Category Archives: LDS

My Good News 

Before I fully started on my journey back to the gospel I was looking for someone who had gone before me, who had returned to the LDS church after severing ties and had made it through all the changes I knew were coming. I wanted someone to say to me, “Hey, I’ve done this, it was great, here’s what you need to do.” It seemed simple enough with the sea of LDS books, podcasts, talks, etc. but there just wasn’t anything I could find that satisfied what I was looking for. So I started my own on an academic level. This blog originally began as an assignment for a writing class where we created pages based on how to do something that changed our lives. Here I am nearly three years after fully immersing myself in the gospel and my life is almost unrecognizable on every single level. I am perpetually in a greater position to give this advice day by day. So I am starting a series of posts based on the original intent of this site: How and why I did it. 

The word gospel means “good news” and the good news is the Lord Jesus Christ and His message of salvation. There is endless good news if you are considering your faith again. Jesus is the ultimate and perfect exemplar, which is wonderful to keep in your heart each day knowing you have someone who made zero mistakes. You don’t ever have to second guess and say, “well he was great except for that one time” because he never messed up, backed out or strayed from the work his father sent him here to do, not even in the face of challenges we can’t even comprehend. Because of this we can look to him in all things. Jesus taught, “This is the gospel which I have given unto you–that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. . . This is my gospel, for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do.” 

“All of us can emulate the Lord’s example, regardless of age, status, or location.” – Robert D. Hales

The wonderful, simple, reassuring news for all of us is whether we are returning to our faith after a few weeks or a few decades, the process is the same. This gospel and its precepts are SO simple anyone can follow them and receive the same results. By “simple” I don’t mean easy. Your life on this earth was never meant to be easy, let’s be clear about that. But with the gospel of Jesus Christ in your life you will receive guidance, blessings and answers that are keenly specific to your life, your family, and your challenges because Heavenly Father is keenly aware of you

Still, making such a big change can be intimidating to the point of keeping us from doing anything, but please ignore that feeling. Don’t let the adversary derail you before you get started. Let the words of Alma inspire you, “if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” If the desire is there give it a chance. Allow the desire to work in you. 

There is a pattern that was created spiritually and it begins and ends with your Heavenly Father and YOU. You can survive all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows because you have heavenly help along every step of the way. The process is the same for everyone and it is the same every time. That is the beauty of the gospel! The first steps you begin with will be the same steps you take each and every day as you come to know the gospel is infinitely edifying and instructive and it gets deeper and richer the more you immerse yourself in it. This is a pattern that Heavenly Father designed for you to draw closer to Him, for you to stretch, to grow, to learn, and to ultimately become like Him

So wherever you are, start there. Start here. Just start. Follow your heart, try the experiment and exercise a particle of faith to see what Heavenly Father has for you. 

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Begin Again

Again, the spirit has called and called me here to write and to share. Again and again I allowed myself to get caught up in things that distracted me. Now, here I am with a six-month-old baby wishing I had been recording my spiritual insights and experiences here all along and kicking myself for not doing this day after day.

Today I begin again. Because the day I walked into Niki Mantyla’s class nearly three years ago and the day she announced that our final for the class would be a blog discussing something that changed our lives (the very blog you are reading) I knew this was the message Heavenly Father wanted me to share. The joy I had in my heart would grow and grow each time I did.

I promise not to be like Chemish and Amaron. I will not blow my chance to bless a life and say nothing of value or be arrogant in my comments. I will do all I can to give my readers something useful, something good, something beneficial to think on and learn from.

I promise not to be like Chemish and Amaron. I will not blow my chance to bless a life and say nothing of value or be arrogant in my comments.

Today I want to begin by sharing the thought I had while listening to Mormon Channel Talk Radio. Yes, this is a thing I do several days a week if I ever know I am going to be home for a while and have no place to go or nothing pressing that day. I listen when I need a little spiritual upliftment. I listen when my scripture study was cut short by things like feeding the baby or changing the baby or playing with the baby. You catch my drift. At any rate, I highly recommend that anyone try listening. Each day is filled with conference talks, Mormon Messages, programs produced by the church and the Mormon Channel. The content is fabulous and trust me you will thank yourself for listening.

