“Come And See”

What a time of year it has been in Western New York.  The weather is aboslutely beautiful, and the small village of Palmyra is beginning to buzz with excitement.  All the hotels seem to be full.  The roads are crowded with buses, and the local restaraunts are certainly not wanting for more business.  Who are all of these people?  Where did they come from and what are they looking for? 

Since 1937, each July, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints produces one the world’s great outdoor theatrical production, The Hill Cumorah Pageant.  The story of the Book of Mormon is brought to life in a music filled, spirit filled production.  I have met thousands who say that they have come to see what is here.   This past week I was able to wintess the production for the first time.   The whole theatrical experience is incredible!  However, the climax of the show never ceases to most impress me.  When Christ was crucified about two thousand years ago, there was great destruction that occured in the Americas.  Darkness covered the land for 3 whole days before the darkeness dispelled.  There was then a voice heard from the heavens and the resurrected Christ appeared to the people.  He spoke to them saying,

14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. (3 Nephi 11:13).

So many times Christ invited all those he met to “come and see.”  I invite you to come and see this glorious production that testifies of Jesus Christ.  All are welcome!  Members of the LDS church come to feel the spirit and have their faith increased.  Many others come and leave having a greater understanding of why we read the Book of Mormon and what it teaches.  I love my Savior and I know that if you have a desire to know, then put forth the effort to come and see, the Spirit will touch your heart with truth.

Visit http://www.hillcumorah.org/Pageant/ to learn more about or just see pictures of this grand production!!

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To Know Your Worth

This past week I was able to visit a zoo.  I just love being able to see animals that are native to other countries all over the world!  We saw huge elephants, rhinos, tigers, and so many more animals.  As we made our way around to each of the animals in the zoo, one in particular caught my eye.  Two majestic swans were gliding along the surface of a small pond.  They were beautiful!  Their manner was one of confidence and poise. 

Immediately my mind was taken back to the story the Ugly Duckling.  President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the First Presidency, used this story in relating to each of us knowing who we really are as children of an Eternal Father, majestic and beautiful.  We all come to this earth with bodies of different shapes and sizes, with unique personalities and abilities in various environment and families.  At times we feel so different and out of place like we are “weird” or an ugly duckling and simply do not fit in.  The truth is, you are a child of God!  You have a divine nature of a worth that is infinite and unchanging!  Jesus Christ came into this world and suffered for all of us, not just a select group.  (Doctrine & Covenants 19:16Knowing that I am a daughter of God has helped me so very much in facing the ups and downs of life.  It has allowed me to forgive and forget when I have been hurt.  It has allowed me to be patient with myself in trying to overcome my personal weaknesses and shortcomings.  It is the key to finding peace in a world of shifting values.  I invite all of you to look into the water and see your true reflection.  Do not rely on the world to define you, but see for yourself.  Immerse yourself in the pure truths found in the scriptures.  As you do, you will suddenly discover as did the ugly duckling when he looked into the water that you are absolutely beautiful!  Then, when you know who you really are, you too can glide poised and confident like the swans at the zoo.

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What’s In A Name

Ever since I came to this area in New York, I have been driving by the locally owned eatery Anderson’s.  Each time we would pass it, that little spark of pride would beat through my heart and I would think “that’s my name.”   Crazy how it really has nothing to do with me, but our names link us together and give us belonging and a sort of ownership.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to witness the baptism of a beautiful young woman.  There she stood all dressed in white walking slowly into the water.  The worthy priesthood holder offered the baptismal prayer and slowly immersed her in the water.  As she emerged, cleansed from all sin, I thought how in the act of baptism we literally take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.   

We are all children of God, but in a very literal and real way we become a part of Christ’s family.  What a glorious blessing!  I can think of no other name of which I would like to belong to.  I invite all of you to think about your commitment and relationship with the Savior.  As the Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught that if it is the desire of your heart to follow your Savior and through Him find peace “…what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:10)

When we do so we have available to us all of the blessings He has promised including a remission of past sins and transgressions and rebirth as a member of His eternal family.  We, in turn, promise to take his name upon us and promise to follow the commandments or rules of His house.  How great to be able to stand as a witness for Him.  I know that baptism is a blessing from God.  Something that we can physically do to show him that we love him and are commited to following Him. 

“Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called…” (Mosiah 26:18)

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Prone to Wander

Have you ever been out on a most exciting adventure, whether it be a road trip, family vacation, or maybe a hike up the local canyon that you have explored a hundred times in the past?  You begin to look around and are hit with the realization that you just might be lost!  At this point a part of you would like to turn around and go back to where you came from.  However, the trail you just tread was not clearly marked, and so maybe moving foward would be best to gain higher ground.  Maybe then you could see the whole area.  But where is that peak that you were heading for and why is it not visible?  Well, if you have not had this experience it is lonely, disheartening, and frustrating!  That happened to me while hiking a canyon that I felt I knew pretty well.  My two friends and I had been hiking for two long hours when storm clouds suddenly filled the sky, and we stopped to realize that we were not quite sure which direction to go next.  We looked at each other and asked, what should we do?  Should we go back?  The peak that we were looking for was the highest in the whole canyon, but where was it?  We were lost.

Life can seem like one big journey of being “lost” if we do not have a trodden path to follow or a knowledge of that peak, or our ultimate destination.  Sometimes we even feel lonely, disheartened, and/or frustrated.  

This picture is one of my very favorites!  Truly this is what He is willing to do for each of us; seek us out when we have wandered and if needed carry us on His shoulders.  Sometimes it is when we are forced to allow Him to carry us that we come to know Him best.   I know that Jesus Christ is always there!  You are not lost to Him, nor will you ever be! 

"...he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him." 3 Nephi 17:9

The Savior taught most beautifully about those who wander from His fold and how He would recieve and rejoice at their return (Luke 15:4-6).  He exemplified his desire and power to heal those who were lost when He visited the Nephites and invited them to bring forth “all who were afflicted in any manner…and [He] would heal them.”  Those who were lost or had an affliction imparing their own ability to “come forth” were found and brought forth by maybe a friend, neighbor, or a stranger who could do so  (3 Nehpi 17: 7,9).      

Do you have a family member, friend, or other loved one that has wandered away from the Shepherd?  The Savior has invited us to bring them forth.  It is the privelage of each of us to come unto Christ, learn from Him, become more like Him, and then use the strength He gives us to go and lift others.  In fact, I think He expects it of us.  What a blessing to serve the Savior in lifting those lost sheep on our shoulders and bringing them forth to the Savior that they too might be close to and truly led by the Good Shepherd.  He has walked the path, and He knows how to lead us safely home.   

No laughing :D I hope that you can tell what this is. I drew this picture using the very limited art talent that I have to show how we too can help lost sheep. Hope it brought a big smile to your face.

We, ourselves, may have wandered and feel lost because we feel out of place or feel that we have made a mistake of which no forgiveness is offered, but that is not true!  Because of the Savior’s great atoning sacrifice none of us are hopelessly lost.  The struggle to overcome the weakness of our flesh and follow our Savior Jesus Christ is no easy task.  It takes a constant, consistent effort every minute, every hour, every day.  We need each other to do it, but as brothers and sisters we can surely make it home to our Father.

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Are You Really There?

This past week or so I have thought a lot about the many experiences that I have had in life and wondered when did I feel closest to my Heavenly Father and my Savior?  In what situations and moments did I come to know Him, instead of just knowing about Him?  One of the most vivid memories of this occured when I was a young teenager.  My two younger sisters moved out of the bedroom that we shared, and we each felt so lucky to now have our own rooms.  I vividly remember that first night I spent in my own room.  Outside, the thunder rumbled loudy, and the rain that was coming down in sheets pounded on my window.  It was very dark and the room seemed strangely empty.  

