Thursday, December 21, 2017

How Do I Know I'm on the Right Path?

In holy scripture we are warned that in the last days even the very elect will be deceived.  I just searched for that scripture reference on LDS.org and found listing upon listing of conference talks that are peppered with the phrase "even the very elect shall be deceived".

(I got distracted from this post for a while, reading a few that caught my eye.)

(This brings me to the reason why I've been absent from blogging for a while.  After conference I had a realization:  what more can I say then has already been said by a general authority during a conference talk or devotional?  Not much, right?  Not at all.  But recently I realized something: I'm writing for more than just whoever happens upon these posts.  I'm writing for me and my posterity.  So, if I consider this my online journal where I record my thoughts and things the Spirit teaches me as I ponder, and if anyone else happens to benefit from these thoughts, that's a bonus. So, back to the post.)

I've spent a long time thinking about personal revelation and getting deceived over the past few months.  More than anything, I don't want to disappoint Heavenly Father.  I want to do His will and keep His commandments and seek His son and serve Him with all my heart.

So what if I get off track?  What if I start down a path that isn't going in the direction He needs me to head?
Ohh...suddenly bells start to go off.... the idea of going in a direction He doesn't need me to go reminds me of repentance.  And repentance isn't a bad thing.  Not at all.  I think sometimes we get the idea that we try the best we can and when we fail, after all we can do, then we pull out the Repentance card and muster up our Humility and Repent.  And that is all true.  But it is also true that Repentance is Joyful!  It's a time to rejoice in the goodness and grace of our Savior and His Atoning sacrifice that makes Repentance possible.  In fact, repentance is so good for us, I feel we could do it daily, even hourly.  Repenting brings us to a humble, clean, pure state where the Holy Ghost can dwell with us in full measure.  Repenting is very good.

I am not suggesting that we stop trying to discern whether we are heading in the right direction though.  Repentance is a wonderful and powerful tool we can use to help us continue moving in the right direction.  As we repent daily we are filled with the Holy Ghost and He helps us discern our best direction and velocity.

The concept of Repentance takes away some of the fear I've felt about being deceived.  This is good.  Angels in scripture are always advising their audience to "Fear Not".  I believe this is so the intended audience can fully receive the angelic message. Fear and Faith are opposites and cannot both reign in a single mind or heart.  One must lead out over the other.  In order for us to fully feel the Spirit, we need to have Faith be at the forefront.

I asked Heavenly Father for some basic guidelines to help me gauge if what I am learning is in line with His will and gospel.  And what I received from Him will not shock you.

 (Surprised?  Usually internet headlines scream shocking news on every hand. But Father isn't really shocking.  He's the same today, yesterday and forever. This constancy is something I am grateful for.)

Here's the basic guidelines I felt prompted to write down.  (You may have additional insights and I'd be grateful if you shared them.)

1. Compare Personal Revelation to the Scriptures.
Search them.  They are packed with treasures, both hidden and in full view.  They could not have been written by any mere mortal, the way they contain so many layers of teachings, comforts and warnings, ready and waiting for us to desire, seek and find.

2. Compare Personal Revelation to the Prophets.
Search the words of the apostles.  Conference talks are scripture given to us in our day, for our time, by our prophets who can see far ahead.

3. Counsel with my Husband.  He's a voice of reason in my life and less likely to be swayed by new ideas and viewpoints.  I'm a very flexible and sympathetic soul and can usually instantly understand where someone is coming from and why. Sometimes their ideas are so compelling I try them on for a while.  Usually this isn't a problem, but sometimes, I can get off course by looking beyond the mark.
This is wise counsel from Heavenly Father.  If I am considering ideas that I'm not comfortable sharing with my spouse, or my bishop, do I want to give these ideas equal time?

4. Temple Time.
Seek a second witness in the temple.  If I've received personal revelation that isn't urgent or life-threatening, take it to the temple to ask for insight about it in a protected place.

Here's the last basic guideline.

