You’re not as lost as you may think

This video about the Provo City Center Temple hit me when I heard the phrase, “saving what was thought to be lost has enormous significance.” It isn’t just about rebuilding an historic building to beautify the city, it’s the entire message of the gospel encapsulated in one project.

Each of us is like the old building. Perhaps just outdated or worn, maybe even destroyed by sin. And Jesus Christ says to each of us, “you are precious and beautiful” and offers to rebuild us into a temple. Not just restoring what we originally were, but creating something magnificent.

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Image from  mormonnewsroom.org

It requires our trust to repent and let Him be in charge. Follow His way of doing things. It’s not easy.

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds this temple, it is a symbol to me of everything Christ offers to the members of the church. In Christ’s church there are those who will serve you, programs to help with improvement, leaders who will lovingly guide you as you repent, and friends you can work with side-by-side as each of you slowly becomes more like the temple Christ is creating in you. And all possible because Jesus Christ made His infinite sacrifice to save every soul who would let Him.

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Christmas Peace

These thoughts from Elder Anderson touched me as I read the December Ensign today.

I pray at this Christmas season that you might have some sense of the Lord’s regard for your offering, some sense of how you stand in His eyes, some sense of the beloved status you occupy as His son or His daughter. And I pray that knowledge of that status may give you a great deal of comfort, reassurance, and confidence that you are approved in His eyes….

With all of that to come, I think it’s appropriate this time of year to just think about that baby in the manger. Don’t be too overwhelmed or occupied with what is to come; just think about that little baby. Take a quiet, peaceful moment to ponder the beginning of His life—the culmination of heavenly prophecy but the earthly beginning for Him.

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Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world—when all of heaven rejoiced with the message “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

Mary, mother of Jesus

Aside from Jesus Christ, Mary has attracted veneration and worship as the mother of the Son of God. I wanted to share my own thoughts about her.

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Image from wikipedia

Mary came from a righteous family. It says in Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” This describes Elizabeth and Zacharias, but being related, I imagine it describes Mary’s parents and grandparents as well. What’s more, this family remained humble followers of Christ in a time of general apostasy. They were by lineage the leaders of the people, but were displaced from ruling, or at least not recognized by the current government and church leadership. Mary’s family may have been quite poor.

Mary was a faithful person, not doubt. Contrast Zacharias’s “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” With Mary’s “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She had a quiet personality that kept these things and pondered them. She had questions to ponder: why am I chosen, am I worthy? How will I have a baby without being married? How do I prepare to be a mother to the Messiah?

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Mary may have been beautiful
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She may have looked like this Afghan girl. Image from national geographic.

Nephi calls Mary “most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” If she was beautiful in the worldly sense, then it is that much more impressive that she was also humble. If she was beautiful in the spiritual sense, perhaps that is why she received the calling to be the mother of the Son of God. Perhaps she was beautiful in all of the meanings of the word, though Jesus did not inherit Mary’s physical beauty. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

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Mary and Joseph both saw an angel on separate occasions. Here are some of the beautiful words spoken by the angel. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

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Mary spent time with Elisabeth, pondering and piecing together the information about the promised Messiah. I am sure they studied Isaiah and other prophets to learn more about what was about to happen. “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9) “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jer. 23:5) The prophesies scattered throughout scripture had answers, but some were purposefully vague, and Mary still had to exercise faith in her projected course.

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Mary had real challenges to face as a virgin expecting a child. The social stigma made her vulnerable, and she depended on Joseph to protect and defend her. Mary’s was a unique mortal situation was likely incomprehensible to most of the people who knew her. I find it interesting that the plan involved our Savior being born to a virgin. “For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” While the rest of the human family is conceived in sin, Jesus Christ came from a completely pure person. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15) Jesus was born of a virgin, had no sin, and overcame death.

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Mary’s struggles continued. She endured a long journey to Bethlehem at the end of her pregnancy. The roads were crowded and dusty. As her journey progressed, her position became dire. She was in labor. There was no room for her to deliver her baby in privacy. Finally, a place was found, no matter how humble. After labor came joy at his birth and safe arrival.

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The choirs of angel came then, to the shepherds. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The shepherds then made their way to the stable, sharing the good news from the angels with Mary and Joseph.

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image from faithit.com

Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds were the first humble worshipers of Christ. “And the same word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (JST John 1:14). Except for the shepherd’s visit, the night would have been solitary for the new family. They did not see angels or hear choirs. The humble witness of common folk was the greeting Jesus received at birth. Our Christmas traditions of lights, bells, and decorations never adorned the first Christmas.

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Mary’s journey did not end with Jesus’s birth. They traveled to the temple and home to Nazareth. Soon she and Joseph had to flee into Egypt. There Jesus spent his early years, far from any family other than his parents. Mary loved him and taught him as a young child. As he grew older, she had to allow him to pursue his own course. He became her teacher. Mary had to allow him freedom to complete his personal mission. She saw him suffer pain. She saw him realize his full potential. She understood him better than most of the people who knew him, and she stood by him even in death.

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This year at Christmas, I rejoice in the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior. I am grateful for Mary’s quiet example. She helped fulfill God’s plan for the salvation of all mankind.

Christmas movies to get the spirit

To kick off the Christmas season, Mormon.org celebrates with inspiring messages about Christ. Remembering the true meaning brings the Christmas Spirit.

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I liked this summary of our world’s need for a Savior. It states simply and clearly things I have been discovering over a lifetime. We need Jesus Christ as desperately now as at any other time. His message of hope still rings out over the centuries, offering salvation to a lost world.

I enjoyed watching Jenny Oaks Baker’s rendition of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Check out the site for more inspiring music to share.

