I could go on and on about how I wasn’t being true to who I was deep-down, and how it was hard for me to make the choice, but how easy it became once I was following what was truly in my heart, and on and on. But rather, I would like to let the eloquent words of Brian Wilson speak for me…
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!
Well, it’s a new year, which means it’s time to ponder the places you’ve been and the choices you’ve made over the last twelve months of your life, and to decide which way to go from here. This article from NPR titled “What Heroin Addiciton Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits” makes for some very interesting reading/listening in the context of the New Year. It got me thinking about how important it is to change our scenery once in a while, whether we are just having a bad day, or if we are going through extremely painful change. If I am ever feeling trapped or anxious or frustrated, something as simple as a walk outside can clear my head tremendously. The trick is having the presence of mind to get up and take a walk.
When I was down in the dumps after my divorce, one of the hardest things for me was waking up each day in my bed, a mattress on the floor of my mother’s basement, and would writhe with disbelief about where I was, and where I thought I should be. The two simply did not match up. Finally, one day after speaking with my life coach and good friend Jamie, it occurred to me that I had been considering my “room” as something temporary. I was so frustrated all the time that I didn’t have my own space, my own kitchen, my own apartment, and all the other things a girl my age is expected to have at this point in life.
Then it occurred to me that I did still have possession of some things that I did still hold dear. While I was sad to have lost so many other things, I did still have old photos, albums, artwork, and various other little things that held sweet memories. I also had my family, and my sanity, (two things that are very closely-related). I decided that instead of just sleeping in this room on this mattress with all of my things “temporarily” strewn and placed about, I would take ownership of the space, and create a sense of stability and permanence.
The simple act of re-arranging room and hanging my art and deciding on a place for all of my things changed my whole demeanor. I finally gave in to the reality of where I was. I began to enjoy being in the space, and I began to transform. I have a few very close friends who are going through some tough times right now, a few of which have to do with addiction, and it is my prayer that they will recognize how healing it can be to change the place that you are in order to enable yourself to move forward and start over, which is precisely what we all have to do each day. Sometimes in very little, unnoticeable ways, sometimes in very large, undeniable ways. These changes can help you to forget your troubles.
People are always telling me, “I can’t imagine you being angry.” That is unless they are the few who have had the rare and unfortunate opportunity to be on the receiving end. Then they might say, “Don’t make her angry!” You know the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” Well it applies to this woman too.
When I get angry—I mean truly angry—a side of me comes out that doesn’t feel like me.I begin to shake uncontrollably, which frankly really frightens me. I start to think, “I’m shaking! What is going on?!” Once fear is brought into the equation, my rational brain completely de-rails and I begin to fight for control of myself and the situation. My voice gets louder and louder, and at times I even have the impulse to place physical harm on someone. Again, this scares me. Before I know it, hurtful words are tossed like daggers at the person on the receiving end. In the end, my heart just aches. It’s as if I have given the adversary unhindered reign of my body, mind and spirit.
In Third Nephi we read, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil” (3 Ne. 11:29). Thus, giving in to contention and anger is actually yielding to Satan’s influence by surrendering our self-control. It’s no wonder that Jesus taught us to “love one another” for many, many reasons, not the least of which is that it prevents Satan’s influence from sneaking in and taking control.
I recently had a confrontation with someone I love dearly. This unfortunate person on the receiving-end of my anger said to me, “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.” This hit hard because I knew I had failed at something I truly hope to overcome. My heart was broken. I wept because of how disappointed I was with myself and my behavior.
BYU Magazine wrote a great article titled “Subduing the Spirit of Contention” which discusses ways to deal with anger. The article talks about the fact that Heavenly Father “has a body, parts, and passions and [he] has learned to govern them perfectly.” I love the fact that we are here on this earth to try and do precisely that, and that none of us are perfect, but we can continually work on ourselves and rely on the Lord for help.
After the latest large bout I had with my anger, I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help me to control it next time those same buttons are pushed. I know that He has helped me with so many other short-comings, and I know that He will help me with this one. I testify that if you go to the Lord with a sincere heart and real intent, he will help you with whatever it is that you are struggling with, whether it be an addiction, a bad habit, a big decision in your life, or a tendency to go haywire when your buttons are pushed. I will leave this quote from the BYU Magazine article summing up the power that we all have access to, “By feasting upon the Lord’s word, earnestly praying, and doing our all to control our emotions, we can surrender to the authority of Jesus Christ instead of giving in to our anger impulses.”
I do not think that my beliefs make me a better person, but I do believe we all can become better people through the true desires of our hearts, and with faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I pray that we may all work to overcome the spirit of contention in our hearts, in our minds and in our homes.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Duncan, Steven F. “Subduing the Spirit of Contention.” BYU Magazine 1 Jan. 1985. Print.
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!
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 buildings 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.
“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.
Last night we had our final for English 2010 – Intermediate Writing. (By final, I mean a party at our professor’s home.) It was nice for all of us “type-twos” to be in a social rather than classroom setting so that we could come a bit more out of our shells. Nikki and her hubby have a lovely home complete with a fresh Christmas tree. Ethan and Nikki talked about reading and writing, (Ethan and Nikki are both writing novels, in fact Ethan did his blog on story telling) and I learned that Nikki will be teaching a novel-writing class next fall. I got to see some of Gena’s handi-work with the plants she has gifted to the home we were in. Her blog PotWater is awesome if you are looking for suggestions or help with houseplants. Next I talked to fellow student Charles about his job on the disaster response team for St. Marks. Holy crap! You have got to check out what he does. My buddy Patrick and I had a bunch of laughs as per usual. (His family is in my brother’s ward and he mentioned that my brother called me a “hippie” during his testimony on Sunday. LOL. Thanks bro!) At the end of the night we were treated to a live rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” by our hosts. I took some video, but I will not share it here without Nikki’s permission. 😉 It’s a little sad to think we won’t be seeing each other’s faces late into the night twice a week as we’ve gotten used to, but we still have each other’s blogs to follow. I am so grateful to have been in this class, to have learned so much, to be given an outlet and opportunity to share my story, to enjoy the stories of others, to have made the friends that I made, and to have a party in place of a final! I’m especially grateful to Nikki Mantyla for being such a fun, informative, supportive teacher. I can’t recommend her enough and can’t wait to take her novel-writing class next fall!! Cheers!
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.
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.
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.
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: