Saturday, July 22, 2017

Be the Light That Can Guide Your Loved One Back to the Tree

Have you ever wondered why Lehi didn't run after Laman and Lemuel in his Tree of Life vision?
I never have.

Until tonight.  My spirit was struck by this thought.  What loving parent wouldn't run after their children when seeing them in danger?  Why didn't Lehi?  Had he written them off as "too far gone"?

Nah.  In 1 Ne 8:37 "He did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them and not cast them off."

He loved them.  His soul longed for them. He prayed for them.
And what else did he do?
He stayed by the tree, filling himself with light.

Lehi, in staying by the tree and partaking of the LOVE of God, was honoring his covenants.  And by so doing, was filling himself with light and drawing his children to him, invisibly inviting them with the most powerful option he had, the power of Heaven.  

As he increased his personal level of discipleship he was inviting spiritual power into his life, and leading by example.

We are all so much more connected then we can discern with mortal eyes.

Have you tried the "MonKari" method of decluttering as described in the "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up"?  

I have.  And in the book she states that the best way to persuade a reluctant family member to join in the tidying process- to "buy" into the mindset- is to be an example. 
To just do it.
Well, I tried this.  I sorted my closet and the top of my "half" of the dresser.  And sure enough, my husband came along and added his excess stuff to the discard pile.
The truly amazing thing was watching our children.  As I progressed to sorting the kitchen and linen closet they each began following suit, (without any comment on my part!) sorting out their dressers or toy shelves. 
There was a subtle shift in the energy of our house- and it was contagious.  Every time I began tidying, someone else would start in their area.
The biggest surprise came as I tackled my "hardest" space- the Laundry/Craft room.  My "saver" son began in his room.  As I faced my biggest emotional hurdles, he took on his.  We both had a hard row to hoe emotionally.  In deciding what to keep and what to let go of, you are essentially deciding who you are and giving yourself permission to let go of former expectations and limiting beliefs and just BE who you are and to let your space reflect you.  

His room was in a "hoarder" state and it was depressing.  Now, it is the tidiest room in the house.  And he told me he realized he was keeping all kinds of "stuff" he did not really need.  I let go of all kinds of fabric and craft projects that I am no longer interested in pursuing.  And now we both feel free to pursue interests that really interest us. 

I hope that example illustrates, in a physical sense, how connected we all are.  

When a loved one is struggling, it affects the whole family. 

The key to is stay by the tree, partaking of the Love of God and shining that love upon your family.  

"We should not let their choices weaken our faith." Robert D. Hales said. "The Lord's desire for us as parents is that we keep His commandments.  He has said: "Teach your children light and truth, according to the commandments...Set in order your own house...See that you are more diligent and concerned at home."

You'll want to make sure you aren't falling into the adversary's trap of complacency. Have a spiritual check-up with yourself.
Family Scripture Study? Prayer? Temple Attendance?
Don't let up on keeping the commandments.  Instead, increase! 
Be more diligent in keeping commandments. 

Increase your spiritual power by being the most obedient, the best disciple of Christ you can be.  You can be a powerful light- when bursting with the light of discipleship- a light that can gently support and guide your struggling one back to the tree. 

"Thus faithful parents can invite the power of heaven to influence their children."  David A. Bednar

We can't take away anyone's agency, or power to act for themselves, but if we are progressing forward, striving to move onward and upward, it may just provide the spiritual spark of motivation that could inspire similar action.
Tackling your "laundry room" packed with your hardest issues could be the inspiration your family member needs to take on their hardest issues.

I know that no one can live on borrowed light, but sometimes, having a house full of light, available to anyone to lean upon, is enough to sustain a person until they are strong enough to gather their own light and follow the path back to the tree. 

Read David A. Bednar's "Faithful Parents and Wayward Children: Sustaining Hope While Overcoming Misunderstanding".
And Robert D. Hale's "With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent:A Message of Hope to Families".

