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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Is It Still Wonderful to You? by Bishop Gérald Caussé; April 2015

Is It Still Wonderful to You?
By Bishop Gérald Caussé
First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

My wife and I had the great joy of rearing our five children near the magnificent city of Paris. During those years we wanted to offer them rich opportunities to discover the marvelous things of this world. Each summer, our family took long trips to visit the most significant monuments, historic sites, and natural wonders of Europe. Finally, after spending 22 years in the Paris area, we were getting ready to move. I still remember the day when my children came to me and said, “Dad, it’s absolutely shameful! We’ve lived here all our lives, and we have never been to the Eiffel Tower!”

There are so many wonders in this world. However, sometimes when we have them constantly before our eyes, we take them for granted. We look, but we don’t really see; we hear, but we don’t really listen.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus said to His disciples:

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

“For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”1

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live at the time of our Savior. Can you imagine sitting at His feet? feeling His embrace? witnessing as He ministered to others? And yet so many who met Him failed to recognize—to “see”—that the very Son of God was living among them.

We too are privileged to live in an exceptional time. The prophets of old saw the work of the Restoration as “a marvelous work … , yea, a marvelous work and a wonder.”2 In no previous dispensation have so many missionaries been called, so many nations been opened for the gospel message, and so many temples been built throughout the world.

For us, as Latter-day Saints, wonders also occur in our individual lives. They include our own personal conversion, the answers we receive to our prayers, and the tender blessings God showers upon us daily.

To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation.

But let us beware. Our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to even the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.

The Book of Mormon describes a period, very similar to our own, that preceded the coming of the Messiah to the Americas. Suddenly the signs of His birth appeared in the heavens. The people were so stricken with astonishment that they humbled themselves, and nearly all were converted. However, only a short four years later, “the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, … and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.”3

My brothers and sisters, is the gospel still wonderful to you? Can you yet see, hear, feel, and marvel? Or have your spiritual sensors gone into standby mode? Whatever your personal situation, I invite you to do three things.

First, never tire of discovering or rediscovering the truths of the gospel. The writer Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”4 Do you remember the first time you read a verse of scripture and felt as if the Lord was speaking to you personally? Can you recall the first time you felt the sweet influence of the Holy Ghost come over you, perhaps before you even realized it was the Holy Ghost? Weren’t these sacred, special moments?

We should hunger and thirst every day after spiritual knowledge. This personal practice is founded on study, meditation, and prayer. Sometimes we might be tempted to think, “I don’t need to study the scriptures today; I’ve read them all before” or “I don’t need to go to church today; there’s nothing new there.”

But the gospel is a fountain of knowledge that never runs dry. There is always something new to learn and feel each Sunday, in every meeting, and in every verse of scripture. In faith we hold to the promise that if we “seek, … [we] shall find.”5

Second, anchor your faith in the plain and simple truths of the gospel. Our amazement should be rooted in the core principles of our faith, in the purity of our covenants and ordinances, and in our most simple acts of worship.

A sister missionary told the story of three men she met during a district conference in Africa. They came from an isolated village far away in the bush where the Church had not yet been organized but where there were 15 faithful members and almost 20 investigators. For over two weeks these men had walked on foot, traveling more than 300 miles (480 km) over paths rendered muddy by the rainy season, so they could attend the conference and bring the tithes from the members of their group. They planned to stay for an entire week so they could enjoy the privilege of partaking of the sacrament the following Sunday and then hoped to set out on the return trip carrying boxes filled with copies of the Book of Mormon on their heads to give to the people of their village.

The missionary testified how touched she was by the sense of wonder these brethren displayed and by their wholehearted sacrifices to obtain things that for her had always been readily available.

She wondered: “If I got up one Sunday morning in Arizona and found that my car wasn’t working, would I walk to my church only a few blocks away from home? Or would I just stay home because it was too far or because it was raining?”6 These are good questions for all of us to consider.

Finally, I invite you to seek and cherish the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Most wonders of the gospel cannot be perceived by our natural senses. They are the things that the “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, … the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”7

When we have the Spirit with us, our spiritual senses are sharpened and our memory is kindled so we cannot forget the miracles and signs we have witnessed. That may be why, knowing Jesus was about to leave them, His Nephite disciples prayed fervently “for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.”8

Although they had seen the Savior with their own eyes and had touched His wounds with their own hands, they knew that their testimonies might dwindle without being constantly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. My brothers and sisters, never do anything to risk the loss of this precious and marvelous gift—the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Seek it through fervent prayer and righteous living.

I testify that the work in which we are engaged is “a marvelous work and a wonder.” As we follow Jesus Christ, God bears witness to us “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.”9 On this special day, I bear witness that the wonders and marvels of the gospel are anchored in the greatest of all of God’s gifts—the Savior’s Atonement. This is the perfect gift of love that the Father and the Son, united in purpose, have offered to each one of us. With you, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. … Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”10

That we may always have eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that perceive the wonders of this marvelous gospel is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Church talks

A good friend said she had been given a challenge to read and study all the General Conference talks from April before the next General Conference. Here is it October and another General Conference is approaching. I want to do the same, read and study General Conference and other talks from the church. There are so many amazing talks from the church that teach me and fill my soul with light. Between the scriptures-- Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and church talks I could study forever. Plus the amazing library of good books I have gathered over the years. Never a reason not to study.

