Living Gratefully

photo of couple holding umbrella while kissing

Do you remember when your parents wanted to teach you an important lesson?

One time my dad sat me down and said, “Danielle, always remember if it seems to be good to be true it is!”

Now this advice has proven to be very helpful and quite wise.

What if I told you I had the secret to unlock a fuller happier healthier life. Brimming with  love, peace and joy! What if I could promise you results in just 21 days!

How much would it be worth? What would you be willing to pay? What would you be willing to do?

How many of you think I am lying?… sounds too good to be true?

Well let me pull out my magic wand… you do have to invest in this wand… but its affo affordable…

Search for it….*( Pull out pencil.)

 This tool is the first step into a better life. You might need a little paper too…

Did you know  daily recording life’s grateful moments can improve physical, mental social and emotional health.

I truly believe that I am here… (not just speaking to you) but here on earth living, learning and growing and trying to find true joy every day! And yet, often I find myself miserable, lonely, crying… with nothing to be grateful for.

But if we consider gratitude as only a list of things I receive I can miss the all important part of cultivating gratitude in all my circumstances.

An ecclesiastical leader, Dieter Uchtdorf said, “If we could set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of  gratitude.” he promises “a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”(April, 2014)

 

Do I believe that promise? Is there gratitude in abuse? Is there gratitude in divorce? Is there gratitude in suicide?  Do I really believe that I can push away a bottle whose bitter taste would destroy me and faithfully lift a goblet of gratitude.

It’s important to note, Uchtdorf states “Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances.” Or do not take efforts to change them… but we admit,  I will steal a line from Sarah McLaughlin  in our ” sweet sadness a glorious madness, that brings me to my knees”  In this place… a quiet reflective meditative state I can find joy.

Sometimes when life’s bitter ironies happen to us, we think gratitude can’t exist. This is exactly what happened to me. When I was old enough to process events in my life, I was bitter. I couldn’t believe in a loving Father so absent in my suffering. So one day as a young girl I thought the only option I had left was to end my own life. Before I acted on it,  I knelt down and I asked God, “Can you love me? are you there?” That prayer was answered. I felt the purest love encompass me and I knew I would have the strength to get the healing I needed. It was not a one time healing. This just opened the gate to becoming restored.

  When we are invited to “ see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation, we may discover joy in the journey. We reflect on Uchdorf’s  question : “How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before being thankful for the rain?” So maybe when our lives feel dark and dreary, when mortality weighs us down, we can remember to give thanks… thanks that this moment won’t last forever. Thanks because our life isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows.  Thanks because we walked in the rain we will understand the beauty of an umbrella… and we can take our fellow sufferers and invite them under, teaching  them how rainbows only come at the end of a storm… reminding them there is hope.

The experiences we hate the most our often the ones that bind us together… that make us look at each other with more sympathy, love, and reach out and assist one another.  That add an element of compassion, perspective and beauty to enrich our lives as we assist others. 

So Toastmasters and guests, in  the next twenty one days, my challenge is to invite you daily to record moments of thankfulness.  Dr Robert Emmons decade of research suggests we will have greater creativity, stronger immune systems, increased resilience and happier fuller lives. That we may live in a spirit of thanksgiving.  I invite you to “lift the goblet of gratitude and “find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.” (Uchtdorf, April, 2014)

But if you don’t think this one small tool can change your life ( hold up the pencil) … and that this offer is just too good to be true… I invite you to try anyways…. I invite you to take 15 minutes for 21 days…That is 5 hours and 25 minutes in the next three weeks. Record your gratitude… just like it takes effort to strengthen and form physical muscles the same is true with cultivating an attitude of gratitude. I promise you that things will change… This offer seems too good to be true… well it is true.

Thoughts and feelings in this speech were prompted by a speech given by President Deider F Uchtdorf in General Conference 2014. For the full article copy and paste the link into your browser. 

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/05/sunday-morning-session/grateful-in-any-circumstances?lang=eng

Photo by Jennifer Murray on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Living Gratefully

My Tale to Tell

 

cinderella

This is me after my speech competition at the mall… doing retail therapy! No, it was a “courageous journey paved with a path of determination and grit”! I was incredibly vulnerable… out of my comfort zone… but I think I taught my girls about dedication and hard work!

My speech wont read as well.. but I want to post it… I have so much blood, sweat, and tears… lots of inspiration built into this speech… its a big parable for the truth of my life…

Sharing Cinders to Slippers and  Transform Someones Ever After… Danielle Low

(This part is done without a voice) “Honestly share your Cinderella story”

You heard right there was no sound… What happens when no one hears you?

I am learning the power and joy of becoming the author, editor,  and publisher of my life.

Contest Chair, Toastmasters, and fellow publishers.

Who is writing your story?

As children my sister, Jen, and I joined a crowd watching a magician … he walked NEAR us and said… “Now little boy… blow on my hand,”.. When he repeated the command to my horror Jen and I  realized he thought I was a boy. …I froze.. my sister blurted… “She’s a girl… Embarrassed the magician asked my name. I refused to speak… Rescuing both of us Jen explained…”I talk for her.”

I am a middle child.  (Then I pause….See? no one cares!) Born between two loud personalities, someone else was always telling my story.

I’ve been told when my mom asked what I wanted to become I replied Cinderella. (twirl)

My baby brother wanted to be a crane, not the bird the machine. He grew up to be a lawyer… Lawyer (hold up one hand)…. Cinderella (float one hand up) … I let you decide who made the right choice. Or we are all nuts… 

How do you write a fairytale?

Bibbidi bobbidi boo (walk over to the pumpkin and pull out your gold book) … if it were that easy we would have more authors

Which part of your life deserves a voice?

In my youth, I came across my dad’s teenage journal. I had just scratched the surface when I heard his footsteps. (drop the book) As he entered the room,   He grabbed his journal and bellowed, Did you read this? Based on his tone I knew to lie. So I did. I never did read it again. I wish he would have shared. 

Become a life author. Not to be world famous but to be famous in your world.  Use your narrative to benefit your entourage. Reveal the sparkly carriages while honoring humble pumpkin beginnings.

Share Gratefully, Share Fearlessly,  Simply Share!!!

Leaving 711, my daughter exclaimed, “Was that man famous? The cashier asked for his autograph! The cashier asked him to sign his visa receipt. She saw the magic in the mundane.

SHARE GRATEFULLY

Writing life’s magic moments can completely change future chapters! Recordings life’s events with gratitude does not mean we pretend but admit, life’s harshest flames are the necessary conditions to turn SAND to glass. And enduring extreme fiery trials molds Glass into custom slippers!

It won’t be a bibbidi bobbidi boo transformation but it will carry you past midnight.Your story will transform someone’s pumpkin into a golden coach moving them to better destinations.

Often like Cinderella, we are afraid to reveal our true selves. Never stopping long enough to reflect why we run from our dreams.

My dreams were motherhood and marriage… (not in that order) but I found my prince and my children (in that order) So where was my happily ever after?(shrug shoulders)  I began to edit, but not always honestly. Living one story and publishing another slowly erodes your soul!

Hide nothing! The beauty in any Cinderella story is not the triumphant ending but a courageous journey on a path paved with determination and grit. (It sounds so magicialy… )

Now I will Reveal the thrilling fairytale moments when I finally held my healthy newborn baby.

But I wont leave out when the slipper shattered. As I held my baby my mom had stage 3 ovarian cancer.

At that moment I just wanted to be held in her arms

 

SHARE FEARLESSLY

There are moments when we think we are perfectly dressed only to have our outer layers ripped to shreds… these moments that bring us to our knees sobbing.Publish these chapters too. Let your story be the fairy Godmother inspiring people to wipe their tears,  get ready for the ball. AND remind them EXTREME HEAT is essential to acquire custom

Remind them EXTREME HEAT is essential to acquire custom glass slippers…That is the real prize!. The prince and the children have a lot to say… Shoes… never talk back…or leave socks on the floor.. I’m still wearing the same size I did in high school!!!  It’s a dream come true!!!