I love how the spirit can make any talk, any scripture, any discussion relevant and so very personal to each of us if we are seeking to receive it. Today I had the restoration on my mind since this is the theme for April in Young Women’s. I received several thoughts and direction due to segments today. I was excited and grateful to look further into the promptings I received. Then later as I was putting the baby to sleep, I overheard a piece of a BYU speech from Elder Holland that gave me much to reflect on. The quote, “When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple.” 

This quote was especially powerful today because I have a dearly loved sister who is going through an excruciating experience and I have had a hard time finding the words to express comfort to her. Last night, I found myself on the phone with her explaining how I will sometimes look for others are in much worse situations than I am to help me find the good in difficult times. When I was going through my divorce, I would read holocaust novels. When we spent ten days with Chloe in the NICU I would think of parents who were not able to hold or take their babies home from the hospital. Last night it was a tale of a friend who endured something similar but without the support and companionship of a loving husband.

“When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple.”

As I was listening to Elder Holland’s speech today, it hit me that maybe the reason we do this is that as we look for examples of suffering greater than ours, we will ultimately be lead to the perfect example who is Jesus Christ, who suffered more than any other human ever has or ever will. He suffered so that we would not have to, and when we give our pain, disappointment, discouragement, suffering and doubts over to him, we will learn as Elder Holland says, “every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through it.

. . . maybe the reason we do this is that as we look for examples of suffering greater than ours, we will ultimately be lead to the perfect example who is Jesus Christ . . .

These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.”

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith even said that perhaps such sufferings have to happen—not only can they happen, perhaps they have to. Regarding the events that took place at Liberty Jail, he said:

“As I have read the history of those days, the days that went before and days that came after, I have reached the conclusion that the hardships, the persecution, the almost universal opposition [toward the Church at that time] were necessary. At any rate they became school teachers to our people. They helped to make [them] strong.

I testify that this is true. I know that the challenging times we have in this life are all there to give us experience. Everything that we survive becomes our teacher, helping us to help others, to have empathy and compassion and a deeper understanding. It is my prayer that I will be able share this hopeful message with any of you who may be suffering. I urge you to listen to the words of Elder Holland, yes all 45 minutes of it, and I promise you will be uplifted and edified. Christ will carry you through your most difficult times if you reach up, he will take your hand. I know this to be true and I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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My Turn On Earth Rules!

Pretty much my favorite thing ever. ❤ The first time I picked this up a few months ago was purely out of nostalgic curiosity. I didn’t expect that I would want to keep listening. This is currently my favorite album. I am filled with the spirit each time I listen, and I learn something wonderful and new along with it. I highly recommend. PS, props to the SLCO library system for hooking this up!

 

 

Honoring the Law of Tithing

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Last week the bishop asked me to give a talk on tithing in sacrament meeting. It was finals week, so this felt like a daunting task on top of everything else. However, I have gotten in the habit of writing my testimony on this blog so I used it to write my talk. Here it is!

tithing-illustration-coins-principle-157170-galleryI am so grateful to be able to speak to you today about the law of Tithing.

Next to the desk in the office I work in, I have a bulletin board with inspirational quotes etc. and on it I have a quote that reads:

“Be fearless in building up the kingdom of Zion”

I look at it often and consider what I can do to help with the work. As members of this church, we have many opportunities to help build up the kingdom, and there are times when helping can seem challenging. and there are times when paying tithing can certainly fall into that category of things which seem difficult, but as President Lorenzo Snow so eloquently put it,

Tithing is not a difficult law . . . if a man receives ten dollars, his tithing is one dollar, if he receives one hundred, his tithing is ten . . it is very easy to comprehend.”  

“It is a law revealed specially for our protection and safety, as well as for our advancement in the path of righteousness and holiness; a law by which the land on which we dwell might become sanctified; a law by which Zion might be built up and established never more to be thrown down or removed out of her place by wicked and ungodly men.

We have temples, and we receive blessings pertaining to them, even the highest ordinances ever administered to man on the earth, by reason of our obedience to this law. (1)

The Bible indicates that God’s people followed the law of tithing anciently; through modern prophets, God restored this law once again to bless His children. God created the world we live in and everything in it, including us. There is no way that we could possibly repay him. We are forever indebted to him and all he asks of us is ten percent of our.

