Thursday, November 15, 2012

21 days closer day 13


"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." (Isaiah 50:10-11)
Meaning.... This person has obtained knowledge, but instead of relying on the light of Christ, has chosen to rely on his own strength.

'One of the greatest struggles Christians through all times have faced is apathy. Going through the motions won't prevent us from distancing ourselves from the Lord. It's very important we remain focused as to where our commitment and devotion lie.'

Elder M. Russell Ballard says, "As I read and ponder the scriptures and carefully consider the Lord's counsel to His followers in every dispensation of time, it appears to me that the most important thing every one of us can do is examine our own commitment and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must carefully guard against spiritual apathy and work to maintain the full measure of our loving loyalty to the Lord."

'Trust in the name of the Lord. It takes a lot of faith to realize that we can't do everything on our own and then learn to trust in and be supported by the Lord. By doing this we come to know His will for us. When we trust Him enough to accept His will and learn to lean on Him for our support, then we will be filled with His light.'

Some ways I have been able to turn to the Lord for support and direction have majorly been through this grief. I'm slowly coming to the realization that no matter what happens, things will be ok, I will be ok. God wants me to be happy, not miserable, He doesn't do things to purposely hurt us, but to help us grow, learn and help us reach our full potential.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

21 days closer Day 12


The story of the 10 Lepers tells of Jesus healing them but only one came back to thank Him. The rest were celebrating the gift, the one who came back to thank him was recognizing the Giver. That makes a man a disciple. That man was not only changed physically, but spiritually healed.

A change I would like to make in my own life would be trusting in myself more. Not doubting the promptings or ideas I get, just going forth without hesitation. Not only does that show trust in myself but in God too.

21 days closer Day 11


An important step in coming closer to Christ is finding time to focus on the Lord daily.

Talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ and preach of Christ are 3 distinct ways we can look to Christ in our homes. When we focus on Christ, He will become the center of our lives- someone we long to talk to and be with.

I have longed to be near Him, that is why I started doing this 21 Days Closer journey. I pray I may indeed be closer to Him through this.

21 days closer Day 9


"There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been so well organized. Now is the great day of the devil's power. But now is also the great day of the Lord's power.... Each day we personally make many decisions showing the cause we support. The final outcome is certain- the forces of righteousness will win. But what remains to be seen is where each of us are personally, now and in the future, will stand in this battle- and how tall we will stand....We will never have a better opportunity to be valiant in a more crucial cause than in the battle we face today.... Christ... is the most successful warrior that ever walked the earth, and He wants to help us win every battle."  President Ezra Taft Benson

Christ asks us to stand "at attention", just as captains ask of soldiers, in many different ways:

Stand by faith
Stand fast in the faith
Stand and testify
Stand spotless
Stand in the place of our stewardship
Stand in holy places
Stand as witnesses
Take upon us the Lord's whole armor, that we may be able to stand
Having done all, to stand for truth, righteousness, peace and faith

He cautions us, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion." We do not have the luxury of "standing down" in this battle. One of our greatest strengths comes from knowing our Captain. Our relationship must never become stagnant. "We must know him, remember him more often, and serve him more valiantly than we are right now." Howard W. Hunter

Full conversion means that we have complete reliance on our Savior. He will watch over us and strengthen us so that we may become fully converted.

I can definitely see battles raging all over, the biggest of which are attacks on morality and on the family unit. Filth on tv (sexual, violence, profanity, etc) is becoming more apparent and more accepted. I can see how things are slowly creeping in media and elsewhere and sometimes we don't even realize what's going on. I've been taking a hard look at what I am letting into my home, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the words we speak, any entertainment we immerse ourselves in... there are some changes to be made. Some of the little things may seem harmless, but you give an inch and it will take a mile.
Where do I see myself in the fight? Undoubtedly fighting for the Lord, fighting for what's right, standing for truth and righteousness, and as the 13th Article of Faith states, 'if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy.... we seek after these things.'

21 days closer Day 9


'Great temporal and spiritual strength flows from following those who have the keys of the Kingdom of God in our time.' James E. Faust

King Benjamin gave five items of counsel in his conference address, that helps us apply the words of the prophet in our life.

1) Open your ears that ye may hear. Take time to listen to the Prophet.
2) Open your hearts that ye may understand. Sometimes we hear counsel that we don't understand; we should pray to have our hearts open to receive new understanding and we can receive confirmation of its truth.
3) Open your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to our view. Study. Reread Conference talks, especially the ones that touched or stood out to you.
4) Remember the words we have been taught. Identify and apply one principle at a time.
5) "And now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them". Apply this direction in our lives.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "It is the opportunity, the responsibility of every man and woman in this church to obtain... a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work and of those who stand at its head, even the Living God and the Lord, Jesus Christ."

