Saturday, December 5, 2015

If More People Knew

"If we understood the nature of repentance better, there would be more of it!" Neal A. Maxwell

This week's scripture block was Mosiah 27 - Alma 7.  We begin with Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah,  the "rising generation."  These sons of a prophet and king think the church is a farce. They actively seek to take people away from the church. Then some thing happens. An angel of the Lord appears and Alma is struck dumb. During his 2 days and 2 nights of being in this sleep / dumb state he was repenting and learning of the truth.  He awakens having repented being truly converted.

If you have read my prior posts you are aware that my personal goal in studying the Book of Mormon at this go around is to make it personal to me. This book was preserved for us in these latter days to learn and grow and know of His truths.  What can we/I learn here?  These chapters above show us repeatedly the Lords desire and lesson for us to repent.

I am not one who has ever tried to take people away from the church. I will most likely never be struck dumb and in a coma for 2 days for my mighty change of heart to happen. And even though  I know angels of the Lord appear to people in this dispensation I am probably not going to have one come down and chastise me for making stupid choices.

I am a sinner. I am an imperfect person. I make mistakes. However, I know through the atonement of Jesus Christ I am able to repent. I am able to be forgiven of my sins. I am given the promise of assistance in forsaking my sin and doing it no more.

In Alma 7 we learn of the Savior and that "he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pain and sickness of his people."   Alma 7:11.

In Alma there are many articles and conference talks and scriptures of repentance and the process of repentance. I have a firm testimony of repentance.  The verses in the image above also tell us a guide, Alma gave to the people that  would help guide then in this life. These words hold for us as well. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

He Knows You

Mosiah 3:19  For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

How does the Atonement allow you to overcome the natural man? This question was presented in reference to this verse in our studies this week. The second questioned asked along with this was Why is it only through the Atonement of Christ that you can become a Saint.  Then it refers one to this aforementioned verse.  I thought I was going to write about this and share my answers to these questions with you. But in my studies I found this blog post. Mosiah 3:19  I felt inspired to share that with you instead.  It breaks down this scripture and helps us to understand this verse in a very well thought out manner.

So, I keep going back to another question that came up in the study from this scripture block (Enos-Mosiah 3.)  What examples have you seen of the foreknowledge of God demonstrated in the events of your life? (see commentary for Words of Mormon 1:7)  The second half of this verse states “And now I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come, wherefore, he worketh in me to do accruing to his will.”  He knows the things to come. He knows the challenged I have had and the one I will have. I believe in agency. I believe things change based on the choices I have made. But, I know that the Lord has a plan for me.  That he wants me to come back and live with Him one day.

What examples have I seen that God had foreknowledge of events in my life? In other words; what has Heavenly Father done to help me and bless me personally in spite of me getting in my own way?

I have always walked to the beat of my own drummer, which is to say, no beat at all. (Literally I can not hear the beat, ever.) So although I was born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I did not always choose to live the gospel or follow the standards out line for me.  I wanted so desperately to be a young mother.  The Lord knew this wasn’t how it would be for me.  He knew that I would not be ready even though I knew I was.

I think God had the foreknowledge that I would struggle with depression in my 20’s.  He knew that I would need more time to learn to deal with the demons in my mind and the thoughts that plagued my soul.  Despite my best efforts and somewhat crushing to my heart and soul I was unable to get pregnant during my first marriage. When I finally did get pregnant I lost that sweet baby who only lived a brief time on this Earth. It wasn’t until 8 years after that heart wrenching time that my dream of becoming a mother would happen.  And when I found out I was pregnant I was so far away from thinking I would ever become a mother that I was in shock.

I know God saved my sweet Cody to come down and be my son until just the right moment. He knew this little baby would be the catalyst I needed to change my life. He had the knowledge that this single event would close a volume of my life story as I began a new one. 

Heavenly Father has a plan for me. He has one for you. If you are not sure what it is start with what you do know. You are a Child of God. He wants you to return to Him one day. He has a plan for you. Knowing that is enough to start or to continue to Come unto Christ. To become your best self.  He knows you, He loves you, He has a Plan of Happiness for you.

It's called Work

It was a pivotal moment in my life. Something I worked so hard for came to fruition. I loved reading. I read all the time. One of my favorite book series was The Baby Sitters Club. This was the inspiration for the week long summer day camp my cousin and planned.  Pivotal as in this was the first large event I ever planned. It is my first go to memory when I want to share a time I worked hard and achieved a goal and it happened over 25 years ago.  I learned so much from this. 