I just listened to a talk from Women's Conference, "Discovering the Divinity Within". WOW there is a lot there. I will have to take it in parts and really think on it. I have never given much thought to divine nature. 

At church on Sunday the lesson was on the talk "Is It Still Wonderful To You". Another talk with a lot there to study! So much there to learn if I can just find a way to drink from its pages! Its a talent that I want to learn, to study a talk, to take it apart and look deeply at its teachings.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1 Nephi 2:19-24

 19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.

 20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.

 21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

 22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.

 23 For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.

 24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.
- - - - - -

If we pray with faith and do so diligently and with lowliness of heart then the Lord will answer our prayers and help us understand His ways.

We need to pray with the faith that he will answer our prayers. I think doing so diligently implies some work. The dictionary says, "in a manner involving great or constant activity". So Nephi might have been praying nearly constantly for a period of time. We know he prayed for his own testimony and we know he prayed for his unbelieving brothers. The last ingredient was 'lowliness of heart'. Nephi prayed in humility not forcing his will upon the Lord, not begging for what he wanted to have happen. He prayed to know the truth, he prayed as his father had done on behalf of his people, in this case his brothers. With faith, diligence and humility he received a powerful message from the Lord, a prophecy of the future.

If we keep the commandments then we will be lead to a land of promise and we will prosper.

I remember years and years ago when I first joined the church as Lehi gained a testimony so did I. Then Chris and I got married and we humbly tried to follow the Lord. We prayed and were led by the Lord to a small town and for Chris to go to school while I stay home with the kids, always striving to follow the Lord. Just as Lehi was led to the wilderness and learn to further follow the Lord. We were led to live poorly but to work hard and finish school, just as Lehi dwelt in a tent and wandered around without the comforts of life. Lehi was promised a land of promise just as we hoped the Lord would provide a good life for us after our efforts to start a family and juggle school, kids and church. We both had faith and hope in the Lord. Lehi didn't know what the promise land would look like save it would be a wonderful place that would meet his and his family's needs. Similarly we didn't know what the future held, were we'd live save we wanted to live in a place where we could raise our family. Nephi built a boat and they set sail and set out for the promise land, the way wasn't easy they had many trials but eventually they made it to the promised land.. We packed a U-Haul and set out for a 4 hour journey, we got a flat tire on the way and although the way wasn't easy we made it. Then further down the road we made a longer journey and eventually made it to Texas, our promised land. I hope its not sacrilegious to compare my life with that of a prophet. I find comfort in doing so. I can be like Lehi and Nephi and great people of old holding fast to the faith and hope the gospel brings. The good news that Jesus Christ is the Savior who makes it possible for us to hope and have faith in better things. There is a promised land for all of us. A land flowing with milk and honey. A land where we can thrive. Life isn't easy for anyone but God has a plan for our lives, it often doesn't make sense but He knows how to best help us grow and how to best use our talents and abilities to help others grow. Then when this life is over there is another promised land we'll go to. The promised land of heaven prepared for each of us personally where we will feel happy, whole and complete.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

1 Nephi 2: 14-18

 14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them.

 15 And my father dwelt in a tent.

 16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

 17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.

 18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
- - - - -

I wonder what Nephi meant by 'being large in stature'? Nephi had great desires to know the mysteries of God so he prayed. I wonder if crying unto the Lord is the same as praying or if it has a deeper meaning. The pattern is there though, have great desire and pray.

If you have great desire and pray then the Lord will visit you and soften your heart and help you believe.

I think Nephi and Joseph Smith are good examples of this. They both had great desires. Nephi doesn't go into a lot of details but we know from Joseph Smith's account that he was confused by so many different ideas about God going around. He studied the scriptures and wanted to know what he should do, he wanted to make sense of it. So he didn't just wonder about something, he thought about it, studied the Bible, and tried to find answers. When he couldn't find answers it began to really weigh on him so he went to the woods to pray out alone, out loud, to be alone and commune with God. And the Lord certainly did visit him.

Nephi might have had a similar thing happen, he might have been confused about life in Jerusalem and why they had to leave. I imagine Nephi studied it out in his mind and read what scriptures of sought what help he could. Then he prayed for help and the Lord helped him know the truth.

Its the same pattern with missionary work. The missionaries find someone to teach and they introduce a lot of new ideas, read scriptures and cause the investigator to question things. Studying it out the investigator goes to the Lord in prayer and finds answers. So I imagine it took more then a casual 'I wonder' from Nephi to be visited by the Holy Ghost. Then Nephi did the natural thing, like his father and so many before and after him he shared his new found testimony with those around him. I imagine him brimming with new found faith and a glow, full of the Holy Spirit as he told Sam and his brothers about his experience. When Laman and Lemuel rejected the message and his experience the pain must have been great. Similar to when I tried to tell my family of my new found faith and testimony of the restored gospel.

