Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Family: By a Lady, the Church and the Prophets

I was not the only one who chose to do a blog for this assignment. 

I wanted to share this blog wth anyone who is reading mine that wants more about the family and the words of the prophets, videos and links to Church sites.  

Great Job Wendy! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happiness secret

            I figured it out; the secret to happiness amid the chaos of life and the painful reality of death and losing people we love. It wasn’t something that happened all at once, but when it hit me, I just knew. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way and by no means perfect or profess to have all the answers. I am quite flawed, full of imperfections and idiosyncrasies. I have not had a life one would consider dull or easy. I am both a dreamer and a realist. I am a paradox of contradictions. When I was a teenager and into young adulthood I prided myself on the fact I did not need to learn from the mistakes of others. I would make my choices (despite what other knew or believed) and come what may. I have always taken the blame for the hard knocks I’ve had in life. This comes from being self-aware and knowing that I make mistakes and I am not a victim of life. My choices, good and bad, have consequences.  I am also realistic enough to know there are a few things in life that happen to us that we don’t get to choose.
            We were eighteen months apart. She was my buddy and my best friend from the beginning. I loved her and I was jealous of her at the same time. At times I wanted to be her and other times I wanted to beat her up. I loved to listen to her and teach her. When I was five years old she was almost four, I would come home from kindergarten and teach her everything I learned each day. She would gobble it up and learn with me. By the time I was in 5th grade and she was in 4th grade she was able to skip a grade and move up. She was 16 when we stood side by side at our high school graduation. I held her hand as she gave birth to her first baby that she gave up for adoption. She held my leg and helped me through the birth of my son. When I moved out of state we talked every day. We were more than sisters. We were best friends, partners in crime, the greatest improve team and the yin and yang of each other’s lives for 34 years, until she went off and left me for good. She just up and died on me and our family one day. There was no warning, no preparing. One day we were stopping at every rest stop from Disneyland to Phoenix to hug and say bye to each other as our fun-filled, month long multi-family vacation was coming to a close and the next time I saw her, one month later, she was in a coffin.
That was 3 years ago.  A few years before the death of my sister I met a man who I only knew briefly. This man was the most crotchety, grumpy, angry, self-centered man I ever met. He was my mother-in-law’s husband. My step-daughters called him Mr. Rick. He was their step grandpa years before they were born, yet he would never be known as grandpa. Mr. Rick was not happy about the fact that his wife’s son stayed geographically close to them and remained in constant contact with his mother. This man disowned his own family and expected his wife to cut ties with hers as well.  My mother-in-law loved her only son who was 17 when she married Mr. Rick. By the time I came into the picture they had been married over 15 years.  Mr. Rick had a very hard time with my son.  When he turned 3, we stopped getting invited over to grandma’s house. I knew Mr. Rick did not like my husband, but I could not help but feel it was more than just that. One day my mother-in-law told me about Mr. Rick and why he was no longer welcoming us into their home.
Thirty years earlier a tragedy over took Mr. Rick’s life. His three year old son was boating with his mother on a lake at a city park when he fell into the water. Neither the mother nor her boyfriend could swim so they did nothing to save the little boy. He drown that day. I think Mr. Rick died that day, too. My son and I were no longer welcome at grandma’s house because he was a three year old boy. I vowed to myself the moment I heard this sad, sad story I would never be like Mr. Rick. Life is for the living! How could he choose to live in darkness for the next 30 years? Self-medicating with alcohol and pot instead of enjoying the family, life and people around him; selfishly hurting others and making them sad because he felt pain.  For the first time in my life I knew I could learn from others mistakes. I knew his view on life was wrong.
When my sister died I was in shock. I went through the stages of grief. This was something that happened to me that I did not get to choose. Why did we stop and hug at 6 rest stops in a row? We were being silly and having fun. We had no idea we were saying good bye for the last time.  When she was gone I felt like a part of me had gone too. This loss was harder and cut me deeper than the death of my biological father at the age of 14, and the death of my child who was born prematurely and lived for only 30 minutes. This was my sister. My shadow growing up, my confidant, my best friend. What was I going to do? I was not going to be overcome with darkness like Mr. Rick that was for sure. I was not going to be a victim of life. The darkness and depression that once plagued me in young adulthood was not going to be a way of life for me.
The answer; the big secret is this: Every motivational poster and inspirational uplifting quote that has had a meme made out of it is true. You get to choose happiness. There is always a silver lining. Life is for the living. Live a life you love and love the life you live. Happiness is not out there, it is in you! Choose to remember the good and push out the sorrow. Grieve for things, people and times you have lost, but don’t live in grief and sorrow, depression and pain. Grieve and live! 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My family

I believe in Eternal Families.
We can be together forever.
We can have happiness in this life and the next.
It is not easy.
Some days it doesn't seem worth it.
Sometimes it is too overwhelming.
Some days even the best, strongest, smartest most together person you have ever known has a bad, bad day.
Some times it seems like it will never be able to be happy, or better, or perfect.