My cousin Heather and I decided to have a Baby Sitters Club daycare one summer. We loved watching kids. We loved the books and we were inspired.  We came up with an idea, a plan, and took the steps we needed to get it done.  We found a venue to host our summer camp.  We had to speak with the owner of the house. My aunt and get her permission.   We needed customers, kids to come to our camp.  We came up with flyers and passes them out to the people in church that we baby sat for. We asked them to pass them along to their friends. 

This was a 5 day camp for kids. We came up with 5 days of menus, activities, crafts, projects and special events. We had a schedule and each moment planned out. We had about 30 kids each day in our camp and most of them came all 5 days. I was 12 years old. After paying for all of our supplies and food we made around $300 dollars. Which, let me tell you is quite a bit for a 12 year old in the late 80’s.

We made homemade ice cream, we played games, each day the children made a craft. We even had a day where a clown came and did tricks for the kids.

As I get older my memory starts to fade. The thing I remember about this week have impressed upon me the value of hard work.  I was blessed beyond measure. The $300 was awesome and helped pay may to Hawaii 2 years later, but beyond that I learn some amazing things. I learned I really could do something I put my mind to. I learned that even though it might seem hard and overwhelming at times, working hard to get your goal is rewarding in the end. I learned I like planning parties. I learned that working as a team can help make things more fun, and get things done faster.  I realized at this time that I was a planner and like to get things done and make things happen.  I learned that by being myself and sharing my talents with others I could help bless and enrich the lives of others along the way. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Own Way

Satan. Oh, the power this one tries to have over us.  12 of Satan’s minions to every one of us at all times. Standing there telling us lies. Trying to fight us and bring us down. In this block of scriptures, specifically  2 Nephi 28 we see a lot of Satan’s power over the Lamanites and the predictions of how he will try to stir up the hearts of men to believing false doctrines and false churches.  
2 Nephi 28:5 “They deny the power of the God, the Holy one of Israel; and they say Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precepts; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work and hath given his power unto men.”  Wait, a minute. What?  How can this be? If you are of great faith you know without a doubt this is not true.  However, there are so many that do not believe they “need God.”  I have been told organized religion is for some people and they need it but not everyone needs it to have a happy life of a good moral compass.  I once bought into this.

I always had faith in God, the Eternal Father. I knew I was a child of a Heavenly parent and I lived before I came here.  I went through a time in my life where I decided I was one of those people that didn’t need a religion telling me how to live my life. God loved me, just like my mom and dad loved me. No matter the choices I was making.  How could and why would God forsake or punish me just for living my life? I wasn’t denying he existed. I just was living life and trying to find happiness. I was making my own way and choices and living life.  I thought I was happy.  I was an adult who had friends, a good job, a boyfriend, and a family who loved me and let me live my own life.  I was  living it up. All my friends were happy and fun.  I was happy, wasn’t I?

I am a person who tends to see the past in a positive light in a happier way. For me to dig deep and see the truth I have to peel away my rose colored memory glasses and see things for the rest of the way they were.  I had fun times. Tons of them for sure. I did have good friends. I had an awful terrible self esteem. I struggled with depression and self medicated with alcohol, cigarettes and other things. I was in and out of counseling. Getting doctor prescribed medications as well and interacting those with the other above mentioned vices. I was in and out of control of myself. I still prayed. I wasn’t going to cut off my Father in Heaven. I knew he still loved me.  I didn’t know the spirit had left me.  2 Nephi 28:25-26 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denith the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!”   Wo unto me for sure. This was not true happiness. It was not lasting. The party ended. The music stopped and I was empty. In my soul. I was missing something.  I didn’t know what it was at the time.

Flash forward 8 years. I have a relationship and knowledge of something I lacked my whole life, even being born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint. I have a relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. I am trying to continually learn of him and know the atonement and how it works in my life. I am far from where I want to be, but I can honestly sit here today and tell you that the happiness I feel in my heart and soul is real. It is not fleeting. As long and I stay close to Heavenly Father and continue to learn of Christ and His church I will be able to continue to have peace in my heart.

2 Nephi 28:30 “for behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom…”

As I get stronger in my relationship with the Lord I know that I want others to know this peace. This light that is in my heart. I want others to be able to have a knowledge of a Living God. He speaks to His children. He knows us. He loves us. He lives. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Using the Atonement Daily - A quick how to

I love learning the book of Mormon. We are not just reading it. We are studying it.  My focus in most of my studies this week was 2 Nephi 9. 

I wanted to share with you something that stood out to me in this chapter. This chapter is so full of information. One of the focuses in this chapter is the atonement of the Savior.  That he died so we can return to live with Heavenly Father through His grace. We talk of how the Savior suffered for all of our sins, hurt anguishes so we will not have to go through these pains and anguish alone. There are so many words written about the atonement of Christ. 2 Nephi chapter 9 is one such writing.  Verse 7 is one that talks about the infinite atonement.  Infinite: limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate. This means this atonement goes on forever and cannot be measured, yet we are counselled to use it in our daily lives. 

My questions are: What exactly does this mean? What does using the atonement in our daily lives actually "do" for us? How does one use the atonement? Isn't the atonement something that was already done?  How do I use it? I know I need to live righteously, but that is just following the commandments, trying to be honest in all my doings. Is that all it is? I wondered. I didn't think that was the case, because "just praying, reading scriptures, going to church and trying to be a good person" didn't feel like I was using anything. I was just doing what I was trying to do. 

I mentioned what it is.  The Bible Dictionary gives a further explanation.  It also refers us back to this Chapter in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 9:5-24.   Verses 23 & 24 tell us what we have to do to get or have the blessings of the atonement but it still does not answer how.  But in the following verses and through the end of the chapter we learn more. We are given a list of what to do and what not to do. 

In our gathering in class and discussing this chapter we talked of the atonement and using in our daily lives. 

Using the atonement in our daily lives means always "Remembering Him and having his Spirit to be with us."  We are reminded of this each Sunday as we take the sacrament. In doing this we will see what the atonement does for us. 

What does it do for us? On a daily basis we can repent and be forgiven of our sins. We can have hope and faith that we will make it to true eternal happiness. It gives us the knowledge and comfort that we are not alone. The Savior, Jesus Christ, felt these pains, hurts, frustrations, imperfections, illnesses, all of it so that each and every one of us would never be alone in our struggles, trials and life.  Our pain is real and some one does know exactly how you are feeling in your painful time. You really are never alone.  

How? How do we use it in our lives? How do I make this something real that I use? How do I do it so I can get these blessings and this comfort the knowledge and the power the atonement give?  Sunday. Attending church and partaking of the sacrament. This renews the covenants. Pondering the sacrament prayer each week and keeping Jesus in our thought and hears through the week.  Everyday. Pray. Often. Pray to our Father in the name of the son, Our Savior Jesus Christ.  Ask for help, blessings, understand, the capacity to learn to change to get out of the situation. Pray for the desire to know the Savior to get to happiness. Pray and praise and give thanks. Honestly just pray.  This open line of communication comes from Christ so praying is using the atonement.  Think about the savior. And give him your troubles. Do not ask the Lord to take away your pains. Let him know through your agency you are ready to let them go. As you give the painful, hurtful sinful things in your life to the Lord you are accepting the atonement. You are believing that He is there and you are not alone and he has the power to pick it up.

So it is more than living a “righteous” life, or going to church. It is more than just praying and going through the motions. It is more than believing. Using the atonement in our daily lives requires action. It is Believing, Feeling, Asking, Doing, Living and Loving. I was using the atonement in my life without knowing it. I wasn’t giving the personal attention and focus I needed to. As I had the desire to strengthen my relationship with my Savior I knew I needed to find out the answers to these questions. I am glad the Lord provided me a way to find them. 

Now with this post if I forget or feel myself needing a refresher I can come back here and read it and know.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Brotherly Love? A look at Nephi and his Brothers

This block was 1 Nephi 15-22
As I continue to study  first Nephi I am drawn back to the relationship of Nephi with his brothers.

So far in the scriptures we have read and heard about Laman and Lumuel.  We have seen how they murmur and fight Nephi at almost every turn. They are drawn to the ways of the world. They see an angel and forget. They get punished by the Lord and know it is by God’s hand and they go back to their bad habits and wicked ways. Many people who study the scriptures come to the realization they probably tend to be a little more Laman and Lemuel than Nephi and Sam.  How quick we are to forget the things we commit to do. How over a period of time, it could be short or long, bad habits start to replace good ones and the natural man tends to take over. 

In these specific chapters several things happen that show us the relationship between these brothers.  I mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago about what we can learn from the replationshop of Nephi's parents; Lehi and Sariah’s relationship. I think that growing up Nephi had this example of love and forgiveness. Of showing compassion towards those who were angry with him. Nephi also prays all the time. He asks for help for his brothers and for them to be softened. 

In the wilderness Nephi’s bow breaks. His brothers already had crappy bows that weren’t working very well.  So instead of trying to figure it out they get mad at Nephi. (See 1 Nephi 16:20-21)  Then what does Nephi do? He doesn’t yell at them and tell them to take their whiney families and get lost, like some might do. He “Speaks much” unto then “because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.” (1 Nephi 16:22)  Then he makes a bow and arrow and asks his father (again a sign of respect as Lehi had been complaining a bit as well.) Lehi prays for forgiveness gets direction from the Lord and Nephi goes out again for food. This time it does not mention any one else going with him. He gets enough food for him and all of the families with him.  Everyone thanks the Lord and is filled with joy.

Same chapter a little later Laman and Lemuel and Nephi’s brother-in-laws decide to kill Nephi and their father. 1 Nephi 16: 37.  Then the voice of the Lord chastens them. And the get over it and move on.

I have so many examples. 1 Nephi 17 Nephi chastises and truly lectures and tells his brothers of all they have seen and what they should know by now. It takes years before we see Nephi get upset with them in this detail where it seems the sorrow for them is overtaken with a lecture. But they still do not heed his words here. What happens? They get angry of course! They want to throw him into the sea. So Nephi calls upon God again and the Lord shocks them out of it. Literally, shocks them out of it. They touch Nephi’s hand and are shaken by God’s power.

What I am drawn to here is the relationship.

Anger, hate, love, forgiveness, sorrow, compassion, gossiping, ganging up on each other, praying, nurturing, threatening, restraining, teaching, continuing on.  How many families and people these days do we hear about that haven’t talked to their siblings because they are mad at them. Where they haven’t talked to a parent or brother or sister for years over some feud, misunderstanding, or wrong that was done to them?

Why do Laman and Lemuel continue on with Nephi and company instead of just going out on their own? Why doesn’t Nephi tell them they can’t come with him and mom and dad and his family anymore?   We know in general they all need to go to the Promised Land. But personally? What kept this family together?  Here are a few of the things that keep coming back to me.

1.       Prayer: Nephi and Lehi do this all of the time. Probably Sariah and Sam, too.  I am sure when they are closer to God from time to time the others probably pray.

2.       Unconditional Love: Even though they have a dysfunctional family they were given a great example of love from their mother and father. Nephi seems to have this love for his brothers. This is evident in how often he prays for them and forgives them.

3.       Compassion: Life can’t be easy for them at this point. They left their worldly things behind. They have been travelling and camping for years. Nephi is already converted to this plan so he gets it. He is ok with it. Lemuel and Laman went because they were told to.  They hate it. Nephi seems to understand this and is compassionate toward them even in their anger.

4.       Forgiveness: How many times do Laman and Lemuel try to kill Nephi? But he forgives them. Time and again he forgives them.  Laman and Lemuel forgive Nephi for all the things they perceive him to do that causes them anger, too.

5.       Charity: Nephi has charity. The pure love of Christ. He loves his brothers and wants to help them and have them progress and make it to the Tree of Life. In spite of his father’s dream and all of his brothers short comings; Nephi knows that they have a chance to make it to the tree of life and eternal salvation because of Christ.  Nephi show charity as he provides food for all of them. As he pleads with the Lord not only for himself but his brothers and their families.  This keeps his brothers with him and their company all this time.

I cannot ever imagine a time in my life or anything my siblings could do to make me just never talk to them again.  My sister and I were best friends. Once we went a week without talking. Life got busy. I didn’t have a chance to call. One day I talked to my mom and she asked me about the fight my sister and I were in.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had said something that hurt my sisters feelings. She thought I was mad at her and not calling but she didn’t want to call me because I was the one who was wrong and hurt her feelings. As soon as I called her it was over. We even laughed about it.  I didn’t grow up with the life Nephi and his family seemed to have in Jerusalem. I did grow up knowing that families are forever and we were not put in our families by accident.  We knew them before we got here. We can be like Lehi’s children and forgive each other, love each other, get mad at one another, get over it. Grow up. Be a family, have our own families. Have different thoughts and beliefs and still be a family.     

(Wait, what? That end up lifelong enemies? I am not in those chapters yet! At the end of this block of scriptures they are all getting along!)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Next Block. Different Assignment

We are given 9 Skill Study Types to learn over the Semester.  This week we had to write about the one we learned about. the Scripture block was 1 Nephi 6-14.   The skill study was: Symbolism.
This is not as blog posty as my last blog post, but this is what I turned in:

Study Skills Report
Which skill was presented in the most recent Gathering and how did you use it throughout the week?