Monday, September 28, 2015

1 Nephi 2: 8-13

8 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.

 9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

 10 And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

 11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

 12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

 13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.
- - - - -

Lehi and his family have left Jerusalem and it appears that Laman and Lemuel have been giving their parents trouble, perhaps complaining the whole way there or just part of the way. Road trips are certainly made difficult with whining complaining people along for the ride.

This reminds me of some dear friends of mine. The husband rather suddenly it seemed wanted to move away. So the family put their house up for sale. It sold quickly, rather miraculously. Things were falling into place and they moved away. Once they got there the family of 3 moved into an apartment. It didn't seem like the ideal situation. The family had moved before the husband had a job. People thought they were crazy to move so fast. I knew they were following the Lord and I knew they were united in that purpose so I thought that everything would work out fine. The wife was frugal and they lived poorly at first but eventually things improved and now the husband has his dream job and they have bought a nice home. During their time in the small modest apartment, they met some new friends and introduced them to the church. I was sad to hear people murmur and complain about their decision to move. The Lord ways are not our ways.

Similarly, when I was pregnant with Charlie. I knew his birth would be risky. Either try again to vbac or do a repeat c-section. For some repeat c-sections are not a big deal, but for me it held serious risks. Chris and I prayed and did what we felt was right. It was a very difficult time, filled with faith and near death. Following the Lord, often times we think things will got smoothly and wonderfully but that's not the case. Just because someone nearly died doesn't mean they weren't following the Spirit. A lot happened during that time good, bad and ugly. But I know I did the right thing. If following the Spirit leads you down dark and scary roads, would you not go? There will always be those who murmur and complain. After Charlie I was told by a church member 'how irresponsible' I was to have done what I did, since I have other children at home. Is it irresponsible to follow the Lord?

Laman and Lemuel complained about leaving behind their stuff. They might have seen the life they could have had. They had land, gold, silver, and precious things. Perhaps they had envisioned a life of luxury and ease and now that had all been taken away from them as they wandered in the wilderness. Little did they know the Lord was leading them to yet greater things, not just inheriting their father's land but a whole country! Do we sometimes envision for ourselves a life we dream up looks great and wonderful. Yet the Lord has so much more in store for us if we would just let him guide us to where he needs us to be.

If we follow the Lord then he will guide us. He might guide us to places we never thought we'd go.
If we truly want to be guided by the Lord then we need to be prepared to go to unknown places. There will always be those who murmur, but we need to press forward in faith. If we are the ones complaining we need to take a step back a accept that following the Lord doesn't always appear logical.

Laman and Lemuel were 'like unto the Jews at Jerusalem who sought to take away the life of my father'. That's the scary part. May the gospel of Jesus Christ a call to repentance never give us murderous rage.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

1 Nephi 2: 6-7

 6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

 7 And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.
- - - - - - - -

Lehi has just taken his family and fled from people who wanted to kill him. He was told in a dream so its likely that he was not chased by an angry mob or anything but it does appear that he left everything behind and took nothing with him save provisions for the trip and left. He didn't stick around to sell what he had, he just got some supplies and left. Now he's gotten far enough a way to take a moment to rest and he sets up camp and immediately gives thanks to God. Gratitude is so important. It seems like for some people when life is going good they give thanks to God because life is going so well. Then when trials hit and life its going so well they get caught up in the trial and forget to be close to God. A year ago our home flooded and luckily we had insurance to help cover expenses. We had to go live in a hotel for 6 weeks and then a rental house for 3 months. It was a crazy time. Its easy to just ride the waves of life, go through the motions. Like someone caught on a strong wave in a rough river, just ride the wave to the end, you sort of shut down emotionally and just survive. But shutting down emotionally, riding the waves of life and just surviving leave little room for spiritual growth, prayer and gratitude.

The passage above also makes me think of a Bible verse that Chris shared with me:
- - - -
Hosea 6:6
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
- - - - -

I think Lehi wanted the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. I think Lehi wasn't just going through the motions he was following the Lord in faith.

If we stay close to the Lord through our trials, don't just go through the motions but express gratitude and looking for the positive in every situation then he will help us learn and grow from them.

How? --I think we need to take deep breaths and remind ourselves to look for the good in every thing we do and everything that happens to us. It takes training. It takes soul searching. If you're typically noticing the bad about everything make the difficult switch to see the good. The missionaries teach the simple 4 steps to prayer--step 2 is "Thank thee..." prayer is good for us to dig around and see the good in everything. I think we need to desire the knowledge of God and not just the ritual of what we should do, going through the motions and check it off our to-do list. Study the scriptures. Study like you're hungry and stop when you're full. As we seek God and try and dig deep we learn more about ourselves and more about God.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

1 Nephi 2:1-5

1 For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.

 2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.

