Monday, September 30, 2013

Enjoy the Moment

"It's almost October," I  gasped this afternoon to Derek when we met for lunch.

Derek nodded grimly.

"It's just, life... it's rushing past!" I added.

Derek is very wise. He sighed and said, "I think we need to slow down."

How? How can we possibly slow down? Between the many many responsiblities we've taken on, nothing, NOTHING is ever completely done.

The house is cluttered mess more than it's not.

Derek's work is never finished.

The children are never ever asleep. (No, seriously...)

The world today values busyness, they value speed, efficency. The world demands we be economical with our time.

Derek receives emails at work, and often, people are disgruntled when he doesn't reply immediatley. Deadlines speed up like lightning. There is no rest for the weary.


So, how can we slow down?

After discussing it over lunch with my man, here is what we've come up with:
1. Exercise. Talk a walk, breathe. A change of scenery can make a huge difference in your day.
2. Less technology. Set your phone aside. Look out the window. Read a book. Pet a cat, rock a baby.
3, Make times for things of the spirit. Commune with God. Study.
4. Enjoy the moment. President Uchtdorf gave a wonderful conference talk in April called "Enjoy the Moment." In it he reminds us all that life is a journey, not a race. Enjoy the little things.
5. Count your many blessings. Whenever gratitude surges in your heart, send a prayer heavenward in thanks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How To Draw Nearer To Christ-- Putting it All Together

There are as many ways to have a relationship with Jesus Christ as their are people. Everyone experiences spiritual promptings differently. Everyone approaches the Savior differently. However, there are some eternal, simple truths.

1. Christ stands at the door, knocking. All YOU have to do is answer. 
    "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)

2. Christ in your life brings peace and joy. 
    "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14)

3. Jesus is in and can be invited into every good thing in our lives. 
    "But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." (Moroni 7:12)

4. Let the Savior be a part of your everyday life, through the Holy Ghost's influence. 
   "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)

If you are reading, praying and allowing Christ into every aspect of your life, your relationship with Him will be strengthened. You'll be nearer to Him, and in turn, you'll allow His presence and influence to be more fully experienced every single day. Turn to Him. Talk to Him. Thank Him and recommit yourself each week to be more like Him. Then, when you screw up, repent, and be ever grateful for His grace and atonement through which, you are slowly being refined into the version of yourself that Christ already, always sees.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Instead of Expecting Perfection, Let's Love One Another

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I am not perfect.

I have a propensity to swear, I drink Diet Coke, and I get impatient with my children.

There. See?

I'm not glorying in my sins either. Oh no, the opposite. I do try each day to be better. I've cut back on all of the above.

But, still not perfect.

I'm not confessing these things because I'm proud of them, quite the opposite in fact. I've been known to make sure the Diet Coke is hiding when church members are coming over.

The reality is, I'm not good enough.

So often we try oh so very hard to prove to each other that we are indeed perfect, or at the least, better than we are actually. And we expect, if we're being honest with ourselves, others to do the same.

I believe that we do each other as the body of Christ, a huge disservice when we allow those we love, know and serve with, to think we're perfect and when we in turn, think others are more perfect than we are.

Look, I'm not suggesting that we wear our issues, sins or weaknesses on our t-shirts, but perhaps, if we were a bit more vulnerable with one another, we'd have more compassion, more love, more service and even more patience with one another.

James 5:16 reads, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Oh how I love this verse! When we share our trials with one another, we are inviting the prayers of one another to heal us. Think of the prayer roll in the temple. What an amazing gift it is to have our friends praying for our weakness, rather than judging.

What if, when we are tempted to click our mental tongues disapprovingly when we notice someone's imperfection, we instead, offered a prayer for them to be strengthened, and for us to be better too.

And when we let go of our desires to see others as perfect and for those others to see us as perfect, we are allowing Christ's grace to be sufficient.

At the end of The Book of Mormon, Moroni pleads with us to become perfected in Christ, through (and only through) His grace. He never says, "Be better, but you're the only one who needs this verse." We ALLLLLL need it. We all need to be perfected through Christ. Let us cut one another some slack. Forgive imperfections you see in people. Remember they desperately don't want you to notice them.

Be kind.

Love each other.

Don't worry about anyone else's imperfections. Just work on your own.

And remember the words of Moroni. " Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Draw Nearer to Christ: Accept His Grace

John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

I love this verse. It is beautiful to me. It sums up, in perfect simplicity the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He died so we can live.

It is only through His grace and mercy that we can be saved.