(Study Skill: Substitutions, Setting, Principles and Doctrine, List, Clustering, Flag Phrases, Symbolism, Visualize, and Cause and Effect)
Skill: Symbolism
I used this skill since the gathering to go back and study Lehi’s vision again with a greater understanding of using the symbolism in the dream to make it more person and meaningful to me.
Show some examples of how you used the skill:
(example: I, Candace, having been born of goodly parents)
1.    Why were people ashamed when they partook of the fruit?  I looked at the foot notes and I discussed the symbolism of this with others.

2.    In understanding the meaning of the tree of life I watched the digging deeper video about this again.
3.    The stumbling blocks the Gentiles stumble upon are symbolic of the ways of the world that get into the way of my life. They also refer to other churches. There are so many things these simple phrases can be symbolic of.
What did you learn from using this Study Skill this week? (“Learning” implies something you didn’t know before)
I learned that the Tree of Life represents more than happiness. It is my Heavenly Fathers love for me. Making the book of Mormon person to myself this week I tried to use the symbolism in Lehi’s dream and see how it relates to be. I learned that perhaps at times in my life as the world came to me I fell off the straight and narrow and into the midst of darkness. The straight and narrow path that the iron rod is next to is s one way path. You progress forward. I think I had gotten to the Tree at one point in my life, living worthy of my temple recommend. Learning more of the gospel. The one day I looked up at the great and spacious building, the world and I let it in and I fell away from the tree. Luckily the iron rod was still there and through Christ and the Atonement I was able to work my way back.
How would you teach this skill to someone that had never used it before?
I would teach using symbolism much as was outlined in the directions. While studying the scriptures you can use the 6 points outlined.
~Look for Scriptural interpretation
~Look for teachings of modern prophets
~Consider the context
~Use the study aids in the scriptures (The topical guide, bible dictionary, footnotes and so on.)
~Let the nature of the object used as the symbol contribute to an understanding of its spiritual meaning.
~Look for Christ in scriptural symbols.
All of these things help us understand the symbolism. They are ways we can gain further understanding of the words the Lord had saved and preserved for us in these Latter days.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Learning the Book of Mormon

I am taking a religion class as part of my foray back into school. This first class is a study of the Book of Mormon. Each week is broken up into certain amount of chapters.  Each week as part of my learning I will be updating this blog with the information I have learned and the insights I have gained. (Unless I pick a different end of the week project.)

For the first time ever I am doing more than just reading the Book of Mormon and attending Sunday school. I am studying it and discussing it. I am using study guides and attending a Gathering to review our inspirations.  Everything in the Book of Mormon that was written was kept there for our use in these Latter Days.  Everyone is given the promise that if they read the Book of Mormon and pray with a sincere heart to know if the Book is true, they will be able to receive the knowledge of the truthfulness of the words. With the additional knowledge that this book was written for us the Book of Mormon can become personal to us.  A personal guide from our Heaven Father to us. What an awesome gift!

This weeks scriptures were 1 Nephi 1-5

One of the other students in my class pointed the love Lehi had for his wife Sariah. In chapter 5 Sariah gets upset with Lehi. She is worried about her sons she was mourning them. She thought they had died in the wilderness. They were sent back to a land she was told by her husband that was becoming more and more wicked and was going to be destroyed. They were sent on a mission to obtain plates that held scripture and genealogy of their family and people from a wicked king.  What mother wouldn’t be worried?  As she gets upset Nephi tells of how she was angry at his father Lehi. And what Lehi does is a great learning model of love for all of us. First he acknowledges her concerns and states, “I know I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God….” (1Nephi 5:4) Then he comforts her in verse 5 telling her he has “obtained a land of promise, in which things I do rejoice; yea, I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hand of Laban and bring them down unto us in the wilderness.”  This is a great example of love.  In these first 5 verses of chapter 5 I can see that Heavenly Father knows that we (Sariah) get upset and sometimes lose hope (she was fearing the worst.) But we can be comforted. As Lehi comforted his wife. As the Lord comforted the whole family when they returned safe and unharmed.  If I treat my loved ones as Lehi did Sariah in these chapters I will be uplifting them and help them. I will be demonstrating compassion and love. I will be a better friend and mother.
Art work by Joseph Brickey found at this link
I know that the things we read in the scriptures can have personal meaning in our lives. I don’t know if I have ever felt a personal connection to the Book of Mormon before. I cannot recall a time I loved reading it where it was not just a chore or something that I “should” do.  I am taking this course because I want to learn of these great spiritual leaders. I want to be able to know for myself the Book of Mormon is true. I want to be able to learn from it and grow my personal testimony of these words. To be able to teach my children and receive personal inspiration from this book.