Monday, September 24, 2007

1 Nephi, ch 13

Today TB and I read Nephi 13 and again I had one of those light bulb moments while reading it to him. I picked up on the details that I missed every other time I've ever read it. I've only read the Book of Mormon all the way through once. Last year I got pretty close, when we were told to try to read it before the end of the year. But I've read the first few books over again, many times and I'd never realized that Nephi's vision was about the coming of the Catholic church, and about the loss of many of the simple truths that were once in the Bible, and about the coming of the Book of Mormon and how it would restore those truths as well as serve to prove the Bible as true.

Many people think that we don't use the Bible and only pay attention to the Book of Mormon. They think that we dismiss the Bible or that we don't even use it. But I really liked that this chapter points out how the purpose of the Book of Mormon was to bring back the things that were lost from the Bible, and to prove the Bible as true.

Now many of us know that early European Kings took things our of the Bible to allow them to do what ever they wanted, like divorce their wives and marry another woman for no valid reason other than their lust. They threw out anything that didn't suite their purposes. I really liked how this chapter discusses that. I love when scriptures can be supported by history. And I also liked that this chapter talked about how important the Bible was to the Gentiles and how it's distortion caused so many to stumble, but how the "other book" would come forth and restore all that was lost.

But something else that stood out was that the Lord went first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, but when he comes back he'll come to the Gentiles first and then to the Jews. I've heard before about the last being first and the first being last, but I never knew what that meant. It said that he'd come to the Gentiles first and but that He's go to the Jews after.

This is a really long and detailed chapter, and it broke things down in a simple way that I'd never understood before. I'm starting to see why we are advised to read together as a family. I feel better about my child's choices, and I've had the ability to understand in a way that I never did before, because I have to explain what we've just read to my child. It's really exciting and I can't wait to read the next chapter just to see what I can uncover next.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Official Kids Owners Manual!

Today, the lesson on families went really well. I had a chance to tie it into the Law of Chastity lesson from last weeks relief society lesson and to also tie it into some of the earlier lessons from our class. We talked about how the Home is where we will do the most important of the Lord's work and how we can set an example to our children that will shape our whole lives.
One of our newer members is a wife and mother of two teenage daughters who are not active in the church. I was giving an example of how I did make some mistakes in my earlier years, but how I stayed away from the biggest problems that plague most teens because my mother let me know in no uncertain terms that certain things were not acceptable to her or to God. I broke what I considered to be the lesser of the rules but stayed away from the ones that my mother stressed to me because it was always with me, and not only did I not want to disappoint her, but I didn't want to face "the Wrath of God". So, this sister talked about how she told her girls very straight forwardly, what Heavenly Father expected of us (as far as the law of Chastity is concerned) and that it was sacred, and meant to be shared between Husband and Wife, and to bring souls of our brothers and sisters to Earth. She talked about how her daughters friends asked the same questions of their mothers and how they were given the wishie-washie answers that most parents give their children in the hopes of not having to talk about it again..."wait till you really love someone" or "wait till college". She said that her daughter's friends weren't satisfied by those answers and they asked her what she thought, and she shared Heavenly Father's will with them, and said that they seemed to be satisfied by that answer.
When another student asked her if she would have known what to say to her daughter if she wasn't in the church, she said "no." And so there you have it. We have all heard, or maybe even said that old saying "children don't come with an owners manual" but that's not at all true. We have the scriptures and we have the study guides that are provided by the church. And I have had the opportunity to have tried parenting before the church came into my life, as well as after and I've got to say, it's way way easier with the Gospel. The church puts family first and stresses how we as parents and spouses, should treat our families and each other. It guides us on how to become closer to each other. And they're right! The lessons are inspired and come right from Heavenly Father. I've made an effort lately to try to incorporate the activities like Family Home Evening, and family scripture reading into our daily lives and I've seen an immediate difference in how close we have become, how patient we are with each other, and how much more we show outwardly that we care about the others in our home.
What that sister learned was that when she tried to preach to her children, they pushed back. But when she just spent time with them and showed them by example the way that our Father expects us to treat each other, and to conduct ourselves, they responded to it. They have opened up and asked questions of her that has allowed her to teach them our Father's plan in a way that they can accept. She has made an effort to be involved in their lives and they have softened to her. We can't preach to our families, but we can lead by example. And that's how our children will learn what is acceptable. They will chose their future spouse based on the examples that we set for them, and will learn how to treat their spouses and children by watching us do so. So remember to be the kind of mother and wife, or father and husband that you hope your children will be.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Loving Thy Neighbor

