“We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.” Thus begins the LDS Relief Society Declaration. What does it mean to be a beloved spirit daughter of God? What are the meaning, purpose, and direction of our lives? Continue reading
Deep in the heart of Turkey lies a magical place known as Cappadocia, one of the most awe-inspiring sites my husband and I have ever laid eyes on. Before the time of Christ, an ancient civilization carved out nearly 200 underground cities throughout this region, easily rivaling the set of any Indiana Jones movie. It was incredible!
By the 4th century A.D., these magnificent cities were inhabited by early Christians who were forced to flee underground for protection from violent religious persecution from the Romans. Some of these elaborate and sophisticated cities go eighteen stories below the surface of the earth and boast numerous tunnels, stables, residences, halls, churches, meeting rooms, wells, and passages connecting various cities together. There are churches carved into caves with their walls and ceilings adorned with colorful, detailed biblical frescoes. These underground cities, supporting as many as 20,000 people, protected their citizens from religious persecution and attacks threatening their lives. Archaeologists and historians say that the early Christians tried to defend and protect themselves by using large round stone doors to cover the entrances, complicated maze systems, and even holes in the ceilings which were used to pour hot oil over intruders. Continue reading
Years ago, I was a young student at Utah State University and was involved in a project that required me to research the topic of standing for truth. I stumbled upon an incredible General Conference talk that made me feel empowered, emboldened and strong. I remember feeling all sorts of emotions when I first read it. The words stirred something deep within my heart and caused me to ask myself some pretty soul-searching questions about how I would stand with the Savior and His church.
This is a bold talk. It’s a battle-cry. It’s a “defend-your-title-of-liberty” type talk that you’ll want to revisit over and over again. It can give us courage when we need it the most. It can help us remember what we have come to earth to do. The talk is titled “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith” and I feel that these words are exactly what we need to face the moral and social challenges we’re seeing all around us. Continue reading
Sometimes I wonder that I am a little overzealous in my ward. I have to admit, I may be when it comes to the history of the Relief Society, but I have come to some amazing realizations in my study that, besides blowing my mind, makes me want to teach them to every Tom, Dick … no, Thomasina, Richardella, and Harrisonia. Continue reading
Faith, the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ starts us on the path to conversion. In Alma 32 and 33, we learn that faith begins small, with just a tiny seed. Through hope and consistent nourishment our faith can grow up into the Tree of Life. The Savior taught more about faith and what it can become. In Matthew chapter 17, the apostles were not successful in casting out a devil; they went to the Savior and asked why. In verse 20, He replied, “…Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
My “new” favorite document is the Relief Society Declaration. I say “new” because I never really paid much attention to it before, but when I came across it recently, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The second line of the declaration says, “As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar.”
Trying to imagine a sharper, more vivid image than that described by the Prophet Joseph Smith when recounting his First Vision is futile. He describes first the appearance of a “pillar of light,” before the actual vision of the Father, and the Son. This light was so bright that it exceeded that of the sun, and when it came, Joseph was “delivered from the enemy which held me bound.” Then came the glorious vision wherein Joseph comes to know of the true nature and majesty of God the Father, and the Savior, His Only Begotten Son. The glory and light that emanated from them is recounted as one which “defies all description,” and had the power to dispel all of the “thick darkness” that came from Satan, whose own power was noted by Joseph as one “which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak….”and it seemed for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.” Joseph Smith History 1:15-17. All of us, at one time or another, and in certain situations, have felt these same feelings of being overpowered or overwhelmed, and that feeling can be one of actual impending doom.
At this time in the history of the world, its popular, but ungodly, enticements are nothing but the orchestrations of a very persuasive and cunning individual, who is Satan. He wants to see the downfall of “even the very elect.” I cringe every time I read Moses 7:26 in the Pearl of Great Price. In that particular verse, Satan is depicted as having “a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole earth with darkness, and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” That scripture alone makes me want to go ASAP in the complete opposite direction of one that would delight in seeing my utter destruction.
If we are not in tune with promptings from the Holy Ghost that all is not exactly right in the world, and don’t align ourselves in complete obedience to all that has been taught from both Holy writ, as well as revelation and counsel received from ancient and modern-day prophets, we can find ourselves in a very precarious state. So, how can we ensure that darkness falls, and that light rises, and is then magnified in our minds and hearts? First and foremost comes obedience to the very basics. We have to live in a way that attracts light, truth, and knowledge.
Years ago a church leader said (and I am paraphrasing here because to my dismay, I did not write it down, nor can I recall who it was that even stated it). It left a deep impression on my soul. “Those that live and keep the commandments are blessed in ways that others who do not will never be.” It’s as simple as that, yet for some of us, if not most of us, easier said than done.
The challenge is in overcoming every obstacle that stands in our way. For example, when I view anything on TV, the Internet, or at movies that makes me uncomfortable as a Latter-day Saint, it has to go! Recently I started to watch a new TV series based on an actual historical event. The first few episodes were enjoyable, but as it proceeded further, nothing was left but filth and garbage of every kind. Why would I subject myself to this, knowing of sacred covenants I have made in the temple, above which hangs the inscription, “The House of the Lord, Holiness to the Lord?” From that experience I have made a personal decision not to watch anything from any source that detracts from the Spirit of the Lord. Those types of entertainment have no place in our homes, in view of our children, and really should belong nowhere to those that want to live with faithfulness and conviction. In its place I fill my home, every nook and cranny, with anything that is “virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy,” to help all that enter remember the Savior, and to invite Him into their thoughts and lives.
Last, but not least, is to do all we can to negate the prominent notion that somehow all are “victims”. Nothing could be further from the truth. A mentality of self-importance, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement seems to rule and reign supreme. Everyone’s “right” supplants everybody else’s, and everywhere it seems a voice calls for improvement in what God has already provided in great abundance, including God’s laws that have proven time and time again to be for the safety, security, and protection of His children.
Statistics in the U.S., (one of the wealthiest countries in the world), show there are more and more people who are unhappy because they can’t have the material “stuff” they feel will make them happy. Yet that same getting and receiving cannot provide sustained happiness. Why? Because again, Satan uses the very dark and deceptive tools of selfishness and greed to his great advantage. He whispers and sometimes shouts the lie that we haven’t been given enough; we need more. He also uses people that “have sought their own counsels in the dark,” (Moses 6: 28), and refuse to see that God’s thoughts have already been declared much higher than their own, (Isaiah 55: 8,9). But then, that is not their stopping point. They drag others down with them in their short-sided, self-seeking, and self-deceptive aspirations and desires.
I look forward to the day that all darkness falls, and a “Light” that pierces into every sphere and space and which illuminates everything it touches, rises up. Meanwhile, my hope is that all of us do our part to stand strong for truth and righteousness, defend our beliefs, and not let the world or Satan, who would “hold us bound”, dictate to us how we will live.