In my book of life, I tried to rip out pages, and when they wouldn’t tear I glued them and pretended they didn’t exist.  Until I got to a dark place where I no longer wanted to exist. I falsely believed that if anyone read those pages their love wouldn’t exist. The first time I shared this story was around a campfire. My youth leader told me she had the same chapter in her book. I instantly felt a connection.

No one escapes suffering. We all have Cinderella stories.

If we honestly share all the pages we can comfort and even heal each other.

Who is writing your story?

Toastmasters. Authors, and Editors with new pathways before us … pick a path and  to publish your life

Have courage…..share the original script. O what dreams will come true!

 

(Say the first two words … and then let your voice trail off… Share your Cinderella … eyes become big… because you have no voice… and put your hand over your mouth and gasp!!! Back up)

SHARE YOUR STORY!!! (point to the contest chair)

Well, my speech competition journey is finished. I will not be moving to the next level… but I got hired as a teacher and a new chapter begins…

My Tale to Tell

Gratitude For Opportunities

Lately, I have been trying to write a speech for a competition that I entered. It has been a grueling but beautiful experience.

I am grateful to a loving God who blessed me with marvelous words, phrases, and ideas – but not too easily. I had to ask, plead, beg, cry, fast, pray, meditate, work, work and work, ask others for help, stop relying on others for help, make a plan and follow it, make a plan to do my speech but fulfill other roles, attend the temple with with what to say, revise, humbly take revision, acknowledge when others know better, have the courage to graciously decline a suggestion. Buy and write thank you cards to all who assisted, Thank God for the mind, the breath, the body, and the story that He gave me to share!!! Not forgetting the knowledge of seeing my life as the vehicle to share this message in a way that others could relate.

Gratitude To Family

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include my dreams of Motherhood and Marriage (not in that order) … my prince, sometimes who acts like my son… but that makes me his Queen! He too sacrificed, supported and contributed. He cleaned toilets, cooked and cleaned, entertained our daughters and has endured hearing this speech more times than any one person should!

My daughters, who I think were more motivated by money, without your help this speech may not be memorized. Claire I think had it memorized before I did and Lucy who can imitate and overexaggerate… my overexaggerated performance…!! It has been an adventure!

I thank,  Ralph C. Smedley, who in 1924 had an idea to start a club… He called it toastmasters. Thankful to him and his organzation which endured. For helping me find my voice and have a story to share… This Saturday in Calgary I will have the opportunity to share my speech! Any of your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, are appreciated! I will post the speech next Sunday! Wish me the best!

Gratitude For Opportunities

Remember Lot’s Wife

Image result for lots wifeIn our house, I offer a dollar for every scripture that my children memorize. Of course, they have found John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” But an equally short scripture and one that they have not found is the little gem found in the seventeenth chapter of Luke verse 32, where Jesus cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.” What did the Savior mean in this intricate phrase?

It helps to take a minute to remember who is Lot and who was his wife?

If we go back to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord was unpleased with His children who acted wickedly. Lot was told to take his family and leave the city because it would be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord cautioned, “look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17).

Elder Holland states, “With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town, but just in the nick of time. The scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak the morning following their escape:

The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities. [Genesis 19:24–25]

Surely, surely, with the Lord’s counsel “look not behind thee” ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back,” and she was turned into a pillar of salt.”

Although there are many gospel lessons that could be taken from this story. I love the ideas and insights from Elder Holland about looking back instead of ahead.

I have fallen in love with yoga. The first time I took it a lady at the church offered free classes. I remember her saying, “There is no competition.” Well maybe this moment, I granted her…but in the real world… everything is… But as I kept coming back, I realized no competition is a perception. A thought that I believed and wasn’t real. It was my reality. There was no happiness and joy in that reality and so I changed it. I had to repeat the mantra many times… but now I believe it. Changing this idea makes me a better mother, friend, creator, and daughter.

Another truth I learned in Yoga was, Be Present. Do not regret what is gone… do not worry what will come… live right now. Be in this moment. In this moment you are enough and live gratefully now. Thanking yourself, your body and your God for this precious moment. I realized how much I lived in my past and future.