Then, some thing happens. And the hope comes back. And love can take over.

I am so lucky and grateful to be the mother of two awesome, wild, crazy, boys.
I am glad to know we can be a Forever Family.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Second Paragraph

“All human beings—male and female— are created in the image of God. Each is beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premotal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

A new semester of class has begun. This semester is on the Eternal Family. I have known my whole life that families can be together forever. That Heavenly Father has a plan for us. A plan of happiness. A plan of salvation. A plan of family.

In 1995 the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came out with a proclamation to world. It was not just to the church members, but to the whole world. This proclamation was sharing doctrine on family. The essential piece of the plan of happiness. (Did you know there was a Plan of Happiness? There is!)

I can't remember what I felt about this proclamation in 1995. I knew that I loved all people. I new that I had a biological father who was gay. I knew I was being raised in the church by two goodly parents who loved the Lord. I knew I wanted children but I was on the fence about needing a man. I wanted to be a mother more than anything else.  I was 18 and knew nothing about how my life would be in 2016.

I can tell you as I start this class and commit to learn these lessons with a prayerful heart and an open mind I will share what I am touched by and what I learn.

I am a single mother thrice divorced with 2 sweet boys who I have with me all the time. They talk with daddy but he is in another state. We attend church. We love primary. We want our eternal family. I was partially wrong as a youth. I was partially right. I do not need a husband to know my worth in the sight of the Lord, the eyes of my children or myself.  However, after being married in the temple and having the "traditional" family, and growing up and maturing a bit I know that I want a husband, I want the blessings promised. I want the partner in life. I want my kids to have a Priesthood holder and a loving Father.  I will continue to be the best person I can be and follow the Lord and trust in his time.

So, as I said above, over the next several weeks I will be sharing some of the insights and things I am learning.

Thanks for reading! Come back soon!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tender Mercies

In the church we often hear the term “Tender Mercies of the Lord.” In the Book Ether chapter 6:12 the Jaredite people thank the Lord for tender mercies. There is a great talk by David A. Bednar in the April 2005 General Conference.  He stated, “Since last October I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord.” Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).”

What tender mercies of the Lord can you identify in your life? 
Tender is defined as, “showing gentleness and concern or sympathy.
Mercy is defined as, “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.
Is it ironic that for me I view one of the tender mercies the Lord has blessed me with is the ability and desire to recognize tender mercies I receive.  The Lord forgives. The Savoir provided a way to satisfy mercy and justice. The most awful thing I have done in my life has been forgiven of me through the atonement of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior.

I had a baby who was born too soon and lived for about 30 minutes before his breathing ceased. There was no way he was going to live. At the time my bishop who came to give me a blessing and help my parents and I said something I hated and thought was so stupid.  I had wanted nothing more in life than to be a mother.  During my first marriage we were unable to have children. My bishop tried to offer theses word of comfort, “At least you know you can get pregnant now.”  At the time I was not in a place in my life to recognize tender mercies or the significance of the Lord’s timing.  Looking back, what a tender mercy that knowledge could have been to me. And knowing what I have always known, that we live again has been a huge tender mercy in my life. I will know this child of mine.

My boss at work has done little thing just by being his Christ like self that have helped me in my career and personal work life balance life.

My friend came and put my kids to bed so that I could finish an assignment I waited too long to do before the dead line.

I made it to church in time for the sacrament and my kids were quit so I was able to hear the prayer.

One friend stopped talking to me. The Lord put another in my life.

The Lord’s tender mercies could be acts of love and service from His children here on earth. They could be giving you peace in a time of sadness. They could be getting every green light when you are running late for work in the morning after taking an extra two minutes to pray before leaving the house.

As Elder Bednar shared. They are personal.  My hope and prayer for each of you reading this is for you to continually recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in your lives. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

It's Just Makes Sense

In 3 Nephi 24 Christ is visiting the people of the America’s again. He commands them to write the words of Malachi that he would tell them. In this section he talks of tithing.  I have shared a bit of my testimony and personal knowledge of the power of prayer.  This week I am going to share a bit of the tithing testimony I have.  In these scriptures as well as in the book of Malachi in the Bible it talks of a man robbing God if he does not pay tithes.