Today, I went over to my Grandfather-in-law's nursing home, right after work and brought him a huge container of angel hair pasta and meatballs, that I intended to get to him yesterday. He and I haven't always been close. We were building our relationship when it was strained by events that were uncontrollable, and I was left feeling hurt and like he couldn't stand me. The issues that caused the rift have resolved, but things were just never the same.
So we had a lesson about service about a month ago, and it talked about how one should perform service with a glad heart, and about the different forms of service that we can do for our brothers and sisters. I heard about him being in a nursing home until his health improves, and when my MIL said that he has no phone or t.v. in his room, and that he was feeling down and hadn't been eating. I just felt like there had to be something that I personally, could do. So I prayed on it. And I prayed on it. And then I came home from work, loaded my kids into the car and drove over to the home for a visit. My MIL was there, and was happy to see us, and I could tell that it lifted his spirits if only for a little while to see the boys.
We couldn't stay long because BB was up way past his bedtime so I left, but the next day I got up and pulled some hamburger out of the freezer and made meatballs and angel hair because I know he likes it, and he hasn't really been eating so I was hoping that he would like this enough to eat. I didn't get it over there yesterday like I had intended, but I brought it to work with me today and re-heated it and drove it over on the way home.
I couldn't stay because my husband had to go to school so I just dropped it off. But when I got there, he was just sitting in his chair with his head on the over-bed table and I knocked on the door, but it took him a second to notice me. He looked like tears fell from his face when he put his head up, like I had intruded on a very vulnerable moment, and the best I could do was pretend not to notice so he could keep his pride. I chatted with him for a quick minute about how I got the recipe from a cookbook that he and my MIL both have, (she gave me her copy) and that if he didn't care for them, it was the books fault. (haha.)
I have to admit that when I left there, I felt like I hadn't done enough and prayed to Heavenly Father to tell me what more I could do to lift his spirits in this tough time. I just felt really down because I could feel what he was feeling and was helpless. The best I could do was try to swing by, and bring over meatballs. So when I got home, I had my husband take TB and bring over the extra t.v. in our bedroom that we don't really get to use anymore because BB still sleeps in our room in his crib. The residents are allowed to have t.v.'s but the home doesn't provide them. I wanted him to have one in the room so that he's not trapped in it all day with nothing to do and no one to talk to all. day. long. When the boys got there, he was asleep so my husband set the t.v. up, wrote a note and put the remote on top of it so that he'll have a nice surprise when he wakes up tomorrow.
I got an email from my MIL thanking me for my simple act and told me that he actually ate some of it, (and said it was good) and telling me how much it meant to both of the. See, right now she's the sole person responsible for his care and is carrying the load alone. And I decided 2 days ago that I can take up some of the slack for her. So I will.
I don't tell you about all this to make myself look good, or for anyone to leave comments on this post about what a good daughter-in-law I am. I decided to share this because I wanted to impress how important it is to look in on the sick and elderly. To make time for them, and to take that time out of our busy lives to stick our head in the door and bring over "meatballs" so that they will know that they haven't been forgotten. Heavenly Father answers prayers through us! And if we don't do our part, and follow the promptings of the spirit, whether it be because we're afraid we'll be rejected or we're holding a grudge, we miss our on the blessings that come from doing those good deeds. We miss out on being the answer to someones prayer, and on seeing God's hand at work in another person's life, and we miss out on the blessings for ourselves that come from doing His work. I can go to bed tonight and sleep easier knowing that I've lifted someones day just a little bit, and it will make it easier to be kind and to "love my neighbor as I love myself", which is the 2nd of the "big two" commandments as Jesus answered the Lawyer who tried to test him. He said that everything hangs on these two laws...all the laws...hang on these two. I can see after today that it is true, and I hope that you all test it for yourselves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

1 Nephi, ch 12

This was taken earlier today. He just came up and made himself at home while I finished knitting the replacement blanked for BB.
So anyway, it was TB's turn to read from the Book of Mormon and we were on chapter 12. It's funny how every time one reads from the Book of Mormon, one finds things that they didn't find before. It's almost like it wasn't there! But of course it was.
So this time, we're reading along and we come to verse 7 where Nephi is talking about the Heavens opening up and seeing the Lamb of God come down and show himself, and then the Holy Ghost fell upon 12 others and they were ordained of God and chosen. They were to minister unto his people. I had always taken this to be the 12 disciples that were with Christ in Jerusalem but after I read a little closer (and paid better attention) I caught in verse 9 where the angel tells Nephi that the 12 apostles of Jesus are the judges of the 12 tribes of Israel at the Second Coming, and that these 12 would be judged by the other 12 as they were a part of the house of Israel. I just never caught that before. But is says that the 12 ministers will judge his people. So there's delegation. It's us being judged by the 12 ministers, and the ministers being judged by the 12 apostles.

