Monday, July 3, 2017

Trying on Careers

As a little girl I remember always thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Maybe because my dad died young and I knew life could be short or change dramatically in a split second or maybe its was just a personality but I was always thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I remember some time in the third or fourth grade I had started ballet lesson. Shortly after I started knew I wanted to be ballerina when I grew up. I loved to float around with my toes pointed and dance!

Later on the ballerina idea faded and I got a teacher in the 5th grade whom I adored and I just knew I wanted to be a teacher! I kept every paper she gave me and tried to get extra copies of worksheets so I could save them for when I would be a teacher. I held on her every word and action so I could implement the same when I was a teacher. 

Later on I noticed how unruly boys are and how hard it might be to be a teacher. I started to feel that maybe it wasn't right for me. I entered high school still on the look out for what I would do when I grew up.

In my high school I found out there was a career center and I would go there often. When I wanted to be a psychologist the helpful lady in the career center would pull down books and materials and show me which schools were good and what classes I might take in high school to help me when I started college and what scholarships I might try for. She would explain everything so that I could visualize in my mind the road ahead. Then later when I wanted to be an archaeologist she would do the same, pulling down books and course catalogs and telling me the classes I would take and the schools and the things I would do. So much so that I could visualize the road to being an archaeologist and I would leave the career center so excited about my future.

It was in this way that I would often 'try on' careers. Thinking I wanted to go into a certain career and the nice lady would help me see it so clearly and I would 'wear it around', muse over the career and what it would mean for my future. The nice lady in the career center either didn't remember me or just kept quiet. Never remarking on how often I would change career choices or criticizing me for not sticking to something longer. She was just a faceless person whom I could count on to tell me answers to my questions. I wish I could remember her name and go back and thank her.

I don't remember how often I would "try on" a career. But at some point towards the end of my high school years I remember having a light bulb come on inside me. All my desires and interests and hopes and dreams sort of collided together in my head and I thought, "I want to be a mom when I grow up!" But talking to my mother she assured me that wasn't possible because everyone has to work. Stay at home moms were a bygone generation only viewed on the Happy Days TV show I used to watch with my step-dad.

So I went back to the drawing board. Taking into consideration my strengths and weaknesses, my desires and interests, hopes and dreams, I came to a conclusion. I am weak. People around me are weak and susceptible to bad influences that might bring me down. I need God in my life. Not just near but close by. I needed God a part of my life every single day. The only way I knew how to have a job and have God a part of my life every single day was to be a youth pastor. At the time, my church didn't have one and they were struggling. I saw a need that I could fill. So I went back to the career center and I asked about how to become a pastor.

Again the nice lady told me all about the different schools and since I was Lutheran I would need to find a Lutheran seminary. She told me about one in Irvine, California and what I would need to do to get to be a pastor. So I went away yet again so sure of myself that I had finally found the career for me. I started as in other times looking around for what I could do right then to be a pastor. Waiting to be an adult or waiting to be who I wanted to be never made any sense to me.

So as a future pastor I started looking around at different churches so that I might collect good ideas that I might implement when I became a pastor. When I became a pastor I would have groups for singles and groups for widows and groups for men and group for woman so everyone could feel connected and have their needs met. I would have music classes where people could learn to play piano and guitar so they could take the hymns home and praise God through song in their homes. If someone had something they wanted to learn, as a pastor I would find a way to help them learn it. I was excited to implement my new ideas. I just had to get through high school and start college!

Then one day in the middle of my senior year I met Denee. I was taking Government and Economics with Mrs. Buffington. The teacher announced she would be putting us in groups to work on something. Looking around I saw Denee and she was talking to someone and she was happy and bubbly. I thought to myself, "I hope Mrs. Buffington puts us in the same group." 

My desire was answered and I got put in the same group as Denee and we quickly became friends. She radiated a happiness I had never felt. It wasn't long before religion came up. She would tell me all about her church and I would tell her about mine. Then I would ask questions because her church seemed deeper and left me with a lot to think about. Next thing I know she told me that there were missionaries that I could meet with that could answer all my many questions.

