Author Archives: Chelsey Ortega

About Chelsey Ortega

Chelsey Ortega is a wife and mother of three: a boy and two girls. She grew up in the Provo/Orem area of Utah and still lives there. In 2015 she graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in History Teaching coupled with a certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages). Chelsey teaches English part time, and cares for her family full time. She loves reading, writing, dancing, and cooking; and is always looking for new books to read and new recipes to try. Chelsey writes about her family, faith, and other interests on her personal blog: mymilkchocolatefamily.blogspot.com.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the Key Defense Against Spiritual Decline

In April 2019 general conference, President Henry B. Eyring talked about the differences between a family being spiritually minded and having spiritual decline. Being spiritually minded simply requires faith in Jesus Christ and through that faith, we can feel the Holy Ghost guide us. Spiritual decline, on the other hand, comes in many different forms and branches us off onto all sorts of different paths. President Eyring used the example of the spiritual decline in the Book of Mormon 200 years after Christ visited those ancient people (see 4th Nephi):

  • Pride crept in.
  • The people stopped sharing what they had with each other.
  • They began to see themselves in classes above or below each other.
  • They began to diminish in their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • They began to hate.
  • They began to commit all kinds of sin.

Anyone can look at personal examples of spiritual decline and fit them into one of the above categories. President Eyring said that the underlying cause of spiritual decline is “Satan trying to lead good people down a path to sin and thus to lose the influence of the Holy Ghost.” No matter which category spiritual decline starts in, it all ends the same with losing the influence of the Holy Ghost. How can we prevent that from happening? How can we bring back spiritual mindedness if decline does happen? Continue reading

You Are Never Lost

During my recent reading of The Book of Mormon, a verse in 3rd Nephi touched me. Jesus tells the people of ancient America, “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.” (3 Nephi 17:4) (Emphasis added.)

In the past, this verse has been evidence to me that Christ visited more than the American people after his resurrection, and it still does bear that witness. However, the phrase “they are not lost unto the Father” took on broader meaning for me – broad in the sense that it applies to all of Heavenly Father’s children regardless of being in a literal tribe of Israel or not.

Heavenly Father always knows where you are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You are never lost to Him. Continue reading

The Book of Mormon, Not Just Another Book

Last year, President Russell M. Nelson invited the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the 2018 year. I accepted the invitation and finished it on December 30, 2018. I would like to share some thoughts with you.

First, this was a personal redemption for me.

When I was 15 years old, President Gordon B. Hinckley invited all of the members of the Church to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the 2005 year. President Hinckley issued the invitation in August 2005, so I had two more months the first time around; but I did not finish The Book of Mormon until April 2006. I was really disappointed in myself, and was determined to finish in the three months that President Nelson gave us.

When I was preparing for my most recent reading of The Book of Mormon, I found a 90-day schedule that had me reading 2-4 chapters a day. At first I was a little crestfallen. I could not imagine myself having time to read more than one chapter a day. How was I going to finish? The Spirit chastised me and reminded me that I read multiple chapters a day in my other books, I could do the same with The Book of Mormon. So I put my other reading aside, and focused on The Book of Mormon. Continue reading

Church Leaders Announce Changes for Youth Progression Schedule

On Friday morning, December 14, 2018, The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to when the youth progress into Young Women, Young Men, ordination to the Priesthood, and receive a limited-use temple recommend.

“We desire to strengthen our beloved children and youth through increased faith in Jesus Christ, deeper understanding of His gospel, and greater unity with His Church and its members. To that end, we are pleased to announce that in January 2019 children will complete Primary and begin attending Sunday School and Young Women or Aaronic Priesthood quorums as age-groups at the beginning of January in the year they turn 12. Likewise, young women will progress between Young Women classes and young men between Aaronic Priesthood quorums as age-groups at the beginning of January in the year they turn 14 and 16.

In addition, young men will be eligible for ordination to the appropriate priesthood office in January of the year they turn 12, 14, and 16. Young women and ordained young men will be eligible for limited-use temple recommends beginning in January of the year they turn 12. Ordination to a priesthood office for young men and obtaining a limited-use temple recommend for young women and young men will continue to be individual matters, based on worthiness, readiness, and personal circumstances. Ordinations and obtaining limited-use recommends will typically take place throughout January.”

The full letter, along with a FAQ can be read here.