In Elder Bednar’s conference talk on tithing “The Windows of Heaven” he describes how,

These sacred funds are used in a rapidly growing church to spiritually bless individuals and families by constructing and maintaining temples and houses of worship, supporting missionary work, translating and publishing scriptures, fostering family history research, funding schools and religious education, and accomplishing many other Church purposes as directed by the Lord’s ordained servants. (2)

I love that as members of this church we have the opportunity to help support and sustain our leaders, our ward-members, our missionaries, the youth of this church, and others around the world. I enjoy having the right and the responsibility to contribute to help maintain and develop all of the wonderful tithing-607694-gallerybuildings that we have which allow us to worship, to have activities and meetings, blessing others of God’s children with the opportunity to learn of Him and grow in the gospel.

When I signed up for my first Institute class down at the SLCC campus, I was told that I could have a free parking pass. I love that my tithing funds go to help encourage young people to learn of our Heavenly Father, even by making it more convenient to come and attend the classes.

Developing Faith in Heavenly Father

Paying tithing helps us to develop faith in our Heavenly Father. When I started my journey back to the church, I had a whole myriad of difficult things to overcome, and some were a great challenge for me, but paying a full tithing was immediately a great blessing to me. It brought me great joy to have something that I was able to do without hesitation, with a thankful heart, it was a very tangible way for me to exercise my faith in the Lord.

Every time we pay our tithing we can have that same feeling of gratitude for having something temporal we can do to show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve said,

the primary purpose of this law is to help us develop and test our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Tithing helps us overcome our desires for the things of this world and willingly make sacrifices for others.”

By sacrificing to the lord what we may think we need or want for ourselves, we learn to rely on Him. Our faith in Him makes it possible to keep temple covenants and receive eternal temple blessings . . . . (3)

In Malachai 3:10 we read:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (4)

In the 1900 General Conference of the LDS Church, Joseph F. Smith shared a memory of his mother:

“My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes, and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family'” (5)

During my preparation for this talk I have been given an opportunity to reflect on the blessings that I have received as a result of being a full tithing payer. I did a lot of Google searches to find inspiring stories from others, and then began to realize that I had many examples of my own.

In the fall I decided to go back to school. At the time, I was working a full time as a program manager and part time as a yoga instructor. I was teaching at my home studio in Sugarhouse, and at a new studio which recently opened up in West Jordan. (In case you didn’t know, the yoga that I teach takes place in a room with 110 degree heat and 40% humidity, so simply teaching a class can be physically exhausting.)

As is the case with most new yoga studios, the West Jordan studio was struggling to get on its feet, and I felt a great obligation to do whatever I could to help even though I was wearing myself thin; I didn’t want to let the owner down by taking time away to focus on school. I considered quitting my full-time job to teach and go to school full-time and I had been praying for an answer from Heavenly Father to help me to know where I should be focusing my efforts.

One morning, after a particularly strenuous and challenging 5:30 A.M. class, the owner came in and without my even asking, offered to give me a break. In an instant I was given permission to walk away from something that had been a great cause of worry and tension and I knew that Heavenly Father had a hand in it. I knew that my efforts were meant to be placed elsewhere and it was such a blessing to receive an answer to this question that had been constantly on my mind.

This also meant that I would be losing a chunk of my income, but I knew that the Lord would help me to survive because I had been faithful in paying my tithing.

And the simple truth is this: I have had more than enough each month. You hear stories all the time about people deciding to pay a full tithing, even when they were struggling to make ends meet, and somehow being able to make it work. It works because the Lord opens the windows of heaven and pours the blessings out. I encourage each one of you to test your faith in the Lord by paying a full tithing. Prove Him now herewith. Be fearless in building up the Kingdom of Zion. I bear my testimony that if you do this, there will be joy in your heart, that the Lord keeps his promises and that the windows of heaven will be opened to you, you will receive great blessings both temporal and spiritual that there will not be room enough to receive them. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Sources:

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement.” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement. 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

Bednar, David A. “The Windows of Heaven – David A. Bednar.” The Windows of Heaven – David A. Bednar. 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

Hales, Robert D. “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually – Robert D. Hales.Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually – Robert D. Hales. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

Malachai. 3:10. Print.

 

#ShareTheGift

Last week while listening to Christmas music and preparing Thanksgiving dinner, it hit me that I kept feeling the spirit with some of the songs that were playing; something I haven’t felt for a very long time. I looked at my mom and said, “Is this how you always feel at Christmas?” She smiled and nodded saying, “Isn’t it wonderful?”

