Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Guided By The Holy Ghost

Virtue #2

When we keep our covenants we are promised the blessing of the Gift of the Holy Ghost who can act as a guide and warning voice to us in our lives. The journaling part asks me to write an entry of a time I felt guided by the Holy Ghost. I have written that for another entry. I think for this one, I will write about a time I was specifically NOT guided.

I feel like I am fairly aware of my standing with the Lord on a daily basis. I am pretty good at sensing when I am close to Him and when I am further away. While this varies hour by hour to some degree, I don't stray too far from a general vicinity. I can feel it when I do something that offends the Spirit and it withdraws. I am so used to feeling the Spirit as my companion, even if only subtly in the background, that I am sensitive to it's withdrawl. It is a terrible feeling to me.

So I know that back in the summer of 2008 I was not too far from the Spirit to not hear Him warn me. I had felt His warning promptings about things in powerful ways not long before that fateful day in June. And yet THAT day - the day my daughter drowned. There was no warning voice. It wasn't that the Spirit withdrew from me. It was just a silence from the heavens.

I sometimes have dreams that later happen. I had a dream the night before that Camille drowned. But I totally forgot the dream that day. It didn't come into my consciousness until I saw her floating in the hot tub. In that moment the dream from the previous night came rushing back. The details were different but the drowning the same.

I guess I choose to share this because knowing that, while I wasn't living perfectly, I was close enough to Spirit to be warned, and feeling a total SILENCE and a blockage of my memory of dream until after I found Camille, well that helped me. It helped me to cope with the guilt because it helped me believe that this was all part of some greater plan I could not see.

I won't lie. There is still a lingering sense of ... I am not sure what to call it. It isn't exactly guilt and remorse isn't really the right word. All I know if that when I think of what I would say if I were to see Camille again the very first thing that comes to mind is "I'm so sorry." But not I'm sorry for what I did to you kind of sorry. It's the I'm sorry you had to go through that and that I wasn't there to save you or be with you or that I failed to sufficiently protect you. I'm sorry you didn't get to grow up and I didn't get to watch you grow up. I'm sorry we had to be seperated. I'm just ... sorry.

So knowing that I was worthy and NOT guided to do something that would have prevented that tragedy helps me cope. I hope always to live closely enough to the Holy Ghost to be warned and so I may know if I am unwarned about a trial, it must be one of those necessary for my development.

Comfort Others

Good Works #3

Some ways we can comfort others are to pray for them, reach out to them, express love, and listen. I have been on both ends of this. Perhaps the greatest comfort I have ever been given in a time of need has come in the form of prayers of others. When we pour our whole soul out to God on behalf of another, we are truly remembering Christ and taking His name on us. We are becoming like him.

And when others are praying like that for us, they feel a bit of what we feel and somehow that makes what we are feeling a little easier to bear. There is serious power in those kinds of prayers. I have felt them. Those are the kind of prayers that prompt the Lord's hand to manifest itself more plainly in the lives of those being prayed for. And nothing is more comforting than God's love and feeling His presence with you.

Life Plan

Individual Worth #4

Write a life plan - write your hopes and dreams for the future including education, home family, etc.

Ha! This is a very different task at 44 than it was at 14! But considering I still have about half of my life to live, it is still relevant.

Education: I really like school. I am not sure I will ever go to school again. I went to a lot of school. But I do like continuting to learn. I guess my goal then, it to keep learning. I want to further my spiritual and secular knowledge. I have been working a bit and that does help me learn. I also have taken on some new challenges in volunteer organizations that will help me keep learning. I guess I just want to be like my mom who always has pushed herself, and still does, to learn new things and do scary things becuase they help you grow. Never stop growing. That's the goal.

Family: My goal here is to do all in my power to ensure my children come unto and know Christ. There are lots of other things I would like from my family. I would love to have a kid who is a brilliant doctor or married to one. I would love grandchildren someday and good marriages for my kids and financial successes etc. But really those things are not MY goals. I have no control over those things. And in the end the only thing that REALLY matters to me is that they Come unto Christ. My goal as a mother is to point them to Him because I will not always be here but He will and He can help them through things I can not. And He is the only way we can return Home again. I can't control if they will turn to Him, but I can be a good arrow to point the way. That is my goal.