Then it all seems to go wrong about verse 15. I realize as I read this book closer, that these are real people with real problems just like us. Here's Nephi, getting this huge gift. He's seeing all of his posterity down to the Second Coming of The Lord, and only 4 generations into his descendants, they start messing up. By the 5th generation, his and his brothers' children are now at war with each other. Then in verse 19, his seed are overwhelmed by the seed of his brethren because of the pride of his seed and the temptations of the devil. They have fallen to his temptations and are so proud that they forget what the Lord has done for them and that made them weak and vulnerable. He sees the Lamanites over take the Nephites, and multiply and spread over the whole land. He sees them become a dark and loathsome people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

It just makes me wonder again, what kind of extremely strong faith these people had. And it served as a wonderful example for me, and probably everyone else out there, who are trying to live the principals of the Gospel and have beloved family members who don't believe, or aren't living as faithfully as they could be.

When I first joined the church, I struggled with how I was supposed to receive a fullness of joy when my Step-father (who raised me from the age of 3), whom I loved very much, didn't believe in God and wouldn't be in the Celestial kingdom with me (as I hope to be)? How does one have a fullness of joy when their spouse isn't a member and the one goes to the temple and fulfills all of their necessary requirements for full exaltation, but they know that their spouse won't be there with them? What about all of those parents who's children have strayed from the teachings of the church? Well, I guess this is a pain that we share with our Heavenly Parents. I imagine that he hurts more than we do when he watches us just wipe our feel all over sacred places and things, or when he sees how we've contorted things like the institutions of marriage and family. How Satan has been able to convince us that the Law of Chastity isn't really a big deal, and in a perfect world we would wait for marriage, but if we're "in love" then it's okay. So I guess I'm not the only one hurting and wondering why. And I have to see this as proof that people way before me had these same feelings, and that I'm not alone. And maybe if I read chapter 13 tomorrow, I'll find the words of comfort that our Father must have had for Nephi, and will be able to be comforted by them as well. And if he loves us as much as we love our own children, then he must have something in mind for issues just such as these. And I'll just have to have faith, and wait, and see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gospel principals lesson 36