One purpose of recording history is to learn. George Santayana…is best known for saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Reason in Common Sense, vol. 1 of The Life of Reason [1905–1906]).

Every Remembrance Day we have a decreased number of vets present. This year as we made our way to the cenotaph my daughter was complaining. “Why do we have to go to this thing?” I stopped her mid walking and I said, “I am sorry that you have to take 40 minutes out of your day to remember those who gave up their lives for your freedom to attend.” I said it harsher than I meant… and I apologized.  Lest We Forget… never rang truer. We remember the past to not make the same mistakes. But we live now and hope for great futures. When past lessons are learned and applied to new living our potential for joy can only increase.

With Lot’s wife and with myself it isn’t just looking back that is the problem. It is the false idea of thinking the past holds anything better than living now or the future can bring.

Elder Holland states, “So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.”

Are you ever tempted to think your best moments are gone. Your real beauty was years ago? The joy that was found years ago will never be matched. Don’t limit God. If you know that He has asked you to leave… whatever place, situation, or idea trust that He wants you to have a fulness of joy. It might mean making changes… but don’t look back… trust that the best is yet to be!

This is a link to Jeffery R Holland ‘s talk that I quoted and based many of my thoughts on for this article.

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland_cast-not-away-therefore-your-confidence/

 

 

Remember Lot’s Wife

Shoes…

There are songs and stories featuring shoes. We’ve got to wear them… most times… so why not make them fabulous.

As a child I loved Cinderella and would have died to have glass slippers,.. but I didn’t realize the cost: stepmothers! endless chores! and revealing your true self to the one you love!!! I’d be happy with a ruby slipper, killing a witch seems more bearable than the other options … there is no place like home.

You know the adage… when life gives you lemons… Well, we will expand it… when God me ugly feet… I bought cute shoes…

I know NOW that my body is a temple.. and God doesn’t mess up in its construction…. but as a child… struggling with worth… I hated my feet. To remove my shoes… was torture… they were stinky… and gross and I hated them…

Helen Keller added perspective:

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”

Sometimes our problems need perspective. Besides, thinking you have gross feet—–is really a paradigm shift. There are always shoes, pedicures…. and different perspective.

Focusing on what my feet can do helps me realize their beauty. The Lord has always blessed me with not only feet, but ones that walk, run, and DANCE!!! When you realize all the things they do… it makes me start seeing the beauty!

My grandma used to sing a song to me that I hated…

Danielle- aaa Danielle-aaaa How your Feet Smella!!!

As I child I did not appreciate this song… especially because it was true!!! If the shoes weren’t leather, even if they were, I knew they were gonna be a stink bomb in about three days. But foot powder was a life saver.

These thoughts come from a discussion we had at a 17 of March party where they asked me to speak to the sisters about , “Walking a Mile in Her Shoes!”

We played name that tune: first song: Sand in my Shoes…. the Drifters  (even though this song sounds a lot like under the boardwalk… some even said… if you are under the boardwalk its guaranteed sand in your shoes!

When I asked what sand in your shoes meant, most conjured up memories of walking on beaches and hot sunny days.

So I stirred it up a little… apart from the beach have you ever tried walking with sand in your shoes? Or have tried walking with a tiny rock …. A small thing can make a hike very unpleasant… the solution is to remove it… Identify it… and take it out.

EASY!!! But when it comes to spiritual rocks in my spiritual shoes… I don’t always know they are there. Coveting is so tricky… it’s easier to see when you covet something physical like shoes… (then I said… I have never really conveted shoes…. but I stopped and I said… although looking around this room (because the room was displayed with numerous, fantastic original shoes )  I think I will start! But for me, coveting was more in the form ideas and relationships. Believing somewhere, someone was living the life that I wanted… that sand is harder to identify… because for a long time I wouldn’t have even known it was there. The easiest way for me to identify is the negative things I think or say about others is my first clue… It’s like a big magnifying glass on the sand in my shoes. The other way… if I am not truly joyful… each day… I need to stop and be still… pray… and express to my loving Father in Heaven… my true thoughts… sometimes he shows me I need to change something, sometimes its go serve someone else.. sometimes its but look at what I have given you… sometimes He just listens and says… Yeah that is hard… but I am the Potter and I am molding you to how I need you to be. Here is peace and comfort.