I ly there in the dark feeling quite uneasy and alone.  What do you do when your heart is pounding and you feel afraid and alone?  As a young girl I had been taught a number of little songs in a primary class.  I had memorized many of them over time, and at this moment one of them popped into my mind, and I started to sing out quietly… “Heavenly Father, are you really there?  And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?  Some say that heaven is far away…but I feel it close around me as I pray. Heavenly Father, I remember now something that Jesus told disciples long ago, “Suffer the children to come to me.”  Father, in prayer I’m coming now to thee.  The first verse completed, I started into the second … “Pray, He is there…”  (“A Child’s Prayer,” Children’s Songbook #12).  In this moment my heart stopped racing and a complete blanket of comfort and peace rushed over me.  He really is there!  I can not really explain in words how the Lord comes when we seek Him in prayer, but through the Holy Ghost he sends a peace that is all encompassing and

Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other ("Prayer," Bible Dictionary).

unmistakable.  In that moment, I felt like I was as safe as could be with Him right there close watching over me.  I fell right to sleep.  Truly He had heard and answered my prayer.

Prayer is such an incredible tool that we have been given to communicate with our Father in Heaven.  The miracle of prayer is that anyone can do it!  Whether we can speak, hear,  walk, read, write, kneel, speak elegantly or utter simple words, we can pray to Him.  There is no age restriction.  There is no level of worthiness which we must attain before going to the Lord in prayer.  In fact sometimes it is when we are afraid to face God that we should go to Him and let Him lead us to find peace and rest.  Prayer is a simple miracle by which we can all be blessed.

How do we pray?  If you have never prayed, it is very simple.  We pray to our Father.  Thus, one begins prayer by addressing Him in a respectful manner such as “Dear Heavenly Father…”  You then expresses gratitude to Him for all or any thing that you have been blessed to know, have, feel, etc.  As I thank my Father for all my many blessings in a very specific way, I am reminded of really how much He has done for me.  Following the expressing gratitude, you then speak to the Lord.  When I pray I ask Him any questions that I have.  Sometimes I ask for peace or comfort if I am hurting, or I might ask for more faith and/or other various spiritual gifts.  Speak with Him about anything you need.  Think about it.  What better confidant is there in all the world?  Who better a person to petition for rest from the world’s troubles then God who holds the whole world in His hands?  God who lends us the needed breaths to live here in Earth.  He loves you.  You are His child, and I know that He will hear your every prayer. 

Where do we pray?  The answer to that is everywhere and anywhere that you feel the need to.  He is always there.  However, if you want to be able to really communicate with your Father, James E. Talmage counsels “He who would really pray–pray as nearly as possible as Christ prayed, pray in actual communion with God to whom the prayer is addressed — will seek privacy, seclusion, isolation, if opportunity permits he will retire to his chamber, and will shut the door that none may intrude; there he may pray indeed.”  I know that my most heartfelt and meaningful prayers are prayers that are uttered behind closed doors just between me and Him.  It is there that I can open my whole heart and truly speak to God.  Many times Christ went to a mountain to pray.   He went somewhere where he could speak with His Father without being distracted or disturbed.  I have found in my life that it is in those same circumstances that allow prayer to be a sacred and more sincere experience.

I know that prayer is real.  I know that God really does listen as we go to Him in prayer.  If you will take the time to get on your knees, you will find that He is right there waiting to come to your aid.  He is ever aware of you and your needs, but each of us must humble ourselves and go to Him.   It is through heartfelt prayer that we can build a real individual relationship with our Father and come to know Him.

 “Prayer is made up of heart throbs and the righteous yearnings of the soul, of supplication based on the realization of need, of contrition and pure desire.”      -James E. Talmage

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The Angelic Calling of a Mother

Have you ever had the opportunity to hold a new born infant in your arms?  Every time I do, I am reminded at how very fragile this small child is and how very helpless he or she is on those surrounding him or her.  From day one that new mother has quite the task ahead of her.  Now I have never had that responsiblity on my shoulders and felt the weight of knowing that no matter what, my calling as caretaker of this soul will not be disolved when I get too tired or find a new interest.  Maybe this is the reason that many women choose to pursue a fulfilling career instead of taking the journey of motherhood.   However, I am the ninth child of a mother who has given everything to fulfil this role and with Heavenly Father by her side has found great joy in raising eleven children.  Motherhood is a sacred privelage to walk hand in hand with the Savior in caring for our Father in Heaven’s children to help them find their way home to Him.