Conference last month was phenomenal. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. I soaked in every talk given, but there were a few that really stood out to me. The first one I heard was by Elder Shayne M. Bowen, "Because I live, Ye shall live also". It was a very much too close to home and hard to listen to, but was inspiring to hear. His words, though heart wrenching, brought me much comfort, especially coming from someone who has gone through what we have and understands! I love this part he shared:

 "Tyson has remained a very integral part of our family. Through the years it has been wonderful to see the mercy and kindness of a loving Father in Heaven, who has allowed our family to feel in very tangible ways the influence of Tyson. I testify that the veil is thin. The same feelings of loyalty, love, and family unity don’t end as our loved ones pass to the other side; instead, those feelings are intensified.
Sometimes people will ask, “How long did it take you to get over it?” The truth is, you will never completely get over it until you are together once again with your departed loved ones. I will never have a fulness of joy until we are reunited in the morning of the First Resurrection.
“For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
“And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.”3
But in the meantime, as the Savior taught, we can continue with good cheer.4
I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and plead for His comfort that comes through His plan; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost."
 So very glad he stated out loud for all to hear that losing a child is NOT something we get over, and we cannot be fully happy until we are reunited. That's exactly how I feel, I am happy, I have so much to be grateful for, but I cannot be completely, fully, truly happy until all my sweet family are reunited together again. I also can testify that this bitter, unbearable, heart-wrenching pain can become sweet and we can be comforted as we turn to Heavenly Father. I continually plead for comfort and peace and without fail He is there to bless me with it. 

I'm very grateful for General Conference, I look at it as a breath of fresh air, and spiritually rejuvenating. A few years back I had been challenged to pray for answers I need before Conference and I would hear what I need to. I now do this every conference and pray the whole week prior, and it is amazing how when I hear a certain talk I just know it was meant for me, it was what I needed. That and the fact that all the speakers are in tune with the spirit and inspired, is yet another testimony that God is listening and He is aware of our needs and how very much He loves us.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

21 days closer day 8


To know the voice of the Shepherd is a privilege and a blessing. Setting aside time to listen to the voice is our responsibility. We show our devotion when we choose to listen to His voice and come when we are called.
So many things going on in the world, so many different voices we hear. He has set aside everything to seek us, we need to set things aside to seek Him.

How well do we know His voice? How often do we come when we are called?

I'm still working on recognizing exactly how He speaks to me, I try and listen but am unsure at times if I'm hearing my own thoughts or Him. I think I feel Him speak to me when I'm reading and studying. I usually read exactly what I needed to hear or feel what I need to feel.
I used to listen to the radio and watch tv a lot more but recently find myself turning it off, whether in the car or home, and just thinking or trying to listen. It is very helpful to set aside time special for that.

21 days closer Day 7


1. Ask. The object of prayer is to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.

2. Ask in the name of Christ, He is our mediator and He pleads our case to the Father, giving us greater chance at victory.

3. Determine "which is good". Many times we can determine what is good only after we have done all we can on our own, then take it before the Lord and ask Him to help us make a decision.

4. Ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive. Usually involves moments of silence, a time of reflection.

5. "It shall be done unto you". The answers will be forthcoming. We don't always know how or when but we can learn to watch for and accept the answers He sends. We learn to receive answers, a step at a time, until we become familiar enough with the answers to prayer to appreciate them everywhere around us.

The step that I have been focusing on more is determining which is good. I would do great if God would just tell me what to do, I can follow instructions. The hard part for me is trying to do all I can myself and working for the answer. I expect such immediate answers most the time then I get frustrated when it doesn't come. I know that He does hear our prayers and answers do come- sometimes not the way we want or when we want but they do come.
Friday, November 9, 2012

21 days closer Day 6


'Sometimes a small portion of hope will bring change in thought. This change simply helps us to evaluate the situation from a different view than we have previously seen. We are given small portions of knowledge, line upon line, as we work through the abyss. The blind man experienced this process. The Lord simply changed his point of view, dust was turned into clay. Simple. Then was told to go to place of healing, Siloam and wash- an ordinary experience that symbolized so much- Wash, Let go, rid yourself of what's holding you back, and heal. The man's eyes were opened, he could see.'

Like she expressed in an experience, I too have sought out answers for things, begging and pleading to know why or what to do, or how to do it. More often than not now I find myself begging for comfort. During one of the Savior's greatest struggles, Heavenly Father sent unto Him an angel to strengthen Him. I have learned to trust that in my darkest hours, when I require strength just to exist, He will send an angel to help me through.

