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8 years ago I had 5 children under the age of nine. The day’s seemed long then, so very long. I homeschooled my two oldest while trying to keep the three littles entertained. Let’s be honest here. I was also trying to keep them from destroying my house, or each other,  while I tried to teach the other two. My husband was starting a new job and we had just moved across states. It was a crazy time. A good crazy, mostly.

In the midst of all this chaos I heard a talk that changed me. Here is an excerpt from my journal

The talk that meant the most to me, that filled me with what I need to do, that gave me hope for joy and peace, was Henry B  Erying’s. It seemed as though God turned on a light bulb when he spoke. It was as if I was being told that if I can more fully do what he suggested I would find joy I never thought possible.

I was reminded of this talk again last week and have listened to it several times since. One deep pondering worthy question has stood with me through the years. It’s a question he asks himself everyday before writing in his journal.

Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”

He goes on to say,

As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

8 years have brought with it trials unforeseen and joy beyond comprehension. And also a deeper understanding of how to heed this counsel.

Gratitude is more than just recognizing the good in your life. It is seeing that even in the difficult and trying times, God is showing you He is ever present. But all too often we forget to even see it. We get bogged down by life and don’t even say thank you to our loving Father for what He is doing. Recognizing He has something mightier in store for you than what we would settle for.

Being the month of gratitude, I thought a little bit differently about this talk then I had 8 years ago.  Back when I had just those 5 cute littles at home, I felt impressed to write down more of what was good in my life. I looked for the positive, knowing I was planning on blogging and I was never disappointed.  I was blessed with a recollection of the joyous times we shared. And my gratitude for motherhood increased.

Today, however, I feel impressed to seek for God in my life. To focus my gratitude towards what He has already given to me. To see more fully how He has been guiding me in the path He has in store for me and my family. To recognize what has been placed before me, even when I have been blind to His mercy and was unwilling to see it.  That I can let go of the fear that holds me back, and I can more fully trust Him and His timing and His sometimes mysterious (to me) ways.

Gratitude is this beautiful thing that does not give you more of what you desire but simply magnifies what is already right before your eyes. What you could not see becomes a huge mountain of hope, joy and peace. The mundane is taken over by contentment. Sorrow is replaced by happiness. Really it’s like magic.

Gratitude is magic.  It changes everything without changing a thing.

Whatever it is you need in your life, more joy, more trust, more patience, ponder how God has already given that to you. Write down the thoughts that come. Find the magic by picking up the magnifying glass of gratitude.

Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Open your eyes and go make today magical. SUSAN

09. November 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Hope, Joy
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“What do I have to be grateful for?”

Have you ever heard someone who is going through a difficult time say something like this?  Have you ever caught yourself saying something like this?  It is true that there are a lot of difficulties that go along with life, and sometimes it can be really easy to get caught up in all the things that seem to be going wrong, or that you lack in your life.  But… there are reasons that we need gratitude in our lives.

Fear not, in everything give thanks

Gratitude isn’t just nice, it is necessary.

Did you know that there are 194 references in the scriptures to thankfulness and thanksgiving?

In Mosiah 18: 23 it says

And he commanded them that…every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.”

Psalms 118:29 states

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:21, it says

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things…”

Why is gratitude so important?

God wants us to be gracious.  He also wants us to be happy. He is a loving father, who wants us to come back to Him, in righteousness and glory. Gratitude is one important step on this road. Following are 3 reasons why we should seek out gratitude in our lives.

1- Grateful people are happier people

When you choose to find things to be grateful about, you take the focus off of your troubles. The focus changes to things that are blessings in your life. It only seems logical that when you feel blessed you will feel happy.  But this theory transfers over to real world applications.