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 Ways to Prepare Emotionally for Your Child's LDS Mission Service

1. Get Involved. Find out who the missionaries are in your area and help them.  Drive them to the store.  Feed them dinner.  Go with them to appointments.  The full-time Sisters in my stake were inspired to ask me to go with them to read the Book of Mormon with a less-active member.  The first visit was so powerful.  The Spirit was strong.  The sister was open about her struggles and her desire to understand God's will.  We all had a tender experience as we felt God's love for her.  And I gained a testimony of the sweetness of missionary work. 

2.  Create Memories.  We purposely planned fun and meaningful things to do together.  We involved each family member in planning activities, but especially our departing missionary son. Our favorite activities took on new meaning when we realized it was our last time together (for a few years).  We did one last hike to Adam's Canyon, one last ice cream cone at Farr's and one more camping trip to Zion's.  We did not let these times become sad though- they were celebrations of our family bonds.

3.  "Bro Dates".   Our youngest child started acting out about the time our oldest submitted his papers.  Her moody behavior was so unlike her usually sunny self.  We couldn't figure out what was stressing her out.  Finally my husband asked if she was worried about her big brother leaving.  And then the tears poured out. (So Surprising!)  In the course of comforting her and talking about just what a mission entailed, my husband had the brilliant idea of "Bro Dates".  Matt would take each sibling out, one at a time, and do an activity of their choosing.  Everyone was so excited about their Bro Date and spent weeks deliberating activity choices.  Matt came up with the idea of getting everyone a hat too.  Anticipating the fun, knowing they were important enough to have a place on the busy pre-mission calendar, remembering the date after, and wearing their baseball hat, helped each of our children cope emotionally.

4.  Reach Out.  I kinda thought I was the only parent who ever sent a child out on a mission.  But guess what?  I wasn't.  Ha!  Surprise!
Reach out to other families sending out missionaries.  It's so wonderful to have the support, and to be the support, of friends and family who understand.  A knowing hug, call or visit means so much!

5.  Really Feel. Give yourself permission to fully feel and express your emotions.  I was oh-so-sad but in complete denial about the depth of my emotions.  (Supposed to feel happy!! Supposed to feel excited!!)  And I got stuck.  
Once I realized that I was mourning his mission like he was dying, like it was the death of my family as I knew it, then I could process it and move on.  It is a BIG change. Our family will never be quite the same.  And it's okay to feel sad and grieve those changes. Fully experience those emotions so you can move on.  The danger lies in getting stuck there.  
Also, it's okay if you aren't grieving. If you are happy or relieved, that's okay too!  Give yourself permission to fully feel any and all emotions.  Emotions aren't good or bad, they just are.  Feel them and then let them go without judging them, or yourself.
6. Look Heaven-ward.   Again, you aren't the only parent who has sent a child out on a mission.  Heavenly Father sent His Son on the most crucial mission of all time.  He totally gets all of our heartache.  
After realizing my sadness and worry were affecting our whole family, I gave myself a "talkin' to".  Then I knelt down and gave my burdens to the Lord.  I visualized a big altar and poured out all of my emotions: worry, fear, etc.  I asked Christ to make it all better.  I asked if He could take all those things weighing down my heart and turn them into Joy and Excitement, so much so that I'd almost want to jump in the suitcase and tag along.  And it worked!  
Christ took my burdens, lifted my heart and filled me with joy!  I choose to do this whenever I needed to - 3 more times the month he left.  
I am so grateful for My Savior, Jesus Christ, for Heavenly Parents and for the good news of the gospel and it's power to save and bless.  Without my sure testimony of it's truthfulness and peace there is no way I'd survive!  With this sure testimony I feel full of peace, fully supported and know that Heavenly Father's plans are wonderfully better than my best-laid plans.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Like a Symphony: Finding Your Part

What is your part to play in this symphony called Life?
Have you discovered what Your mission is?  What your purpose is?  There is a "melody" in each one of us.