Things I want to accomplish in my life: I want to serve a mission with my spouse if possible. I want to be a productive contributing member of my ward and community be that through working or volunteering. I have a secret sometimes wish to write a historical proper romance novel. :) I want to raise all my children to be independent and self sufficient financially, spiritaully, and emotionally - but I still want them to love me enough to keep close. I'd like to be a fun Grandma someday that really knows her grandkids and makes them feel unconditionally and unreservedly loved. I want to become the kind of person that makes people feel loved as soon as they meet me.

That's it.

Building Others Up

Individual Worth #3

On Instagram and in person I did things to build others up. It was particualarly wonderful to reach out to lots of old friends and tell them things I love about them. I feel lots of great feelings about other people that I never get the opportunity to express. There just isn't enough time in the day. But it was nice to carve some out specifically for that purpose.

This has also helped me be a better mother. Often I can be like the monkey mom who is always picking at her kids to clean them up and make them better. That is part of mothering, but it should be a smaller part than the building them up part. And I find that building them has a better effect than pointing out weaknesses or flaws to improve.

Seeing my children and others in the favorable light of pointing out their great qualities reminds me to treat myself the same way and not get down on myself for my many flaws. Rather I can focus my energy into doing well at what I can. And when I fail, I can brush it off as a practice and try again.


Divine Nature #6 and #7

I have been praying each morning for help to be a peacemaker. It is crazy how something so simple really does help. It's like Moses holding up the brazen serpent. Sometimes we think a think is too small and it won't really help. But prayer is powerful - simple but powerful.

I am not going to say that I kept the peace for the last 2 weeks in our home. Let's be real. There have been arguments and yelling and some of that has included me. But praying for help to be a peacemaker and focused my energy more fully to that task. Combining that with the other attributes I have been praying to have for other personal progress experiences has exponentially helped me to be a better mom. Not a total makeover, just subtle improvements that I notice.

Our home feels more like heaven when it is filled with peace. Our Father is a God of Peace. I feel Him most in times when my soul feels peace. Or perhaps it is He that brings the Peace. I aspire to be like Him in that. To be a bringer of Peace.

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the Peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God"

When we are peacemakers we are showing our divine ancestry. Thus we are called the children of God because we are being like our Father, the King of Peace, and his Son, the Prince of Peace. It is in all of us to bring peace. Sometimes that is as simple as holding our tongue or changing the subject. There are very few things worth fighting over. Most of our daily greivances are not on that list.

The Sacrament

Dinne Nature #4

For the past couple of weeks I have been focusing on keeping my baptismal covenants and really pondering them during the sacrament on Sundays. I will admit that staying focused during the whole sacrament blessing and passing time is a struggle for me. There have been times when it has been easier to focus my mind completely. But those times have been polar for me. I find in times of great trial or great joy it is easier for me to wholey focus.

But I don't think the Lord expects us to live always in polar times. He knows we will live great periods of our lives in valleys in the middle. I think this is WHY we are asked to focus once a week on these covenants. This is a time of practice and training. It is okay if we aren't perfect at focusing. It is only important that we try and keep trying.

When we lose focus and our grocery list pops in our head or a family member says something to us etc. We must refocus again. We just keep working at it. And as we do so we will have moments, even if brief and mild, when we feel the depth of the covenants we are renewing and have a glimpse of understanding given to us of what and who exactly was sacrificed so that we could have hope in this life and Eternal life in the world to come.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sexual Purity

Virtue #1

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covenant with God that they will refrain from sexual relations outside of the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman. That is one of the Lord's commandments. I will not go into a deep public dive on this subject. I don't feel inclined to be very public about a subject that is so personal.

This much I will share. I know from personal experience that keeping this commandment allows me to feel closer to my Father in Heaven and have his Spirit more abundantly in my life. I feel accepted and nutured by Him. Not keeping this commandment, causes a withdrawl of the Spirit and a spiritual regression of such magnitude it takes significant time and repentence to return to the spiritual place you started from. It is not a good feeling to have the Spirit withdraw from you after living years of having it as your constant companion.

Procreative acts and powers are sacred and ought to be treated as such in our thoughts, words and deeds. Whatever my personal beliefs or desires may be, I choose to live the covenants I have made with the Lord to the best of my ability. I encourage others to do the same.

