Monday, March 30, 2015

The Continuous Atonement

As I have mentioned before, reading has been a difficult thing for me to do after Terry passed away. It was just like coming out of anesthesia and not being able to concentrate - strange feeling, and unexpected.   I kept trying to read a few things but always gave up.

Yesterday I picked up one book that I had previously started (but put down due to the fact that I wasn't getting anything out of it).  I really wanted to learn from it so I waited until I could focus on it. When I tried again last night I was pleased to find that I could read it and understand it.  I read for a few hours (with a few breaks talking to the boys) until my mind stopped accepting anymore words, but I was pleased at the progress and enjoyed what I read.

The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox has now become a favorite of mine.  I don't read very often, and it takes a special book to make me want to read.  This was one of them.  BrittanyJo read it for a class assignment last fall and loved it, so I purchased a copy for me (I like to underline things as I read) but it took me this long to get into it.



One of my favorite books in the late 90's was Within Reach by Robert L. Millet.   Those two books will remain my favorites.  The Peacegiver by James L. Farrell was a good book too, and A Quiet Heart by Patricia T. Holland, and there were others that I have enjoyed.  Today though, I am very grateful for The Continuous Atonement - the book and the Atonement itself.

It is a perfect time of year to read it if you are looking for something good to read and haven't read it yet (or want to re-read it).  I underlined many things in the book so I could refer to them again as needed, but I wanted to post a few here too.  I hope I can choose the most appropriate and not over do it.  I don't want to re-write or copy the book here, but there are several things that have touched my heart that I want to remember.  I have added a few visuals to help break up the read.


image from here
"Christ's Atonement is at the very core of God's plan.  Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him." (Bruce C. Hafen)


"... without us, those blessed emblems merely sit in trays.  


Mormon-church-sacrament_emblems
image from here
We must pick them up and put them inside.  We must internalize Jesus' offering.  That's how we thank Jesus for all He has done - by accepting His love, remembering His sacrifice, and applying His teachings and Atonement in our lives.  Christ's gifts are freely given, but they must also be freely received."



"Where there is great love and attachment, there is great risk of pain."  


"The Fall was designed - complete with all the accompanying misery and pain - to ultimately bring us freedom and happiness."

"The gospel of Jesus Christ was not given to prevent our pain.  The gospel was given us to heal our pain."  (Marie K. Hafen)



Atonement means "to cover".  "Jesus covers us when we feel lost and discouraged.... He doesn't always clear the path, but He does illuminate it.  Along with being the light, He also lightens our loads...  He doesn't always take burdens away from us, but He strengthens us for the task of carrying them and promises they will be for our good."  (And He keeps His promises!)


Mormons believe in Jesus Christ
image from here
In Arabic or Aramic the verb meaning to atone is kafat, which means "to embrace."  "Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love." D&C 6:20.



"The Atonement is not just about paying debts but about transforming debtors."

"Jesus chose to become like us so that we can choose to become like Him."

"God is pleased with every effort we make."

"Christ is not waiting at the finish line; He is finishing our faith.  Grace is not the prize at the end of the climb.  It is the enabling power throughout."

image from here

"The Lord helps us to help ourselves."

"Christ's requirements are not so that we can make the best of the Atonement, but so that - on His generous terms - the Atonement can make the best of us."


I am not prepared for Easter weekend in the temporal or material sense so I'm glad to have a few more days, but I am very ready for it spiritually.

I am looking forward to hearing more great things at our General Conference - 4th and 5th of April.  How to View Live
What a perfect time to fill our souls with words of God, from God, through His servants.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Love Living Your Religion


In my gospel study this morning I found a message from David A. Bednar to the BYU-I graduates from August 2002.  It was a short and simple, but profound message that I love. I share part of it in this post, to remind me.


Let me also suggest that we must not only live our religion, but we must love living our religion. Adherence to gospel principles and obedience to God's commandments are not drudgery we must somehow suffer through during mortality. Rather, gospel truth and obedience to eternal law are the very source and the very cause of true happiness. As the Prophet Joseph Smith plainly taught:
Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five, 1842-43, p. 255)

And as King Benjamin counseled his people in Mosiah 2:41:
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.





Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just In

The headstone is in at the cemetery.
Anthony, Auger, Akleigh and I went to see it today after Anthony's tennis match.




The photo used was our engagement photo (seen HERE).  We have changed a bit since then, but it's still us.  Maybe that is what we will look like in our perfect form????   It seems a great photo to use because it felt like a bit of heaven at that time in my life, meeting and marrying this man of my dreams and living life together.  We were happy to be in love with each other..., always.  Heaven is felt in a different way now, but still includes Terry, no matter what we look like.
Neither one of us were ever perfect so I couldn't expect a perfect image on a photo or etched in a slab, but it did turn out well enough to please me.

Perfection will come later.

The farm/ranch scene is something I put together years ago for the farm business cards and checks. I felt it was appropriate for this too.  Farming was what we both have always wanted and loved.  It is us!


Auger just came in as I was writing this and he asked me about the headstone.  I read it to him and assured him that he is part of our eternal family because he is part of Thomas ... and Thomas is part of Terry.  And honestly, Terry is very much a part of me.

I am part of a great family looking forward and looking back from whence I came.   It is glorious to have an eternal family and I am grateful for each member of it.

Presently Terry and I have 9 children, 5 married children, and 11 grandchildren.
2+9+5+11=27 and growing ...
I don't expect any weddings this year (though there is still time for surprises if things go as fast as they did for a few of the other children), but I do expect two more grandchildren. AWESOME!

I do love my family!



Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Concert

The school concert was one of the best I've been to in a while.  Well done!

The choirs performed well ...
(this is the High School Concert Choir - Anthony in black on top row)


And the bands performed well ...
(this is the HS band - Anthony in black, at drums)


It has been a busy week for Anthony with the contests and concert.




Monday, March 23, 2015

CLOUD AND SUNSHINE

First, the Fun Stuff -
BJo came home Wednesday night and was here until Sunday morning.  It was good to have her home.  We all needed it.



There is more that I must write, and you are welcome to continue reading, but feel free to get up and do something else at anytime during this post - it won't hurt my feelings ..., I promise I will never know. ;)
My reasons for writing it are personal and it is rather long, but please know that I am doing well. There is sunshine in my soul today.

Last week started as an emotional week for me.  I am having a hard time just doing the everyday tasks knowing that I can do them and that there is no worry about what Terry might need of me.  All of the things I thought I would do to keep me busy are difficult because they trigger such emotion.

I haven't done much yard work because it is screams at me, telling me that my husband is not here with me.  I don't go to activities because it screams at me that my husband is not here.  I still do most of my shopping online instead of going to town because when I go somewhere it screams at me that my husband is not here.
My pain comes from knowing that I have no husband to worry about at home or in the car or in the clinic or even beside me. I would much rather worry about my husband and be with him than without, so it is a hard tug on my heart.  Having someone else with me doesn't ease that pain and sometimes it even makes it harder.  I never really did anything with a "girlfriend" so doing so now is not a comfort, it screams at me that my husband is not here.  I'm a difficult case! (I suppose I always have been - one thing I have always known is that I am different in many ways.)

For many others, their pain stems from being home without their spouse, and though that is difficult too, I love being home where I can feel his love.  I know he is not here, but he is here more than he is elsewhere. (That probably only makes sense to me, and if I could use my words more appropriately I would be able to help others understand what I really mean.)  I have always loved being home so it's all good.

I have been working inside the house - causing much clutter and confusion, and it's been a good thing.  I am rearranging and sorting and purging things.   I am okay!  I'm Fine!   Really I am - I deleted all the previous posts this week just because I wanted to prove that I am fine and so that no one would know my "secrets" and sorrows, but I keep feeling that I should post them so that I can remind myself, so that I can let it out, and so that someone else who reads this someday might find it helpful.  I have read a few posts from others that I find helpful, so maybe I can pay it forward.

I think the beauty of spring time is part of my pain.  I see the daffodils and blossoms on the trees and it is joyful and beautiful.  I am still having a hard time allowing joyful times to permeate my soul because of the sadness that dwells there.  I'm not worried about it yet because past experience lets me know that this is normal and time will allow those joyful moments to surface and remain for longer periods of time.  This particular challenge will just take a little longer for me to get to that point.  So please forgive me if I do not attend something that is special to you, please forgive me if I have an emotional time during a conversation, and please bear with me as I work through this difficulty in my own way, even if you think I should be doing something different.