In my poem I wrote for my Mikkie, it says, "Everytime I see a rainbow cross the sky it gives me hope to move forward for another day." Not always is the rainbow literal. It can also mean good things that have come to me through Christ. One recent example, my rainbow baby Spencer. Something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of clouds and darkness. Faith is just that.. a constant reminder to have faith that things will be ok and work out in the end. Recognizing this and more blessings brings me hope as it all proves to me God's love for me. That He IS aware of what's happening and how I'm feeling and even amidst the necessary trials we have to face He blesses us and sends us hope.

21 days closer Day 5


Christ builds upon our knowledge line upon line; He will take what knowledge we have and add to it until we receive a fulness of knowledge. He knows us, every detail of our life and He will teach us in ways we can understand.

"Prepare to receive a simple learning moment, a "pearl in the field", as you go through your day. Let your search be constant, try to discover, "in every hour", some heavenly blessing that will bring you closer to Christ."

As I tried thinking and searching about this all that day and even these past few days, a couple of things came to mind. As I look at my own children, I marvel at their Christ-like qualities; the "childlike" qualities that we should all possess: patience, innocence, accepting, forgiving. I think of the scripture to 'become as little children". They are meek and mild and shall inherit the Kingdom of God.

Another thing I thought about was after an experience last night. I went to a Fireside with a popular LDS singer who spoke and sung. It was very uplifting and edifying and I felt a desire to be a better person after. Earlier that day I was thinking of all the things I needed to get done and wasn't feeling like going, but I didn't want to cancel on my friend. So I went and was very glad I did. That's happened to me many, many times. And it seems that things we don't feel like doing usually are what we need the most. Going to the Temple is a big one, there are many times where it seems like every force of nature is trying to keep me from going but when I do get there, I feel peace and realize how much I need to be there. Other things like going to church, reading the scriptures, to tired to say prayers, too busy to check on a friend etc.... Those are what we need to be doing the most. So I'm challenging myself that when I feel those feelings creep up, I do it anyways and with a little more determination because I know it's what I need to be doing and I will be better because of it.
Sunday, November 4, 2012

21 Days closer Day 4


The story of the woman who touched the garment of Christ and was healed was told as an example for this. She stretched until she received the miracle she longed for, we too can cultivate a relationship with Christ by applying these same principles. Most likely the answer will not come easily, the woman was plagued by her illness for more than 12 years before the answer came.
Joseph Smith said, "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." No matter how long or hard the search, if it brings us closer to Christ, is it worth it. The intensity of the search will make the treasure priceless, one that we will not ever give up.

This really struck a chord with me. Sometimes I feel like if a situation is important enough I should get an immediate answer, but I'm realizing that is not always the case. I know that the trials in my personal life are ones that I will never give up on because I know the treasure of them will be priceless. Like it describes in the book, these trials are demanding and relentless and stretches me to my limits again and again but all at the price of becoming so much closer to my Savior, learning so many valuable lessons.. all that, I'm afraid I wouldn't have without going through these things.

I cannot count the number of times where I've felt like giving up, like I just could not go on any longer; Christ was there for me and He made up the difference, He lifted me, strengthened me and comforted me. Through these trials I have had to search for the Savior more and harder than I ever have in my entire life, searching to find strength beyond my own. The question, "What was the process you went through in that search?" is asked. My answer..... Definitely more meaningful prayers. I've had more intimate, meaningful prayers with my Father in Heaven than ever before. I have not really known the meaning of true, heartfelt prayer until these recent years. He is there when I feel there is no one else, and I do not worry about what He thinks of me, I just let all my thoughts, worries, fears, frustrations, dreams, desires etc all out and I know He is listening to me with patience, love and understanding. I'm afraid I wouldn't have learned to really search for Christ without my particular trials.

21 days closer Day 3


"We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual histories and accounts of sacred experiences in our lives- answered prayers, inspiration from the Lord, administrations in our behalf, a record of the special times and events of our lives. From these records you can also appropriately draw as you relay faith-promoting stories in your family circles and discussions. Stories of inspiration from our own lives and those of our forbears as well as stories from our scriptures and our history are powerful teaching tools. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you, each other, your children, your grandchildren, and others throughout the generations."  Spencer W. Kimball

We are invited to keep a journal of our relationship with Christ and record attributes we admire in Him, lessons He has taught us or moments when we have felt His love. "Do you have a written copy of your testimony of Christ?" I have written my testimony before, but I will write it for this.