 3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.

 4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.

 5 And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.
- - - - - - - - -

Lehi reached out to God in prayer, God gave him a job to do: preach to the people, cry repentance. Lehi faithfully fulfilled that, he told the people the message God had for them. But the people rejected Lehi like so many other prophets before him. God in his mercy had tried multiple times through multiple people to get the people to repent, but they would not listen. Jerusalem was ripe for destruction. So God in his mercy towards those who are obedient told Lehi in a dream to get out of the city, go far away. He was yet again obedient. Nephi lists all those things that had to leave behind, was he remorseful? Did he see it as a sign of his father's faith? Maybe he lists those things to show us how rich his family was and the sacrifice Lehi made in leaving behind his riches. It had to be a big leap of faith. I don't think Lehi was given a 4 year plan from the Lord. When Lehi was first told to preach to the people I don't think he saw it ending with people threatening to kill him and him taking his family far away. Obedience seems to go hand and hand with faith, not knowing the future but just trusting that the Lord will lead the way. Trusting that he has your best interests at heart. That can be really hard to do when you have hope and dreams. Trusting that God will lead you to their fulfillment is huge. Like a child in a car trusting our parents to take us somewhere we'd like to go, we must trust our Heavenly Father to lead us and guide us to a place we want to be.

We must have faith AND obedience.

If we have faith and trust in the Lord then we may be called upon to leave our worldly possessions, Jesus told the rich man to give away all he had to the poor, Lehi was told to leave all his riches behind, the Latter-Day Saints often had to leave behind all they had and flee before mobs, the women in Nauvoo broke their fine china to help add beauty to the temple, we can not let worldly possessions or worldly pursuits get in the way of our relationship with God.

If we have faith and obey to Lord, follow the Spirit's promptings, follow the commandments then we will be lead to a land of promise, a place where we can grow spiritually, prosper and reach our potential.

Friday, September 25, 2015

1 Nephi 1:20

20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
- - - - - -

If I have faith then the Lord will help make me overcome my trials.

The Lord's tender mercies are over all those who he chooses. He chooses them because of their faith. Tender mercies in my opinion are like God smiling down on our valiant efforts and giving us a little break. Sending some extra help. I remember a story in the Book of Mormon where some people were in bondage, times were tough. They were not free to worship God. They had been told not to pray so they prayed in their hearts. Because of their faith, God made their burdens feel light. He didn't take away their burdens, he didn't rescue them from bondage, he just gave them more strength to face their burdens with energy and patience. Then the time came when the time was right and they were able to be delivered from bondage. It seems the key to it all is having faith, not just wimpy faith like a mere belief but a powerful strong faith that moves, breathes and acts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1 Nephi 1:16-20

16 And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.

 17 But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father, upon plates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my father then will I make an account of mine own life.

 18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.

 19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.

20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
- - - - - -

So Lehi prays, sees a vision and gains an unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So burning with the fire of a newly converted, a changed man, he goes out and wants to share what he's learned with others. He tells them of their wickedness and calls them to repentance. That's pretty typical, but the next part is what baffles me. All my life I went to church (I was raised Lutheran) and was taught Bible stories and I always thought the Jews were God's chosen people. Way back with Moses and the whole 'let my people go' thing, those were the Jewish people! So here fast forward and they seem to still be struggling with basic concepts. In the wilderness there was lack of faith and the people were bit by serpents and had to just look and live, turn to the symbol of Jesus Christ and live. Here they seem to be in a similar plight though not as obvious to them. They are ripe with sin and iniquity, further study shows the particulars. But it seems that God's chosen people are yet again struggling to be faithful. Did God choose the wrong people, poor slackers who can't hold to the faith for 2 minutes? Or are we all like the Jews, full of sin and quick to anger. Quick to see the faults of others yet slow to see our own? Seems like this might help us do our own little personal inventory. When we hear something we should be doing, when someone testifies of our wickedness and our abominations, how do we react? With angry or humility?

Here is what I wrote years ago in 2010 or 2011 about verse 19... (told you I have tried to read the scriptures, quit, and tried again)