There is a talk by Sister Wendy Nelson called Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be that I love!  She shares wonderful insights.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes that pertain to this topic.  The whole talk is amazing though-study it!

"When we're desperate to become the people we were born to be, our vision changes.  We wake from the spiritual amnesia the adversary to cleverly administers, and suddenly we see things about ourselves, others and our lives that we've never seen before."

Sounds good, right?  I really don't like the idea of being under spiritual amnesia, or anything else administered by the adversary.  This sentence also reminds me of the lyrics of the song "Glorious" (posted below.) 

"Others around you
Will start to wake up"

Are we asleep? Maybe.  Consider this verse from Moroni.

31 And aawake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of bZion; and cstrengthen thy dstakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest eno more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.

And this verse from the Doctrine and Covenants.
10 Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the aBridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the bgreat day of the Lord.

(Yes!  I want to go meet the Bridegroom!  Isn't it exciting to read that HE really is coming and we will get to go out to meet Him?!)

Okay, so we need to awake and arise.  What's next? 
The same night that Sister Nelson gave the talk listed above, her husband, Elder Russell M Nelson gave a marvelous talk called Becoming True Millenials.  He gives us excellent instruction.

  • " first recommendation is to learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness.
  • I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!"
I add my witness to the truth of this!  Heavenly Father is waiting-waiting for you to reach out and ask Him questions.  He wants to answer them and He promises us over and over in the scriptures that if we ask, He will answer.  

So, ask.  Ask who you are.  Kneel down with a pen and paper and Ask what your mission is.  What your melody is.  What your purpose is.  

"Just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start
To figure out your part"

 Write down any thoughts or feelings you receive and act on them.   Study your patriarchal blessing if you have it. Study your scriptures.  And then take action.  Take a step forward in faith.

"And you will know how
To let it ring out
As you discover
Who you are"
I have done this. 
 I prayerfully listened to this song, Glorious, by David Archuleta. (Does that seem strange?  Maybe, but this song has always spoken to my soul.  And I know that inspired songs have promised blessings-I feel this song is like a prayer to learn who you are.)  
I knelt down by my bed and prayed to know what my purpose and mission was. I pled with the Lord to tell me what He had for me to do.  I fully intended to do whatever He asked.  
And He knew that and He responded.  

  I had a notebook handy.  As I closed my prayer and listened I started to receive ideas, thoughts, names, impressions and feelings.  I jotted them down quickly as they came and asked if there were more.  A few more ideas came into my mind.  It was an interesting mix of ideas of who I was and people I needed to talk to.  Things I ought to do and things to study more fully.  
I expressed my gratitude for all of the insight and committed to following His counsel.

As I worked my way through that list during the next few weeks and months, I was amazed and grateful to see how the Lord was guiding me, helping me and putting me out of my comfort zone.  I felt to ask for Heavenly help often.  I lost desire for mindless entertainment and felt driven to do all that I could sense unfolding in front of me.  It was truly Glorious!  

"When we're desperate for any gift of the Spirit, that is when we will finally pray with all energy of heart for that gift.  And the great news is that each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves."   Sister Wendy Nelson

~ David Archuleta. 

There are times when
You might feel aimless
And can't see the places 
Where you belong
But you will find that
There is a purpose
It's been there within you
All along
And when you're near it
You can almost hear it.

It's like a symphony
Just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start
To figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece
And there are melodies
In each one of us
Oohhh, it's glorious.

And you will know how
To let it ring out
As you discover
Who you are
Others around you
Will start to wake up
To the sounds that are
In their hearts
It's so amazing
What we're all creating.

It's like a symphony
Just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start
To figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece
And there are melodies
In each one of us
Oohhh, it's glorious.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Veil of Forgetfulness and the Light of Christ

When we were born we passed through the veil of forgetfulness.  
This forgetfulness proves to be one of our major stumbling blocks in mortality.  