There have been multiple studies to show that people who are grateful have higher levels of happiness in their lives.  One such study, found here, happened like this…

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Happiness doesn’t come out of having an abundance of good things and an absence of troubles.  We all have troubles. They are naturally a part of life. But for those of us who can recognize their blessings and express regular gratefulness, whether to God in prayer, to ourselves in our journaling, or to others who bless our lives, a greater sense of well being and happiness will come into our lives.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008) said gratitude “is a quality I have found in every happy person I know”

grateful and happy

2- People who express gratitude, find more things to be grateful for

Once you start looking for things to be grateful for, more things begin to come to your mind. The natural outcome of looking for things to be grateful for, by “counting your blessings,” is that you realize that there is always just one more thing to be grateful for, the list could truly be endless.  Watch this video and see what some people in New York have to be grateful for, and see if it doesn’t remind you of things you are grateful for, that you may have overlooked.

I especially like the young man who says he is thankful for the future opportunities.  Which brings me to the last reason why we should be grateful.

3- Showing gratitude opens us up to receive future blessings.

When we show gratitude to others, it increases our feelings of good will toward each other, and helps to build and/or strengthen the relationship.  With stronger relationships with the people in our lives, we have more opportunities to help and bless them, and they in turn will continue to further bless our lives. So maybe gratitude will help us to build our circle of friends, along with creating a strong network of family and friends.

The next place we should show gratitude is to God, considering all of the scriptures that give us specific instruction to do so. When we thank God for our blessings, it shows Him that we recognize His hand in “all things” including our own lives.  He loves us and He surely sends blessings to us in greater abundance than we know. By taking the time to count our blessings and recognize and express gratitude for those blessings, we are allowing the Almighty to continue to be a part of our lives, and this will invite future blessings that we may not even be able to comprehend.

In Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 we are promised

He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more”

Does it get any better than that?

Over the next few weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving, we will share more about gratitude, and how we can more fully incorporate it into our lives.

aa laura

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 As I headed to the airport over a week ago a I came across a giant and slightly scary sand storm. I was already running slightly behind and didn’t have the luxury to pull over like other cars did. I white-knuckled my way through and prayed I would be guided even though my vision was limited. A peace came over me and a calm settled in. For a brief moment I felt as though unseen hands were on my hands assuring me of heavenly protection. I was going to be ok and I would get safely to the airport.

I pulled up to the long-term parking and felt relieved I had arrived sooner than I had expected. That is, until I stepped on the tram. When I announced which terminal I was departing from the driver questioned me. Lucky for me another passenger informed me I was at the wrong airport. Panic set in. Who goes to the wrong airport? Me.

Apparently there are two airports in the same town 45 minutes apart. One is tiny and so I didn’t know it existed. I do now. I quickly ran to my car and punched in the new location while tears began to fill me eyes. How was I going to make it?

I prayed again hoping I would get there on time. Hoping I could somehow defy the odds and make it much quicker than GPS estimated. I don’t know how but God softened my heart and helped me come to a peaceful place. He knew what I was trying to do. If I didn’t make it, He could help me with a plan B. And if plan B didn’t work maybe there was a reason.

There have been times in the past few weeks where I have felt myself come to trust a little more. Understanding that my ways are not God’s ways. In those moments of accepting I have seen His hand more prominently as would again become evident as the I arrived at the airport.

As soon as I got there I found my flight had been delayed by an entire hour. Not only did I now make it on time, I had time to spare. God answered my prayer in a very real and tangible way. One I could not dispute.

I did not need this experience to have faith in God and His great love and awareness for me. But I felt a growing understanding of how He wants to bless His children. How much He is waiting to help us if we will trust not only that He can but that He will. And trust that He has a grander picture then my small perspective can understand.

As we begin this month of gratitude I cannot help but feel thankful for the knowledge that God is ever-present in our lives. This experience was unique for me. Moments like these help to sustain me when I can’t see His hand so clearly.

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All is well

I love music.  I always have.  When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, I would lie in bed and sing myself to sleep. It’s a little embarrassing to think of my parents hearing me singing in bed, but it made me happy.

As I was studying things to do to reduce stress, I found a list that included listening to music, which I’m sure is helpful, but for me, it is 10 times more helpful to be a part of the music.  Whether singing to the car radio, or playing an instrument. I used to play the piano as a teen, in order to work out my frustrations.

