Author Archives: Bethany Packard

About Bethany Packard

Bethany Packard is absolutely in love with her wonderful husband, Chad. They live in the Dallas, TX area where they raised six amazing children and operate a business. They have 18 terrific grandchildren. At age 49, they were called to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a 'Senior' couple, and assigned to the Russia Moscow Mission. Leaving their family and business - before they were retired - took faith, but it also created the opportunity for God to perform many miracles in their lives. She loves music, interior design, cooking, sports, fall, and macaroni & cheese.

Spotty Shower Glass and Foggy Testimony: Daily Attention Cures Both

The other morning, after showering, I had a conversation with my husband about a cleaning product that I use that has changed my life. It went like this:

Him: Why are you spraying down the glass? It’s clean.

Me: Because, if I use this every day, crud won’t build up, and it won’t get all spotty, and I won’t have to scrub all this glass to get it clean.

Him: But it’s not dirty at all.

Me: (holding up the bottle and shaking it in the air) It’s not dirty at all because I use this every day!

It’s true. If I use this product as directed – each day after I shower – my glass stays relatively clear. Though not perfectly streak-free, believe me, it looks great, and holy cow – it saves me a ton of time scrubbing hard water spots off. It’s a beautiful thing!

After my exchange with my husband, I immediately saw a spiritual object lesson.

How quickly things can change.

Alma, the head of the government and high priest over the church, described his people, the Nephites, who had suffered many afflictions, like this:

“they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty. And they began to establish the church more fully; yea and many were baptized … and were joined to the church of God…and there was continual peace in all that time.” [1]

But just one short year later things were turning in a different direction within the church. Alma records that pride had taken hold of the hearts of the Nephites and they began to…

“set their hearts on the riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful…to persecute those that did not believe…there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride…and thus the church began to fail in it’s progress.” [2]

This heartbreaking situation causes him to leave his governmental responsibilities and focus solely on the problems within the membership of church.

“Can ye feel so now?”

Alma travels to the cities and villages throughout the land hoping to rekindle and reawaken the testimonies of his people. He reminds them of the miraculous things God has done for them, how they felt in the past as the spirit burned within them, and how their hearts, and the hearts of others, had been changed. Then he asks this penetrating question:

“if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” [3]

With love, but with boldness, Alma then teaches and encourages them in the things they must repent of and the practices they must return to, in order to once again have their hearts softened and their testimonies burn brightly.

Are we them?

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, likened the Nephite’s situation and Alma’s teachings to us in our day in this way:

“It is not surprising that some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes. They do not “feel so now.” They feel they are in a spiritual drought. Others are angry, hurt, or disillusioned. If these descriptions apply to you, it is important to evaluate why you cannot “feel so now.”

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” [4]

A Little Effort Each Day.

Courtseyof Echotech Glass

Courtesy of Echotech Glass

It doesn’t take me much time at all to spray down the glass after each time I shower, and those couple of extra minutes are time well spent. If I neglect to do so, I’m looking at a good chunk of time spent scrubbing in the future when the hard water spots have really built up.

So, it is with our testimonies. Things can build up quicker than we think and before too long we are in a place of complacency or even doubt. A little time spent on them each day will save us a whole lot of difficult time, and pain, trying to restore their brilliance in the future.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do in just a few quick minutes daily that will help keep your testimony from dulling:

  • Read your scriptures.
  • Say your prayers.
  • Read something from the Ensign or other Church magazines.
  • Repent.
  • Listen to a General Conference address (as you clean your shower 😊)
  • Share something gospel related on your social media site.
  • Read your patriarchal blessing.
  • Write a paragraph on a gospel principle.
  • Keep a journal of how you see the Lord’s hand in your life each day.
  • Fill your home with beautiful gospel music.

The possibilities are endless. You can probably come up with ten more lickety-split!

Foggy Testimony?

If your testimony has begun to fog over – if spiritual things aren’t as clear for you as they used to be, if negative feelings come up easily towards Church leaders, standards, or doctrines, and honest questions have become doubt – then more time and effort will be needed to restore your faith to it’s former brilliance. But it can be done. It has been done by others, many others. And, if you’re really willing to scrub too, you won’t be the exception. The road may be long. Repentance may be needed. But, the Lord promises those with “real intent” that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” [5]

The Nephites, us, and shower glass.

Just like my shower glass, if we do not take care of our testimony each day, things can get pretty cloudy pretty quickly. We are just as prone to the trappings of pride as the Nephites were, and perhaps even more so due to the luxury, abundance, and vast amount of worldly knowledge we enjoy in our day.  With daily care, though we won’t be totally streak free, our testimonies will remain strong and bright, and we won’t be easily deceived by the philosophies of men or societal pressures.

 

 

[1] Alma 4:3-5

[2] Alma 4:8-10

[3] Alma 5:26

[4] “Can Ye Feel So Now?”, Oct 2012 General Conference

[5] Moroni 10:4-5

 

 

 

Can You Turn on the Dark?

