When my girls were young, we would hike around a beautiful reservoir, surrounded by tall grass and towering pine trees. As we made our way around this man-made lake, we took notice of the many streams that fed into it. We walked among the wildflowers in the path of the stream and we spotted all of the deer and moose who grazed on the grassy marsh. It was glorious and inspiring, even to my youngest child.
Our hike always ended on the dam that contained the reservoir. On one side was the beautiful lake with the wildflowers, green grass, and animals surrounding it. On the other side, there was a small, trickle of water that escaped the man-made dam. The trickle wandered it’s way through a dry landscape of sage and yellow grass. It was at this viewpoint that my children and I would discuss the cause and effect of having our progression stopped…. or dammed. We pondered on what we do in our lives that would cause our progression to stop. The girls would then imagine the power that comes when our personal progression joins the personal progression of others…. in the same pattern of the many streams join forces to create this small lake.
As Children of God, we have endless abilities and potential. We become even more powerful when we join with others.
The Lord knew that His children would be at their greatest when they become of “one heart, and one mind”. But how does He teach us this pattern? In God’s infinite wisdom, He sent His children to this earth by way of the most fundamental unit… The Family!
A family grows much the same way that a large body of water is formed. It just takes one drop of rain to join with other drops to form streams, then multiple streams form rivers, rivers combine to create lakes, seas and oceans…. This pattern of combining forces will continue in this same manner throughout the eternities before us, just as they have in the eternities that preceded us.
This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. Part 1 talked about the path to true happiness and can be read here.
“Endure to the end” is a common phrase found in LDS terminology. The dictionary definition of endure means to suffer patiently or to remain in existence. So it’s common to view the term in a negative way. However, when applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to endure is a very positive thing. As briefly introduced in Part 1, endurance and happiness can be misconceived as opposites. I would like to use Part 2 to show how we can find happiness in the face of enduring to the end.
When I was younger I took swimming lessons at my local recreation center. During the final level of lessons, Level 7 (which took a few years to get to), I dreamed of getting on the swim team. I didn’t pass Level 7 the first time around, and my coach told my mom it was because I didn’t have enough endurance that passing required. I took Level 7 again, and passed the second time, but barely. The coach took pity on me and moved the brick from 12 feet to 6 feet so that I could succeed in diving to the bottom of the pool and bringing the brick to the surface – so I guess I didn’t really pass, the coach accommodated for me. The word endurance was brought up frequently that it was something that I didn’t have, so I didn’t attempt the swim team, and I hated the word endurance.
Luckily for people like me, it is spiritual endurance, not physical endurance, that God asks us to have. But why do we have to endure, or suffer patiently, if the gospel is supposed to bring us happiness? Because outside forces, such as temptations, trials, and the actions of others can affect our happiness. This is where enduring to the end comes in. All of the scriptures that talk about enduring to the end promise that those who endure to the end will be saved and receive eternal life. However, each scripture also couples enduring to the end with other aspects of living the gospel. This leads me to believe that in order to successfully endure the tribulations of the world, we must be living the gospel as fully as we can.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
“Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
I recently came across an opinion that believed that enduring to the end contradicts happiness. This opinion believed that one can’t be happy while enduring; therefore, one must choose, and happiness (the world’s definition of happiness) is the better choice. Sentiments like this one are quite common today. Happiness has been redefined to meet the world’s standards. And according to the world, happiness redefined trumps following the Lord’s commandments.
I’m sure that most of us have listened to or read phrases such as, “Doing (fill-in-a-choice-contrary-to-the-commandments) makes me happy, and God just wants me to be happy” or “God would rather see me happy than force me to (fill-in-a-commandment-that-they-are-avoiding).” Of course our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. The Plan of Salvation is also called The Plan of Happiness, and throughout the scriptures the message of the gospel is commonly referred to as “glad tidings.” But this idea that the world’s version of happiness is the kind of happiness that God intends for us is a lie perpetuated by Satan. Satan wants us to think that the temptations he is throwing at us will lead to true happiness. But that is not true. What leads us to true happiness can be found in the words of the scriptures and our modern day prophets, not in the philosophies of men.
