bought the wrong paint color. In the end people were always pleased with the results, and I enjoyed it.

We all know what our strengths and weaknesses are but it doesn't mean we should ever runaway from a challenge - just because we are not good at it. If we can take on tasks that test our abilities and limits, and we persevere - we will be strengthened!

It's not about the outcome, it's about what we learn along the way. Not giving up or quitting even though we may come in last, or worry that me might embarrass ourselves through the several mistakes we make along the way - is the real test!

In these times we are living in, it will become very tempting and all too easy to give up because a task seems difficult. We may be asked to perform a task or serve in a capacity that does mesh well on our comfort level. That's okay. Embrace these opportunities, because you will be strengthened through them! It is that strength you are going to rely on to make it through the difficult times that lie ahead. There is Power in Perseverance!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Doctrine and Covenants

I have been reading in Doctrine and Covenants for the last few months and it has really been a blessing. Many times a question would arise during the day about an issue in the news or a family matter and the page that I would read that night in the Doctrine and Covenants just happened to be speaking directly to me and had my answers.

I truly can attest this was given to us as a source to guide us through these last days. It's amazing how often the second coming of the Lord is mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants as well as the signs to watch for.

The first paragraph in the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants reads as follows:
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.

I testify that this is true! 

I came across this message from President Henry B. Eyring in the January 2013 Liahona. He shares an amazing experience from an ancestor and explains how the Doctrine and Covenants can help us in these last days. It's very much worth the read!

The Voice of the Lord 

Henry B. Eyring

The Doctrine and Covenants invites all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ (see D&C 1:2, 4, 11, 34; 25:16). It is filled with His messages, warnings, and encouraging exhortations given by revelation to chosen prophets. In these revelations we can see how God can answer our prayers of faith with messages of instruction, peace, and warning.

In our prayers we seek to know what God would have us do, what we should do to find peace and happiness in this life and the next, and what lies ahead of us. The Doctrine and Covenants is filled with answers to such questions asked by ordinary people and by prophets in humble prayer. It can be a precious guide to teach us how to receive answers to questions about our temporal well-being and eternal salvation.

Humility and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are key. Oliver Cowdery received an answer from the Lord regarding his desire to help in the translation of the Book of Mormon: “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not” (D&C 8:10).

Over and over in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord requires faith and humility before He gives His help. One reason for this is that His answers may not come in the way we expect. Neither will they always be easy to accept.

Church history and the experiences of our ancestors illustrate this reality. My great-grandfather Henry Eyring prayed fervently to know what he should do when he heard the restored gospel taught in 1855. The answer came in a dream.

He dreamed that he was seated at a table with Elder Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and with an elder named William Brown. Elder Snow taught the principles of the gospel for what seemed to be an hour. Then Elder Snow said, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to be baptized and this man [Elder Brown] … shall baptize you.”1 My family is grateful that Henry Eyring had the faith and humility to be baptized at 7:30 in the morning in a pool of rainwater in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, by Elder Brown.

The answer to his prayer did not come in an audible voice from the Lord. It came in a vision and dream in the night, as it did with Lehi (see 1 Nephi 8:2).

The Lord has taught us that answers can also come as feelings. In the Doctrine and Covenants, He taught Oliver Cowdery, “Behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (D&C 8:2).
And He encouraged Oliver this way: “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23).

The Doctrine and Covenants, Church history, and the history kept by Henry Eyring on his mission just after his baptism have taught me that answers can be felt as warnings as well as peace.

In April 1857, Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended a conference in what is now Oklahoma, USA. Henry Eyring recorded that Elder Pratt’s “mind was filled with gloomy forebodings … , not being able to discern the future or any way of escape.” Henry recorded the sad news immediately thereafter of the martyrdom of the Apostle. Elder Pratt had gone forward on his journey despite feelings of danger, just as the Prophet Joseph had done in going to Carthage.
It is my testimony that the Lord always answers the humble prayer of faith. The Doctrine and Covenants and our personal experience teach us how to recognize those answers and accept them in faith, whether they be direction, confirmation of truth, or a warning. I pray that we always will listen for and recognize the loving voice of the Lord.