* * *
It’s been a while since I started this Book of Mormon journal; I have not been studying regularly.  I am going to start writing the date on my entries to help me keep track and remind me to study every day.  A year ago, Elder Bednar came to visit our stake.  The Bishop said that everyone should prepare for his coming by reading his talks.  I didn’t think that was really necessary.  I didn’t openly mock the Bishop, Lehi must have been mocked rather harshly and violently, other prophets had been killed prophesying like he did, and they were going to kill Lehi had he not left.  I didn’t think I needed to prepare, I had never been asked to do that before and we had baby Charlie and the other 4 kids keeping us pretty busy.  I didn’t even know if we would be able to go to the adult meeting.  The adult meeting was the Saturday before Stake Conference—for adults only, and I was told directly from the Relief Society President that there would not be room to sit in a side room with the kids as we had done several times before.  I knew he was an apostle and I was ready to hear what he had to say and uncertain where I would be when he came, I might not even be able to hear him with my kids.  Oh how wrong I was!  I didn’t heed the warning.  I rationalized and made excuses and did not prepare.  Chris ended up saying that I ought to go alone; he thought I needed it more than he since I had been struggling with things and events after Charlie’s birth.  So I ended up going alone, and a lot of what he said went right over my head!
Here I am a year later struggling… how did I get here?
I have had a pattern… it might have started from reliance on the pastor, or Sunday school teacher.  But I have this pattern: whenever I have a problem, I ask all my friends, read books, getting a general consensus of what I should do and then follow it.  WRONG!!  I have found myself trying that and it is NOT WORKING!!  Everyone has their own opinions.  There is no general consensus, and the answer they gave would most likely not be what I need.  I need to do as Lehi and pray with all my heart.  I have learned in the past how to handle post partum depression:  Sun + Food + Exercise.  I have depression, lack of motivation, turmoil inside.  Sometimes I feel like I have a black cloud following me around.  I do not feel like myself.  When I heard Elder Bednar speak he gave a very strong promise that if you read the Book of Mormon looking for “strength of the Lord” –it will change you.  I don’t know very many times that I’ve heard “strength of the Lord” in the Book of Mormon, and since I need to change a whole lot and desire to really soak up the scriptures, I have decided to go verse by verse looking for the times we reach out to God and for the times God reaches out to us.
* * *

So here it is 2015 and I am still trying to accomplish this goal of reading and really studying The Book of Mormon. Charlie isn't a baby anymore, he is 5 years old. I still feel pretty much the same as I did back then. But rather then dwell on my lack of progress I am going to dwell on my ability to pick myself up over and over and over again. But I can't take all the credit. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ simply do not give up on us and weather it takes a year or a lifetime he is always there encouraging us forward.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

1 Nephi 1:4-15

4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

 5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.

 6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.

 7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.

 8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

 9 And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.

 10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.

 11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.

 12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

 13 And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

 14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

 15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.
- - - - - - - - - -

Lehi stopped and listened and learned from the prophets, unlike so many others who were persecuting the prophets. Similar in our day we have the missionaries teaching the restored gospel to all who will listen. Lehi heard the message and immediately found a place to pray about it. He prayed with all his heart for his people and possibly to clarify the teachings of the prophets, as we should all do. When we learn things, pray for guide, assurance, and direction.  He prayed with all his heart and he received a powerful answer to his prayers.

If you repent, pray with all you heart—having a question or problem then you will see a vision helping you know what to do and your heart will be filled with love for God and his mercy and his greatness in responding to your prayers and filled with peace in the future knowing you’re doing the right thing.
I think you have to be in the practice of regularly praying.  As we pray regularly it gets better—the more often we pray the better and more sincere our prayers become.  We need to ask the right questions and pray with humility and love.  We have to pray with faith and search for it.  When we were looking for our first home to buy, I searched and searched trying to find the perfect home for our family—the one home to meet all of our needs for a long, long time—like THE house.  Searching all over the internet and around the neighborhood, trying to think about what our true needs were, trying to be realistic knowing this didn’t have to be the one and only time to buy a house, and praying to know what we needed and balancing what we needed with what we wanted. I had a dream.  I was sitting at a desk, the light was soft, all around me, I look down at a brown desk and some papers and slid across to me and on the paper it says “139,000” and I was signing it.  I woke up Chris and told him that’s how much our house needed to cost.  Then I went back to the internet looking for houses in the 159 range, I found 3 and we looked at each of them.  They happened to all have the same floor plan.  The first one we saw ended up being the home we bought. I told Chris the whole time that the home needed to be 139, that it was going to cost exactly that. I think he waved knowing the asking price was 159, but the Lord told me the exact price. After inspections, negotiating with the buyer back and forth a few days, and putting in our down payment. Closing day arrived and it was much like my dream, we signed and the price was 139. The Lord truly guided us to our home, it was exactly as HE said it would be, my heart was filled—knowing that I live where the Lord wants me to live, He led me this home, He cared enough about me to answer my pleas for help.  I don’t always know how to pray with all my heart, I think it depends on what you are praying for and how much it means to you. But the Lord has given me visions in small ways too—thoughts will come into my head, pictures of how I ought to do things.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1 Nephi 1:1-3

1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

 2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

 3 And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.
- - - - - -

Yellow is for priesthood or power of God. I chose to mark 'born of goodly parents' because how you were raised can be a power and a strength. Lehi taught Nephi its says 'somewhat in all the learning of my father'. That may have been a father teaching his son his business profession but I think it goes further, I think Lehi taught his sons how to be men. I think goodly parents teach their children. Even with good parents and teaching, Nephi still saw many afflictions and I think he turned them into strengths as we'll see over and over again. Perhaps all of this combined helped prepare him to go to the Lord and gain 'great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God'. Although his 2 older brothers were doubtless raised in the same home and yet they were not prepared or chose not to go to God in prayer. Even being raised in a wonderful home with every opportunity, some still stray. While some being raised in horrible homes with little to no opportunity find their way.