Music really can be therapeutic.  In church I was asked to share some thoughts on my favorite hymn, and although I really don’t have a favorite hymn (I like lots of them for lots of different reasons) I choose to talk about a pioneer song, “Come, Come Ye Saints.”

This song was written specifically about the trials and hardships of the pioneers and early members of the church who sacrificed so much for their religious freedom, but also for the building of and survival of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  When I think of the final anthem of this song “All is well,” the first thing I think is “all was not well.”  They had just been chased from their homes, had property stolen from them.  Many had been physically assaulted, and had suffered sicknesses and injuries.  Many women had already lost their husbands to the violence, and many others died from illnesses and exposure.  The beginning of this journey west, was a dark, scary and difficult time.  But it was also a time of great bravery and hope for a better future.  It was a huge hardship for those who chose to stay with the church, and I believe that this song helped to give them courage to continue.

I have more than a few ancestors who were a part of this pioneer trek west.  Two of them, Gardner and Sarah Snow gave a record of their travels. It reads

In February the Exodus began. Two more grandchildren died. The women walked, rain or shine, until arrival at Winter Quarters. Twenty-two Bishops were called, Gardner being one of them. This was a sad time, for outside of Winter Quarters were 300 graves. One was their daughter-in-law’s, which resulted in Sarah raising two more grandchildren.”

I can’t even imagine having to bury and leave behind so many people, including family members.

I think this song was meant to lift their spirits and help them to have the courage to keep going each and every day.  I think it can do the same for us, in the trials that we face also.

The second verse of this song can be especially meaningful in our world.

It starts

Why should we mourn, or think our lot is hard? ‘Tis not so, all is right”

When I look at the “lot” of these pioneer ancestors, I think they have every reason to say that they have it hard.

I can’t tell you how many times in my own life, I have felt like my load was just too big to carry .  I learned not to ask the question “Why me?”  of the Lord, when my trials become more that I think that I can bear, because I have talked to so many other people who go through trials just as difficult or more so than mine.  If I ever dare to say “why me”, I have to remind myself “why not me?” Why would the Lord have me avoid the trials of earth life that are meant to stretch us, and strengthen us.  Each person on this earth has their own set of difficulties that they have to deal with. The difference in how we come through is how we look at it.  Can we say in the midst of trials, “Why should we mourn, or think our lot is hard?”

The next line in the song,

Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight.”

Sometimes it really is a fight against the evil spirit that wants us to give up, and give in to despair.  But unlike the pioneers, our fight is not physical, our fight is spiritual, mental and emotional.  And sometimes the “great reward” that I want to earn is just to be in a place of peace, for at least a little bit of time, and ultimately to be living with God, in a place of ultimate peace.

The song continues

Gird up your loins”

Meaning, get up and get ready. Choose to stand up and face the challenge that you probably can’t avoid anyway.

Fresh courage take”

Find the courage inside of you to choose to do something – what that something is will be different for each of us, in our own trials, and the most important part is remembering that

Our God will never us forsake.”

Even if we are in a place of sadness, that we can’t feel the spirit anymore, the Spirit is still there.  God will not leave us.  He has a plan for us.  And sometimes we just need to remember that He allowed us to be put into this situation, because He knows us well enough to trust in us to be able to overcome.

And soon we’ll have, this tale to tell.”

When do you tell that tale?  Long after the trial is over, and you can see the lessons that were learned, and the strength that was gained from the trial.  When the trial has past, and you have endured it well, then you can see that the trial may have actually been a blessing.  That is when you can proclaim

All is well, all is well.”

Whatever you might be going through right now, know that God is on your side and He will help you overcome.  Also know that He has put other people in your path to help you. Whether they be friends, family, counselors, doctors, teachers etc., let people in with the understanding that they may just be the angel that was sent to help you when you needed it most.

Laura

Ps: we would love to hear any stories you would like to share, on how you have overcome trials. Feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.

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“That’s just so perfect”

“Isn’t this perfect?”