5. Seek to feel the Spirit every day.  If you feel the Spirit every day, you know that you are on the right track.  He can not dwell in unholy places.  His presence sanctifies and justifies and purifies.  So, if you are feeling the Spirit every day you know you are on the right track.  Continue holding to the rod, feasting upon the word, exercising your spiritual gifts and seeking to know and do the will of the Father.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Heeding the Call of Heaven

"I believe that every man, woman, and child has felt the call of heaven at some point in his or her life. Deep within us is a longing to somehow reach past the veil and embrace Heavenly Parents we once knew and cherished.
Some might suppress this yearning and deaden their souls to its call. But those who do not quench this light within themselves can embark on an incredible journey—a wondrous migration toward heavenly climes."
As I listened to his talk on Saturday morning, my heart burned with Joy!  I could feel the powerful promise of this dedicated apostle of the Lord and knew he spoke with authority.  I desired to continue on this journey, to let this feeling of longing propel me forward to reach past the veil.  
A faithful Sister in the Gospel of Jesus Christ shared this personal account of her progress on this "sublime journey" of heeding the call of the Savior. As I read it the Holy Ghost whispered things that I could do to further my progress along the same path.  Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I asked her if I could share it here with you all and she gave her permission.  Thank you dear Sister!  
"Last year I began to pray to see my weaknesses. I told the Lord that if He would make them known unto me I would strive the best I could to overcome them with His help.  At first it started with small things like the prompting to arise early and read my scriptures before my children were up. 
Then it was to give up "mind-numbing" activities, so I stopped watching TV as much and getting on Facebook unless it was for a purpose.  I was far from perfect at (limiting my) FB and wanted to get off all together and had the prompting that it could be used for good, which I have now seen in in my calling.  It has been a good resource to reach out to ___________.  I also stopped listening to the radio in the car and began listening to church talks or uplifting music.
I then had a dream where my Great Grandmother came to me and told me I had a great work to do but that I wasn't spiritually prepared to do it.  So I began to diligently pray for what I needed to do to prepare for that work. 
One day I heard in my mind, "If you want to spiritually progress you will have to step outside of your comfort zone." To be honest, this made me nervous but I felt that....surely with the Lord's help I could do this.  That night I told the Lord I was willing to do all that was asked of me if He would make it known unto me.
April of last year...I shared my testimony about my husband no longer working on Sundays because I had the overwhelming burning inside that I needed to share it.  We were late that Sunday and were sitting in the RS room.  After feeling that I should bear my testimony, I had the thought come into my mind that it was okay if I didn't share it because we were sitting in the RS room and my baby would probably start fussing.  Then I heard very clearly, "If you can't do this, you can't overcome the natural man."  Well, that made up my mind that I was going to do it.  I know this shouldn't have been a big deal but to me it was because I have never shared my testimony in Sacrament meeting except when giving a talk.  I am a very shy person and would rather always be quiet.
A few days following that experience I was awakened at 3 am and heard very clearly in my mind, "It is vital that you have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  It will be the difference between life or death."
I then started to pray on what I needed to do to more clearly recognize the promptings of the Spirit.  I specifically asked to have the ability to differentiate the voice of the Spirit from that of the adversary, and from my own thoughts.  
I was prompted to start a keeping a journal.  I wrote every prompting that came to me and how I responded to it.  I didn't always recognize promptings right away and would question if something was a prompting or not but if it was something that would uplift someone else or help me to better myself I followed it.  Something as small as the thought that "Sister ______ isn't at church. You should message her and see how she is doing."  I would write it down and that I followed through.  I also recived promptings of how to be a better wife, mother, daughter, visiting teacher, and so on.  I recorded those promptings and how I acted on them and then in my evening prayer I would return and report to the Lord.
I began to pray to be taught every morning as I read my scriptures and to be given a topic each week that the Lord would want me to study.  As I look back over the two journals I have filled I am amazed at what the Lord has taught me.  I started out with topics of a hard heart, pride, humility, sacrifice, broken heart and contrite spirit and progressed to the Light of Christ, the second comforter, patriarchal order of the priesthood, calling and election, and so on.  I would take one topic a week and listen to talks on that topic throughout the week and write down the things that stood out to me, then pray and ask the Lord if there was more that He desired to teach me on the subject and how I could implement what I had learned into my life.