Nephi is a good example of a positive attitude. To be able to look back on his life and recognize that while he can't deny there were sore afflictions and hard trials, he still feels highly favored of the Lord. That tells me he was able to endure his trials with the grace and dignity of one who has kept close to the Spirit.

If you make a record or journal of your life and proceedings then you will see your blessings, cultivate an attitude of gratitude and be able to say that your past was goodly along with your parents, and you will see and feel highly favored and blessed of the Lord and you’ll begin to gain a knowledge of the goodness of God.

If you keep a journal and stay close to the Spirit then the Holy Ghost can help you make sense of your trials and see them as growth experiences.

Nephi wrote of his day to day life but above all he mostly wrote of his visions—the more spiritual part of his life.  I can keep a journal and write down my day to day happenings, I need to write down my trials and pour out my heartfelt feelings in prayer and the Lord can help me through them, help me find peace and feel highly favored. I need to write down and treasure the spiritual promptings that I have. Sometimes spiritual promptings are telling us what we should do, I need to follow these promptings.  Sometimes spiritual promptings help us understand the mysteries of God.  All of these promptings I need to write down. Prayer, scripture study and a journal will help me. Nephi must have read from the scriptures, listened to the prophet: his father Lehi and prayed a lot to have so many visions and to be so valiant.  He didn’t judge his father or criticize him when his father had a moment of weakness after his bow broke.  He was quick to forgive his brothers for the many wrongs they committed.  Nephi wrote a record, but he must have read, prayed and thought a lot.  He must have prayed and pondered—asking God questions and listening to the answers.  Nephi was such a good example of a valiant person, we are lucky to have his journal.  

What about kids who are abused and neglected?  Raised in homes where they feel they are worthless.

Did Nephi come from an abusive home?  Doesn't seem like it, seems like he had really awesome parents but that his brothers were abusive. Can someone say they were 'born of goodly parents' if their parents were abusive? Does it matter? Can you still be highly favored of the Lord? Seems like the 'many afflictions of the course of my days' is where you insert abuse, neglect, and pain. How do you go from 'many afflictions' to 'highly favored'? What if those 'many afflictions' left scars so deep you may never heal in this life? Seems like Nephi's afflictions while great happened in his later years after he had already been raised by good parents that helped him form healthy mental and emotional attitudes.

Food for thought....

* * *
Here is what I said on the subject years ago:

Try… try… again.  Where do I begin?  From the very beginning?

- - - - -
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
- - - - - -

Nephi was taught by his father.  He is thankful for good parents who gave him an education.  Goodly might mean good parents but it also could mean well off.  It appears Lehi had lots of gold and silver so Nephi could have grown up in a well to do, rich home.  Lehi taught Nephi his trade.  It’s been speculated in other books that Lehi could have been a traveler, trader, or tour guide of sorts because he appears to know his way around the vast desert of the area.  Nephi is feeling highly favored, perhaps because he and his family were spared from the Babylonian invasion or perhaps they were living rich and a bit too worldly before.  Whatever the case, Nephi is expressing those precious converting feelings of being highly favored to have received a strong relationship with God and having been saved from your former life.

I feel highly favored of the Lord, had I not met Denee and joined the church I would have remained Lutheran.  I would have continued to going to church no doubt.  My mom instilled in me a very strong church going duty.  We believe you go to church on Sundays, no question.  Though what you do after church is your own business.  Unlike the kids I went to church with as a youth, from what I hear, most have fallen away and don’t go to church or take their children to church.  I feel fortunate to have found a deeper church.  One that challenges me to do and be better.  I think had I stayed Lutheran, I would have met someone and had a couple kids and lived our lives as best as we could.  But I don’t know I’d be where I am today.  5 kids, ruptured uterus and nearly ready for the home study in the adoption process.  Would I have stretched the limits of my child bearing abilities to have so many children?  Would I have had children later and still ruptured my uterus?  If my life were different, if things would have worked out different—turning Joe so he wasn’t breech—would I have still ruptured my uterus?  Was adoption in God’s plan all along?  And if it was, if I am truly doing what the Lord wants, why do I feel so distant from Him?  Why had my head been swirling in a mist of darkness when I am supposed to be doing His will?  If I had stayed Lutheran would I feel any different then I feel now?    

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Voice of a People Speaking From the Dust

Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
 The Prophet Joseph Smith’s own words about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon are:

 “On the evening of the … twenty-first of September [1823] … I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God. …

 “While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.

 “He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

 “Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.

 “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

 “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

 “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book. …

 “Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed. While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.

 “After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him; when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.

 “I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, and marveling greatly at what had been told to me by this extraordinary messenger; when, in the midst of my meditation, I suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, and in an instant, as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside.

 “He commenced, and again related the very same things which he had done at his first visit, without the least variation; which having done, he informed me of great judgments which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence; and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation. Having related these things, he again ascended as he had done before.