 

I didn’t use this video… but it works at this part… As a seven-year-old boy living in the Arabian Peninsula, he was consistently told by my parents to always wear my shoes. And I understood why. I knew that shoes would protect my feet against the many threats to be found in the desert such as snakes, scorpions, and thorns.

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-08-004-the-sting-of-the-scorpion?lang=eng

 

The second song was Adam Ants  “Goodie two Shoes”  This was for my 80 chicks!!!! Only the eighties chicks new this song…

So I held up a sparkly high heel and said… this is a beautiful shoe. But if I asked you to run a marathon it might not be the one you pick. A held up an ugly croc and said… this might not be the one I would choose to wear to church… But last year my cousin broke her ankle. She’s a fashion diva! But the one shoe that was a Godsend… was the crock. We giggled as she would say… I can’t believe how much I love these crocs!

Love your shoes.. whether its… season for heels, runners, work boots, orthotics, ski boots or gumboots… decorate them… celebrate them… Just because its croc season…. doesn’t mean they cant be bedazzled…

But let’s not judge… if its party shoes for you… don’t judge the Moses’ of the world for being in bare feet…. We don’t know what season it is for everyone.  Trust that they know how to select footwear appropriate for the season. Every shoe can fit… but a task always works better when you have the appropriate footwear.

Walk a mile in her shoes…sometimes we’d rather not…

3. Shoes… Shania Twain

I only had the karaoke version… Unfortunately, without the words… this song sounds like every country song… But we had a good laugh at it!!!

I told the sisters that this year in September I felt like I was on the path the Lord wanted me to be. I felt like I should return to teaching. Not in June when there was a plethora of jobs… but in September when the competition was tight.

After failing my first interview on the solar eclipse day… I wasn’t too sad because I bought these shoes. I presented a beautiful pair of faux fur lined boots with blue pleather and roses all over… They are adorable.

After the second interview failure… I rewarded my efforts with these. I should them my runners that had a butterfly on the toe and a “Live Your Life” painted on the other… The hightops didn’t match but they were coordinated and so fun. I thought these will be great teaching shoes!

By the time the third interview came around, I was ready. I had a fantastic portfolio, I had upgraded all the necessary training, I had rehearsed and practiced answers to questions. I interviewed principals and teachers and found all the right lingo. So buying these shoes… ( i held up my adorable Eiffel tower mary janes) was a little of a shock. But Arent they so cute!!! They will be great teaching shoes.

But now I had a problem… I had three beautiful pairs of teaching shoes and no one to teach!

 

And then my dream posting had come up. ( 0.5 literacy position!!!) Also, there was another job that I applied to at the same time… I variety position of Kindergarten and grade two math… Why not!!!

I couldn’t be more prepared… I knew I was supposed to be a teacher. My dream job was on the line… and there was a backup that I was fully qualified to teach… Wow, all my patience and hardwork would be paying off.

I had too many shoes so for failure four and five I bought a new purse and a dress.

Then i looked at everyone and said sisters… at this time I want you to turn to someone at your table and tell them a time when you thought you were right on track… doing everything the Lord wanted you to do… and you thought the blessing looked like a teaching job… but on looking back you realized the blessing was three pairs of fabulous shoes?

In all honesty, the question I asked first was not well formulated… and very wordy and completely confusing… So I said… How many of you have no idea about the question?

Most hands shot up …. to which I replied… “It’s hard to imagine why I don’t have a teaching contract, with beautiful questions like that!”

Then I reformed the questions and let them chat. I heard people answer right away. I saw others really thinking about the question. I heard one lady say… I am in the middle of it… I can’t see the shoes yet… but I know they will come!

 

4 . Last Song : Today, I Walked Where Jesus Walked… It was more of an instrumental.