In May I felt impressed that I needed to make a goal to attend the temple at least once a month, if not twice and that I should go fasting.  My husband and I have kept that goal and every time we went I would fast 24 hours prior to arriving and ask the Lord to teach me.  I have learned more about the temple covenants and symbolism in this last year that I had in all prior years combined.
At the beginning of the summer, while I was praying, I had the words come into my mind to "pray for the gift of prophecy." I didn't know what that meant and knew it had to be a prompting because I wouldn't have thought of it on my own.  A week or so later as I felt prompted to study Isaiah, which overwhelmed me, I read an Ensign article on how to understand Isaiah and one item listed was to pray for the gift of prophecy.
At the end of the summer last year I began to pray in my closet after reading a talk by Ezra Taft Benson titled, "Pray Always".  I also started to pray three times a day.  This is when I really started to notice a difference in my prayers.  It wasn't until the fall of last year that my prayers completely changed. I began to have a conversation with the Lord in my mind.  It was more than just a few words here or there.  Every day I ask the Lord who He would have me reach out to or how I can be an instrument in His hands.  Before I would have an image of someone or a name come to mind.  Now I hear words in my mind such as..." Reach out to Sister_______." I would ask what the Lord would have me do or say and I would hear, "Take her the book you are reading.  Tell her you love her and that I love her too."
My prayers began to get longer and longer.  What used to be a few minutes turned into twenty or thirty.  I began to ask questions such as, "What do I need to do in my life to more fully submit my will to Thee, Lord?" or "What unbelief am I holding on to that is keeping me from progressing?"  Sometimes I receive specific answers, other times I am told to study, fast, and go to the temple.  I have also prayed about spiritual gifts and what I need to do in my life to receive them.  Most of the time when the Lord asks me to do something He doesn't tell me why and I have to act in faith.  It might be to reach out to someone and I will ask what to say and be told that the words will be given to me at that time.  Once I was told I would receive a new assignment.  I asked what it was and was told it would come the following day and I would recognize it. The next day (the Bishop) texted with a request.
Over time I realized I could start talking with the Lord during the day as I was cleaning or driving if I would just listen.  This gift has been the most precious gift I have ever received from the Lord and has brought me more joy that I could ever begin to express. 
I love this quote by Elder Marion G. Romney..."Revelation is the means by which God communicates with men.  Revelation is indispensable to an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The very nature of the gospel is such that without the active and constant operation of the principle of revelation, it could not be understood nor could it be had.  Another manifestation of revelation is the unspoken word, a good illustration of which is given us by Enos.  He says: '....while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying....' (Enos 10.) Then he tells us what the voice of the Lord put in his mind.  This is a very common means of revelation.  It comes into one's mind in words and sentences.  With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted.  Flashes of ideas that come into one's mind represent another type or manifestation of revelation.  Listen to this statement of the Prophet Joseph: 'A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled that same day or soon, (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass: and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.151)" (Elder Marion G. Romney, April 1964 General Conference.)"
More from President Uchtdorf's talk, A Yearning for Home.
"And the Lord in His goodness asks:
Do you want to experience abiding joy?
Do you yearn to feel within your heart the peace that passes understanding?10
Then turn your soul toward the light.
Begin your own wonderful journey home.
As you do so, your life will be better, happier, and more purposeful.
Our beloved Father in Heaven has given us the Light of Christ. And deep within each one of us, a heavenly stirring urges us to turn our eyes and hearts to Him as we make the pilgrimage back to our celestial home.
This requires effort. You cannot get there without striving to learn of Him, understanding His instructions, earnestly applying them, and putting one foot in front of the other.
No, life is not a self-driving car. It is not an airplane on autopilot.
No one else is responsible for your personal journey. The Savior will help you and prepare the way before you, but the commitment to follow Him and keep His commandments must come from you. That is your sole burden, your sole privilege.
This is your great adventure.
Please heed the call of your Savior.
Follow Him."


