Having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have believed in agency my whole life. While our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow, He has also given us the ability to choose to follow those commandments or not. For some reason, it never occurred to me that choosing to repent has always been a part of our agency. In the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us.” He then shared some verses from the Book of Mormon that explain how we have the ability to choose repentance.
“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ( 2 Nephi 2:5-6, 27)
Several years ago during a visiting teaching appointment, my companion said something that really changed how I pray. She said (paraphrasing), “I was taught that when we pray, we don’t have to fill the entire prayer up with talking. We should pause in between phrases so that we can feel the Holy Ghost and be guided on what to say next. We get more out of prayer, and we truly say what we need to say.”
I felt strongly impressed to follow that advice. As I started to pray that way, I noticed my attitude about prayer changed, my relationship with Heavenly Father strengthened, and my ability to receive personal revelation increased.
I’ve always known that prayer is important, and I believe in the power of prayer, but I really struggled to make my prayers personal. Once during a youth activity, we learned different examples of people in the scriptures praying all day to Heavenly Father (see Luke 6:12, Enos 1:4, Mosiah 21:14). I remember our leader telling us that we should be able to pray like that some day. She said that our relationship with Heavenly Father and our ability to pray should get to that point. I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to pray like that. I’m a failure at prayer.” For most of my life, I generally prayed using memorized and repeated phrases. I believed in prayer, I knew it was important, but I didn’t feel that I was “good” at praying. Continue reading →
A couple of years ago, the priesthood session of LDS general conference started being broadcast on BYUtv. Now, during each priesthood session I turn on the TV so my husband can watch it, and I get to listen as well. In order for my husband to fully pay attention, I tend to our home and kids by myself. (He hasn’t asked me to do this, I choose to because I want him to enjoy the session the way I enjoy the women’s session.) During the most recent Priesthood Session, Elder Jeffrey R Holland gave his talk, “Emissaries to the Church”. As he began talking, I immediately felt a strong impression to really listen and pay attention. Elder Holland spoke about home teaching, and much of what he said can be applied to visiting teaching as well.
Visiting teaching is a topic near and dear to my heart because I love it! I truly do. I love visiting with my sisters, I love my companion, and I love being visited by my visiting teachers. I wasn’t always that way, though. When I first turned 18, I rarely went and my companion always set up the appointments and gave the message. When I moved into a single’s ward, I never went visiting teaching. I always felt a little guilty because my home teachers came monthly without fail. When I got married and returned to a family ward setting, I tried to do better. My success, however, depended on my companions and their investment into visiting teaching.Continue reading →
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 Sunday Morning Session of General Conference (April 2016), Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson shared the story of a young mother who, while her son was being sent via Life Flight to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, she could see the Draper, Jordan River, Oquirrh Mountain, and Salt Lake City Temples all at once. As she was looking at those four Houses of the Lord the thought came to her, “Do you believe it or not?” This woman thought about all she had learned about temples, and knew that yes, she did believe it. At the end of the story, Sister Oscarson said, “This defining moment for Michele confirmed to her that what she had been taught all of her life was more than just words; it is true.”
That sentence caused me to ask myself, “What is your defining moment?” I immediately thought of a youth conference I attended when I was 16 years old. I got sick during the conference and missed almost an entire day of activities. We were camping, and the only access to medical help was a simple first-aid trailer. After taking care of everything physically, I was offered a priesthood blessing, which I accepted. That blessing went beyond a healing blessing and I heard some very special things. Continue reading →
My desire to live the gospel of Jesus Christ fluctuates drastically from overzealous, to moderately passive, to shutting down to nurture a bruised ego. How do I expect to live up to promises made, capture my divine nature, or simply comment in a class setting when often I find myself barely holding it together? The ultimate answer of truth is that Jesus Christ never leaves us alone to wallow for long. He knows. He understands. He has felt as we do. And He has promised to heal us completely. We can accept or reject this truth, but by the multiple testimonies I have heard, and the experiences I have had, I can share with you my testimony that I know we can continually walk down the path, perchance to fall, never to fall off, ultimately reaching the arms of our beloved Savior.
I’ve been taking college courses for eight years, trying to get my Bachelor of Arts degree. Because I didn’t take school seriously, back in my college-age days, I had to take some pretty tough courses. And because I’m just this side of old and feeble-minded, I take all my classes online, because I don’t feel comfortable sitting in a class full of young, bright students. And never being an A student, all I’ve been focusing on is passing my classes, check-marking them off my list, and getting through one class at a time, day-in-day-out, trudging along toward my goal of graduation. Continue reading →
As I sat in the congregation of the Conference Center, waiting for the women’s general session of General Conference to start, I was overwhelmed with the Spirit and with gratitude. My friend from Mormon Women Stand, Kathryn Skaggs, came from out of state to attend and offered tickets to me and my daughter. It was a wonderful time to finally meet her face to face and to bask in the counsel we were about to receive from Church leaders. I was amazed at how beautiful the pink flowers were and the pink and red lights illuminating the area behind the angelic choir. I was humbled as I watched scores of women and girls of all ages gather together for this historic meeting, in such a beautiful building. I knew in my heart we were all in for a magnificent feast and I was not disappointed.
The choir sang and I was overcome by the love that I felt for my beautiful daughter who I have known for her entire life, and also for my new friend, Kathryn, after having met her just moments earlier. As the choir sang, “I am a Child of God” and “Love One Another,” I could not keep the tears from falling. Surrounded by faithful and radiating women and girls, Daughters of the Most High God, I felt love for them. One by one, the speakers touched my spirit and even pricked my heart. I felt myself being gently called to repentance while simultaneously being inspired and lifted with new ideas and generous thoughts. I knew that the words I was hearing were inspired and I knew they were true. Each testimony, each video, each song, pierced my soul. Continue reading →
Sherem. Though it’s an uncommon name, we all know at least one, and probably several. We might work with a Sherem or two; maybe there are team moms or room mothers with a Sherem, and maybe some of you have a few living on your street. There are Sherems in your yoga class, your biology class, and in every social class. The television, movies, and social media are populated by Sherems. Your ward has got a few and when multiplied by the number of units in your stake, well the number of Sherems in those boundaries would surprise you. But most disheartening to realize is that we have Sherems, though called by other names, perched in the branches of our own family trees.
Not long ago my husband and I were reading in the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. Here the prophet Jacob, Nephi’s brother, records an experience he had with a Sherem in his life–literally. He wrote…. Continue reading →