Today my post almost got derailed by blogger's new live photo slide show they have. You can click on it and see any photo that's been published on a public site, just scrolling by. It was awesome and I had to shake my head like a puppy to wake up from the stupor I was falling into.
Anyway, today I had hoped to continue with some Book-o-Mormon stuff, but TB didn't clean his room as I asked earlier and I sent him up to finish, and he just ran out of time for us to get into any. It's his turn to read. So I decided that for once, I'd pull out my Gospel Principals manual and go through the lesson way in advance. The weeks just fly by so quickly for that that it's like I come home from Sacrament meeting, go to sleep, wake up and it's Wednesday, and then I wake up and it's Saturday again and I haven't had a chance to even crack the book to look at the lesson.
Well, today I got it out and went over it. Chapter 36, families are eternal (if anyone wants to review it). So, I read over it and what jumped out to me was the section where it says that we are given families here on Earth to show how we'll treat them, and to learn all that we need to know to be heavenly parents. Now, I remember reading before about being basically loaned a family to see how we'll treat them and if we're faithful, and we're sealed in the Temple, then our families will become ours forever. I guess I didn't catch the part about learning to be heavenly parents. Nor did I catch the part where we're commanded to marry and have children so that we can help Heavenly Father carry out his mission in bringing souls to Earth so that we can each work out our salvations.
What's funny about this is that when I first joined the church and was a single mother with one child, I thought that I would always have just the one, and be the only Mormon in history to only have one child, voluntarily. Well, then I got married several years later to the father of that child and we were married for about a year and a half when the method of birth control I had been, until then, successfully using suddenly gave out on me and we found ourselves expecting BB. I wasn't really happy about it, and neither was he considering that he had lost his job only weeks before. (As if he didn't have enough pressure.) And so with time I came to accept the coming change, and even embrace it. I saw it for the blessing that it was. I saw Heavenly Fathers hand in this. After 18 months without incident I now was expecting a child. This time around I was married to a man who I loved very much, and had a child old enough to help around the house. I had a huge amount of support both from friends and from family (biological and LDS). I had a job with great benefits. It was all falling into place, and it was a chance for my husband and I to finally experience the joys of pregnancy and parenthood in a way that we had been cheated of the first time, or rather, had cheated ourselves of. It was a healing experience and this little boy has served to bring our family much closer to each other and to the Lord.
When I had TB, I felt the draw to find a church and teach him about God. He is what lead me to the path that I'm on now. But since I had BB, I realized that I needed to do more, be more active and a better missionary example to my own family and not just strangers. I needed to get to the temple, and since I went (March 18th 2007) I've felt closer to Heavenly Father and more in tune with his plan. It's been since I went there that I've felt the urge to have more children. My husband isn't where I am as far as that goes so it's up in the air right now as to if I can convince him or not, but there has been prayer. I now realize that all those Mormons I used to shake my head at and wonder why they would do that to themselves (even though they always seemed to have no trouble providing for all their children). I didn't want to be the Mormon wife and mother of 5+ children driving the "Mormon Assault Vehicle". I didn't understand what it was that would drive them to it...and now I do. I'm one of those women now. And it's all because I am starting to better understand the larger picture and want to be part of it. I want to have my live blessed by the sweetness that is another baby.
And finally, what also stood out is the quote that the most important work we can accomplish in this life will be done in the home. Raising good, kind, God-fearing children who care for others as much as themselves and show love and concern for all people will change the world, and prepare them with the tools they need to make it back into the presence of our Father in Heaven.

Monday, September 17, 2007

9/17 Family Home Evening

Today was a nice day and it turned into an impromptu FHE. Aaron skipped class today as they usually just do homework in class and as he said "I can do that from here". So we decided to take the baby out for a walk to the library since The Boy had to check out a book for a report he has due next week. It was really nice to go out in the fall weather in our warmer clothes and walk in the neighborhood to the library. The Boy took some extra time to find a book at this grade level that he hasn't already read, so we took Baby Boy over to the kids section to check out the fish in the tank. We even got to use the self check-out scanner, which impressed The Boy.
On the way home my hubby and I talked about our neighborhood, which he happened to grow up in, and how we'd like to buy a home there. He said that he often wonders what I think of Riverside and I think it's a nice quite little place for a family.
When we got home, we put Baby Boy down for bed after feeding him dinner, and then we pulled out the Book of Mormon for some family scripture reading. We've been trying to incorporate it into our daily lives as we're told all the time how important it is for us to read not only on our own time, but as a family. So The Boy and I have been reading to BB and he reads a chapter and I read one. Well, when he went to get his book (cause we've been using his) he lost the bookmark and we lost our place. The last thing I remember us covering was 1Nephi, ch4 so I picked it up in chapter 5.
This chapter jumped out at me this time around and it makes me wonder if Heavenly Father didn't have his hand in TB's losing of our place, because as I read it again out loud I really got it. (By the way, we're really on ch 12.) Anyway, in this chapter, Lehi's wife Sariah is upset with him about the state they find themselves in and is really worrying about her sons. They are living in the wilderness after leaving Jerusalem on God's orders to avoid being carried away into captivity when the Babalonians invade. Lehi has a vision and tells his sons, lead by Nephi who is the youngest son, that they need to go up to King Laban (a distant relative) and get the plates that contain the record of their family geneology and the scriptures and commandments that amount to what we now know as the old testament. They will need this when they travel to the promised land, to have it to guide them in keeping The Lord's commands.
So, they've been sent off on a really tough mission and Sariah as a mother and a wife who didn't have her own testamony yet of Gods plan, is along for the ride. She has left her home of great wealth and privalige to flee 3 days journey into the wilderness. She's having to make due and live in the harshness of the wilderness and I doubt that fresh food is just readily available to them. She has her oldest son's complaining all the time about what they gave up, and trying to rebel against her husband. Now, as if that isn't enough, add to the mix that her sons...all of the...have been sent off on what could be a suicide mission. Her sons have to go back into the city, convince the King to give them the record that has been in his family for generations and contains the sacred record of the gospel, and come back all without being followed.
Now ask yourself, as a mother...what kind of mental state would you be in? So now I imagine that Nephi and company had to travel 3 days back into Jerusalem. Then go to see the King only to be told in no uncertain terms, "no". They leave and try to regroup and figure out what to do next. I imagine that at least one day goes by while they try to figure it out. So they decide to go back to their home, which they abandoned earlier, and gather all their money and jewels and anything of value to see if they can get the King to sell the plates to them. This probably took some time to do so lets just say there's a good chance that another day has passed. They go back to see King Laban, and he tells them "no" but takes their treasures and sends servants to have them killed. They flee, and again try to regroup. Nephi is attacked by his older brothers and an angel has to intervein to keep them from killing him. They pray hard on it, and are prompted by the spirit to go back and told that The Lord will deliver Laban into their hands. I assume that another day went by, and went into night as that is when Nephi goes back and comes upon a drunken Laban. So I would guess that about a week has passed since Sariah's sons left their wilderness camp to go on their mission.
Now that you have an idea what she's dealing with, you can imagine what's going through her head by now. She starts to panic and starts to doubt her husband. She starts to chew him out and complain to him that he's made her leave her home, family, friends and comforts to hump it 3 days into the wilderness, only to starve and die. And if that wasn't bad enough, he's sent their sons on a mission that could easily result in their deaths. She's imaging the worst. She's fallen into the position that we all find ourselves dealing with, where we get caught up in the worldly grind and forget that our Father has a plan and will watch after us when he sends us off to do the impossible.
But what I loved is that she took comfort in Lehi's promise that they were doing The Lords work and that they left Jerusalem to survive its destruction. Then after her sons return, she gains her own faith and testimony of Heavenly Father's will for them, and never doubts again. She's a strong woman, a good wife and mother, and a great example of how each of us needs to gain our own testimony in order to endure to the end and have the strength to follow Him in every little thing he asks us to do.
I loved this chapter! Feel free to read it at the LDS website.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Maiden Voyage