The sister missionaries came over last night to help us decorate the Christmas tree, and they brought with them a DVD of the church’s latest video. It made my heart swell and almost burst! I am so proud of the church for delivering such a beautiful, gentle message that perfectly fits the spirit of the season.

This video does the same thing for me, and I hope that it touches your heart too.

#Endowed!

Today (and every day) I am grateful that after twenty-plus years of wandering away from what I knew to be true, I let go of my pride, followed my heart, and landed straight back with my LDS faith. Last week I entered the temple for the first time with my family and friends to take out my endowments. I am now officially a wearer of temple garments and it feels grrreat! All I could think the whole time was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful and yet again, wonderful.

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Temple Preparation: A Journey In Itself

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When I first came back to church, the temple was on my mind constantly, the glowing beauty on nearly every horizon of the Salt Lake Valley seemed to call to me wherever I could see it. But I had not followed the law of chastity for the last twenty years, I was still drinking and had only quit smoking in the not-so-distant past, I was drinking tea and coffee religiously, not to mention the idea of tithing and garments?!  How would someone like me ever muster up the strength to overcome my addictions, my shortcomings, and manage to get there?

If you are considering going to the temple for the first time, I know how daunting it can seem. But the process is simple. In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Lattet-Day Saints, “We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.” 6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.” I did what I could, with a steadfastness in Christ, I listened to what the spirit was prompting me to do, and made changes in my life little by little. I started going to church. I prayed morning and night. I decided to read the Book of Mormon in it’s entirety for my very first time. After that, my life continued on, filled with challenges as always. Only now I had the spirit with me and blessings started pouring out.

I started back at school, I found this class which lead me to creating this blog and sharing my story, my sister whom I had been praying for moved back in with my mother and I in search of help, I have been allowed to be by her side to grow and learn with her, my family ties have been re-invigorated and strengthened through our faith in the plan of salvation and our love for one-another, I have made new friends who inspire and uplift me, I have been given opportunities to inspire and uplift others around me, with the help of my bishop I received my temple recommend, I received my Patriarchal Blessing, I have been called as a Ward Missionary, and I am ready to enter the temple. The list keeps growing, my mind keeps expanding, and my testimony grows and grows with each passing day, each trial, and each triumph.

In the early weeks of my return back to church, as I was testing the waters with the active members of my family, looking for guidance and support, my nephew Connor, a recently-returned missionary, told me I should listen to this talk given by Brother Brad Wilcox. I have since returned to it over and over. His words are so encouraging and have given me the hope and motivation to press forward.

 

Ever since I received my temple recommend back in September, my family and I have been meeting (almost) every week to review the Temple Prep Classes. If you are preparing to enter the temple, I highly recommend taking the classes, and (if you are able) I would recommend doing them with your family. It has been such a blessing for us to gather and discuss things like the plan of salvation, the importance of temple work, the importance of the use of symbols in teaching, the purpose of temple garments, etc. It has been a great testimony builder, and a source of strength and power for me and my family to gather and intimately share our beliefs, experiences, hopes, challenges, and most of all our testimonies has been a treasure beyond measure.

Another thing I highly recommend is reading a post by a fellow blogger entitled “The Truth About Mormon Temples, and What to Expect When Going”. This post gave me hope and helped to relieve any residual anxiety I had about getting there and how my life would change after I went. This post completely changed my perspective on temple garments (women you need to read this!) Her attitude and enthusiasm towards garments (something that seems like such a hard concession to make, especially when women are told by the fashion industry to dress a certain way. But I have learned that there is such freedom in dressing modestly, and

How wonderful and perfect is God’s plan for each and every one of us? If it weren’t for the gospel, I would not be where I am today. If it weren’t for the requirements to enter the temple, I wouldn’t be making the progress I have made in my life in order to get there. I can not wait for the next growth spurt that will come after I go. To quote my sister Annie, the temple is a place where all are welcome. Elder Russel M. Nelson advises that, “No one is denied access so long as they are Our Redeemer requires that His temples be protected from desecration. No unclean thing may enter His hallowed house. 11 Yet anyone is welcome who prepares well.”

I am living proof of this and I am so grateful for all the wonderful blessings, wisdom and experiences I have gained just by preparing myself to go.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Yoga of Christ

I like to ponder the many factors, the who and the what, that played a role in my return to the LDS church. There are many people who helped me on this side of the veil, and I know there are many on the other side. I think about my father, my grand parents, my aunt Judy, and my niece Taylor. Then there are the more distant relatives, when I was alone driving on the coast of California, it was President Spencer W. Kimball who preached to me in such a clear and concise voice that I could not help but stand at full attention. It occurred to me this morning that perhaps even Parmahansa Yogananda was involved somehow.