 

Sometimes just like Moses… it’s time to remove them…

Or like Dorothy… click your heels and go home

Cinderella will always be losing one… but it gets her to her dreams

Whatever season… whatever style… celebrate everyone… if the shoe fits!!!!!

Then I showed them this orange jelly sandal decorated with beads. These are a souvenir from an epic trip that my mom, sister and I went to tour around France to reconnect with friends and family. My aunt had offered the shoes as a souvenir of our shopping trip and time together. I loved them… We went on a little canoe trip. It was so fun and I wore these shoes. Somehow my shoe had fallen into the river. The river was clear you could see the bottom, but there were some plants on the bottom but it wasn’t that deep or dirty. I fully expected to find my sandal. My cousin even brought his canoe over and jumped in and dove to the bottom with me. It was nowhere to be found. I was so sad. But the canoe trip was amazing.

I have prayed and had answers to prayers more miraculous than it would have been if I found that sandal that day…

But two years later when my sister was cleaning out her closet… She threw her sandals on the bed and said…”Do you want these?”

There was the answer to my prayer. Sometimes the Lord answers right away! Somtimes it takes years… and sometimes it takes longer!!! But He hears our prayers and He will answer in His time.

When Jesus does up his laces… and gets ready to go out… He sees the scars left on His feet…… Can a woman forget her sucking child.. She may forget thee… But I will not.. Thou art engraven on the palm of my hands,,, but he could have equally said… and thou art engraven on the soles of my feet…

Sisters… every shoe is important… All types necessary. You wouldn’t run a marathon in these… and you wouldn’t walk to work in this… But as we walk… barefoot or highheels runners or workboots… let’s be kind…

These are the shoes you see on Sunday… my big sparkle shoes…. but these (old house slippers… are my go to) and this is what is really happening in the home.

From the comfy flat ballet to the 6 inch stiletto even to the ones that help us walk better, or get to work, they all tell a story about us, who we are and where we have been. Whether you wear your dancing shoes, blue suede shoes or your cowboy boots made for walkin’…We all wear different shoes and no matter what kind of shoes you are wearing… the shoes you wear never make the woman you are.

And it is not always about the shoes but what direction they carry you. It’s not what shoe you wear… but who you are and who you want to become. 

Forrest Gump said, “Momma always said you can tell an awful lot about a person by the kind of shoes they wear.”

 

 

 

Shoes…

God’s Plan For Me… A Plan of Happiness, A Plan of Salvation

Lately, I have been questioning a phrase that I hear repeated. What does it mean “power of covenants” and what power is it?

I know that a covenant is a promise made between man and God. I made promises to God at my baptism to take His name upon me, always remember Him, and keep his commandments. Then God promises to always allow His Spirit to be with me. I likewise made other covenants to dedicate my time and talents to loving God and loving His children as I entered the temple and God promised me further light and knowledge.

But where is the power? What does that mean? I was reading in the Book of Mormon when after Jesus’s resurrection and ministry to the Jews he appeared to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Jesus teaches in 3 Nephi 16:7 “I will remember my covenant unto you…and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fullness of my gospel.” Is the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel power? Is knowledge power? Of course, it is!

I want to tell you about the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel and how it gives me power. Here is a picture of an overview of what I believe.

Image result for plan of salvation images

First, I believe that life did not start with my birth here on earth. I believe that I was created spiritually first. That I am a littoral daughter of a Heavenly Father and Mother who loved me and I loved them. I believe that everyone here on earth shares that birth rite and quite wonderfully we are brothers and sisters. In this pre-earth state, we were taught and we lived peacefully but we were limited in our ability to progress. Our loving parents presented us with a plan to continue to learn with the opportunity to become like them -exalted beautiful parents. We would have to leave their presence and put our spirits in a physical body that would be weak, corruptible, sinful, and sad. But our Father didn’t leave us hopeless. He would devise a plan that would allow our Older Brother, Jesus Christ, to come and live a perfect life and offer himself as a sacrifice so that we could return to live in our Heavenly home once again.

