Monthly Archives: December 2014

Joseph Smith’s Christmases

joseph-smith-221x157Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805, before there were Christmas trees, lights, or even presents. Typically, during that time period, parents may have gathered children around to read the Christmas story together, but after that, it was business as usual, especially on a working farm.

Lucy Mack Smith, while reflecting on her son’s entrance into the world, said his birth was forgettable, or at least uneventful. He was a pretty normal child, until he exhibited a glimpse of his valiant spirit by enduring a horrendous operation, which included cutting out infected bone, without anesthesia.

As commercial as Jesus Christ’s birth has become, because of Santa Claus, mall shopping, and setting the perfect table, Latter-day Saints have an opportunity to pause to celebrate quietly the birth of one of the best men who ever lived. In celebrating Joseph’s birth, we are also celebrating the Christ child’s birth. Note the similarities: Continue reading

Christmas and What it Means to the World

Christmas “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 8-11)

As we pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world and what that means to all of us — not only in this life but also throughout eternity — we are filled with deep reverence and gratitude for the great gift of His life.

From John we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Within those few, inspired words is our Heavenly Father’s plan to save us from the inevitable sin we would incur (while in mortality) and bring us back into His presence, clean and pure, to live the same kind of life that He enjoys as an exalted and resurrected Being of glory. That is our destiny as children of the covenant. Continue reading

Jesus Christ and Children

Temple Christ JRecently on the Mormon Women Stand Facebook page, we posed this question:

“If you could tell your children, grandchildren, or other children in your life one thing — just one thing — about Jesus this Christmas, what would you choose to tell them?”

The question was deliberately limited to “just one thing” so that readers would have to ponder and decide what was most important to them personally about Jesus Christ.  Remarkably, quite a few people took the time to think about and answer the question.

Some of my favorite responses:

  • The true value of something can only be found in what someone is willing to pay for it. Jesus paid for you with His own life, and God paid for you with His Only Begotten Son.
  • Jesus loves us and understands us better than anyone else.
  • That with His help, His atonement, eternal life is possible.
  • He knows us and loves us. And just because we may not know the reason for all things, He does! We can trust Him. We are in His hands. His one and only goal is to bring to pass our immortality and Eternal Life.
  • That he loves all of us as we are with all of our faults. He also—through grace— allows us to repent of our sins. We are promised if we do, and follow him, and remain faithful, and strive to keep the commandments we will be saved. Repentance is the key.

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7 Ways to Replace Stress with Peace During Christmas

We know that this season is often an incredibly busy and sometimes stressful time for many families. We all want to have a happy and peaceful Christmas so we can remember the real reason for the season.We tell ourselves that this year will be different. But every year, the hustle and bustle creeps in and things get frantic and unbalanced. Throw in unforeseen trials like financial problems, illness, family issues, selling a house, moving, or getting (or losing) a job, and things can become a bit overwhelming.

With all the to-do lists and people pulling at you from every angle, it can be hard to feel peace and the spirit of Christ. Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. There is always more to do and more to accomplish. Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and re-energize to prepare for future pressures. [i]

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The Gospel of Jesus Christ in Palestine

jerusalemThe gospel of Jesus Christ is in Palestine.

We can’t turn our hearts to political leaders or ploys, not charismatic leaders that we foolishly follow blindly, not war, conflict, or hostility, but peace that only the Savior can bring.

I have two Palestinian friends; one was born and raised in an Arab-Christian home, close to Bethlehem. Sahar Qumsiyeh joined the LDS Church after accepting a scholarship to attend BYU in Provo, Utah. Her ancestral home, in Beit Sahour, and that of her Christian faith go back to the time of Jesus. The other, Emily Azar, is American, but married to a Palestinian who was also raised in an Arab-Christian home. Emily and her young family have been living in Ramallah, but have recently returned to the United States because war has gotten too close to their doorstep making life extremely hard to bear.

These two women are valiant disciples in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are few members of the LDS Church there, but these women have served faithfully in their callings as stewards, traveling through war zones and dangerous passes to visit sisters afraid and unable to attend Church meetings. Continue reading

Remembering the Gifts of the Savior

nativityThe beautiful message and gift of the Savior doesn’t have to be enjoyed, treasured, and remembered only once a year at Christmas. It can become a permanent fixture in our souls. It is something of great worth and substance that can permeate our very being.