We know that we lived with God before we came to this earth and that while here we are placed in families.  We come as a small dependent child.  As we grow and develop, we learn from our father and mother (or similar adult role models) how to learn, how to cope with trial, where to go when we need help, etc.  Women hold a sacred role in nurturing and teaching His children as they grow here on earth.  In short, mother’s shape the future generations.  I am so grateful to know that I am a daughter of God.  Elder Quentin L. Cook taught us about the divine nature of a mother when he said: “God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.”  I know that each of you women are endowed with special divine qualities that can guide and help you in your journey to be a strong mother.   I am so grateful for all the women in my life who have shone forth as true examples of virtue and kindness.  There is an unmistakable, humble power in a strong and virtuous woman who has been molded by motherhood. 

“When you observe kind and gentle mothers in action, you see women of great strength. Their families can feel a spirit of love and respect and safety when they are near her as she seeks the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the guidance of His Spirit. They are blessed by her wisdom and good judgment. The husbands and children, whose lives they bless, will contribute to the stability of societies all over this world and that in pursing this endeavor God will help you. Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”                                  -Margaret D. Nadauld 

To read the remainder of the talk:  Margaret D. Nadauld, “The Joy of Womanhood”

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Another Witness: He is Risen!

This Easter season, my heart was once again filled with hope and joy as I read the words of Christ’s apostles telling the stories of those to whom appeared the glorious Resurrected Christ.  “He is Risen” the angels declared unto them.  What a hopeful declaration!!  Jesus had come to the Earth and had done all that was necessary to activate his Father’s perfect plan of happiness.  The sting of death that lay hold upon every mortal being had been swallowed up.

My testimony of the Savior and His victory over sin and death has increased as I have read and prayed about the accounts written in the New Testament.  A more recent account of Risen Christ’s appearance, that of Joseph Smith’s, is also a big part of increasing my faith in the Savior. Joseph Smith also gave His life to the cause of Christ after recieving His own witness.  In the year of 1820, young Joseph knelt in a grove of trees to plead in humble prayer with God.  At this time in upstate New York, there was a huge wave of revivialism and religious recruiting could be found on almost every corner.  The contending of doctrines and confusion of friends, neighbors, and even family caused him much greif.  While reading in the bible, Joseph happened upon a scripture which directed “if any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5), and thus he was decided that he needed take his question to the Source of all knowledge and truth.  It was this that led him to offer his humble prayer from which he recieved a miraculous answer.  Joseph records:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”  (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-17)

I have read this beautiful account of God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to the prophet Joseph Smith many many times, prayed, and felt in my heart and mind that Christ did not only appear to the people in times of old.  But He is very much aware of our time and our situation.  God has not forgotten or abondoned His children!  We are His work.  Like a parent helping their precious child learn and grow, it is in our success that our Father finds His greatest joy and it is for our sorrows that He weeps.  I know with all my heart that Christ lives!  That through Joseph Smith, Christ has restored His church and the fulness of His gospel back upon the earth.  I invite you each to once read and/or read again the experience of the prophet Joseph Smith.  Then, do as Joseph did, and ask God the deepest questions of your heart.  You may not recieve a vision, but I promise that the Holy Ghost will touch your heart and you will know that Christ has risen and appeared in our day and that He leads His church.

 

This video is about the prophet Jospeh and His life.   Maybe after watching you can more fully find answers to the questions “Why after so much persecution did he not deny His vision?”  “Why did he not give up or give in when even his close friends wanted to turn their backs?”  I know that Joseph was called as a prophet of God and that a marvelous work and a wonder is moving forward.  I am so grateful to be a missionary and contribute my small part to our Savior’s great work.     

  

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