On the surface I was worried for my friend. Would she go to heaven as a member of this new unusual church?  Knowing there were missionaries all over the world, were they leading the world astray?  I love my friend and I wanted to know she was going to go to heaven with me. Under the surface, I was a future pastor looking for ideas to implement into my church. I felt a moral obligation to find out what the missionaries were teaching and to find out for myself if they were leading the world astray or not. If they were indeed leading the world astray as a future pastor it was my duty to help stop it. 

So I started meeting with the missionaries. I remember as if it was in slow motion when the missionaries slid a Book of Mormon across the table to me. I felt it's power and I wasn't sure if it was good or bad. As I heard about Joseph Smith he sounded a lot like me, a good person trying to do what's right and confused about just how to do it.

As I went through the 6 discussions that the missionaries taught, I learned all about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I learned that they were indeed good people doing good things. I was asked to be baptized. I kindly explained that no I did not want to be baptized, I was just curious about the church. They kindly taught me all 6 lessons and I learned a lot.

Later I did eventually join the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was partly through my quest for knowledge that led me to a closer relationship with God. Questions can turn into quests. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

1 Nephi 3:15

But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.

- - - - -

Nephi shows some fierce determination here. He is simply not going to quit. How do we develop such fierce determination? Perhaps when we have a clear view of our goal. It was quite simple and clear from our perch thousands of years in the future that Nephi had to get the brass plates for his eventual journey to America. But did he have such a clear vision at the time? We know he had gone to pray about what his father had taught him and gained his own testimony of the current situation. But was he like Joseph Smith, had he seen a vision and knew for a fact what he must do. Can a vision give you such fierce determination? Laman and Lemuel later see a vision and still don't gain much.

I have tried to have fierce determination and follow what the Lord tells me to do. We were sure we needed to adopt more children. We tried and tried and got so very very close only to have the whole thing collapse. I think Nephi had a very important thing going for him-- he knew he needed those plates NOW. I think determination is easier when its a now thing. But its the waiting on the Lord that is so very hard. But even Nephi had to wait upon the Lord. He must have felt some discouragement as he and his brothers tried 3 times to get the plates. Being determined and waiting upon the Lord for help is like running laps around the track and not knowing how many laps to run. Can we endure? Can we enjoy the journey? Do we know we're doing the right thing? What can help us keep running when our logical brain and our fatigued body demands answers?

Some things to think about...

Monday, October 12, 2015

1 Nephi 3:9-14

9 And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem.

 10 And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another.

 11 And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house.

 12 And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father.

 13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.

 14 But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.
- - - - -

So the guys took their super long journey back to Jerusalem. I learned yesterday in Sacrament Meeting that the path God has for us in by no means straight. Here it looks like the path to the promised land is back tracking, it might even feel like the path is dead ending as they struggle to get what they came for. Sometimes we might think that since we're doing the Lord's work and its good and true that it will be easy. But no scripture has ever said that, there are no examples of faithful men following God and having it easy. Joseph Smith was a faithful man of God and he was consistently taunted and threatened and treated with cruelty. But there is a difference from those people who just have hard lives because they choose dark paths of drug abuse and unrighteousness. Trials and hard lives come to all people but its those people who follow the Lord that receive the strength to overcome their trials.

Laman goes and asks for the plates and Laban says no and chases him out of his house. Then Laman perhaps feeling embarrassed gets angry and wants to go home. For me reading this hundreds of years removed from the story it seems rather babyish to throw a tantrum and want to give up. Throwing a trantrum is certainly not just for 2 year olds. We all throw tantrums, the scriptures might feel so removed from our high tech world but deep down, people are people. How often do we feel guided by the Spirit to do something and then throw a fit and/or give up when times get tough? Being a faithful following of God and Christ isn't easy it requires work. But work helps us grow into the people God needs us to be and that growth brings happiness. Like a parent trying to teach their children how to cook an clean so that they might be more capable. God is trying to teach us things we may not always be super excited to learn. But with faith and humility we can do hard things.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sacrament meeting