 “By this time, so deep were the impressions made on my mind, that sleep had fled from my eyes, and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard. But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them.

 “After this third visit, he again ascended into heaven as before, and I was again left to ponder on the strangeness of what I had just experienced; when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me for the third time, the cock crowed, and I found that day was approaching, so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night.

 “I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.

 “The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.

 “I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.

 “Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.

 “Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.

 “I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.

 “Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days. …

 “At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.

 “I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.”

 For a more complete account, see Joseph Smith—History in the Pearl of Great Price.

 The ancient record thus brought forth from the earth as the voice of a people speaking from the dust, and translated into modern speech by the gift and power of God as attested by Divine affirmation, was first published to the world in the year 1830 as The Book of Mormon.
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What a remarkable story! Can you imagine seeing God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in a vision?  Then years later praying again and seeing another vision--multiple times!  Joseph Smith was truly an unusual child to have had visions in his youth like this. He was prepared from a young age to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Behind every remarkable boy are often equally remarkable parents. Can you imagine your son telling you he had been up all night having a visit from a heavenly messenger?  I know my parents would have thought I was on drugs, or just trying to get out of work.  The Smith family was a truly remarkable family to support young Joseph.

It was Moroni who appeared to Joseph Smith.  Moroni, the last of the Nephite civilization.  Who better to teach Joseph about how dark and evil man can become? He must have witnessed some horrific things in his life. What an honor for him, I bet it was really neat for him to be able to present the record of his people to Joseph knowing that it would be translated and read all over the world. If I were one of the last of my people, I would be super happy and thrilled to have the history of my people published so that others might learn about us and hopefully not repeat the same mistakes. I wish my family had written down a history. I would give anything to know the history of my family.

IF... THEN...
If I pray with faith like Joseph Smith then will I have a divine manifestation?  I don't think I will see angels, but I bet if I prayed with more faith that I would get answers to my prayers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Testimony of Three Witnesses
 Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris

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Testimony of Eight Witnesses
 Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun.
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen.
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith
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Here we have 2 different testimonies of the Book of Mormon-- one being a spiritual witness and one being a very physical description. I think we really need both, one touches and mind and one touches the heart. If we have one without the other it won't be long lasting. But that's just my opinion. When times get tough and I don't feel the Spirit strong, I rely on my physical witness. The restored gospel just makes a whole lot more sense than the other churches I have been to. Other times when I question if things make sense. I might hear of a deeper doctrine that I am not ready for. I cling to the spiritual manifestation that I felt in my heart all those years ago and similar ones I have felt since. I like that the Testimony of the 3 recognized that it was by the grace of God that they had been given such a powerful experience--seeing an angel! It is a gift of God to have a testimony. Upon further investigation the 3 witnesses asked Joseph Smith that they be considered for a special witness. They had to pray and have faith to do so.

IF... THEN...

If I begin to doubt my spiritual witness of the restored gospel, then I can lean on my physical witness that the restored gospel makes sense. If I get confused and part of all of the restored gospel doesn't seem to make sense then I can lean on my spiritual witness that I felt it my heart that Jesus Christ really did visit the people in America. I know it and I know God knows it.

Below is a further account of events leading up to the 3 and 8 witnesses
taken from the Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual Chapter 5...


Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
Very soon after Joseph Smith translated Nephi’s writings about the need for witnesses (see 2 Nephi 27:12–14; Ether 5), Martin Harris went to Fayette from Palmyra to ask about the progress of the translation. Martin along with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer asked Joseph to pray and ask the Lord if they could be the promised witnesses. He did so and obtained a revelation in which they were told that if they exercised faith “with full purpose of heart” they would be granted the privilege of beholding the sacred plates, the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim used by the brother of Jared, and the Liahona—“the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness” (D&C 17:1). The Lord declared, “It is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old” (D&C 17:2). The Lord also told them that after viewing these items, they would be bound to testify of them to the world.

As soon as the translation was completed, Joseph Smith sent word to his parents in Manchester to come to the Whitmer home in Fayette. When they arrived, bringing Martin Harris, they spent a joyful evening reading from the manuscript. The next morning the prospective witnesses and the others who were staying with the Whitmers gathered in their usual morning devotional to read the scriptures and to sing and pray. Lucy Smith wrote, “Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, ‘Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before God this day, that you may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.’”19

Thereafter the four men retired to the woods and sought for the promised fulfillment of the revelation. After two unsuccessful attempts, however, Martin Harris felt that his presence was the reason for their failure to receive an answer. He withdrew a distance and offered his private prayers. The other three had no sooner resumed their prayers when Moroni appeared in glory holding the plates in his hands. Joseph recorded, “He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly. … We heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, ‘These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.’

