Category Archives: Faith

The Happiness Lie Part 2: Enduring to the End

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.

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The Happiness Lie (Part 1)

“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.

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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

At The Pulpit: With Their Testimonies Intact

I had an opportunity to visit with Kate Holbrook and Jenny Reeder, the two editors of At the Pulpit. It was also my privilege to attend a formal reception in the Relief Society building where Virginia Pearce, Gladys Sitati, Elaine Jack, and Jutta Busche (whose talks are included in the book) spoke to us. There are 54 faithful voices in this new publication.

 

After reading the talks from this book, and listening to these women, a thought came to me that feels true:

 

Every one of us struggles with pain, disappointment, and suffering. But the purpose of life is how we get through it all. When we read how others succeeded–WITH THEIR TESTIMONIES INTACT–we march on, yearning to celebrate with them at the end of the path. Who knows that there isn’t a band of women beyond the veil offering help from heaven, inspiring these historians to find their stories, and offering us the strength they gained so that we too can be strengthened?

 

One of the questions I asked Jenny Reeder was what are some of the overall important messages of the book. She suggests four: Continue reading

Celebrating Relief Society’s 175 Years Renews Our Conviction

Relief Society

 

 

 

 

It’s true! Celebrating our Relief Society’s 175 years renews our conviction. We are all daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. As Julie B. Beck said, the Lord is counting on His daughters to

“… do our part as women under the Lord’s plan, we must stand strong and immovable in faith, strong and immovable in family, and strong and immovable in relief. We must excel in these three important areas which set us apart as the Lord’s disciples. Through Relief Society we practice being disciples of Christ. We learn what He would have us learn, we do what He would have us do, and we become what He would have us become. When we gather with this focus, the work of Relief Society is relevant whatever your circumstance—whether you are 18 or 88, single or married, have children or not, or whether you live in Bountiful, Utah, or Bangalore, India.” [1]

We are God’s Female Army. So,

   If

Russell M. Nelson really means that “the kingdom of God is not … complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them. [2]

And if

Sheri Dew really feels that by “unleash[ing] the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight.” [3]

And if

Jeffrey R. Holland really believes that “something is going to be asked of this dispensation that’s never been asked before.” [4]

Then

Relief Society sisters need to step it up. As Sister Dew put it eighteen years ago,

“This is a call to arms, it’s a call to action, a call to arise. A call to arm ourselves with power and with righteousness. A call to rely on the arm of the Lord rather than the arm of flesh. A call to ‘arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations’ (D&C 115:5). A call to live as women of God so that we and our families may return safely home.” [5]

Sisters, our power comes from priesthood power. Our early sisters understood it, lived it, and set the standard for it. Now, it’s our turn to understand how the priesthood works through us. Consider these suggestions made by President Linda K. Burton:

“Two sections have been especially revelatory to me. I recommend them to you for your careful and prayerful consideration. First, the oath and covenant of the priesthood, which can be found in D&C 84:33–40. I invite you to memorize those eight verses, sisters. By doing so, I promise you that the Holy Ghost will expand your priesthood understanding and inspire and uplift you in wonderful ways. 

Secondly, I would invite you to ponder Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46 [the doctrine of the priesthood]. Look for the principles in these verses that govern the righteous exercise of priesthood power. Look for warnings and promises from the Lord, and apply them to yourself.” [6]

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The Bolder You Stand, the Stronger You Become

Mormon Women Stand Kathryn Skaggs

Taking a stand for righteousness is like exercising a muscle. The bolder you stand the stronger, or more confident, you become. If you’re anything like me, I don’t necessarily like to exercise, but I like the way regular exercise makes me feel physically, mentally and emotionally. I think standing for the gospel of Jesus Christ is very much the same. When you take a bold stand, it requires not only courage but perhaps most important faith.

One very important principle of faith is how its power increases with persistence.

Three years ago, on March 10, 2014, I founded Mormon Women Stand. At that time, I had just experienced standing alone as an independent blogger, on a topic that ruffled more than a few feathers (or perhaps froze them) – not only among some members but what I wrote garnered global attention; and still does. To say the backlash, both publicly and personally, was tremendous would be putting it lightly. However, I knew that the stand I took was right. I knew that to shrink would be to let the adversary win. I knew that the Lord, more than ever, needed faithful women to speak what needed to be said in order to stand for truth and righteousness, regardless of the consequences.

