Sundays are hard for moms. I’m not sure what is more difficult, keeping up with all of our children and our Sabbath Day responsibilities or feeling guilty that we’re not finding the Lord’s day more of a delight. We know that mothers of all ages struggle to create a picture-perfect Sabbath Day, perhaps that is why President Henry B. Eyring gave the talk, “Gratitude on the Sabbath Day” (General Conference, October 2016). Maybe President Eyring knows that we have a lot of work to do, but the key to making the Sabbath a delight isn’t by creating our own perfection, but by being grateful for the Savior’s perfection.
The key to making the Sabbath a delight isn’t by creating our own perfection, but by being grateful for the Savior’s perfection.
Let me give you an example: Years ago, while walking the halls of the church house with an over-active one-year-old, my neighbor stopped and talked with me. She shared with me memories of her husband serving as bishop while her kids were young and how she wondered why she should even come to church when she spent most of her time in the hallways with wiggly children. She didn’t give me any great advice or even words of encouragement. She just gave me understanding and acceptance of my situation that she knew would be over all too soon as my children grow. My neighbor didn’t give me the solution for perfection, but her desire to be a part of my life and share my concerns is definitely something I was grateful for that day.Continue reading →
Have you ever had a really important question, or struggled with some piece of information? You are having a hard time finding an answer or coming to terms with that information, and the person(s) you reach out to say something to the effect of “Just have faith?” You know that’s the right answer, and of course you want to have faith; you want that desperately! But the answers to your questions or the need to receive clarity are so important that you struggle, and having faith – as important as it is – seems so far away and so difficult. I have felt those feelings before. If you haven’t had such an experience, let me create a scenario that will hopefully help you understand.
We’ll use a universal question: Is there life after death? As Latter-day Saints we know the answer is, yes. We have mountains of evidence to that yes: the accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon from those whom Christ visited after He was resurrected, the visions of the Spirit World and the three kingdoms that many prophets have had, and the dreams that thousands of individuals have had of their loved ones and ancestors visiting them are a few examples. But what if there appeared to be zero evidence that life after death existed? What if the only answer to that question was, “Just have faith?” Wouldn’t that be so hard to hear? That is an extremely important question. Our entire earthly lives and the decisions we make are based on the answer to that question. That’s what it feels like with other important questions when the only answer is “Just have faith.”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 →
The two words “questions” and “doubts” are often interchanged when discussing concerns, confusion, or misunderstandings with Church doctrine, history, and policy. However, there is a difference between having questions and having doubts. It is important to understand this difference so that we know how to handle questions or doubts when we come across them in our personal lives. An article in the March 2015 issue of the Ensign by Adam Kotter, “When Doubts and Questions Arise” discusses this exact issue.
Brother Kotter defined questions and doubts as the following:
“A sincere questioner continues to be obedient while searching for answers. By contrast, I have seen that when people doubt their beliefs they often suspend their commitment to commandments and covenants while waiting for answers.”
Essentially, the difference between questions and doubts is how we respond to them. When we stay active in our callings, Church attendance, scripture study, and prayer, our questions are simply that: questions. When we stop doing those things, our questions can very quickly become doubts. That doesn’t mean that we should never ask questions, we just need to go about the right way in searching for answers. Brother Kotter regularly uses the terms “sincere questioner” and “sincere questions.” Meaning that when we ask a question, we are searching for God’s true answer, and when we find that answer we should be willing to accept it. He warns us of “talking yourself into the answers you want to believe rather than receiving true answers from God.” Continue reading →
Every one of us experiences trials and pain in this life. Sometimes, it is easy to lose ourselves in our own difficulties and begin to think that we can do nothing to change things or to make things better. Prayer may begin to feel dry and even pointless. We may begin to feel bitter or abandoned by the Lord.
Not too long ago, I was asked a sincere question that went something like this:
“If it’s God’s will, why do we pray for things? Wouldn’t it show more faith to just leave it in His hands and not try to change His will, through prayer?”
My answer came from thoughts that I had been putting together over about a ten-year span.
Prayer is powerful. It has the power to heal, and it has the power to get us through when healing is not an option. We cannot become who we were meant to become without prayer.
We worship God as the supreme act of faith in Jesus Christ. The commandment to do so, I believe, is equal to the first principle of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ; the Giver of all commandments. To worship God is to have faith in His Plan made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ; acknowledging our complete dependence and gratitude for both in order to overcome the world and receive the crowning blessing of Exaltation.
It is only by the grace of God, made possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that we are able to repent of sin, overcome personal weakness and eventually become perfected. Grace is a power beyond that of the natural man. Grace enables us to accomplish that which we, left to ourselves, could never do.
Without grace, there would be no hope.
With this understanding then, how important is our faith in relation to obtaining grace? I believe it’s everything; it is the foundation upon which we are enabled to act according to God’s laws of progression. Continue reading →
How many times have I read, or heard, or seen portrayed the account of the nativity, including Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child, as recorded in the New Testament? I couldn’t even begin to count the number. And neither probably could you. It’s a tradition at this time of year to tell the story in our home and I’m guessing in yours too. We like to act it out.
Of course, the coveted role is that of Mary. Each of our daughters, and now granddaughters, hope to pull her name out of the bowl. All eyes are on her as she slowly walks into ‘Bethlehem’. Joseph is always so attentive. Everyone wants to help her when the innkeeper turns them away. She so gently and politely shares her newborn with the many shepherds and their flocks, that come to adore him, as directed by the angel, and welcomes so kindly the wiseman that arrive with gifts of great worth. Reverence and honor for that righteous young woman who gave herself to the Lord and her part in His plan, is felt by all there. And rightfully so. Continue reading →
When the Savior was resurrected all of His apostles saw Him except Thomas. Thomas was an apostle who witnessed many of the Lord’s mighty miracles and doctrine rich lessons. Thomas was a faithful follower of Christ. He truly believed in Christ. However, when it came time to believe in something that went against anything Thomas physically, socially, and spiritually knew—the actual resurrection of Christ—he doubted. Christ had taught of His resurrection, but as John 20: 9 says “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” This was a doctrine that was very hard to comprehend. He had seen many mighty miracles, including the raising of the dead, but this concept was deeper and far beyond his scope of understanding. So, when the 10 apostles, who had witnessed the resurrected Lord came to Thomas and testified of its truthfulness– Thomas doubted. Thomas knew these men had been called by the Savior. He had witnessed their divine appointment; after all, he was one of them. But he still doubted. Eight days later the Savior, the ultimate source, appeared to His apostles once again—this time Thomas was present. Continue reading →
The record left by the Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, is truly revelatory when compared to our day – and in particular, to what is going on within the Church, as we speak. In seven chapters, Jacob’s ability to know what to record, which would be of greatest worth to covenant members of the Church now, is simply stunning!
Jacob’s final chapter is the result of the people rejecting the message he boldly recorded at the beginning of his writings. “And it came to pass…” that the anti-Christ, Sherem (our first in the Book of Mormon), enters onto the scene and we learn of the many sophistries he enlisted to undermine a prophet of God – one with, literally, “unshakable faith.”
And “thus we see,” in only seven chapters the effects of sin on those who reject a prophet of God and exactly how to stand, ourselves, with “unshakable faith” against the constant barrage of challenges to our faith – thus our standing before God. Continue reading →