There was some talks in church today that really touched me. They were talking about developing Christlike attributes or attitudes I didn't quite catch which one. But something hit me. Don't confuse the straight and narrow path to heaven with the plan God has for your life. Your path on earth will not be straight and narrow. Trials, mistakes, teaching opportunities, learning opportunities--they cause the path to meander, the path may spin in circles, the path may lead by the same scenery several times. You may reach a dead end and have to turn around not because you were going the wrong way but because God's path doesn't always make sense. God's ways are not our ways. We are learning faith, patience and a whole host of worthy attributes. We are learning to have a good attitude about the path, learning to adapt, learning empathy for others. We don't know all things. Ours is not to question and know all things. Ours is to follow in faith knowing the answers will come later. If we stay close to the Spirit, pray continually for guidance the road won't be easy but our burden will be light as we receive peace from God that we're doing the right thing. The peace that passeth all understanding. The peace that doesn't make sense to the outside world, but the peace that comes from God knowing that He is well pleased with us.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

1 Nephi 3:1-8

1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.

 2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.

 3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

 4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.

 5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.

 6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.

 7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

 8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.
- - - - -

The scripture made famous by seminary-- Nephi 3:7. I think if we remember back to chapter 2, Nephi was praying and gaining his own testimony. His father had taken the family on a new adventure and the children were confused. Laman and Lemuel complain, Nephi sees his fathers actions and it seems to me that he saw his father's example and really thought about his father's actions. How did Nephi gain a testimony that when the Lord gives you a commandment He'll help you accomplish it? I think Nephi learned that by watching his father. Lehi had heard the prophets, felt the Spirit stir his humble heart and he prayed. Then the Lord gave him a commandment, a job to do. He told Lehi to teach the people and when the people rejected him the Lord didn't leave him hanging. He never leaves his followers hanging. Yes some of the prophets die teaching and exhorting people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am convinced just as Nephi that the Lord never leaves us. In Lehi's case the Lord led away from personal harm to a land of promise. Those people he did not lead away in this life still earned their own land of promise with God in heaven.

Anyway, I can see Nephi watching his father and scrutinizing his actions. I could see Nephi asking sincere questions and really wanting to know more about the change his saw in his father. Then he went to the Lord. 1 Nephi 2:16-- Nephi prayed to know the 'mysteries of God', perhaps the mysteries he refers to has something to do with his father's behavior. Nephi then says the Lord visited him and softened his heart. Could it be he came to know why his father had led them to the wilderness? Could it be he understood why his father better? Nephi says "that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father". I think Nephi's testimony starts out watching his father and recognizing the pattern that the Lord gives commandments and then helps you accomplish those commandments. Its a valuable lesson he has learned from praying and observing his father. And now all the is about to be tested as he himself is given a commandment. Nephi prayed and the Lord prepared him. Nephi reached out in faith just like his father had done and the Lord gave him a commandment. Nephi is really to serve just like his father. We pray with faith and the Lord strengths and tests our faith at the same time as we are given commandments. Don't just sit there believing-- put your money where your mouth is. Let's go! Faith is verb!

How proud Lehi must have been as Nephi bore to him his fresh testimony! He must have had that new glow of someone who has just found the gospel. I imagine Lehi and Nephi similar to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ... "Behold this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."  Lehi was well pleased with Nephi, he knew he had prayed and sought out his own answers and had been 'blessed of the Lord'.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Holy Ghost

Someone told me recently that the Holy Ghost can't teach you anything new but can only bring to your remembrance things you already know. Is that true?

Moroni 10:4-5
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

According the verse 5 it seems like the Holy Ghost can tell you the truth of all things. But in verse 4 it says when "ye receive". Sounds like this model can be applied to receiving (or being taught) anything. Basically when we are taught, told or hear about anything that doesn't make sense or feel right we can pray and ask God and he'll tell us through the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost if its good and true.

John 14:26
 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

In John it says the Holy Ghost will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance. It makes sense to me that bringing things to your remembrance is how the Holy Ghost teaches us all things. As we ponder later, as we go about our lives, the Holy Ghost can help us remember things so we further understand them in our current situation. So it would seem Sunday worship, General Conference, daily scripture study help us to fill up on the gospel making it easier for the Holy Spirit to help us remember. As we pray and ask and ponder the gospel we invite the Spirit to help us make connections.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

General Conference

Its General Conference today and its wonderful. So many great talks to go back and study! One from the morning session talked about praying and asking the Lord, "what lackest I yet?" like the young man in the New Testament. Ask the Lord, 'what do I need to do?' or 'what should I work on next?' I look forward to going back and studying each talk.