“I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he might also realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view, at least it was again opened to me, and I once more beheld and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in an ecstasy of joy, ‘’Tis enough; ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld.’”20

When Joseph returned to the Whitmer home, he told his parents of his relief that others had now seen the angel and the plates and would have to bear witness of these truths, saying, “Now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.”21The Three Witnesses testified of their experience: “We, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record. … And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”22They went on to testify that the angel showed them the engravings on the plates. Their testimony has been included in each edition of the Book of Mormon since that time.

A few days later eight additional witnesses—faithful men who were close to the Prophet during the translation—were also chosen to see the plates. These eight men were Joseph Smith’s father, Joseph Smith, Sr.; Joseph’s brothers, Hyrum and Samuel; four of the Whitmer brothers—Christian, Jacob, Peter, and John; and a brother-in-law to the Whitmers, Hiram Page. Joseph was permitted to show them the plates near the Smith residence in Manchester when he was making arrangements for the printing of the book.23The Eight Witnesses testified that they handled and lifted the plates and saw the engravings on the individual leaves. Their testimony is also contained in all published editions of the Book of Mormon. Thus, according to the divine law of witnesses, the truth of the Book of Mormon is further substantiated and the inhabitants of the earth are held accountable for what is contained in it.

Each of the eleven special witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates went on to serve in important ecclesiastical positions in the restored Church. Five of them, the three Smiths and Christian and Peter Whitmer, Jr., died while they were actively involved in Church service. But each of the Three Witnesses—Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer—later turned away from the Church. John and Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page of the Eight Witnesses also fell away from the faith. None of these six, however, ever denied his witness, although they had many opportunities to do so. Each pointedly maintained the truthfulness of his testimony whenever asked about it. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris eventually returned to the Church and died in full fellowship.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Where it all began...


 The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

 The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

 The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

 After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the Hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

 In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.

 Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

 In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”

 We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

 Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
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I have underlined several things that stood out to me. There is an exact date when Moroni came to Joseph Smith. That date is coming up in a few days. September it seems is when it all began to come to light-- a book containing the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, an additional witness to the Bible. When Joseph had the first vision he wasn't told of the Book of Mormon. It seems September 21st was the first time Moroni came to Joseph Smith and the very first mention of the Book of Mormon in our day. September it seems is when it all began. September 14th was my baptism so its sort of when it all began for me too. I remember my friend taking me to the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center. It was Labor Day, we were both fasting and praying to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Up until that point the new and everlasting gospel made sense. I say 'new and everlasting' because I was raised knowing about the gospel-- the good news that Jesus was born and died for us. But the 'new and everlasting gospel' really is new. It was certainly new to me. It took right about 6 months and 2 sets of missionaries, all 4 of my friend's brothers and countless other people who helped me learn, understand and make sense of the new and everlasting gospel. Up until Labor Day of 1997 the gospel had come to make sense. But my dear friend knew that the gospel had to touch my heart not just my mind. I firmly believe it needs to touch both heart and mind, if you don't have both its not sustaining. So we went fasting and praying to the Mesa temple. My answer came with a burning in my heart and a firm knowledge that Jesus Christ did in reality visit the people on the American continent. That is where my testimony started and it has blossomed from there. I had grown up knowing all about the Bible, learning Bible stories and the miracles of Jesus Christ. I have always known He was the Savior of the world. My faith has been added upon.

The idea of praying to know something was right was a very new concept back then, it made sense and sounded wonderful but it was very new all the same. Actually reading the Bible and making sense of it was huge, I grew up thinking only pastors and incredibly smart people did that. I have struggled with regular, consistent prayer and scripture study. I went on a mission and my MTC companion saw me consistently falling asleep during studying, during praying... I really struggled. I was groggy most of the time, there wasn't much exercise, it was very sedentary. I actually started getting up a half hour earlier hoping it would help. I do remember feeling better. I don't remember ever talking about it much with my companion but it must have really bothered her because she told other people. Later another companion came to me with preconceived notions about me making our time together another struggle. I had gained a bad reputation it seemed that followed me for at least half of my mission. No one needs to have their faults passed around for all to see. Was I really evil and unworthy of love and approval because I fell asleep in prayer and scripture study? The gospel really is new to people. No one knows the struggle someone has gone through. For me every happy event in the church has been marked by sadness, marked by further disapproval from my parents and they weren't afraid of showing it-- baptism, BYU, mission and temple marriage. At my baptism when I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, I was told that it would be through my children that my family would receive the fullness of the gospel. I clung to that all these years, it gave me peace but also pressure that I would have to raise amazing children, missionaries to my mother. Yet in my weakness, it has still proven to be true when my husband and I started our family. 5 children later my mother will go to Primary when she comes to visit and she has been to one of the kid's baptisms. She has come a long way in being comfortable with the church.

I think of yesterday's reading at the very end...

"And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."

Don't judge. I am certainly not the poster child of an ideal Mormon. I have struggled with everything I have ever done and everything I continue to do--motherhood, homeschooling, housekeeping, meal planning. I can do none of them exceptionally well. I guess you could say I am a good example of perseverance.

IF... THEN...

If I obey God and do what he would have me do then I will have peace in this life and peace in the world to come.