What I learned most, however, is that if women of covenant are to stand BOLDLY on issues that support the teachings and counsel of modern prophets and apostles, we must stand TOGETHER! Continue reading

Guest Post: Becoming the Woman You Were Meant to Be

Long before we accepted our temporal existence, we knew the journey would not be easy and that we would be tried over and over again to prove our worthiness for Eternal Life. Every one of us knew what we would personally have to work through, and yet, we all accepted. Often times, it’s hard to grasp that concept as we face trials that seem overwhelmingly impossible to conquer while only being able to see the earthly perspective.

Finding hope seems unreachable, and joy is ever so distant. We are bombarded with anger, frustration, fear and sadness to name a few of the many emotions. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

As we know, trials come in a vast variety of experiences and are all different and personal. Luckily for us, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us and even though we feel we have been faced with the impossible. We know he would never expect us to deal with something we could not overcome. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and most importantly, he trusts us to follow his plan. Continue reading

Guest Post: Standing to Positively Influence the Rising Generation

I wish I could say I have some powerful, testimony-building experience of “standing,” but I don’t. I’m not an incredible wordsmith or talented debater like so many I know on social media who are able to eloquently and gracefully state facts and defend beliefs, but as I stopped to ask myself if and how I “stand,” I read something that President Russell M. Nelson stated in his 2015 General Conference address:

“Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.”

I stand when I defend my home against the adversary with regular Family Home Evening, regular temple attendance, dedicated Sabbath worship, daily prayer and scripture study, both personal and family. It is in these small and simple daily moments that I am trying to make important things happen, courageously defending morality and family, shepherding my little ones along the covenant path, striving to receive personal revelation, seeking to call down the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen my family, and trying to teach fearlessly. This is how I stand. Continue reading

Let’s Hear it for the Giants!

Mormon Women Stand is celebrating three years of standing strong for marriage, faith and family.  Today, I would like to take a little detour and give a shout out to all of the amazing men in our lives who do plenty of “standing” of their own.

President Nelson explained, “In the work of the Lord, we all learn one great lesson: Each of us stands tall on the shoulders of giants who preceded us.”  When good men work hard to become the giants on which the next generation will stand, they help support strong generations that can stand tall against the rising evil in this world.  It is usually by small as simple means that these giants and their powerful shoulders do this important work.

Over the years, I have seen my husband’s shoulders look gigantic when gently holding our tiny newborns, but they seemed to grow even stronger when holding his father as he took his last breath.  These same shoulders held his daughter tight as he whispered, “I love you, be good!” before she bravely left for a long 18 months.   And they were coated with mud when he worked long into the night rescuing everything from furniture to treasured family photos from neighborhood homes during the flood.  Year after year, my darling husband has kept his “shoulder to the wheel” as he meets his many, daily expectations.  He gladly takes upon himself the command to provide, preside and protect his family.  His family is blessed by his humble service. Continue reading

Guest Post: Not “Just a Mom”

“The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth.

As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality. We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord.”

– John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1941, p. 117

This quote by Elder Widtsoe is one of my favorites. He perfectly sums up the fact that in these Last Days there can be no fence-sitters. “We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord.” It is obvious that Satan’s influence is strikingly powerful in the world. Assuming we have the desire to take a stand, where do we even begin? It can be overwhelming. About four years ago I had an issue that I wanted to become involved in; however, I felt completely inadequate. I was just a mom with no important title and little college education. How could I possibly make a difference? A dear friend shared with me this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” With this reassurance, I decided to dive in.

The issue bothering me was education. I saw some trends that were concerning to me and I was able to join with like-minded people to try and make a difference in our area. Talk about being thrown out of my comfort zone! It was a whirlwind of new experiences, from community presentations to media interviews to legislative efforts. It was the first time in my life I had really taken a public stand on anything, and it turned out to be an incredible growing experience. I did things I never thought I could do, and I felt the direct influence of the Holy Ghost as I was able to write and say what was needed at times when my shy, introverted self would normally come up empty. Continue reading