There is nothing in this world or the next that I can do, to have everlasting life, without Jesus.

Once I started to really embrace that truth, I began to feel closer to my friend, Jesus.

You see, in the LDS world, we work hard. Work is good, and we should be always striving to be better.

But sometimes, I think we do a lot of things, with the hopes that perhaps if we work hard enough, and repent enough, we just might make it to the Celestial Kingdom.

And the scriptures are clear, that's not how it works.

Once I accepted the fact that NOTHING I do will get me to the Celestial Kingdom on my own, my relationship with my Savior expanded 10, 20-fold.

You can not work your way into Heaven.

You can't.

I can't.

No one can.

Jesus is the only person in the history of any world who was perfect. And because I think, Heaven  would be very lonely if it was just He and the rest of the Godhead hanging out, and because our Parents in Heaven loved us enough to let their Son die for you and for me, we get to go back to be with them, with our loved ones, with each other.

And that makes me want to be better. It makes me want to earn that love, even though I can't. It makes me want to lessen the suffering that I caused the greatest human in history to feel.

What can we do?

We can accept the gift that He freely gave when suffered, died and was resurrected.

How do we accept it?

Have faith, repent, make and keep our covenants, and be ever thankful to the One who makes it all come together.

Once you let go of the pain and anguish and GUILT that rides along with trying to be "good enough" to get into Heaven, you will feel your heart lifted, and your spirit draw nearer to Christ, because gratitude will make you want to be better.

Gratitude is one of the only things we can give the Lord. He gives us all. We can be grateful and accept His grace.

Elder Richard D. Scott said, "My reverence and gratitude for the Atonement of the Holy One of Israel, the Prince of Peace and our Redeemer, continually expand as I strive to understand more about it. I realize that no mortal mind can adequately conceive, nor can human tongue appropriately express, the full significance of all that Jesus Christ has done for our Heavenly Father’s children through His Atonement. Yet it is vital that we each learn what we can about it. The Atonement is that essential ingredient of our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness without which that plan could not have been activated. Your understanding of the Atonement and the insight it provides for your life will greatly enhance your productive use of all of the knowledge, experience, and skills you acquire in mortal life."

Be grateful and accept the gift as it is given. You can't get anywhere without Christ's atonement.

Accept the gift, and be grateful that when you fail (notice I did not say 'if") repentance is yours freely, as is the grace of our Savior to wash away your sins.

You will find, when you accept the Atonement with a grateful heart, that you will be nearer to the Giver.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Draft is FINISHED!!!

Hurrah! The first *very* draft of PRACTICING PERFECTION is finished.

I can't explain what this means.

It means that months of work and research are now living and breathing on paper.

Derek is leaving for a conference this week, and will be taking the first *very* rough draft for an edit while airplaning about.

This is so so so thrilling.

And it's bizarre because I look back and feel just like C.S. Lewis described,

Exactly that. I read things I wrote back in July and am like, "Huh, that's interesting, I never thought about it like that before." And then I laugh because I WROTE IT.

Heavenly Father is in this project, He's in every word. I can't describe it properly, but suffice it to say, He told me what to write.

My heart is full of gratitude for that.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Don't You Quit

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I had an interesting conversation with my sister (via text) about this quote earlier this week. I love this quote. I love what it says, I love what it implies. I love that when we TRUST GOD that everything will be all right in the end. What an amazing, huge, and humbling promise that is. That if we keep going, doing the things we're supposed to, that it'll all work out. Pain and hardships are a part of this life, but if we persevere, if we continue onward, ever onward, that through the atonement, everything will be okay. 

Omni 1:26 reads, "And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."

Hang in there, Friend. It'll be okay. 

The sun will rise. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Draw Nearer to Christ-- Talk to Him

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This artwork is by Chris Young and can be found here.

So, if we're reading the Bible more, we'll be getting to know Jesus better.

Next, is the idea that if we want to KNOW someone, we need to TALK with that someone.

Can you imagine calling someone your best friend if you never ever speak to them?

In our prayers, we address Heavenly Father, in the NAME of Jesus Christ, right? Because He is our intecessor, He allows for the connection to our Father be sealed in HIS name. In 3rd Nephi 18:19, it reads, "Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;"

It is a commandment to pray. Since Heavenly Father and Jesus are one in purpose, we know that which we say to our Father, the Son hears also.


But what about actually talking to Jesus?

Where does that fit? How can someone be your truest, dearest and most close friend if you don't talk to Him?