One of our responsibilities on our mission in Moscow, Russia was to teach an Institute class in English each week. As part of the lesson one evening I planned to share a video. When the time came I asked, “would one of you mind getting up and turning on the dark?” As you might imagine, a fun conversation ensued. Because I’m such a teaser I egged them on, and we went around and round about light verses dark, and which has power over the other.

Let’s talk about the dark

I’m not truly afraid of the dark. Are you?  But, being in the dark is uncomfortable – even in our own homes, a familiar place.  When it’s dark we feel uneasy, we bump into things that we know are there, but we now can’t see …they become obstacles to us. We have a difficult time in making things out.

In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear, reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there, and wonder if there are things lurking that might get us.

We are easily fooled in the dark, presented one thing but told it is something entirely different.  (Think of the haunted houses you went through as a child, where peeled grapes were presented as eyeballs and wet pasta as brains). 

How about doing a simple task in the dark, like coloring a picture? We can’t see the lines that are provided for us to stay inside of to make our picture lovely.  When the lights come up we have drawn all over the page, all out of the lines; something we would not normally do.  (Well, I can only speak for myself, I’ve not seen any of you color.)

What about doing a complicated task in the dark?  Anyone here want to undergo brain surgery while the hospital is in a total blackout?

Being in the dark causes distress, confusion, and problems. Thank you,Thomas Edison. Continue reading

That We May Always Remember Them, and Him

Russian cemetery

The small bus that served as both hearse and family transport vehicle slowed to a stop in the middle of the cemetery. My first observation was how lovely it was, in a wild unkept sort of way. We stood on the road as the small wooden casket was pulled from the bus floor and lowered onto a cart. We walked behind the caretakers as the cart was pushed away from the bus and into the plots.

As we walked we passed several small picnic type tables along the road. Chad and I wondered to each other what the purpose of those might be. Continue reading

The Joy Harvey is Bringing

I stank. Everyone around me stank too. In fact the whole area stank. But each of us, including sweet Paula and Juliette whose homes were destroyed by hurricane Harvey, were feeling the joy that being served and serving brings.

I’d like to share with you the experience I had this past weekend as my husband and I traveled down with 30 others from our Ward in the Dallas area down to south Texas to assist in the mucking out of homes, thousands of them, that have been damaged or destroyed by the terrible flooding that accompanied this storm. I don’t do so to draw attention to myself, but I want to share the beautiful experience it was. I also recognize that thousands of wonderful people— not of our faith and of no faith at all— have rallied to the aid of all those affected. I cannot speak to their experiences, but I can tell you how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are responding. And it’s beautiful for all involved. Continue reading

When Questions Arise ‘Will Ye Also Go Away’?

the 5000It was a large gathering. John calls it “a great multitude.” They had come to listen to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, hoping to see another miracle. They were not disappointed. Christ had the 5,000 sit on the grassy ground. He took five barley loaves and two small fishes offered by a lad, blessed and broke them, and the disciples distributed the baskets of food to the crowd. When all were filled, the remnants were gathered up, 12 baskets full. John records that those who witnessed the miracle then said, “this is of truth that prophet that should come into the world.” [1]

The next day the multitude followed after Him. When they confronted Him about why He had left, He answered that they were more concerned with the food that He had provided than His message. Then came the beautiful sermon on the symbolism of the manna from heaven to the Children of Israel.

 “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead…I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever…”

The crowd was mostly frustrated with this teaching. It was to be spiritually discerned, but they could not receive it. When they realized that their physical need, their bodily appetite, was not to be satisfied again, they lost interest.  John sadly records,

“from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”[2] Continue reading

Gramp Camp

One of the great blessings we received while serving in the Russia, Moscow mission was the wonderful association we had with other Senior Missionary Couples. When we got together our conversations were most times centered on our families at home, and especially our grandchildren. We were several years younger than the other couples serving with us, had fewer grands to brag about, and less experience grand-parenting to share, so we listened and learned. Many had special traditions they did with their ‘grands’, as groups or individually, they felt helped create a special bond between them. By the end of our mission we had formulated a plan of our own and GRAMP CAMP was born. It has been one of the best things we’ve ever done for our children, and theirs.

All hands on deck…

Sister Joy D. Jones
General Primary President

Sister Joy D. Jones, General Primary President, spoke about the type of group effort and support needed to raise “A Sin-Resistant Generation” ….

“Fortifying children to become sin-resistant is a task and a blessing for parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, and leaders. We each bear responsibility to help.”[1]

We agree with this, and work to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren. For those who live close by we attend some of their events, go on grandparents dates (usually to a movie), and get together at each other’s homes for eating, swimming, and playing games. Those who are distant get facetime chats, small packages in the mail, and occasional personal visits. I’m sure your grand-parenting looks very similar.

Our desire was to create time to do more in-depth relationship building and gospel teaching. Time where we could really build up their parents and support what was being taught them in their homes. For us, GRAMP CAMP fills that bill.  It’s a time for teaching, listening, talking, playing, and so much more – and it’s just us and them.

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An Unusual Reminder of Hope.