For now I will keep trying and take it one step at the time.  I'll continue trying to turn the stumbling blocks into stepping stones and make it safely down this straight and narrow path back to our Father and the loved ones who await our return.

We have been given so much to help us down that path.  The RS suggested reading for Week 4 has been a help for me, though each article brought more tears as I listened to or read them.  I wanted to post about a few of those, but as I mentioned earlier, I deleted them instead of publishing them.

Then yesterday as I was studying for my primary lesson I found something else and decided that I had better follow through and write a post - get the job done and hope it turns out better than I think.

In one of the resources I studied I found an invitation to read Habakkuk's prayer -

Habakkuk 3 contains a prayer, written in Hebrew poetry, in which Habakkuk bore testimony of the power and goodness of God and his own personal commitment to follow the Lord even in his people’s difficult times.

Habakkuk is a hard read, but it talks of trials and hardships and the strength that can come even with those difficult times.
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

It reminds me of what I have known for many years:
19 The Lord God is my strength,

This invitation came with a challenge to  write your own brief statement that expresses your commitment to follow the Lord.   It helped me remember that I do most assuredly feel a commitment to follow the Lord. It is that commitment that helps me continue on each step of the way.

The RS messages for Week 4 had been a perfect prelude to my Sunday study - I know that my Savior lives and loves me.  I know that my Heavenly Father is there for me and that I must remain close to Him.

Communication with our Father in Heaven—including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us—is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life.
(President Monson)


I know that I must

Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.  
(President Monson)


I know that this promise applies to me -

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” 6
(President Monson - I know this message was about a different topic, but this scripture still applies to me in my difficult times right now.)


Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.

The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure.


Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.
This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. 
(President Monson)


One of my greatest desires is that the Lord Abide with Me.

As I was listening to this one (a couple days late) I glanced out the window, through tears, and saw the sky with cloud and sunshine and I knew that was another message meant just for me.  There will be times of both cloud and sunshine even at the same moment, but the good news is that the sunshine will break through the cloud if we let it and invite it..., Invite Him in!  

7149638141_8ae1b20a33_z
I didn't feel like taking a photo of the image I saw out the window so I borrowed this image from here

Okay, one more thing for this long post -
BJo and I were listening to a beautiful David Archuleta song, GLORIOUS.  She asked me something and because of the tears I could not respond.  So I left the music playing and visited with her.  It really was an emotional visit for both of us.  Different songs kept playing in the background as we talked, but we didn't pay much attention to them.  I was beginning to feel like I needed to control my emotions a bit more, but it seemed to be too hard.  I took a deep breath and then heard another song come on in the background.
It's The Hard Knock Life performed by Jenny Oaks Baker
That very instant the tears were overcome by laughter.  It wasn't easy to sense the laughter through the tears, but it was definitely laughter.  Funny thing is - that song and the movie it comes from (Annie) kind of irritate me, but for some strange reason it broke through my cloud and BJo and I were both laughing with each other instead of crying with each other.

I credit that change of heart to the Lord - He is watching over us at every moment and when we need Him most He will send the sunshine.  

Sorry for the lengthy post.  If I would just publish them as I write them, instead of deleting them and starting over I would have smaller posts that might be easier to read.  I am certainly in a learning process and sometimes it takes me several attempts to learn a simple principle.  Once again I ask for your forgiveness and understanding, and I wish for you today, sunshine in your soul.  Glorious Sunshine!






Sunday, March 15, 2015

Perception

I share these things with a grateful heart and hope that you can receive them with that same feeling.

Once again I see things differently than before ...

I was preparing for my primary lesson this week and found a message HERE that spoke to me in a different way than it might have earlier in my life. I do not consider this good or bad, just different. It's one of those "line upon line" things or "had to be there" things. It's just the way it is now for me as my perception of things has been altered due to the changing conditions around me.