While I was listening to the audio book version of Autobiography of a Yogi (read by Sir Ben Kingsley, btw. I highly recommend picking it up from your local library), I was surprised and touched by the continuous mention of Jesus Christ. The fact that this great guru, the man who brought many cherished Eastern ideals to the Western world, considered Jesus not only to be a real man, but a yogi beyond comparison, compelled me to reconsider my faith in him.

An article recently given to me by another timely influence here on Earth, Nikki Mantyla, brought back that connection. Philip G McLemore wrote an article for Sunstone back in 2007 titled, “The Yoga of Christ” in which so many wonderful ideas and questions are brought to mind. The principles of yoga have always been rooted in the very connection between man and God, whether we in the western world are aware of this or not. The western world seems to have taken God out of yoga, making it all about a connection to “the universe” (barf) (sorry but I do not believe that we are connected to some dark, cold, un-concerned, un-engaged, passive, inconsequential universe although that is precisely the sentiment that seems to emerge from the western yoga world.)

I am actually only half-way through this article as it has given me much to reflect on and ponder, but I think it is going to be a great help with my Position page. Right now I am really enjoying the thoughts on “non attachment” as a means for letting go of all attachment to the world and putting all of your faith in Christ. I am also nearly finished reading the Book of Mormon, having just reached the actual book of Mormon, the time when Jesus has come and gone and the world is becoming a wicked place. The correlation between what is going on in the world today and what is going on in this part of the scriptures is fascinating and giving me much to ponder as well.

Here’s a taste of the wonderful insight provided:

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Digital Dating: Creeps Exist Everywhere

Don’t be fooled ladies: creeps exist everywhere. Whatever your walk of life, the world is full of all kinds of wonderful and messed up people. This week I got a good reminder of this. I have your typical story for anyone who has rationalized online dating: a single gal who works from home and goes to school at night so I don’t have a chance to meet a lot of new people right now. Not to mention that I have very few friends who are LDS, which makes it hard for me to meet LDS men to date. Therefore, I decided to get online and check out what is out there — after all, my brother met his wife online, and they are a match literally made in heaven.

First of all, there is an overwhelming number of sites to use for dating in general, even if you are looking for something as specific as “Farmers Only”, “Mature Singles Click”, and yes, even LDS dating sites. I did my research, and decided on trying “LDS Planet.” The profile page on this site differs from your typical dating site in that there are categories for things such as whether or not you have a temple recommend, how many children you have, whether or not you are “active” in the church, etc. which makes for some interesting reading, but it also lends itself to quick and harsh judgement of others, which is a weird thing about dating sites.

I looked around a little bit to see if there was anyone who looked like my “type” (whatever that may be). I found a hot convert who lives in Edinburgh (he hasn’t replied to my “flirts”), and a bunch of divorced men with children. (For the record, while I’m sure there are some great guys out there, I’m not in a huge rush to jump into a relationship with someone who has an ex-wife and kids. It just sounds messy, although it would be fine with the right person I’m sure.) I got a message from a guy who was flat-out crazy, telling me his life story and dumping all of his issues right in my lap, asking if a vasectomy was an issue if we were going to be married, etc. “Whoa dude, I don’t even know your name!” Ugh. I wasn’t too excited with any of the prospects so far.

Then one day during a particularly stressful week, I got an invitation to chat with a guy. He did not look very attractive to me, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. We chatted online for about an hour. He was funny, liked to eat Pho at my favorite place downtown, and had no ex-wife or kids to speak of. I thought, “Okay, this might have some potential.” We chatted again a few days later, and he gave me his phone number.

I decided if we were going to meet, it would be good to go to a place that was public. Finally I decided to invite him to come to church with me. (What could be less threatening or more safe, right?) He agreed to come. I decided I would call him to have a quick chat and make arrangements. I said a quick prayer asking Heavenly Father to show me whether this was the guy for me. Then I picked up the phone and called. Immediately I knew that this guy was a creep. He kept bringing sex into the conversation at every turn and every topic. I got an immediate answer to that one. Barf, this guy is GROSS!! Move on.

I think I’ll stick to the old-fashioned, analogue method for meeting people.