“I want to make it just perfect”

Coming from a recovering perfectionist these phrases used to be sprinkled into my daily communications. Always striving to be the best I thought I could be, yet never truly measuring up. There is nothing above perfection. No more growth is needed when you finally reach that goal.

Over the years I have learned a lot about myself and the role perfection truly plays in my life.

One of the most empowering statements I have ever heard was this “I, of myself, am imperfect. I can not grow and progress on my own.” What a splendid relief it is to say that out loud and really believe that I am still a beloved daughter of God.

The beauty of this life is that none of us can move forward towards becoming like our Father in Heaven, or perfect, on our own. In this last general conference for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) an old bishop of ours gave a talk titled Remembering in Whom We Have Trusted.

I felt compelled to listen to it again this morning and this is what stood out to me.

When our Father in Heaven announced the need for a Savior, I believe all of us turned and looked at Jesus Christ, the Firstborn in the Spirit, the one who had progressed to the point of becoming like the Father. I believe all of us knew it had to be Him, that none of the rest of us could do it, but that He could and that He would.

We looked to our Savior before the world was, knowing it had to be Him and that we could not do it ourselves.

 We could not perfect ourselves no matter how hard we worked and pushed ourselves. We could not forgive ourselves of sin without the atonement He gave for us. We could not even try.

So why do we try to go this life alone? If we knew we could not endure this life alone even before we came to this earth why do we so often forget this?  We forget to ask for His help and guidance. We forget that He can make us more than we can make of ourselves. When we sin and fall short of our own expectations for ourselves we have a tendency to let it get us down instead of turning to the one who can, in the end, make us perfect.

Matthew 5:46 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This passage of scripture is not a reminder of your inability to be perfect in this life. It’s intent is not to make you feel poorly about yourself because you have yet to reach such a glorious goal. No, it is a gentle reminder that when we follow the Savior, He will guide is in the direction of perfection. One tiny minuscule step at time, often unperceivable in the moment.

I was talking with my sister-in-law who is about to have her first baby and I remembered how difficult that time of life was for me. I was filled with anxieties and fears that now no longer bother me. The passage of time helped me to see how far My Lord has taken me. Those little tiny steps have added up to miles of accomplishment.

How grateful I am that my Savior suffered for me so that I can make mistakes and fall short. What joy feels my soul to know that His suffering will cover every single sorrow I face if I simply let it. I feel to sing the song of redeeming Joy. Life is meant to be so beautifully messy and I love it.

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image

How can being beaten with many stripes and thrown into jail, unjustly, be a blessing?  Would we be willing to suffer such adversity if it meant blessing someone else’s life?

As I read the bible this week, in the New Testament, I recognized something special in the story of Paul, when he and his companion were imprisoned.

Although they hadn’t done anything wrong, and it may have seemed like a tragedy that they were thrown into prison, God had a purpose for them to be there.

They were stripped of their clothes, beaten with many stripes and put into jail, in the inner prison with their feet being placed into stocks.  Then at midnight, they prayed and sang praises to God, loud enough for the other prisoners to hear.

Maybe this is the example for us to reach for… I’m afraid that I would have a hard time “singing praises” in a situation like this. I’m afraid I would be singing the blues.  How hard would it be to not feel abandoned.  Here they were, serving the Lord with all that they had, in bringing Christianity to all the nations, and they run up against a wall.  In the moment, it would be hard to be hopeful of their future as missionaries.  We know that this isn’t the first time (or the last) that righteous people were imprisoned for standing up for what they knew to be true.  And it is easy to think, “Of course they could do it, because they were _______ (heroes, saints, apostles, etc.). We don’t often recognize that they are also human. Suffering hurts no matter who is going through it.  Maybe Paul and Silas saw that there was a greater purpose in their time is this prison.  Maybe they thought of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and the years that he spent in prison, and realizing that something good came out of that experience, they hung unto the hope that God had something planned for them also.  But being faced with the choice to praise God or give in to despair, they chose to have faith.

Shortly after, there was an earthquake in the prison that caused the shackles of the prisoners to come off and the doors to come open.  When the jailer woke up and saw that the doors were open, he assumed that the prisoners had all escaped and was so fearful of what might happen to him because of this, he was prepared to kill himself.  Paul called out to him not to harm himself, because they were all still in the prison.

The trust that he felt, for Paul and Silas, led him to ask about being “saved” and allowed the missionaries to teach their message to this jailer and his entire house.  A bond was formed and a family saved and converted. The results of this trial was exactly the thing that Paul had wanted in the first place.  To teach about Jesus Christ to all who would listen.

I wonder how many trials in my life have the potential to bring me the growth and blessings that I am actually wanting.  But if given a choice I might just say “no thank you” to having to suffer some difficulty in the meantime.  I know that I complain whenever things don’t go the way I would expect them to.  What would happen if I looked at the challenges as a gateway to something better that the Lord has in store?  What if I had enough faith to trust that God knows me, and He knows what would be best for me, and I turned to Him in my time of crisis?  What would happen if I asked “What do you want me to do next Lord?” or “What can I learn from this?” or “How can this trial bless someone else’s life?”

It can be really hard to keep the faith in an insecure world. But that doesn’t make it impossible.  Challenges can bring out strength we didn’t realize that we had. Trials can bring blessings that we didn’t know that we wanted.

Sometimes we just need to reach past the sadness and difficulty with the hope of things to come before we can get to that point.

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No one ever wins in a power struggle. I used to feel like I had to win. I couldn’t back down. But I have painfully learned that even when I win, I don’t feel like I have.

This last week I had a couple of parenting moments that reminded me of this very point.

One child had his feelings hurt and another was overly stressed out. I did not respond my best. When it’s my will against theirs, I find myself feeling frustrated, and occasionally a little bit angry. My voice will raise and then theirs will match it. The more I struggle to maintain control of the situation the harder they fight to maintain ground. When I am in this parenting mode and I get them to do what I think is right I see defeat on their faces. And a tinge of sadness. Which usually means I will feel regret for the poor way I handled things.

But I also recognize I cannot give my children whatever they want just because they put up a fight. Then what? What I really want for my children is to learn to become amazing adults who can handle the challenges of adulthood. Who can love and be loved. Adults that can allow God into their hearts so that everyday challenge become more manageable. Fighting with them doesn’t show them any of that.

This morning as I sat outside in the beautiful city of Nauvoo reading my scriptures I came across a simple passage that states

 Trust in the Lord

If my will is not the way and letting the kids have their will is not the way, that only leaves me with the Lord’s will. When I trust that He will guide me in my parenting I am calm. When I remember they are His children before they are mine I am kinder. When I know what He would have me do I am more confident.

Laura told me this last week that when I don’t know what to do in my parenting I should tell the kids such and step away for a minute. Now after reading this scripture with parenting in mind I see the NEED of prayer and supplication to God to understand His will. Maybe I won’t have a long time to do that because of life demands but God knows that. I’m sure I can certainly retreat to the bathroom for a couple of minutes and strive to be right with God so that I can be right by my children. To give Him freely my will and let Him guide me to His will.

There are moments I have done this and experienced the parenting joys that come as the reward. Peace follows instead of guilt, even when the child doesn’t love what I’m saying or doing.

I imagine this will take practice, lots of trying before I have this down. But my children are worth all of my efforts. God loved them before I ever did, and I know He is just waiting for me to ask so that He may intervene on their behalf.  His will is the only will that can win every time.

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Emma Smith is one of two ladies I look up to, desire to emulate and wish I could go to lunch with to just talk for hours. The other is Marjorie Pay Hinckley. Both are wives of modern-day prophets for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And both are women I hope to meet in heaven.

Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the prophet Joseph Smith, said this of her daughter-in-law

“I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done;

Could you imagine meeting a woman like that?  Over the last few weeks I have been studying all about her life and for a small moment, I felt like we met. The deeper I got into researching her the more I wished we could have been friends. She was compassionate and witty and strong and real.

Although she is not alive today for me to call on for advice, I learned more about myself in reading about her. I saw more of what I want to be while also seeing glimpses into accepting who I am right now. Emma didn’t know how wonderful she was. She was humble. She strived to find joy in everyday. She held fast to her strong faith.  She gave compassionately of her time and energies when people should have been serving her.  She didn’t act that way to be an example or to be a leader or even so people after her could look to her as a standard, it’s just simply who she was.

In a letter to her son in her later years she wrote

“I have seen many, yes very many, trying scenes in my life which I could not see … where any good could come of them.” She added this testimony: “But yet I feel a divine trust in God, that all things shall work for good.”

Oh that I can mold my faith to be as hers.

Shortly before her husband died she wrote,

I desire the spirit of God to know and understand myself, I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting.”

That is a prayer I understand well.  I would like to print it and put it in my prayer room for those are all things I desire.

The youth leaders at our church, I work with the 14-15 year old girls called Mia Maids, put together a hike all about the life of Joseph Smith (the founder of our church).  The kids would hike and come across different influential people in his life. His parents, his brother, and his wife. As soon as I heard about this I felt a strong desire to portray Emma. But as the time got closer I knew I could not do this wonderful woman justice. How could I help the youth see of her testimony of God’s love for her as well as her testimony of her husband and of the church?

As the night drew near I still didn’t know what I was going to say. There was just too much to fit into the small 7-minute window I was given. I knelt in prayer pleading with the Lord that I may somehow embody all that Emma was. I poured out my soul desiring more than anything to show the youth the strength of her faith even though she was asked to endure so many trials. I wanted to make her proud and I wanted to say exactly what the Lord would have me say.

The impression I received was that I should not prepare a written speech or even decide which stories to share. I had saved some quotes on my phone thinking I might read those because they were so powerful in her words but I felt strongly I needed to trust that God would tell me what to say when the time came. This quote was one of them, which was given right before she passed away

“My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity. I have not the slightest doubt of it. … Though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates … and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much as to anyone else.

I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction.

Joseph smith was a prophet of God. I believe he [Joseph] was everything he professed to be.”

The night came. As I got ready I pondered on her again. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to be her.  And felt I needed to try to do her famous hair do (we were not asked to dress like our person) 

We began our hike and my husband and I got into place (he was portraying Joseph). Each person had a designated spot for the kids to come to you. And we were last. We waited and I wondered again what I was going to say. And then in an instant it all came together in my mind. I knew what was to be said with great assurance. And I instantly felt gratitude to God.

The group came up and I welcomed them as I imagined Emma would do. Her house was always full of visitors and those who needed special care. I shared with them an experience she had with prayer when she was a young child. And I shared this quote

Strength does not come from seeing. Strength comes from faith.

I told how the faith that began as a small child kneeling in prayer sustained her and grew throughout her many trials. I talked about how she had lost several babies and one specific experience where Joseph was taken from their home by a mob of angry men and tarred and feathered. And how her already sick baby died from the exposure to the cold let in by the mob.

At this point I thought I might share another story and my mind went blank. I could not remember what I was going to say and I knew it was because that story didn’t need to be shared.

I tried with all of my heart to testify as if I were Emma the things she knew to be true.  It came very easily because I knew them to be true as well. I testified of Joseph’s Holy calling. Of the divine nature of the Book of Mormon. Of the religion she had given so much for. And for the beautiful nature of eternal families.

As I said those words my spirit was on fire.  I felt God burning into my heart the truthfulness of what I was saying. I felt like Emma was next to me helping me get her words into those kids’ hearts.  The beautiful experience of “meeting” Emma will forever be a tender memory I hope to only be replaced by one day, on the other side of the veil, sitting down with Her and being taught by her side.

***Update***

Here are some of the sources I used to study the life of Emma Smith.

Article in the Ensign written by their great great granddaughter

Emma and Joseph: Their Divine Mission

The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother

Emma’s patriarchal blessing can be found here

Article on the letters written between Joseph and Emma

Love letters of Joseph and Emma this one is visually so stunning. It is short like a story book but so much love and beauty is found inside.

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This is my favorite scripture of all time, and I may have shared it with you in the past.  I’m constantly turning to it for hope and help.

I suppose I keep coming back to it because I have a lot of weaknesses. Every time I’m faced with problems in life, (and who doesn’t have problems) I am also faced with the reality of some other facet of my life that needs improving.  Sometimes I know exactly what to do, but not always.  And sometimes I think I know what I need to do, but I don’t know why I continue to fail to do it.  It has been common for me to struggle to find answers and strength.

As I have been praying to help in making improvements in my life, it seems like the concept of humility has come up a lot lately in church and in my studies.  Maybe it is a message that the Lord is trying to send to me.

Being humble isn’t a weakness. Being humble is hard. It’s hard to admit when you’ve been wrong.  It’s hard to admit that you don’t know everything on your own.  It’s hard to admit that you need help.

But the truth is that as humans we are weak.  We need help. We need each other. We need our Savior Jesus Christ.

God loves us with an unending love, and He wants all the very best for us.  He especially wants to see us grow, become more than we were before. He delights in the joy we will feel when we get to that point and find that we are better and stronger through Him.  But He won’t interfere with our agency and just give those gifts to us before we are ready, nor will He give them before we are humble enough and faithful enough to ask for them.  When we get ourselves to that point, then we will be ready to receive the greater gifts that will make us more that we knew that we could be.

If we will just work hard to let go of pride, and allow humility to be a part of our lives, we will be able to turn to God, and let Him guide our lives to allow those weak things to be made strong.

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Our family home evening lesson on prayer went fairly well on Monday. There was a moment of contention, but I think that is to be expected when you have 8 people all trying to sit still for a lesson.

I few things became more clear.

1. My children really do love each other and want to help when they can. After the lesson was over my sweet Joshua asked that we would pray for him for something very specific. The next morning I reminded who was saying that prayer of Joshua’s request. To which the kids responded. “I prayed for him last night and this morning.”  Needless to say he was touched and so was I.

2. Kids want to be guided and given direction. They don’t know how the world is supposed to work and they look to us as their parents for examples and direction. I shared several ideas of how they could make prayer more meaningful, and I could see the wheels turning. One wants to write their prayers on their chalkboard and another wants to use post it notes. As a family we decided to write on a board we have in the living room prayer requests as they come up. And then when they see an answer to a prayer we are going to write it on this mat.

Big or small, I told them they could write whenever they noticed an answer to their prayer.

3. God is so quick to hear us and give us assurance that He is there. Before the lesson I spent a good deal of time pondering on each of my children and what my written prayers for them should look like. Durning that lesson two of my children had experiences I had just prayed for. They might have seemed like little things, but it was comforting to know and to feel of His love not only for me but for my children.

One might well ask why He would concern Himself with something so small. I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us. How much more would He want to help us with the big things that we ask, which are right (see 3 Nephi 18:20)?

4. God wants to bless us. We simply need to ask. When I ask my husband for a back rub and he willing gives it even though he might be tired, I can feel his love for me. We become more connected, and I in turn want to give back to him when he needs something. I believe noticing our answered prayers can be that way as well. By asking we show our trust that God is aware of us and loves us. We feel connected to Him. When He answers, even when the answer is not what we thought it would be, we feel His love for us. At times the answers come quickly like in my example above. Sometimes the response is a reassurance that He is there and that He hears you. Some prayers take years. And you are given a little here and a little there.

 Little children, young people, and adults alike, please believe how very much your loving Heavenly Father wants to bless you. But because He will not infringe upon our agency, we must ask for His help. This is generally done through prayer. Prayer is one of the most precious gifts of God to man.

As I continue to make prayer a more meaningful part of my life, I cannot help but look back on the times my prayers have been answered and feel a debt of gratitude I know I will never be able to repay. Yet I can pray and ask that His will can more fully become my own.

Quotes are taken from a talk titled Privilege of Prayer. I loved it so very much and highly recommend reading or listening to it.