That being said, I hold no judgement of those who make choices different from mine. Each of us must struggle to do our best according to the knowledge and light we are given in this life. I will not be the judge of anyone else.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Holy Ghost

Choice and Accountablity #5

Throughout my life, I have countless times prayed for direction as I make decisions. Sometimes, I must move forward with the choice I have mentally worked out will be best. Other times, I have been given clear direction about which way I should go from the Lord via the Holy Ghost. Many times, I have felt a nudging or a gentle stillness that sat more fully with me in thinking on one course of action over another. And then there have been times when every action and option feels wrong. In those times, I have learned to wait.

Perhaps it will be best if I just share an example of being led by the Spirit in a decision being made.

A couple of years ago I was leading the children's organization for my congregation (ward.) We sponsered a cub scout pack and had joined with another ward several years earlier to increase the number of boys in the program and split the work between the wards. Over the years our wards had grown in size and there were lots of boys in the scout program. There were still a few age groups with only 2-4 boys from each ward but most had at least 4-5.

Basically, we could have run the program combined or seperate sucessfully. We had stayed joined for a number of factors that were all great reasons including how much we loved having the boys get to know the kids their age from other wards so that they would know each other when they went to middle and high school together.

But the schools made a change in their start and end times and it left our two wards wanting to hold the scout den meetings at different times. I felt pretty strongly that the time the other ward wanted to meet would not be great for the families in my ward. But I also really appreciated the benefits of being combined.

I talked to the president of the other ward's children's group at length. She also felt strongly about when they had decided to meet. I studied out all the factors in my mind. I prayed about it. I still hadn't come to a clear answer.

Then I met with my presidency (2 counselors and a secretary.) We discussed all I had been mulling over and the my discussions with the other president. As we talked through the issue, it was as if a golden thread of peace and direction wove into our discussion and led us all to feel pulled into separating the two wards into separate dens. This peace settled on us so profoundly that I had no hesiation in calling the other president and telling her we had finally received our answer.

There were benefits that came from that decision. There were also some things lost. But in the end I know that spliting was right.

Oh that all decisions had answers that became so clear...


Choice and Accountability #4

The times in my life that I have most desperately needed to repent, I have gone back to remembering that it isn't some complicated thing. Repentance is change. But, change is rarely ever an easy thing. It is hard if it is forces upon us when our spirit is unwilling and it is sometimes even harder when our spirit is willing but our flesh is so darn weak.

I find that to really change ourselves, we need something more than the idea and knowledge of what we should do or be. We need help. Sometimes, we can find a motivating factor like fear or guilt or love is enough. Maybe we love our parents enough to change to be more the person they raised us to be. Or maybe we are scared enough of getting in another accident to transform our driving habits. Maybe we have enough guilt over watching some dumb show that wastes our time to stop.

But, often we need something more. Often we need the Savior's help to change. Certainly to fundamentally change our nature, we need the Savior. He is the one who can change the metaphorical water that we are into wine fit for a king. I have felt His changing power work in me. I have felt it in BIG ways that fundamentally change me. More frequently, I have felt it in the purification of the Spirit and the filling of my soul with love for all mankind and a desire to be all that He would have me be and show His love for others everyday in every way.

If only that feeling could last my whole life time. But we do not live in that kind of world. In our world, things always change. And those pure moments of transcendence degrade once more into chaos and it is our job as humans to work to change once more.

We must keep showering. The clean feeling after a shower only lasts so long before change happens and we are dirty and stinky once more. And so, into the shower we must go once more. This life is a perpetual cycle of change.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Divine Qualities of a Daughter of God

Divine Nature #1

As part of my uplifting others goal, I sent messages to a bunch of people on instagram yesterday. In one I noted how I could see the best attributes of the person's parents combined beautifully in her. Today I was reading the assigned scriptures and listing the divine attributes mentioned of a daughter of God. Each of us has seeds of divinity with in us. However it is up to us to discover these spiritual gifts and develop them and strive to develop those which do not come as easily to us.

One attribute that was mentioned in pretty much every selection of scriptures was charity. Faith was another big one too. I particularly liked reading 2 Peter 1 verses 4-7: "...by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escapted the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."

I loved this because it was like a stepping stone path. We can add these divine qualities to our natures by diligence. And it seems all these culminate in charity. I think charity involves so many other divine attributes like faith and virtue and kindness and humility. It is my greatest desire to be the kind of person who exudes charity. Maybe if I work on these other attributes it will better help me get there.

I do feel I have a pretty charitable heart, but I don't think I am very good at letting it shine out of me. I am gonna try to work on that. Smiling more and letting the love I feel for people shine out. Perhaps that will help me further develop this most precious divine attribute.