Because once we remember (or are enlightened or taught by the Holy Ghost) it seems it is so easy to forget that precious knowledge and slide backwards without noticing. 

Have you experienced this?
You get a good routine going with daily habits that help your life go smoothly.
You miss for a day or two because of illness or vacation or whatever.
Suddenly, 3 weeks later you wake up to the fact that you are not doing the daily habits that brought such joy. And you can't think why or when you stopped!

Or you learned something.
In a teachable, humble state the Holy Spirit whispered something to your heart and you received a flash of insight.  It was amazing!  Because it was direct spirit-to-spirit communication you can't put it into words in all exactness but it is marvelous and changes your understanding.
A while later you learn it again, only then realizing that you had gained that knowledge but had unknowingly forgotten it!

The veil of forgetfulness is real and active.  I believe it is connected heavily to the natural man. And when we are successful at throwing off the natural man, and overcoming the flesh through the Spirit it is because We Are Remembering.

Remembering who we are.
Remembering what we came here to do. 
Remembering who we are and whose we are.

And what restores us to remembrance?
The birthday gift we were all given AS we came through the Veil of Forgetfulness.
(See, all things have their opposite: Light and Dark, Virtue and Vice, just as Lehi taught!)

So we pass through the Veil of Forgetfulness for our big earthly test, but we are given a wonderful tool to help us remember:  The Light of Christ.

I am so grateful for this Light of Christ, paid for by the Atonement of Christ and delivered to us by the Holy Ghost. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How I Learned to Visualize Giving My Burdens to the Lord

A few years ago I was suffering from depression and anxiety that was becoming debilitating.
I'd heard of a woman who helped people deal with emotions that were causing physical problems and felt impressed that she might be able to help me- or at least steer me in the right direction.

I went to see Betty Ann.  She was such a peaceful, light and love-filled woman that I immediately felt at ease.

We started with a prayer.  
As we talked it became apparent to Betty Ann and to me that I had some issues I needed to forgive fully.  I felt ready to completely forgive, holding nothing back.

Betty Ann told me to close my eyes and relax.  She told me not to worry if I couldn't see in my mind what she was describing but to pay attention to my feelings.

She told me to imagine I was standing in the light in a beautiful place.  She told me to imagine, with the eye of faith, that I could see my Savior approaching.  I tried to see Him in my mind but I couldn't.  Then I realized I could just listen and feel and it would be alright.

Betty Ann told me to hand Him my burdens- any anger, fear or sadness- and as I visualized handing them to Him, something interesting happened.  They all disappeared.  Vanished.  Swallowed up in His matchless love.  
I felt light and free and like I could finally breathe unrestrained.  
Next she told me to hand Him my heart.  (At this point I made a puzzled noise and she told me to imagine I was handing Him my heart, right out of my chest.)  And I could do it.  I could picture removing my heart, holding it in my hand and feeling how broken it was.  She told me to ask Christ to heal my heart and He did.  It was shattered and broken and half-dead and then, at His touch, it was whole and beautiful and living.
She asked me to ask Him to fill my soul with light and love to heal me and help me. 
The feeling throughout my body was incredible.
The Spirit I felt was peaceful, calm and happy. 
 I knew that although this seemed unorthodox, it was right and good and okay with Heavenly Father.

Before I left Betty Ann's home she counseled me.  Here are the words I wrote down about her counsel.
"Learn who I am and then BE who I am.  Only worry about what Christ thinks of me and then I'll be free to achieve my true potential.
Read my Patriarchal Blessing, the scriptures and the Ensign to figure out WHO I am.  Allow others to be WHO they are.

I feel as though my shattered heart has been put back together and I can resume being myself."

Betty Ann has since passed away.  I am eternally grateful that she shared her gift with me and taught me this powerful way to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Master healer.

I know that Jesus Christ is the source of all healing and is the Light of the World.