Friday, October 6, 2017

Perfectly Restored


To be Perfectly Restored

This is my testimony 
and record of every sacred time
 I've been privileged to 
come unto Christ 
and be perfected in him-
 It is one way I've found to
 lay hold on the 
Atonement of our dear Savior Jesus Christ
 to become whole again.

Here is the backstory:
One morning I was awake without knowing why. 
 It was 3 am and I could not fall back to sleep.  I took out my journal in case Heavenly Father might want to communicate.  Heaven seems much closer at 3 am, doesn't it?
As I was flipping through the journal to find my place, my eye caught hold of a prior entry and I started reading it.  
In my mind the words and phrases shifted around until it felt the paragraph was taking verse form. My heart started filling with joy.

I got a spare notebook and wrote out the thoughts 
dancing in my mind. 


"I give my burdens to the Lord,
They dissolve instantly,
When placed into His loving hands,
They vanish into joy.

My shattered heart has been made whole,
every piece put back together,
So perfectly restored,
I give my burdens to the Lord."


My heart was soaring! 
 I had learned to give my burdens to the Lord 
and had recorded it in my journal months earlier and 
now the Spirit was helping me turn that sacred experience into a song so I could share it with others.

I wrote 3 more verses without pausing.  The words presented themselves to my pen without my mind analyzing them- I merely wrote and then read, and then delighted in the writing.

By the time I finished with the words, 
I was singing their melody. 
I fell asleep with the words and tune ringing in my ears and spiraling through my dreams, happy and amazed at the experience.

Weeks and months went into writing the accompaniment. I was a complete beginner. I spent time pleading for a teacher, playing and revising.  I called it the Burden song and 
it felt like a burden at times.
I nearly gave it up but had excellent encouragement from dear friends who believed in the message of the song. 
 I wrote so many versions I could have papered all the walls in my home with the rough drafts. 
 Sometimes I felt guided by angels. 
 Sometimes I despaired I'd ever get it right.

I learned so much during this time.  Heavenly Father led me to a teacher who taught me about music composition. 
He helped me find people who could record the song so it could touch more hearts.  
He lent me heavenly aid.  And He allowed me to stumble along on my own at times to learn that I could do this.

Here is the song.  It is my testimony and record of every sacred time I've been privileged to come unto Christ and be perfected in him- It is one way I've found to lay hold on the Atonement of our dear Savior Jesus Christ to become whole again.
To be Perfectly Restored. 


1. I see Christ standing in the light,
His arms out-stretched to me.
His love-filled eyes, His tender smile,
I long for His embrace.
I put my burdens in His hands,
Palms engraved with understanding.
Hands pierced, yet now restored. 
I give my burdens to my Lord.

2. I give my burdens to the Lord,
They dissolve instantly.
When placed into His loving hands,
They vanish into joy!
My shattered heart has been made whole.
Every piece put back together.
So perfectly restored.
I give my burdens to my Lord.

3. Although heavy, scarlet fetters
had bound my soul to sin,
His loving sacrifice for all
paid for my every whim.
All my anger, fear and sadness,
My actions and my errors,
So perfectly paid for.
I give my burdens to my Lord.

4. The cords dissolve,
My pain is gone.
My heart is full of song,
Of praise and joy
and peace and love,
I'm free to live again.
I can become the child He sees,
A disciple of the Lord.
So perfectly Restored.
I gave my burdens to my Lord!

I am so Perfectly Restored.


If you feel inspired to play this song or share it with anyone, please let me know your thoughts or experiences with it.  If you'd like to have it keyed differently, please let me know!
Have a blessed day!





Saturday, September 23, 2017

Weakness, Strength and Grace


Weakness.  Not "Weaknesses" but "Weakness". 


That's what we read in Ether 12:27. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

What if each of us were sent here with spiritual gifts that were crucial to our missions and purposes here on earth? And instead of coming to us in full strength, they showed up as weakness at first?
(Kinda like how we were born nearly blind. Our sight developed as we grew.)

Here's an example to get us started.  I am not a world-class gymnast.  I can not add up complex numbers in my head.  And neither of these things bother me in the least. 


 I could not care less that I can't do gymnastics-  and I haven't given it a second thought since 1st grade when I realized I didn't like my feet being over my head OR off the ground. 


 I am not one bit bothered that I need to pull out my calculator to figure out percent-off prices or to calculate which pre-packaged food is the better price per ounce. 

 It's cool. 


Do you know what does bother me about myself?  Being late.  How I hate being late.  Yet I do it over and over again.  

You know what else bothers me?  When I over-commit to things and find myself too busy doing good things and feeling guilty about forgetting them.