As a kid I knew my parents struggled with tithing but always thought they should pay it. I remember when my mom was committed to getting caught up and she paid the tithing instead of 2 months of the house payment. (We never ended up homeless, but things were sure tight.)  My parents always knew they should pay tithing. 

One day I heard this story:

There was a young man about 18-19 years old. He was living with his parents in Southern California when the Vietnam War and draft started.  He made a mistake that caused him to be in jail when it came his time for the draft.  So he did not go in that first round.  His charges were dropped and he went home.  He was invited by a friend to come with her to have missionary discussion. When it was over the missionaries left him with a pamphlet. The information contained within was on tithing.

He read the information and it “just made sense.”  The Lord has given us all we have. He asks for 10% back to help build up his kingdom here on Earth. He blesses us for obeying the Law of Tithing. I am sure there was a little more to it than that, but that was the gist of it.  Because this made so much sense to him and was just so right he found an address on the pamphlet. It was an address in Alaska.  He started mailing 10% of his income to the address on the pamphlet.  It was quite a few months later when he got another knock on his door.  This time is was a different set of missionaries.  In conversation they found he was the man they were looking for.  They let him know he was sending his money to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and they were representatives from that church. 

He took the missionary discussions and joined the church.  Then towards the end of the war he was drafted again. He was a few years older and much much wiser.  In Vietnam he would hide in his sleeping bag every night with a little light and read the Book of Mormon.  Other soldiers knew he was different. Something about him was just a bit more calming in this time of horror, death and war.  The men in his unit would come to him. They asked him why they never saw him drinking and other things. He had the chance to share about the Savor and the Atonement, the reasons he had this light around him in such a time of darkness. 

He was never able to serve a mission but, he looks back on his time in Vietnam as a quasi-mission as he was able to share the gospel and have his relationship with the Lord and Savior grow exponentially.  (The Alaska address was a bit of a mystery. It seemed the pamphlet he was handed had the mission address from an Alaska mission stamped on the back of it.) 

This story was so powerful to me. I struggled in my life. When I came back to the church one thing I knew I needed to do was pay my tithing. I know without a doubt this man’s life was spared in the War because he was meant to lead people to the Gospel.  I used this story of my dad to boost and jump start my testimony of tithing. Now I have one of my own. So many personal and shareable stories. But, this was the last story of this post.

I want to share my testimony of tithing. I know that the Lord keeps his promises. We may not always get monetary returns for paying tithing, but we will always be blessed. The Lord does provide a way. I say these thing in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Amy" is only 3 Letters. Geez!

I am a sinner. Worse than I knew. These chapters of the Book of Mormon start with the Sermon on the Mount. We compare 3 Nephi 12-14 with Matthew 5-7. The Lord is sharing his direction with the Nephites.  There is a lot in the Sermon on the Mount. A lot to learn from to interpret and discuss.  One thing jumped out at me this week. One sin I am guilty of. That I see the consequence of sometimes right away, but I just learned that unless I change my prideful sinning ways I am going to have a harder time bypassing the repercussions of this particular sin on Judgement Day.

I will illustrate the knowledge I have of the earthy consequences I have had from this sin along with a story of some of my earliest memories of doing this.  It was even before the age of accountability. I was in my first day of kindergarten.  The other children and I were sitting on our squares on the floor in the room. The ceiling seemed so high up. The walls were decorated for a typical kindergarten room. I loved the big color squares that seemed to my young self to be higher up on the wall than the roof of our house would be.  On the other side of the room up so high were individual squares with each child’s name on them. We were asked to find our names and indicate when we found them. I found mine right away. I knew how to spell my name and even write it. I was very familiar with my name. The girl next to me was named Amy. She could not find her name. She didn’t know how to spell it.  I found her name.  Then I sinned.  As I tell you what happened next see if you can determine why 33 years after the fact I still think sweet little 5 year old Shawndel was a sinner.

I found my name, then Amy’s name, and I thought to myself, “Wow, her name is Amy it is only 3 letters and she can’t even find it. My name is Shawndel and it is 8 letters and I found it right away. Mine is the longest in the class and hers is the shortest.” I might have even thought her dumb at the time.  I might have gone on to point her name out to her or to the teacher when she could find it when she was asked. I am not sure. However, I do know that I knew then (or maybe later that day after talking to my mom about my day) that I did something wrong. 