Some questions to highlight: Continue reading

What Weapons Can You Bury?

In my personal Book of Mormon study I recently read the account of the sons of Mosiah teaching and converting the Lamanite kings Lamoni and his father, and a good number of their subjects. Chapters 23 and 24 in the book of Alma talk about these Lamanite converts choosing to put aside and bury their weapons of war – weapons that had harmed and killed Nephites who believed in Jesus Christ.  

Alma 23:7 “For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren.”

Alma 24:15-19:

15 Oh, how merciful is our God! And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hide them away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day, or at the day that we shall be brought to stand before him to be judged, that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby.


16 And now, my brethren, if our brethren seek to destroy us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved.

17 And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.

18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.

19 And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.

As I read these verses, I thought, “I don’t own any weapons like that, and I’m not physically  hurting anyone. But is there a ‘weapon’ that I need to bury to help me better follow Jesus Christ?” Immediately the answer came to me: unkind words.

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My Social Media Fast – I didn’t want it to end!

During the women’s session of the April 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, invited the women of the Church to do four things. The first was to take a 10-day social media fast. He said,

“I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. The affect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted – even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression.”

When President Nelson issued that challenge, I knew that the Lord had been preparing me for it. A week prior, I had felt inspired to uninstall the Facebook app from my phone and only view it on the computer.

President Oak’s talk also went well with this challenge. He issued a challenge of his own as he encouraged us to become less dependent on our cell phones. He shared that over half of the nation’s youth admit they spend too much time on their cell phones; more than 40% feel anxious when they are away from their cell phones. As we move forward and apply conference to our lives, it would serve our youth – and ourselves – well to help lower these numbers.

Without hesitation, when the women’s session was over; I turned off my twitter notifications (a couple of days later I uninstalled twitter from my phone). I did not even go on either Facebook or Twitter to say goodbye or announced my 10-day departure. I chose to “go dark” immediately.

I loved being off of social media for 10 days. I didn’t miss it. During the same session, I had received some personal revelation on how to better help my son with his reading homework. Without the constant temptation to check Facebook, I was able to spend the needed time implementing that revelation into my day. I also had time to figure out a reading schedule and begin President Nelson’s second invitation: to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. My free time that I would normally use to pull out my phone and scroll for a bit has now turned into Book of Mormon study, as well as other important things.

During my fast, we traveled out of state for a family function. I had a better time visiting my family because I wasn’t constantly posting about our travels with pictures and updates. I simply lived in the moment and enjoyed my family.

I will confess that I got on Facebook once, and Pinterest once. I needed to share something important in my family’s group page (I figured the male members of my family would see it and pass it on), with the request to contact me via text message, phone call, or email. Since I didn’t scroll through my news feed, I don’t feel bad for doing that. I also quickly searched Pinterest to find a Book of Mormon reading schedule that would work for me. I only get on Pinterest when I’m looking for something specific anyway. I don’t just sit and scroll, so I also don’t feel bad for those few minutes either.

When the 10 days were up, I really didn’t want to get back on Facebook; but I did want to touch base with my awesome fellow writers here at LDSWS. You know that first bite of dinner after a food fast? It’s so yummy, and you really enjoy that meal. That’s not how I felt when I got back on Facebook. The very first post on my news feed was negative. I quickly checked the things I wanted to: family page, ward page, and our wonderful LDSWS community. I did not miss the negativity. I have decided not to reinstall Facebook or Twitter on my phone. I will still only get on the computer, which fortunately gives me less time. I’ll hang out here at LDSWS, and keep up with important people in my life, but I’m going to stay away from scrolling the news feed as much as possible.

This fast was good for me. I’m glad I followed my personal inspiration the week before, and I’m glad I accepted President Nelson’s invitation. What about you? Did you accept the invitation? What was your experience like?

Enticements and Choices – Sister Joy D. Jones Speaks at BYU Education Week Devotional 2018

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the devotional speaker for BYU’s Education Week on Tuesday August 21, 2018.

She opened up her address by stating that we have choices to make between good and evil everyday. She said, “We always have the privilege to choose, but we can loose the ability to choose.” She explained that God will never take our agency away, but when we give into temptation, we give up our agency to the adversary.