I would say those 2 areas of mine are in weakness.  And they bug me.

Isn't it interesting that all things have their opposites?  

Maybe even Strength and Weakness.

What if each quality was on a spectrum?  And we could rate ourselves and even track improvement?

Weak....................Average..................Strong...................Godly


What if I was destined to become a MASTER OF TIME? 

(Don't laugh...it could happen.  And it sounds cooler in my head-trust me. :) 


If it bugs me, it might be ready for change. 

Let's analyze those 2 weakness areas from earlier, shall we?

First off, lets talk about that Over-Committing Thing I mentioned.   I mean, that's not ALL BAD is it? 

Pros:
I love to be involved.
I like to help.
I have lots of interests.
Lots of things appeal to me.  
"How FUN! Let's Do IT!"  a common phrase :)
I like to "Lay hold on every good gift."

Cons:
What if I miss out on something? I Hate to miss out on good stuff.
What if I am NOT Included?
And no one misses me and I'm NEVER invited again?
What if I miss out on relationships and inside jokes and..and...and...?

Oh... wow.  Did you read all of that fear in that analysis?  Yep.  The "Con" side was FULL of Fear.  Hmm.... What do we know about fear?  Who is fear from?  If we are listening to fear, who are we listening to?  This is very interesting... And NOT where I want to be heading.

I decide to take proactive steps.  
Have you ever prayed to be healed from fear?  I decide to do it.

I picture the fear of Missing Out and Not being Included.
I pray to be healed from that fear and to be taken into Strength. 
 I pray until I feel a shift in my heart, a sweetness that my pleadings have been heard and will be answered. 

I write out a few affirmations that remind me of my new perspective.
"I will lay hold on every good gift, in the season thereof."
"I can do all things that are needful for my salvation, through Christ."

I trust that God will take care of me,  and will prompt me to say yes to those things that are Needful Things for My Salvation.  And I practice saying, "I'll get back to you."  And "I need to ponder on that for a bit."

On to the next area of weakness.

Tardiness.

Have you ever been tempted to tell a chronically-late friend to arrive 15 minutes early to things so they'll be there on time?  I was that friend in high school.  

I try to write out Pros for tardiness.  
Nothing comes up.  Why am I chronically participating in something that has no benefits?!?
I am totally breaking up with lateness.

On to the Cons:
Only one comes to mind.
"I'm not ready."

That's what I always say.  I'm always in fear that I'm not ready and am rushing about trying to find that one last item I need to feel calm and prepared for whatever the day may bring.
Like chapstick.  Or the phone I'm talking on.  Or .... 

This is totally and completely FEAR talking.

I realize I fear time.  I fear time like the slave I have been to time.  
I pray to be healed of my fear of time.  I pray that the switch can be flipped and I can become a Master over time. And that I can understand time.

Affirmations:  "Time doth gently sweetly guide...." 
"I have all the time I need to do those things that are needful."

Update::: 2 Weeks later

Guess what?!?
I have had wonderful experiences with TIME.  I let it flow around me.  I'm aware of it and I am understanding what to do to be Ready for whatever comes.  With the FEAR removed, I can think and receive inspiration. (Like the inspiration to use my phone calendar with alerts and drive time included. ) And the inspiration to know which activities to say Yes to... and when to hold off.  I'm mortal, so I still make mistakes as I work on building this new muscle to full-strength.  But I'm patient with myself.  Progress is good. 

I am feeling the flow of Time.  Who knew this would happen?  Or that this could happen?

Want to hear a wonderful and unexpected bonus?  I am not plagued with feelings of stress and guilt about being late, over-committed and of not being ready.  With the absence of stress and guilt, I have more room and time for the Spirit's calming presence. 

He's a pretty big PRO in my life.

Back to Ether 12:27. "And if men come unto me (in prayer? by turning their hearts to desire greater discipleship and greater obedience?) I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; (Listing out weakness, analyzing those areas of weakness, and seeing the FEAR that motivated me was very humbling)  and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; (His Grace is what healed my fear!) for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Amen!!  This is amazing!  I'm so grateful!!)

I'm ready to start again.  I start to ponder on which Weakness is ready to be gracefully turned to Strength.   
THOUGHTS? 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

One for You, and You and You...