In second grade at about 8 years old I was made to sit in the front seat of the school bus. I hated it. I could not stand sitting being the bus driver because I could not look away from her terrible huge gross disgusting neck mole, with long black hairs protruding out of it. It grossed me out. My brother knew it and would tease about it. Moley moley moley, you had to sit by moley.   All I knew about Moley was that she had a mole and I did not like her for it. Flash forward 5 years or so and guess who has a mole on their neck.  Yep, me. Eww. But not eww, it is karma for my sin. Or just a part of me.

I always feel as I superficially judge other people the Lord finds a way to work that particular thing back into my life and gives it to me as a direct punishment or maybe more accurately as a lesson for me.  3 Nephi 14:1-5 tells me that my punishment will be far greater than the consequences I am seeing now. It is repeated all throughout the scriptures In Moroni 7:18, Matthew 7, Luke 6:37, the Doctrine and Covenants, and on and on.

We are admonished to not judge others. We are further informed that as we judge we will be more harshly judged less we repent.  We are also counselled to judge not superficially but righteously. (Some types of judging can help us and keep us and our children out of harm’s way.)  The kind of judging I am guilty of is the sin the Lord is counselling me of in 3 Nephi and all of these other places. 

I judge all-the-time. I am a harsh judge of myself as well. I know I am a hot mess. I know that I am fat. I know I am not the prettiest face in the room ever. I know I have crazy man hairs that try to spring out of my gross neck mole.  I know I should not judge but try to better myself.  The Lord has counselled us to not do this.

What steps do you take to avoid judging others? How do I change a 35 year old habit?  (Yes, 2 years earlier than my kindergarten story I judge my Sunbeam teacher.)  I pray.  All the time. And I just found a great resource to help me overcome this sin and realize that I need to let it go and not be prideful. I need to get the beam out of my own eye.  The Scriptures are a guide. They can help me. And you. 

But, seriously what other advice do you have?  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Power to Move Mountains

Helaman 10-16, That was the chapters of the Book of Mormon we studied this week. 

If you've read my blog in the past (or know me) you have probably gained some insight to who I am or at least some of m y past and what I have been through.  You also might know that this time as I am studying the Book of Mormon I am looking to make it personal to me. It was written in a "simpler" time for us now in these latter days.  Just like the savior sacrificed and died for each of us personally, this Book was written for us. So as I think about what I read and discussed this week the faith of Nephi and Samuel the Lamanite stood out to me.  
Both of these men believed in the Lord and had prayers answered and their lives guided by the Lord. It seems to me that they did not hear Him in a still small voice. They heard him speak to them in a way I have never heard for myself.  They knew without one bit of doubt the word they were speaking were true. They believed in them with all of their being. They were blessed for their unwavering faith. 

 Helaman 10:15-16 The Nephites try to take Nephi and put him into   prison but they can't. "…for he was taken by the Spirit and conveyed away out of the midst of them.”   Chapter 16 vs 11 talks about the arrows that could not hit Samuel because he was protected by the Lord.  2 thoughts - 1. Could you imagine this day and age people literally trying to shoot arrows at someone they disagree with who is preaching or teaching something? Probably not, but we have all sorts of relatable, figurative arrows that we see being shot when people take a stand for righteousness or their beliefs.
2. Why are we told this? What do these things mean to me? I know I will never be given the power to flatten a mountain as this Nephi was in these chapters. At least not in this earthly life.  I know there will most likely never be a time when a Godly force field will be around me to protect me from weapons of war being fired upon me. I also know that there is something that is speaking to me about these 2 men and these moments.
 I have faith. I think. I know I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to return to him. I know there is a way we can return to live with Him again. I know there is joy and peace this knowledge. I know there is life after I leave this Earth. I know I will see my son Abraham who was born too soon and died within minutes of being born. I know my sister Jeaniece who died 2 ½ years ago is going to laugh with my again one day.  

Then, I read about these men and the faith they had that was so much more than faith. It wasn’t a hope or belief in something unseen. It was knowledge of the truth they were teaching and spreading.  I know the things I just mentioned are true. I just know. I also know I come short. My knowledge in these things does not help me move a mountain or have me stand on a city wall and shout for all to hear the teaching of the Lord. I hesitate to even share these things out loud. They are precious truths to me and I don’t want others to hurt them. I don’t want to feel bad about these things I know. I don’t want to have a Google search done and sent to me disproving what I know.

So, maybe, maybe this time in this reading of these chapters and pondering these verse what I am learning is to not be afraid. Know my truth. Others have the right to believe how, where or what they may, but I can talk about what I know and have faith that the Lord will protect me and not let my wall of truth be broken. Both of these prophets prayed or conversed with the Lord prior to these experiences. That tells me something else. Pray. I need to always pray.