One of the titles that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, carries is the Prince of Peace. It is through him that we find peace, and one of the ways that happens is when we forgive others. Instead of writing about forgiveness in general, I want to talk about a specific type of forgiveness; and that is forgiving those who have not and may never apologize.
One of the most basic teachings of forgiveness is that when someone hurts us, they apologize/repent, and we forgive them. And when we hurt someone, we hope that they will forgive us when we apologize and repent. But what about when someone hurts us, and they don’t apologize, do we still forgive them? The answer is yes.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)
There are several reasons why someone might not apologize to us: they might not know they hurt us, they might have moved on before we did, or they simply might not care. Whatever the situation, we forgive no matter what. In President James E. Faust’s iconic talk The Healing Power of Forgiveness, he said,
“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurt does not bring happiness.”
In 2011, I was given a Priesthood blessing that promised I would be able to stay home with my children, my only true desire. I held onto that promise. I was pregnant at the time of the blessing and Jared had started his own flight school in Spanish Fork, Utah. A few months later, Max, our second son was born in June. However, financially, we knew that winter time was coming and there was less opportunity to fly, therefore a decrease in income. An option was decided that I would work. In my heart, I still held to the promise of the priesthood blessing that I would be a stay at home mom, even though on the outside, it was going contrary. I applied for jobs and accepted a job as a certified Nurse’s aide, which I just had become certified as. I had a 3-month-old and a 3-year-old at the time.
On Oct 4th, I received a phone call that Jared had been in an accident and had passed away. Here I was, a 29 year old with 2 small children, ages 3 and 3 months, and with very little money. From the moment that Jared died, Christ was at my side for a while, giving me strength and support to face the things I needed to. But, over time, the shock wore off. I was left here on earth and my husband in heaven. My world was changed in an instant. The grief of his separation was intense. There were many times it was too unbearable that I would cry out to Christ and in and at that instant that I prayed, the deep pain and sorrow was taken from me. I felt nothing, no pain. Then the next day, the pain would slowly come back again and gradually become heavier and heavier until I couldn’t bear it and would plead again and the pain would be taken from me. Christ was literally carrying my pain. This happened for a long time, months. My pain was deep and heavy. I cannot imagine what the Savior suffered. Continue reading →
Have you ever boiled an egg in a paper cup by placing it in a campfire? If you have, you have probably marveled at how the water keeps the cup from becoming ashes. This phenomenon has been the source of study in the home of Michelle Boulter, a mom from St. George, Utah, and her boys this week. Michelle is always on the lookout for a fun science experiment and it didn’t take much convincing to encourage a household of boys to try to set things on fire. Flames were lit under latex balloons, paper cups and plastic sandwich bags all filled with water. All of these normally flammable items stayed perfectly intact when filled with water, but without water, they burned and melted in seconds.
The Boulter boys went on to study the science behind why the water was so protective, but it was their inspired mom who explained the spiritual connection of Living Water: “But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.” (D&C 63:23). Continue reading →
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 →
When I was a young Beehive, I spent hour after hour designing my own house plan on graph paper. I would not only sketch out room designs, bay windows, and how close the refrigerator would be to the oven, but my young, imaginative mind would live in that home. I could imagine how many children I had, how many music students I could teach, what room my family would meet in for Family Home Evening and how I was going to get the six bathrooms in my house plan cleaned on a regular basis. I imagined so thoroughly that I even had a variety of contingency plans just in case things changed.
Fast forward many years, and I have a house similar to the one I designed, (albeit a much smaller size), I have taught many music students, my bathrooms are cleaned on a semi-regular basis (just in case you were wondering), I even have five, really great children. Everything in my life has worked out pretty much like I had planned. Continue reading →
In the October 2014 General Women’s session of Conference, President Uchtdorf gave a talk titled “Living the Gospel Joyful”. He gave an analogy about blessings and umbrellas that everyone fell in love with:
“…we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked up in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.
“His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings.”
When I first heard those words I loved the message and imagery that came with that quote. At the time, however, I didn’t apply it to my life because I thought that my umbrella was already closed. I had faith in God, I followed His commandments, so of course I would notice any blessings that came my way. Almost two years after his talk, I learned that I needed to be more consistent in keeping my umbrella closed.Continue reading →