I'm not suggesting that we change our prayers to address Jesus, since we know that is not the commandment. No. But I am suggesting that in an informal, albeit respectful way, that we talk to Jesus.

The Brother of Jared, in the book of Ether talked with Jesus, face to face. We know that his faith was so great that Jesus could not remain hidden from him.

Ether 12:39 says, "And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;"

Can our faith be so great that we can talk to Jesus face-to-face? I wish it could be. But in the meantime, while we are attempting to become as faithful as that, we ought to include Jesus in our thoughts and conversations.

Recently, I was having a difficult time coping with life. I was going through (honestly, somewhat still am) a very difficult trial. I found that when my thoughts turned to pain and sadness, if I simply turned to my Savior, if I said, in my heart, mind or even outloud, "Lord, I know You know what this feels like. I know You are here. I ask for comfort," that it was given.

It isn't the same as an official "prayer", it's more intimate, more personal, and more about knowing Christ personally.

Again, I ask, how can you have a personal relationship with someone you never talk to?

It will be feel a bit awkward, at first, to try and incorporate such thoughts and small prayers into your daily routine if you're not used to it, but practice. Thank Him informally for beautiful things, for blessings, for bits of grace throughout your day.

Before long, you will KNOW Him better because you will see Him in EVERYTHING.

It doesn't have to detract from you formal communion with Heavenly Father; it isn't about taking away from that at all. It is about creating a line of communication with He who knows you and He who saves you.

Talk to Him. Make Him a part of your every day. In the most sacred way, He will become the most important part of your life.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How-To Draw Nearer to Christ: Read the Bible

As Latter-Day Saints, we are SUPER at reading The Book of Mormon. It is a wonderful and inspired book of scripture, and I love it with my whole heart. There is enough in The Book of Mormon to last a lifetime of study. In fact, we are instructed to read it every single day. I have a testimony of The Book of Mormon.

I also dearly love The Bible.

We Mormons kinda don't rock The Bible like we do The Book of Mormon.

Have you ever read The Bible cover to cover?

Very VERY few Latter-Day Saints have.

I have. It's long. VERY long.

But within those pages are amazing stories that strengthen my belief and knowledge of my Savior.

You see, The Bible is His story. Throughout the Old Testament, Christ is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is Jevhovah, instructing the Jews in the ways of salvation. He is everywhere, His prophets testify of Him and His mission.

The New Testament is his life story. From beginning to end, we learn of His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection.

If you want to know Christ, read about Him.

Some of my most favorite verses of scripture that I return to again and again hail from The Bible. It is beautiful. It is inspired. It is powerful.

So, no, I'm not suggesting that you give up your BoM studies, not at all. The Bible is a wonderful and vital part of our gospel lives, and we need to give it some study as well.

If you're overwhelmed by the Old Testament, start in the New. Begin in the life of Jesus. Get a companion book to help you when you get confused or stuck.

Delve in, read for maybe 10 minutes each day. You will be amazed at how personal your feelings for Christ can become when you are studying HIM.

Some of my favorite tidbits that come from the Bible:

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. ~Colossians 3:17~

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 

Joshua 24:15 reads, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”   

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  

Give The Bible a try. It will strengthen your resolve to be a better Christian. Your love and appreciation for Jesus as your Savior will increase. 

Read The Bible.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Coming Soon... How-To!

So exciting! It's September!! New school year for the peeps, a new season soon beginning (MY favorite of all the seasons), cooler weather (hopefully) and a gentle ease into the Holiday season which I will not remind you is right around the corner.

This month, which is lovely in and of itself, I'm going to make even more lovely, by posting each week, a "how-to" of sorts. While this here blog is NOT a DIY haven or anything, these "how-to" posts are most about "How to" your spiritual life. 

Starting tomorrow, on each Wednesday of the month of September, I'll be sharing a bit of "how-to" beef up your relationship with Christ. It's gonna be great!!! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

You Are Not Alone.

Things have been rough around these parts this week. I have found myself struggling perhaps more than I ever have before and desperately needing solace and comfort.

And every time I was overwhelmed with pain and tears and heartbreak, my mind would be enlightened. I could feel the love of my Savior.  I would be reminded, "Heavenly Father knows. Jesus knows. He's felt this pain. I am not alone."

As alone as I felt in the moments when I didn't want to push through or go forward, I was blessed.

Jesus knows. I am not alone.

And neither are you. When you feel the pain of life, of hurt or despair, remember, remember the rock of Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God.

Beg for His comfort. It'll come.

Jesus knows. You are not alone.