In a world that considers the transitory, the disposable, and the brief good enough, Christ is the very best gift that has ever been given in the entire history of mankind.  The gifts He gives to us are everlasting and eternal. It is in remembering, receiving, and giving those gifts of the Savior that lives are transformed. Christmas reminds us to keep our promises to God.

At a 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional President Henry B. Erying stated, “The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember Him and His gifts to us. And that remembrance creates a desire in us to give gifts to Him.”

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Feeling Left Out at Church? Try These 6 Things

KC_IMG_5556Have you ever felt left out at church, like you don’t fit into your ward, or that even as an adult, you are still not one of the “cool kids”? Have you felt like your ward does not need you and that maybe people in your ward feel like they would be better off without you there? If you have, you are not alone.

I have had the opportunity to live in many wards in various geographical locations in Canada and the United States. In every ward, there have been at least some people who feel left out and not a part of the ward culture, and in some wards, there have been many people who have felt that way. Sometimes, I have felt that way myself.

Feeling unwanted, unneeded, or even an outcast in our wards causes heartache. Sometimes, we may be causing our own isolation. For me, there have been times when I felt rejected by members of my ward and essentially isolated myself by sitting alone in the corner, not talking to anyone and not attending the activities. But most of the time, I think sisters feel isolated because the general population of the ward is not willing to open up and let other people into their inner circles. Some wards and some Relief Societies do have cliques.

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Trust God, Trust His Prophet—Part One

Primary teacherRecently, the six-and-seven-year-olds in my Primary class were role-playing a situation in which they had to advise a friend who was struggling with a gospel principle. One child said firmly, “Well, you’re just going to have to call in the Holy Ghost on this project.” I thought to myself what a wise bit of advice that was. I wish someone had told me that when I was struggling to gain a full testimony. Read about why I became a Mormon without a testimony. Continue reading

General Conference: Becoming Even More Valiant Disciples

ensign-2014-novGeneral Conference October 2014, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has come and gone, but we, as members, were left with an invitation to “ponder the truths we have heard, and may they help us to become even more valiant disciples” (President Thomas S. Monson, 111).

As usual, his words resonate the messages of General Conference this past fall. In reading through the talks, I feel that the majority of the messages shared were meant to motivate us to be spiritually strong; to be those valiant disciples the Lord needs these latter days.

As I read through each talk I took markers and highlighted what I felt were 1) Pink—Promises, 2) Green—Challenges, 3) Blue—Doctrine, and 4) Orange—Warnings. This allowed me to visually see what the talks were telling me. Some weregc3 full of doctrine, some full of promises. The warnings are the brightest on the page, but the green lines draw my attention to what I might do to be a better follower of Christ. Elder Boyd K. Packer told us, in his calm but ever firm way,

“The true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ…We need everyone’s wisdom and insight and spiritual strength.” (Packer 8)

We are each critical to the Church as examples, stewards, and hopefuls to the success of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation.

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Motherhood is Mundane

mother-children-reading-friend-1236378-printMotherhood is made up of the mundane. Doing simple repetitive tasks, day after day, to provide a place of comfort, a place of refuge for those who are most important in your life is taxing. Talk to any wife and mother. If she is honest, she will tell you it is hard work. It is real work. It takes sacrifice and a lot of love, sweat, and tears to do the same things over and over again each day. But in the sacrificing we become more. President Thomas S. Monson taught,

“When we do the mundane, the mechanical, the repetitious patterns of our lives yield to the spiritual qualities, and we acquire a much-needed dimension which inspires our daily living” (Thomas S. Monson, Gifts, April 1993 General Conference).

These spiritual qualities are made manifest in the care we give to our families. In an article titled Mothers are not Wimps, Stephanie Nielson said,

Motherhood is natural. We know what we are doing. Deep within us we are born with a maternal instinct, and we carry traits of honesty, faith in God, duty, respect for others, kindness, self-confidence, and the desire to contribute and teach love to our children’s minds and hearts. We are kind and soft and brave and powerful (Nielson, Stephanie, Mothers are not Wimps, NieNie Dialogues via Deseret News (Nov. 10, 2014)).

Motherhood is mundane. Or rather, most of the tasks of motherhood are mundane. So why do we keep going? Why do we keep doing what we are doing? We are teaching our children, showing our husbands that they are valued, they are worth it. At the end of a long day at work or school where do people long to be? Still at work, or stuck in a car in traffic, or sleeping in a hotel? No! The place that beacons them is home. Home, where someone is waiting for them with eagerness. Home, where the mundane brings comfort and reassurance. Continue reading