 

When I was a teenager there was a 7-Eleven convenience store seemingly on every corner. You couldn’t drive a couple of miles without passing one of their establishments beckoning you in for a Slurpee. They were everywhere. Back then I had no idea that each and every time I saw their green, orange and red sign there was a message there for me, a spiritual reminder hidden in plain sight.

 

Who Knew?!

Do you remember 7-Eleven’s slogan? If you’re my age you certainly do. It is often cited in the advertising industry as one of the most memorable slogans ever……

“Oh, Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!”

Who knew that there in the store’s name, signage, and slogan was a message of spiritual encouragement, an invitation to remember the marvelous atonement performed by our Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m sure the company has no idea what their advertising is helping me, and soon you, to remember.

Alma knew.

Nestled midway through the Book of Mormon, is the record of a once-rebellious young man – who after full repentance and a total conversion to the gospel of the foretold Savior of the World, Jesus Christ – was transformed into the mighty government and prophet leader Alma.

In chapter seven of Alma is recorded his teachings to the people of Gideon concerning the Saviors birth, His mission – culminating in the fulfillment of the atonement by His bearing the sins of the world and loosing the bands of death – and the promise that those who repent, are baptized, and keep the commandments of God will inherit eternal life. After his own life experience, Alma speaks with power, and I’m sure great gratitude of the miracle of the Savior’s gift of the Atonement.  Listen to his words:

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STANDing Up, But Not STANDing Alone!

“You’re one in million!” Who doesn’t like hearing that phrase spoken from a husband or friend? We all want to be special and recognized.  It’s lovely to feel that in a sea of others, we stand out to that person,  that we have risen above the crowd to them. That’s nice.

But I have some news for you…… if you STAND for:

  •         the divine role of womanhood
  •         traditional marriage between one man and one woman
  •         the traditional family unit as the basic and most fundamental unit of a civil society –    husband and wife lovingly raising their children together
  •         the sacred role, and wonderful responsibility given to women to mother their children
  •         the divine role of men as holders of the priesthood of God, husbands, and fathers

all as defined in The Family: A Proclamation To The World, and

  •        unashamedly sustain the Lord’s Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

you’re not one IN a million, but one OF many millions! In fact, one of approximately 6,000,000, worldwide!  The Relief Society  of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world.  One in six million doesn’t mean you’re not special, you are, but being one in six million means you’re not alone.  You are part of a powerful large voice for good, and right, and truth. Continue reading

“IF – THEN”… The Economy of Heaven’s Love

byui.twitter
We had always told our children that when they were in college we would pay for the expenses of their tuition and books if their grades reflected what we all knew was their best efforts. For each child, there was a differing expectation, but the formula was the same across the board – your grades at ‘this’ level = our continued financial support.

One of our children thoroughly enjoyed their first semester at BYU-I to the point of being invited not to return after the holidays for the next semester.  (Apparently, the school had their own formula too!) This child came to us fretting over their situation.  After they had a few serious phone conversations with the powers-that-be in Rexburg they were told they could return, but on an academic probation. The child came to us so happy and relieved for the opportunity extended for a second chance at the school.

Love = No Tuition

After congratulating them and encouraging their serious commitment to further studies we asked the question, “So, how are you going to be paying for this next semester’s expenses?”  We reminded them of our financial arrangement and their celebratory mood quickly ended.  If they were going to return to BYU-I, they were going to be paying for it.  It would have to come out of their savings and we left the decision of returning to school prior to their mission, or not, to them. Continue reading

I Marched Last Weekend, Too.

 

I did a lot of marching this past weekend, and I’ve heard many other women did, too.

 

 

It all began Saturday morning and my MARCH went like this:

  •  I MARCHED downstairs early that morning and went straight over to my husband bent down and interrupted his DIY Network viewing with a great big toe-curling kiss.  I rubbed my hands on his head as we smiled at each other.  I’m thankful that our love is still growing and that he wants to hurry home each night after work to be with me.
  • I MARCHED out the front door, with my husband beside me, for a lovely fast-paced three-mile walk. We talked about all sorts of things and enjoyed some good exercise.  I’m thankful for my body and try to do what I can to keep it healthy and strong.
  • Next, I MARCHED outside to do some yard work.  The rain we had during the week had stopped and the wind had dried things pretty well.  We trimmed our roses together and talked some more.  I love making our home a beautiful place inside and out.  I think it shows the Lord, and my husband, that I’m grateful for the things they have both provided for me.
  • After that, I MARCHED into the kitchen to make us a delicious fajita lunch.  I love cooking.  I especially love cooking for my husband and family.  I find joy by serving them that way.  I’m lucky he’s not a fussy eater
  • I cleaned up and  I MARCHED off to the movies with my boyfriend – who also happens to be my husband – where we sat hand in hand watching the show. We are very protective of our relationship. Date nights, or afternoons, have been a must for us.
  • Home again I MARCHED into the game room where we played several rounds of our family’s favorite card game Nertz with our youngest daughter. Her beautiful family of five are temporarily living with us before they move.  They’ve been with us for a couple of months now.  It’s wild, and crazy, and loud, but I’m happy we have the extra time with them and the ability to help. I’m even more glad they felt comfortable enough to ask us.

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