It had not even been a month since I had completely uprooted my life and followed the direction of the Spirit to, in my opinion, a hopeless place. It seemed to me that my move could never yield the fruit that I desperately wanted. But I trusted Heavenly Father and luckily had long ago given up the idea that when something is right, it is not hard. I had faith in His ultimate plan for me, but struggled with His timing and, in this case, wisdom. It seemed that the righteous desires I wanted, and that He had told me through the Spirit I could have, were completely at odds with my new set of circumstances. I felt stuck, very stuck and I knew that something extraordinary would be required to change these circumstances. It reminded me of a poem quoted by President Monson:
“Father, where shall I work today?”
and my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; …
“Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galiliee.”
(Meade MacGuire, “Father, Where Shall I Work Today?”)
During a conversation with my sister, I “came to myself” and remembered a few things. I remembered that Heavenly Father had directed me to this “tiny spot”, and that I had readily agreed to co-create this spot with Him. For whatever reason, this was to be where I was to stay for a season. I realized that He had already provided inspiration for how it needed to be tended, and reserved the right to provide more inspiration and plot twists as needed (not as a way to be mean or string me along, but to continue to facilitate my growth). I was struggling to find the meaning of this experience. My sister also reminded me of the words of a past priesthood blessing. The counsel was simple and straightforward, “Go to the temple often and do the work of your ancestors.” Mercifully, Heavenly Father had already planned for this portion of my life and had greater blessings in store than I could have imagined. 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 →
50%? 75%? 90%? Just how obedient is obedient enough? Saul and some sheep will show us.
I taught the Old Testament twice during my seminary teaching. It was both intimidating and exciting. There are so many wonderful stories with so much application to our lives today in those ancient pages. One of my favorites is found in the book of First Samuel, and I’d like to remind you of it now.
Per the Lord’s instruction, the prophet Samuel has called Saul to be the first King of Israel. Scripture records that Saul was:
“…a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he:…” 
At one point the Lord gives King Saul a very clear command:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” [1 Samuel 15:3]
He departs with his forces to fulfill the task. The scriptures record what happens next this way: Continue reading →
Sacrifice is something we are all expected to do for Jesus Christ and His gospel. It is something that at times can be very simple, but at times can also be very hard. In my most recent study of the Book of Mormon, the story of King Lamoni’s father really stuck out to me. His willingness to sacrifice everything to know Christ is very inspirational; and in studying his story, he has become my newest Book of Mormon hero. The story of King Lamoni’s father also serves as a great contradiction to the story of the rich young man found in the New Testament. The contrast between these two stories serve as a great example of how much we should be willing to sacrifice when it comes to following Jesus Christ.
The rich young man’s story can be found in Mark 10:17-31. This man asked Jesus what he needed to do to gain eternal life. Jesus told him that he knew the commandments, then the man replied that he had observed those his whole life. Jesus’ response is the big test of faith: Continue reading →
Considerable and deliberate counsel from the Brethren on observance of the Sabbath day has been noticeable as of late. Elder Russel M. Nelson gave an inspired, and inspiring, address in April 2015’s General Conference entitled “The Sabbath Is a Delight.” During this past October General Conference, 2015, four of the speakers gave time to the topic. Also in October 2015, a special training was given to the General Authorities and general officers of the Church, then disseminated down to each local congregation, concerning Sabbath observance. The December 27, 2015 edition of the Church News had many articles devoted to the Sabbath. Our stake presidency announced that our stake’s theme for 2016 will be “Honoring the Sabbath Day”. Is this all coincidence, or is there something more to the call for us to be more mindful of how we spend this holy day? I’m guessing the latter.
One of Elder Nelson’s opening comments was this…
”I am intrigued by the words of Isaiah, who called the Sabbath “a delight.”  Yet I wonder, is the Sabbath really a delight for you and me?” [2}
It wasn’t that many years ago when I would probably have answered, though to myself, “Are you kidding? Have you tried to keep six little Indians busy and entertained on a Sunday? I have seriously considered bringing some duct tape to Sacrament meeting in my giant Church bag. I’m exhausted at the end of a Sunday.” (If no none else is nodding their head in agreement here then I feel very embarrassed and bad about myself right now.) There has got to be a reason, a real concrete reason, for the Lord encouraging us, though His chosen servants, to reconsider how we prepare for and spend our precious Sabbath day. And I believe I’ve found it, right here under our noses, in latter-day scripture. Continue reading →
Social Media is being inundated with some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) declaring their objection to the recent policy updates in the Church. Some have even gone as far as saying that they intend to walk away from their faith. This makes me wonder if they realize that these policy updates have come directly from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These prophets, seers and revelators are doing exactly what they have been commissioned by the Savior to do: prophesy, see and reveal. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. When something this collective is done on such serious issues, don’t believe for one second that they acted rashly, are misguided or decided this without careful consideration, prayer and fasting. Yet without much pause, some are already announcing their intentions to walk away from their faith, their beliefs, and their covenants — and with very public criticism of the Church via social media. In a twist, members are being asked to “mourn with those that mourn”, with perhaps the expectation or inference that we will also “murmur with those who murmur.”
Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.
I remember the first time I felt like I was in over my head. I had just graduated high school and the bishop of our congregation, or “ward,” had invited me in to his office during Church. As we chatted about my plans for college and other things, he asked if I would accept a “calling,” or in other words, a church assignment. I was expecting him to ask if I would be the ward chorister or something. But instead, he asked me if I would accept the assignment to be the teacher of a group of teenage girls, or “Young Women,” in our congregation.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a girl graduates from High School or turns 18, she stops attending the teenage girls’ classes, and attends the women’s class, the “Relief Society,” in the ward. I had been really looking forward to attending the women’s classes.
Here Am I, Don’t Send Me!
I was surprised, to say the least. Though I had already graduated, I was still seventeen, which meant that there could technically be a Young Woman in the group of girls who was older than I—the teacher—was. I felt very young and unprepared. I had never taught before. And to make things potentially even more strange, because I had just left the Young Women program, that meant that I was now expected to “teach” the peers and friends I had been in the program with for years! I felt very uncomfortable giving any kind of counsel in such a formal setting to girls that I loved to chat and hang out with. Would they think I was coming off as “holier than thou?” Would it change my friendships? Continue reading →
Many people have shared stories with me over the years of times when they prayed, and the answer was “no.” Some were devastated when Heavenly Father answered in the negative; others just wondered why the answer was what it was. I was reading a story in the August 2015 Ensign, “The Example of a Faithful Father,” by Judson H. Flower, Jr., and it reminded me of a time in my own life when the answer was no.
We want what God wants because what God wants for all of His Children is that we experience joy not only here in mortality but for eternity. Adam taught that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Might. Joy does not come through external demands, circumstances, or other individuals. Joy is a personal choice that must be claimed. Learning to trust God and turn our will over to His is the great test of this life – and trust me, it is a test – with joy as its great reward!
Consider some of the recent attacks against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – many emanate from individuals’ desires in opposition to the organizational structure and/or its teachings and doctrines. All are vulnerable to the natural man within, who tends to insist on having things his or her way, thinking we know what is best. President Ezra Taft Benson explained it best: “Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Apr. 1989 General Conference). Continue reading →