Going to earth, we knew there would be a deep chasm, sin and death, that would prevent us from traveling back to our Father in Heaven. Jesus offered to build the bridge over which we all must cross to return to our Parents presence.

We weren’t all excited about this plan. There were some who rebelled and doubted, in fact they choose not to come to earth and get bodies. I believe that those who choose not to come down became Satan and his spirit followers, doomed forever to never have a physical body and draw on the saving power of Jesus Christ. They became set on trying to destroy all those who choose to follow God’s plan.

The difficulty is that we don’t clearly remember this part of life. As we were born, a veil of forgetfulness was cast over us. Part of this earths test is to see if we will live by faith and learn between good and evil and choose the right. I beg you to quietly reflect on this truth. Sometimes we are trying to understand a play without viewing the beginning act. We are thrown right into the second act of the play and we are left confused, not understanding the full context. The power of this knowledge is it gives us an overview of the play, to see the bigger picture, and not get so caught up in the character and plot developments.

I believe I choose to come to earth to learn how to help my spirit-self and my mortal-self live in harmony. My mortal-self wants to satisfy its cravings, desires, and passions. My spiritual-self wants to love and be enlightened, to sacrifice and serve and reach my full potential. There is a constant war inside myself of choosing to give into this carnal state or to rise above it and learn to master and control my body. This is why I adhere to strict laws about how to treat and take care of the God-given gift of my earthly body.   I exercise it, I rest it, I fill it full of healthy food and learn to appreciate the limitations and weakness it contains. I call upon my Savior to help me care for this gift and to learn how to master my own appetites, desires, and passions. I must learn to choose for myself and discern between truth and error and choose the right. I don’t believe the test is a tally the good and bad choices I make but a summation of the direction I am heading and the person that I want to become. How much I know God and how are my words and actions reflecting that knowledge.

After my life on earth is done. I believe my body and spirit separate again. My body is buried here on earth for a season and my spirit enters into a realm of spirits. Death does not change my personality or my desires. If I lived and desired righteousness here on earth my spirit enters into a place of happiness, peace and rest. In the spirit world, there is a separation of those who chose to obey God and those who didn’t. I believe that the gospel is preached to people who didn’t have the opportunity on earth to hear the fullness of the gospel. (1Peter 4:6 and 1Peter 3:19-20) This is one of the most beautiful and perfect parts of the plan of happiness. If every good person on earth chooses the truth here on earth there wouldn’t be a need for faith and we wouldn’t be tested. But the spirit world is the equalizer, everyone gets a chance to be taught the truth and accept it or reject it. Can you see how the gift of agency, the right to choose for ourselves, is woven throughout this whole plan? It was present in the premortal state, it exists on earth and continues after death. What a beautiful gift our Heavenly Parents offer us. This is why we perform baptismal work in temples for our deceased ancestors. They are not automatically baptized into our church but it’s like we hand them an invitation and they can decide if they want to come to the party or not. The spirit world is among us and sometimes the veil between us and them is thin.

When Jesus Christ comes again we will be resurrected. That means our body and our spirit will be reunited in a perfect and glorified state.  We will become immortal. Thanks to Jesus’s atonement immortality is a gift given to everyone. Eternal life, living eternally with God, is offered to those who have freed themselves from sin and suffering through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Then we will be brought before our Creator to be judged. We will have a perfect recollection of how we lived. According to our deeds and desires, we will be assigned a kingdom of glory. It won’t be that God assigns us to a glory as we know what we have desired and wanted to become. I love how Elder Oaks explained: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.25

During our mortal lives we make choices, according to the knowledge that we had, about good and evil. These choices  influence which kingdom we may obtain. The first kingdom is compared to the glory of the sun and is the highest place where we live in families and forever with God. It is a Celestial glory.

The second kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon and for people who didn’t accept the fullness of the gospel but lived honorable lives. It is called terrestrial.

Those who continued in their sins and did not repent in this life will be rewarded the telestial kingdom.