Sister Jones used the word enticements to describe the opportunities we have every day to choose good or evil. She explained that we are enticed to either progress or regress, and it’s how we respond to each enticement that determines whether it is a positive or a negative experience. She said,

 “As we make a daily effort to overcome our enticements and put off the natural man we begin to experience greater control in our lives. The little things don’t bother us as much because we see them for what they really are — opportunities to use our agency to turn to our Heavenly Father and to become as He is.”

Sister Jones gave several real life examples of how to do this, I will summarize four of them.

The first was her own experience in receiving a speeding ticket. At the end of the encounter the officer told her to have a good day, but she did not want to have a good day. She had just been issued a speeding ticket and was very embarrassed. Sister Jones explained that we hand our emotions over to other people when we let their actions affect us. When she realized this, she regained control of her emotions, and did have a good day.

The second example was of a father in the supermarket who appeared to be telling his son to “be patient, just be patient and when we get to the car you can have a treat.” It turned out, the father was speaking to himself, not his son! As a mother of young children, I can relate. In the trenches of parenthood, keeping our cool with our children, can be difficult,  but it works when we do. When we don’t, how grateful I am that God’s littlest children so easily forgive their imperfect earthly parents.

The third example was a scenario of a teenage child coming home hours after curfew. Sister Jones had us imagine how angry and scared we would feel as we wait impatiently for our disobedient child to return home – essentially driving the Spirit away. She suggested that during that time of waiting to pray for the Spirit to be with us, so when our child walks through that door, we can have a positive discussion.

The fourth example I will summarize, is the story of Nephi when his brother’s tied him up while they were crossing the ocean to the promised land. Nephi continued to pray to the Lord, and did not lose hope.

“Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:16)

Sister Jones taught that any enticement to do wrong is a spiritual enticement to do right. She recommended that we begin to pray the minute we recognize that a negative enticement is happening.

Sister Jones finished with a powerful testimony,

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a theory. It is not a group of unproven assumptions. It is not conjecture nor speculation. It is not unlivable. It is based on the doctrines and principles of the Son of God. When we follow His teachings we are happy. When we do not, we reap sadness.” — “Simply put, the gospel of Jesus Christ works.”

I would like to add my testimony to Sister Jones’. Living the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought tremendous joy to my life. I do face daily enticements; some I overcome, others I give into. How grateful I am for the gospel of repentance when I do give in to the negative enticements. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will always be there to guide us  with the Holy Spirit. May we learn from Sister Jones to pay attention to the enticements we face and do our best to choose the positive response.

 

My Path for Self Reliance: Take a Class!

This Summer I took the Personal Finance class as part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s self-reliance program. In the My Path For Self-Reliance pamphlet, the purpose of these classes is explained:

“The aim of the self-reliance initiative is to help individuals help themselves become self-reliant. Self-reliance is more than having a good job, food storage, or money in the bank. Self-reliance is “the ability, commitment, and effort to provide for the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others,” and work is enthroned as a ruling principle in their lives (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 6.1.1).”

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Defending Religious Freedoms: Which are Most Important?

In the July issue of The Ensign Elder Lance B. Wickman wrote a phenomenal article about religious freedom titled, Religious Freedom in a Secular Age. This post is a summary and application to his message.

 

Elder Wickman proposed the concept that not all religious freedom is created equal, and that defenders of religious freedom should prioritize our different freedoms. He wrote,

“Defenders of religious freedom have to decide what is closer to the essential core of religious freedom and what is more peripheral. To do otherwise risks weakening our defense of what is essential. If everything that could even loosely be considered “religious” is treated as equally important, we lose the notion of what is truly essential and what is truly worth fighting for.”

So, what are the most important religious freedoms? Elder Wickman divided religious freedoms into four categories: Continue reading

Women’s Divinely Appointed Responsibilities in the Priesthood

The role that women play in anything that involves the priesthood can sometimes feel confusing. God allows priesthood authority to be used through His worthy sons; however, it benefits and blesses everyone. As women, do we stand by and wait for the blessings of the priesthood to come to us? Do we get to take part in this important work? We absolutely get to take part!

When talking about the restored priesthood keys, Elder Quentin L. Cook called them “divinely appointed responsibilities.” He said that the key of the gathering of Israel is missionary work, the key of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham is a preparation for the Kingdom of God, and the key of the sealing power is family history work and temple ordinances for the living and the dead. Elder Cook said,

“As individuals, we should do well to evaluate our effort in pursuing missionary work, temple and family history work, and preparations to meet God.”

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