P.S.  I am not saying all depression is caused by needing to forgive. This is my own personal experience. (In the past I've had depressive periods and used standard medical treatment with positive results.) 
 I am a firm believer that God has given us many tools (medical and other) and that He will lead us to the tools we need at the time we need them for our learning and growth. 

Scripture References:

Ether 12:19 19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Acts 2: 25-28 
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
(The bold emphasis is mine.)

General Conference Quotes about The Sacrament: Healing for The Soul

I've learned that we can take our cares, our bruised and battered hearts or our wearied, troubled minds to the Sacrament table every week for healing and renewal from our Savior. 
Repenting of our sins, coming unto Christ and remembering our covenants have great power. 
I thought I'd share some favorite quotes and talks from General Authorities about the Sacrament.  

Cheryl A. Esplin, The Sacrament- a Renewal for The Soul
"After administering the sacrament to the Nephites, Jesus said:
“He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
“Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit.”14
With these words, Christ teaches us that the Spirit heals and renews our souls. The promised blessing of the sacrament is that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].”15"
"When I partake of the sacrament, I sometimes picture in my mind a painting that depicts the resurrected Savior with His arms outstretched, as if He is ready to receive us into His loving embrace. I love this painting. When I think about it during the administration of the sacrament, my soul is lifted as I can almost hear the Savior’s words: “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”16"
"Aaronic Priesthood holders represent the Savior when they prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament. As a priesthood holder extends his arm to offer us the sacred emblems, it is as if the Savior Himself were extending His arm of mercy, inviting each one of us to partake of the precious gifts of love made available through His atoning sacrifice—gifts of repentance, forgiveness, comfort, and hope.17"

Melvin J. Ballard: as quoted in As Now We Take the Sacrament            “I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load is lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food” (“The Sacramental Covenant,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1919, 1027).

L.Tom PerryAs Now We Take the Sacrament                                                  "In sacrament meeting that evening, I had my first opportunity to exercise the priesthood by passing the sacrament to the membership of our ward. The sacrament took on new meaning to me that day. As I watched the tray go up and down the rows of the members of the Church, I noticed that not everyone approached the sacrament with the same attitude. There were those who seemed to partake of the sacrament just as a matter of routine, but there were many, many who accepted the sacrament with great reverence.
Over the years, I have participated, as all of us have, in many sacrament meetings, and to me they really are more than just another meeting. Partaking of the sacrament provides us with a sacred moment in a holy place. We do it in accordance with the commandment the Lord gave us in section 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day” (D&C 59:9)."

Elder Delbert L. Stapley as quoted inAs Now We Take the Sacrament        "By partaking of the Sacrament we renew all covenants entered into with the Lord and pledge ourselves to take upon us the name of his Son, to always remember him and keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 14).

David A. Bednar, Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins                              "Please consider that the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood, the bread and the water, are both blessed and sanctified. “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread [or this water] to the souls of all those who partake [or drink] of it.”28 To sanctify is to make pure and holy. The sacramental emblems are sanctified in remembrance of Christ’s purity, of our total dependence upon His Atonement, and of our responsibility to so honor our ordinances and covenants that we can “stand spotless before [Him] at the last day.”29"
"The ordinance of the sacrament is a holy and repeated invitation to repent sincerely and to be renewed spiritually. The act of partaking of the sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit sins. But as we prepare conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then the promise is that we may always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us. And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins."

James E. FaustSpiritual Healing                                                              "Our sacrament meetings should be worshipful and healing, restoring those who attend to spiritual soundness. Part of this healing process occurs as we worship through music and song. Singing our beautiful, worshipful hymns is food for our souls. We become of one heart and one mind when we sing praises to the Lord."

I couldn't resist that last one.  Ahh.. music!  I believe that as we sing the Sacrament Hymns with intent that the hymns help us to become humble and ready to repent and turn our hearts to God, preparing us to arrive at the Sacrament table ready to renew our covenants, receive blessings and find comfort and healing.