President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) First Counselor in the First Presidency:

“If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. … No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth” (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260).


The big thing that stuck out for me with this quote was this:

It is our Duty to Pray for gifts that will make us perfect.

What?!?

Here I've been thinking that I've been asking for FAVORS by seeking out Spiritual Gifts.  This is a big shift!  Not only is it our Duty to ask for what we need to correct our flaws, He's just waiting for us to ask and will Bestow them upon those who SEEK after them.

Wow!  This is exciting stuff here!

And have you heard this talk by Elder Larry L. Lawrence?  It's called Why Not Ask?
This talk is packed with insight about seeking spiritual gifts!
"Paul encouraged the early Saints to "desire" spiritual gifts and even to "covet earnestly the best gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31). To me that means that if I notice a brother or sister who magnifies a gift of the Spirit, I am invited to seek that same gift myself. This is the only place in the scriptures where we are actually instructed to "covet." If you have a roommate, a sibling, a mission companion, or a spouse who really seems to understand the scriptures, you can covet that gift yourself and then ask for it. 

I sometimes visualize a large storehouse up in heaven, completely filled with spiritual gifts, available to all Saints who have the faith to ask for them. Unfortunately, not too many are asking, so the storehouse is always overstocked."


Can you picture that warehouse?  Wow. That's quite an image.  Gifts from Heavenly Father, just waiting for us to ask for them, desire them and desire to use them wisely.  


"Would you like the gift of recall or the gift of courage or the gift of dreams? Why not ask? I testify that the Lord won't scold you for asking. Does a member have to be perfect to ask for spiritual gifts? The Lord answered that question in the scriptures. 

He explained that gifts are given for the benefit of "those who love me and keep all my commandments," and then he added, "And him that seeketh so to do" (D&C 46:9). That likely includes all of us here today. 

The Lord's one stipulation is that we don't come seeking gifts for "a sign" or "to consume it upon [our] lusts" (D&C 46:9). In other words, we should not be seeking gifts to build ourselves up in the eyes of others or for personal financial gain. Spiritual gifts are given to help us build the kingdom so "that all may be profited thereby" (D&C 46:12). "

We are to seek out the gifts we need to build the Kingdom, to help us perform our personal missions, to do the things that we were sent here to do and that we promised to do.  
Isn't God good?  

Go Listen or read this entire talk.  Twice if you can.  Or even more.  He lists several spiritual gifts, along with examples of people who possess them.  It might help you to start your own list of spiritual gifts to ask for.  Why Not Ask?


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Accepting His Will



Will

I've learned about Will.

It's been a hard journey, because it's not been a physical trek, but an unseen, private struggle.

At first, I prayed, but not knowing what to to ask, I Directed.

(I directed the All Powerful God, the Father of the Universe. Like He needed counsel from me.)

Months of Directing lead to frustration.  (Wasn't He listening?)  (Wasn't I worthy?)

This lead to Pleading.  And to Begging.  (Please, it would be so easy for YOU to do this....I have faith that YOU can do all things, so why not this?)

Neither work well on the Father.

Months passed.

Years passed.

All my directing, pleading and begging lead to self-absorption and to bitterness.
It almost led to anger but I held myself back from actual anger, out of respect -and a little fear.

I took no steps, either physically or spiritually, to remedy the situation.

I mostly relied on thinking prayers.

Now I know better.

Begging, Pleading, Directing- they are all distractions.  They keep you from learning how to pray.

How to pray to LEARN the Father's will.  For you.  About big things or little things.
And then DO something about it. Take a few steps blindly into the dark.

Mainly, I work on Acceptance now.  Accepting (and remembering that acceptance) that my Father in Heaven is wonderfully powerful.  He has a Glorious Plan of Happiness for ALL his children.
(Even me.)

And our mortal minds aren't capable of knowing.
Our ways aren't His ways.  Our thoughts aren't His thoughts.
But He shall direct our paths.
And all things shall be for our experience and our growth.

Bless the Father for His love for His children. And His long-suffering and patience.
And for His glorious plan that he knows beginning to end.
I don't have to know it, I have only to trust in Him and seek to do His will.
(That's actually a relief, when you consider it fully. )

 I am eternally grateful for His plan and for His will.