Our primary lesson is The Sermon on the Mount. (what a great sermon it was and continues to be)



The message that touched me is The Beatitudes: Pattern for Coming unto Christ, by Robert E. Wells (Dec. 1987)


2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.(Matt. 5:4.) Of all the Beatitudes, this one appears at first glance to be the most unusual and contradictory. How can it be a blessing to be in mourning? To mourn is to show grief or pain at the death of a loved one. This intense feeling cannot be hidden from the world or from God; it cannot be eased or pacified except with comfort and consolation from God through the Holy Ghost.
So why would the Savior say that it is a blessing to mourn? It may be that pain and suffering at the death of loved ones is an essential part of our mortal experience that obliges us to face the question of the reality of the spirit world and the hope of the Resurrection. It is through suffering that we discover what is eternally important.
It might be that it is a blessing for us to become more fully aware that God’s ways are not always our ways, and that we must trust him when things don’t go as we believe they should. When we can see the Lord’s purposes fulfilled in our sorrowful moments, the Holy Ghost can console us and the Atonement and Resurrection can become the cornerstones of our faith. Again, both the Joseph Smith Translation and the Book of Mormon accounts indicate that the mourner is truly blessed only if he comes unto Christ.

I have mourned before, for the loss of beloved family members, but never to the depth of what I mourn now. Experiencing the loss of my beloved husband and best friend ..., my everything, is the deepest sorrow I have ever felt.  My sorrow has been compounded because of things that have happened after Terry's passing, but there has not been one thing harder than that one loss and I expect that there will not be anything worse than it in my future.

However, every night when I retire to my bed I feel the most precious peace that I have ever felt before.  I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that He is aware of me and that He is there for me.  I feel it and I love it.  It is tangible and it is awesome.   I know that this feeling comes from God because of a blessing given me earlier and I also recognize Terry's hand in it as well.  I know that he too desires for me to find some comfort and peace during this time of pain and suffering at the death of my loved one.

I am so grateful for these special blessings, tender mercies, small miracles - these times of comfort and consolation from God through the Holy Ghost - that come my way and I am so grateful for the promised eternal blessings that we all have to look forward to.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Upcoming General Conference


As always, I am so anxious for this upcoming General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   How to View Live


image from here


It has always been worth every minute of my time and it has always been over too soon.  There is such a peaceful and powerful Spirit present during these messages from God's prophets and leaders.


General Conference begins with a Woman's Broadcast on March 28th at 5:00pm,  Then the following weekend, beginning Saturday, April 4th at 9:00am, we will have two wonderful days full of a spiritual feast that will bless the lives of all who partake.   How to View Live


Our ward RS has prepared a schedule of messages to read for a 6 week period of time to prepare for this upcoming conference.  You will find that challenge HERE.  I have been reading them and have found much joy and spiritual strength as I have participated in it.  Today's reading was another marvelous message from our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, given in April 2008 General Conference, and it spoke to me personally, as it may to you too. That message can be found HERE.   It certainly applies to each and every one of us.  I do often take notes as I read the scheduled messages and I decided to post today's notes here.



Change for the better can come to all. 

... show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. 

May we also demonstrate kindness and love within our own families. Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God’s Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells.

The adversary and his hosts seem to be working nonstop to cause our downfall.
We are waging a war with sin, my brothers and sisters, but we need not despair. It is a war we can and will win. Our Father in Heaven has given us the tools we need in order to do so. He is at the helm. We have nothing to fear. He is the God of light. He is the God of hope. I testify that He loves us—each one.

Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. In order to be tested, we must sometimes face challenges and difficulties. At times there appears to be no light at the tunnel’s end—no dawn to break the night’s darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea “Is there no balm in Gilead?” 6 We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.




General Conference is full of wonderful messages like these and I look forward to more this spring.


image from here


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Just a thought as I was reading something earlier (and I want to remember):

Take a deep breath and step forward.  Repeat as necessary.

Even if those steps are baby steps.  :)

I do have to do this on occasion ..., several occasions actually, but what really helps is the prayer in my heart ... at all times ... and especially just before I step forward - or even as I am stepping forward.




Monday, March 2, 2015

Potato Heads

These toys have been a bucket of fun for many years. 

Thomas in 1988 (January)



27 years later - Thomas' children in 2015 (March) - Auger and Akleigh  (Boston didn't want to join in in this silliness.)



This is just a little moment of time on our Sunday evening.  FUN!