This is my first post on this blog and I hope for there to be one every few days. I'm a 7 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a wife and a mother of 2 boys. I teach Gospel Principals in the Central Falls RI ward, and it's been a real learning experience for me.
Our ward is really small but very spiritual. There aren't any classes to prepare us to teach like most other wards have so I had to get set apart and just dive right in. So far, so good I guess cause I haven't been smote by the hand of God so I guess I've been doing okay. Some lessons are of course better and more inspired than others.
This week we talked about obedience which dove tailed nicely into our Relief Society lesson on the Law of Chastity. Lets just say that the discussion got derailed a bit and in the middle there, it got pretty heated. Its the first time in a long time that I've actually felt tension in a meeting and wished that I was somewhere else. There is a sister who I'm pretty sure is an investigator and she comes every now and then. She's really a sweet person who's had some real challenges in her life like the loss of a dear family member and the end of a relationship. Anyway, she doesn't always understand what we're trying to convey in the lessons and often takes offense. I've made it my own mission to break things down in my class in a way that she and a few of our other "greener" investigators and new members can understand. Well, she didn't understand a comment made by another member and got really offended, and said how she disagreed with everything that she said. That didn't go over very well because she basically was talking about the actual law of chastity and the parts of it that our teens don't grasp and it came off like the sister was trying to say in class that she didn't agree with the teaching of the church and it was just really tense for a minute. Thankfully, we had a few sisters that tend toward leadership, who got us back on track. I was, however, inspired to talk to my first born about chastity and what is expected of us, and why it's important both to our salvation but also in the secular world where it can lead to heartache, disease and unwanted pregnancies.
Now, I realize that many of the people who may read this don't know me so I want to take this opportunity to say that I an in no way a saint. My husband and I met when I was 19 years old, and our 1st born is now 10, and I'm I'm sure that you can do that math. I, as I mentioned earlier, have been a member for 7 years so I wasn't living the principals that I'm now charged with teaching, in my earlier years. But I think it is for this reason that I was asked to take this challenge on. I have a perspective that many of our members don't have as they have been in the church for most of their lives, and I can identify a little more with the new members as I still remember the things of the church that I struggled with, or still do. This doesn't make me better, just more able to communicate with my audience and really, that's what it's all about.
So for now, I'll end by saying that I welcome any and all questions. Please be kind and respect that these are my beliefs (if they don't happen to be shared by you) as I do my best to do the same. Come on back now, ha hear?