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!