 I didn’t know quite where I was going when I started writing this post. Thank you for reading it. I hope it made a little sense. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Alma 42-62 Aka the War Chapters of the Book of Mormon

So much to think about in these chapters. I am going to focus on one thing that is personal to me. When I was researching and starting this post I thought I was going to talk about the two thousand Sons of Helaman and the faith they possessed. I was going to talk about their parent and what they much have been like. I ever was going to reference the following scriptures: Alma 53:20 and Alma 56: 47-48.  I am not going to expand on all of that. I think you get where I am going with it.

I want to talk about something that is even more personal. War. I am the least political person. I won’t talk about politics. No news shows for me. When it comes to current events if I don’t happen to see it in my Facebook news feed it is not even in my realm of existence. I am like a bird with its head in the sand. I know there are wars in countries all over the world. I know awful things are going on everywhere. Children suffering, animals suffering, people dying, hurting being tortured. I know this I don’t need to see it read about it or immerse myself in the details of it.  These chapters teach us that the Lord wanted us to know that war would be a reality in our day and age. This book was preserved for us after all. 

I am not in a country where I have to pick up a sword or gun and fight to continue to be a Christian. I hope I never do. But I do have a war I fight. I have, like all of us been at war since before we even came to this earth. See Revelations 12:7-9. Satan is at war with the Children of God every day. He is battling with us. He knows our weakness and plants demons, self-doubt, and fear in our hearts. He whispers in our ears. He acts like a buddy; a friend and tries to convince us that one little transgression is no big deal. Maybe one isn’t, but I say it is. It is the gateway. Open the window a crack and you might be giving Satan the power to uproot the whole house and leave you fully exposed to all of his power of evil. Oh, it probably wont be quick or all at once. You might not even notice it happening. You might even find temporary joy and happiness in your transgression. But, you will start to lose the war. The one you fought to win before you were even born.

Except, we know we are not perfect. We will all sin. We will all transgress. So what now? Is there no hope? Should I let my “Mormon Guilt” take over and say, “Welp, I messed up might as well keep doing it.”  Let me tell you the answer is no! There is a way. There is hope. We can and will win this war that we are in. The Savior Jesus Christ provided the way for us to come back from the smallest to biggest sins or mistakes.  Pray daily. Study the word of God. Reach out to friend of family. Know that even in the worst most contentious, bloodiest wars and times of our lives we are not alone. Have faith and hope. Put on the armor of God. Start your day with a prayer.  Keep it in your heart all day.  I am so far from perfect. I am a sinner. I fall. I yell when a soft word would do a better job. I hurt people without even realizing it. I am a work in progress.  

I hope you find your strength and are inspired to help bring others to the Light. To help them win the war against their demons. To love others as Christ loved us. To not delight in the shedding of blood. To be like Captain Moroni. 
visit TheWarChapters for inspiring reading about this section of the Book of Mormon

Friday, January 15, 2016

Direct Line to the The Big Guy

I am back.

This weeks scripture block was Alma 30 -35.  What drew me in was about prayer.

My testimony of prayer has always been there. Even when I was at the lowest point in my life making choices and living a life I hope none of you reading this ever do or go through I knew God wanted to hear from me. I knew my Heavenly Father was there to hear me. At that point in my life I wasn't really in a place to let the Holy Ghost reside with me, but I knew that if I reached out Heavenly Father would hear my prayers.

In Alma chapter 33 Alma quotes a prophet of old, Zenos. He tell the people that you do not have to pray  in a specific place. You don't only worship one day a week or in one place. I love verse 7 where he says, "And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me."  I took this to literally mean closet for years. If the Book of Mormon prophets are advising the people it is ok to pray in the closest than I was sure Heavenly Father is ok with me praying in my car (where the world can think I am singing or talking on blue tooth.) I know to get answers I need to be in a quieter place, perhaps on my knees in my room alone. However, I know that He will listen where ever I pray.

In the following Chapter, Alma 34, Amulek covers thing that one can pray for. In class we went over verses 20-27 and read all of the things one is advised to pray for and talked about what those thing mean to us today. I loved this. Remember the Book of Mormon was preserved and save for us in these latter days, so we could learn and know the truth.

These 2 chapters teach us so much about prayer and our line to our Father in Heaven. Through the Savior and because of the atonement we will be able to return to Him. I know I knew my Father in Heaven before I came to this earth life. I know that I walk with Him. I talked with Him. I know he wants me to continue to do that now. I am also taking the time to listen. To wait for answers and offer quiet peaceful moments to be comforted by God.