We'd all be in trouble if my self-absorbed plan or will were in charge.

I'm still learning what to ask for and how to pray.  I'm still learning and submitting my will to my Father's and I'm learning to do it joyfully-as a gift, not as an obligation.

It's the only gift I can ever truly give to Him, as it's the only thing that is truly mine.

Will


****This is was written on the tail-end of a 6 1/2 year struggle to get our 3rd baby.  I felt to share it now and I'm not sure why.  But I seek to obey the Will of the Father, and so trust that it will reach someone where they are and help them on their way.****

Peace and Healing and the Marvelous Atonement of Christ

Everyone has trials and opposition in life.  
Sometimes these come through health problems or the actions of others.  
Sometimes they come through natural causes, like natural disasters.  
Sometimes they come through the actions of ourselves.  

We all have problems in our lives that are too big for us to handle by ourselves.  
That's kind of the point of the trial, right?
  We came to earth to learn and grow and be tested.  
Our tests are to teach US.  
We came here excited to get bodies, to learn and to grow and to experience things that we couldn't do without our bodies and without a separation from our Heavenly Parents. 

Sometimes we get complacent here and without a big trial here and there, we may not get around to pursuing further light and knowledge.  

Mosiah 3:19 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a childsubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

As we are tested, we have a choice
 The great gift of agency means that we always have a choice.  
We can choose HAPPINESS, LOVE and JOY.  (Man is that he might have joy!) 
Or we can choose SADNESS, ANGER or FEAR.  
We can choose to walk in faith, our path illuminated only a few steps at a time, 
or we can choose to be frozen in fear, waiting to move until we KNOW, 
or we can choose to walk away from Christ.

I believe that our trials come to us by way of invitation. 
 We are invited to come unto Christ, to cast our burdens on HIM, to learn about the amazing healing power of His atoning sacrifice and the cleansing, comforting power of our Savior's love. 
This is our test and opportunity and our gift, if we choose to act upon it.
I also believe that we don't have to grow only through trials.  We can choose to grow through Joyful Experiences too.  It's a choice.

I have learned some things about the Atonement of Jesus Christ that I want to share with you.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares a story in his talk, "Your Potential, Your Privileges" about a man who dreams of going on a cruise.  He is so excited to go on this cruise so he saves up his money for a long time, until he finally has enough.  He books his cruise, using all the money he has.  He brings along canned food and water because he doesn't have any extra money left after paying for his cruise.  He goes on the cruise but doesn't partake of any of the beautiful meals provided, or any of the shows or entertainment.  He feels badly about this.  He enjoys the cruise but spends much of the time in his cabin. On the last night of the cruise he learns from a crew member that all of the beautiful meals and shows were INCLUDED in the price of the cruise.  They were already paid for.  He missed out on so many wonderful parts of his cruise.  Pres. Uchtdorf says many of us  are like this man.  We are living far below our privileges.  

Heavenly Father desires to bless us with all manner of blessings but we need to ASK for them.  Ask and Ye Shall Receive.  Seek and Ye Shall Find.  He desires to relieve us of our heavy burdens but we need to ASK for this relief.  Our burdens, like this man's cruise, have already been paid for.  We don't need to spend this life sitting in our cabins, eating canned food. 
So, how do we go about asking for this relief?  How do we use the healing power of our Savior?  I've been seeking this for a while now.  Here are a few things I've learned.  

In the Book of Mormon, Enos reveals some great keys to actually USING the Atoning Power of Jesus Christ.  The Atonement stands as a marvelous mystery that no one will fully understand in this life, but the power of Christ's Atonement is real and we should use it.
Start with verses 2-8.  (Study the rest of the book later. It's a tiny little gem.)

Enos 1:And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.


Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
We see here that Enos is pondering on the gospel, the good news of Christ.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
Here we learn that he had a powerful desire, a HUNGER to know, and he was willing to put in time and effort in MIGHTY prayer.  How powerful.  I love Enos.  
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
Here we learn about Enos's trust and faith in the words of his father (who taught him the gospel) and his faith and trust in God.  
And I said: Lord, how is it done?
And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
Faith in Christ.  His Faith in Christ made him whole.  Isn't that beautiful?  
Also in the Book of Mormon Alma the Younger teaches powerfully about HOW to find peace and healing through the marvelous atonement of Christ.  He shares his conversion with his son Helaman in Chapter 36.  
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
In Dale E. Miller's "Bringing Peace and Healing to Your Soul", we read that "Alma found his soul healed through the knowledge that Jesus would come and take away all his sins. As his soul became healed, he found peace within himself. Alma was so captured by the effects of this conversion experience that he repeated the sensations to Helaman: “Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:21; emphasis added). He was teaching a pattern to his son of lasting peace and joy, just as Enos’s father had done. There is a pattern here of fathers teaching children about the Atonement and eternal life. It is a pattern for all fathers in our day.
Several instructive points come to mind about Alma’s conversion:
  1. Like Enos, he had a vivid awareness and remorse for past sins that had offended God.
  2. Like Enos, he remembered his father’s teachings—the promise of atonement for sin, through Jesus Christ.
  3. Like Enos, he personally pleaded in supplication for his soul.
  4. Like Enos, he experienced the miracle of the Atonement to the degree that he could neither remember the pains from his sins nor feel guilt. The healing of his soul was complete. It was a cleansing experience both to the mind and the heart. Joy replaced bitterness. He became a new man, born again of the Spirit. And like Enos, he immediately turned his attention to serving the Lord and his fellow beings.
Will the Lord do for us what He did for Enos and Alma?"
 Absolutely!  God is no respecter of persons!  If HE extends His arm of mercy to one of his children, He will extend it to all.  And here we have TWO accounts of God extending his arm of mercy, of offering peace and healing through the marvelous Atonement of Christ.  
Calling on Christ to apply His healing atoning grace is a deeply personal experience.  Enos found a way to call on the powers of Heaven.  Alma experienced the healing of the Atonement and the purification of his heart in a remarkable way.
This is available to ALL who will repent and desire to obey.  Follow the simple pattern Enos showed us.  Pray.  Desire with your whole heart.  Plead.  Ask for your sins to be forgiven.  Ask for your burdens to be done away with.  Ask for your heart to be healed and purified.  He delights in answering the desires of our hearts.  Ask Him for what He most wants to give us.  And then, express all the feelings in your grateful heart.  Share your gratitude for the miracle of the Atonement of Christ and for His love for you.
Here is what I've learned.  First off, find a quiet time- Sacrament Meeting, early morning- whenever.  Next, kneel, if possible.  Fast, if appropriate.  Pray.  The words you need to speak will come to you.  Let your heart be full of desire.  Spend time feeling this desire:  your desire for forgiveness, your desire to be comforted, your desire for healing, your desire for understanding.  
Remember how intensely Enos prayed?  All day and night.  That was desire.  Remember how Alma was in the pangs of bitterness and despair?  He was desperate.  Let your heart fill with desire.  Pray in faith, knowing that He is listening and loving you and so pleased with your actions and efforts and desires.  He is so happy that you are going to call upon His gift that has already been paid for.
Then just ask.  Ask Christ to heal the burdens you have.  Ask Heavenly Father to allow the healing power of the Atonement of your Lord to fill you up,  that the love of Christ will enter your body and soul and the darkness and sadness and untruths will flee, that the marvelous healing power of Christ's atonement will make you more than you can be on your own.  
Bask in the feelings of love.  Don't rush. Stay and feel the love of your Savior.  Feel the peace as your burdens are lightened. Ask Him to help you continue to grow in His love and light.  Thank Him for His amazing gift and love.
For me, this isn't a one-time event.  You can do it anytime.  Daily, weekly,  hmm... during the Sacrament...
These are deep treasures from my heart.  I offer them to you out of love and desire that they will help you find the way that works best for you to connect with our Savior and ask for the healing powers of His atonement to work in your life to bless you and your family.
As we ask and receive and seek and find, we will become more converted and better Disciples of Christ.  In Helaman 3:35 it says, "They did fast and pray often, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the Faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
We all have amazing potential and missions to perform while here on earth. Heavenly Father and Jesus want to help us achieve our potential and overcome things that are holding us back so we can lift and serve others.  

 ****This is a copy of a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting in August 2015****