This great knowledge is scattered throughout the bible but it is found and taught in its completeness with scriptures modern and ancient working together. And modern revelation. I encourage you to ponder this plan. To really think about it. Ask me any questions that you may have… bur maybe sometime tonight quietly kneel down and ask God if this is truth and let Him reveal it to you.

 

God’s Plan For Me… A Plan of Happiness, A Plan of Salvation

Effectual Struggle

There is a primary song that says, “God gave us families, to help us become who He wants us to be.” The song could have stated, “to live in peace and harmony. ” But it reaffirms that they help us become who He wants us to be. I think the ward family that God gives to us is for a similar reason. Sometimes family life is hard, in both families. But accepting that the Lord is molding your into the sculpture He wants to create takes meekness and humility.

The proclamation states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” God has complete patience, love, and understanding. He was more concerned about being kind than being right.  He focused on peoples strengths and not their weakness.

Our ward and stake boundaries were rearranged this year. I was having a hard time finding my place. It seemed everything was different and I felt on the outside of the group. (I know I was feeding the wrong wolf but that is another blog post) I was asked to oversee the ward Christmas party. Usually organizing large events are my forte. I love the excitement, energy, and planning creative ways to include everyone and celebrate. But this year the task seemed overwhelming and I truly had no creative ideas. When I reflected why the Lord would offer me this opportunity only to have me reject it I had a distinct impression, I did it so you would not complain when you attended the party. It was the first time I told my ward no to on opportunity to serve. But this year I attended the ward Christmas party and it was beautiful to me. I didn’t murmur about anything. It was a fantastic evening.  I think it was a turning point in viewing my ward family.

In October 2015 Conference, Elder Christianson poses a profound question.  If “the Church is the creation of …Jesus Christ, it is worth pausing to consider why He chooses to use a church, … to carry out His and His Father’s work.” Perhaps we could add and what he expects of each one of us. The proclamation states, “Successful … families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” If I practiced those qualities on my ward family what an experience I would have each Sunday. If i alter my attitude towards the boundary change and focus on the blessings that I and others receive from the love and service of my ward family. I am happier and feel more gratitude.

A few Sundays ago a beautiful sister shared her story so honestly that her message pierced my heart. In her comment, she blessed my life and changed the way I viewed this scripture. The scripture is found in Mosiah 7:18… (but the idea is many places throughout scripture) The people of Limhi, son of wicked King Noah, were in bondage to the Lamanites… King Mosiah, allowed Ammon to lead “sixteen strong men”  left  Zarahemla to inquire about Limhi’s people. They got lost but happened to stumble into the people.

18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he aspake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there bremaineth an effectual struggle to be made.

She brought out this idea of “effectual struggle.” What did it even mean… and when she looked in the dictionary, this is what she found:

Effectual struggle

producing or able to produce a desired effect

producing or capable of producing an intended effect; adequate.

valid or binding, as an agreement or document.

The Lord is in charge. He is in the details of our lives. If I know that He is leading me… He is guiding me … then there are moments in my life where I must face my own “effectual struggles”. Times when the persecution I receive… is able to “produce a desired effect”. I must remember… the ideal man I try to emulate… was despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows… But He was not sorrowful… He was full of joy. Perhaps because He could see the desired effect of all His suffering.

One of my favorite scriptures about Jesus is found in alma 7:11-12

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictionsand btemptations of every kind; … he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people….he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.

He always knew His Father was in charge and anything that happened to him would be “concecrated for his good”
I hope to have faith like my Saviour. He kept the beginning and the end in view. I know that the Lord is acting in my life… I am learning to embrace my effectual struggles with more gratitude and faith… it is hard work… but fulfililng; it is terrifying but healing. I hope that you may be able to see your effectual struggles. To see that they are able to produce the desired effect.
“God gave us families to help us become who He wants us to be”… I am learning the importance of my ward family. They bless my life… trust me… it’s like any family and there are moments where they drive you crazy… but I know I drive them crazy too. If I can learn to see them as My Father does. If I can love them in their knowledge and imperfections…. I will learn from my effectual struggles. And together as we all try to return back home together.

 

 

 

Effectual Struggle