I do not only firmly believe in my Savior and Heavenly Father, I know without a doubt that They live. I do not need tangible proof to prove that They exist. I remember a quote from a cute movie with a great point, "If you can't accept anything on faith, then you are doomed to a life dominated by doubt." That has really struck me especially when relating to the gospel. I have felt His love, countless times through both happy times and trying times. I have had too many experiences to ever doubt Him and His love for me. He is very aware of us. I love the way I feel when I'm doing the things I should and feel His approval of my choices. Having His spirit with me and feeling the peace, comfort and happiness it brings is one of my greatest desires and I would do anything to continually keep it with me. I cannot deny what I have felt and I know what I have felt to be true.

21 Days closer Day 2


The invitation for this day is Covenant. The covenants we make with our Savior; we are reminded of them every Sunday when we partake of the sacrament. One of them is remembering Him always and keeping His commandments which comes with the greatest blessing He can give us, to always have His spirit be with us. Do we live worthy of this blessing? Do we bring honor to Christ's name? Do we consecrate our lives and serve Him?

"Today make it a priority to bear burdens, give comfort and stand as a witness. Try to remember Him always and let the walk of your life exemplify Him."

I find this a bit more difficult of a task because I am far from being Christlike. When the natural man kicks in like it always does, I pause and ask myself, "Would this bring honor to His name? What would Jesus do?" I used to be in the habit of saying this years ago, and found it really helped to change my perspective and see and do things as Christ would. I want to make more of an effort to do that again and have it become second nature.

Friday, November 2, 2012

21 days closer- Day 1

Hi my sweet Mikkie,

There's times in life where I experience this sort of emptiness, like I'm missing something and now is one of those times. It's when I take a step back, evaluate my life and realize I need to be closer to Christ, I need to strengthen my testimony and spiritually feed my starving soul.

Last year I had read a book called, "21 Days Closer to Christ". It was a beautiful read, but I didn't really put my effort into the journey of it, so I'm determined to do it this year and when's a more perfect time other than this season of Gratitude and coming up on celebrating Christ's birth. Since Thanksgiving is on the 22nd, I thought November 1st a perfect time to start and end on Thanksgiving Day. I'm a day late in posting Day 1, but here we go.... My 21 day journey of becoming closer to my Savior.

Day 1- Come.

This day talks about the invitation to "Come and See". Christ always asked His followers to come, then He showed them the blessings that followed the simple invitation (water turned to wine, loaves and fishes multiplied, the lame walked, blind saw, dead would live again). The invitation was always given and we could do as the disciples did and forsook their nets and followed Him or we could continue our journey alone, completely missing the blessings of wondrous sights we may have experienced.

It gives a good point when it says, "We are pulled at on every side by distractions that entangle us. Time constraints, daily chores, work demands, worldly pursuits, pride or other pressures may prevent us from developing a relationship with Christ. If we are to be truly happy, if we are to reach our full potential, we must create a place for the Savior in our lives."

Wow, went straight to my heart. Time is always slipping from us too quickly, and by filling the spare time we rarely have with things which will distract us... it becomes lonely, which is what I am experiencing. I need to feel closer to my Savior, I need to make more time for Him.
What fills my nets are really quite petty. Most of it anyways, and I'm done having them hold me back from developing a relationship with Christ.

Invitations to Come and See in this past day have been few due to my still lack of focus, but they have been sweet.

I feel invitations quite often to just hold your baby brother and look at him. As I look into his face, the miracle and tender mercy I see is how very much he looks like you, Mikayla. So much it brings tears to my eyes and I thank my Father in Heaven for this seemingly small thing but means the world to me. Had I not taken the time to pick up Spencer and hold him, I would not have gotten to have the sweet, tender moment of him cuddling up to and hugging me, reminding me of your oh so sweet "Mikkie hugs".

Not only do I feel the invitation to come to Spencer, but your sister Faith as well. I came down to the kitchen to see if she was ready to go to school and I see her hiding under the table. I ask her what she's doing and to come out from under there. She slowly comes up and clearly with a saddened countenance. When I ask her what is wrong she replies with tears streaming down her cheeks, "I just really miss Mikkie." My heart was immediately softened and I brought her in close to me and hugged her and kissed her head as we both sat there with tears in our eyes and longing in our hearts. I looked at her beautiful face and told her how very much I love her and that I know how much her sister Mikkie loves her, and probably misses her fiercely as well. I suggested that we talk about our favorite memories about you, Mikkie, and as we did we laughed, cried some more and smiled as we thought of all the precious times we had with you.

Both of these times as I took the time to Come and See my little children, I felt the love of God fill my heart, as children are so pure and innocent and the closest thing to Heaven. I'm confident that if everyone took more time to just really look at their children and hold them close more, they would feel closer to Christ.

I love you very much, sweet girl of mine. My heart is already full of gratitude as I think how incredibly blessed I am to have 3 of the most precious children I could ever ask for.