This Christmas, worship Jesus Christ. His hope and love makes the holiday season the most important season of the year.

Why I believe

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve been a member since I was baptized at eight. I grew up in Utah and currently live in Arizona. I’ve experienced Mormon culture as I’ve participated in church. I want to talk about the  challenges and benefits I’ve experienced as a member.

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Jesus Christ and Thomas

Being a Mormon is challenging. There are plenty of doctrines and commandments to try to follow. I believe God expects me to continually improve. I not only do my best, I also acknowledge that my own efforts will never be enough. Only Jesus Christ has the power to overcome my human nature, so I must develop a relationship with him and learn how to connect with his limitless power. Sometimes I get bogged down in my “to-do’s” and feel distanced from God. Maybe I don’t know if what I’m accomplishing is really enough to qualify as my best effort and I wonder if I’ll still be good enough. I keep finding pride in myself and sometimes despair of my ability to be fixed. Some of the hardest times are challenges that seem to occur for no reason. I struggle to get through periods where I feel less enlightened, less connected to God, and less inspired. It’s hard to keep up the effort when my reasons to continue are based on trust and past experiences.

I may seem like a faithful Mormon, but I still struggle with the basics in the life I’ve chosen. I have a beautiful family of five children and a loving husband, which is my life’s dream. Despite this, I regularly feel overwhelmed, unable to keep up with the demands of caring for my family, including housework. Part of me still puts too much emphasis on outward appearances of success. If I seem to be accomplishing what I am asked I get asked to do more. I want to be able to accomplish more, but maybe I still struggle with doing what I’m working on now. I don’t feel like I regularly receive answers to my prayers, more often I go along and feel okay about my direction and once in awhile (if I pay attention) notice blessings along the way. I do feel the spirit of God in my home regularly, which is my most tangible connection to God. I would love to experience the peace and joy the gospel promises, but often I find myself reminding myself that life is mostly enduring.

One challenge of church membership I want to talk about is interacting with other members. The Mormon church welcomes anyone to follow the steps of faith, repentance, and baptism. Because all are invited, inevitably the members are anywhere on the road of discipleship. In the church, I’ve met some of the nicest people of my life. I see people that I admire and would like to emulate. But most of the members are regular people, sometimes shallow, easily caught up in appearances, with a tendency to gossip. Most members are so busy living our lives that actual deep friendships are rare. I tend to keep my own barriers to prevent a relationship being able to hurt me, which means if someone says or does something that hurts my feelings, I can brush it off. If I serve and expect something in return, I will probably be disappointed. When I am struggling, I wish there were more people out there to help lift me. Yet, the road of discipleship has always been lonely. It is not the yellow brick road with friends by your side. Since everyone is at a different place along their own narrow path, your challenges are usually yours to face alone.

So far, when my faith has ebbed and I feel unable to go on, there is still a conviction underneath that swells up again and carries me forward. I may not understand everything about my life direction, but any alternative I pursue doesn’t bring me the peace I seek.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique. It claims things like being the only authorized church representing Jesus Christ on the earth, Divine inspiration and revelations, living prophets, angelic reception of priesthood authority, the imminent return of Jesus Christ, etc. The doctrines of the church are both fantastic and incredible, unbelievable to some and inspiring to others. For example, the church teaches that families are eternal. Our very concept of God is different, because we believe God is our literal Father and that we can someday live with God and be fathers and mothers in His extended family. Essentially, we believe in a God who is part of a relationship that connects Him eternally with us.

The demands and fantastic doctrines of the Mormon church can be hard to accept, yet they are the element that draws me in. Who would be so audacious as to say they were the only ones with authority to administer a church in Jesus’ name? Only a church who had been told so by God. Why would a church demand so much? Jesus said, “be ye therefore perfect.” Only God would. We struggle to realize happy family relationships, yet cling to the promise that happy families and healed relationships are one of the rewards of heaven. The unique ordinances of baptism and temples, as well as the doctrine of eternal families isn’t offered anywhere else. I don’t want to get into apologetics, and obviously there are lots of opinions about Mormon beliefs from inside and outside of the church. Still, I feel the spirit when I talk about these things, so for me they are true. The scriptures command baptism, and only baptism under proper authority will count. Despite the challenging nature of my beliefs, I believe that the rewards of this lifestyle more than surpass the demands. My own personal spiritual experiences have been positive, even sometimes overwhelming. To me, that is real.

Today I had a prayer answered. I have been praying to see how miracles still occur in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At our stake conference, Elder Gay shared his testimony that Jesus Christ lives and really directs this church. He shared an experience where he gave a blessing to a young man who had been in a motocross accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Three weeks after the blessing, the young man was able to walk. He shared a few other experiences, all of which felt powerful to me and directly answered my recent request. No, I didn’t see a miracle. I may not be worthy of that. I hope to be someday. But I know that the leaders of the church are good enough to ask for miracles and see them happen.

One obvious benefit I see from living the gospel is happy children. the strictness of living a life according to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ help me provide my children a happy childhood and values that lead to success. while I don’t personally feel happy every day, I have a two year old who daily says, “I love you mommy. You are the best mommy.” My 13 month old still thinks his world revolves around me. I can pick him up and hold him close and just soak in his sweetness. My other children are cute and obnoxious by turns, as children usually are, so sometimes I enjoy being with them and other times I can’t stand them any more and ask my husband to take over. My own parents were able to give me a happy childhood despite their own shortcomings, which I treasure. So while I don’t feel happy all the time, when I look back over the past, my life has been happy. I don’t have regrets and there are lots of positive memories. Following the gospel has allowed me to experience that happiness.

I love that God knows me better than I know myself, that He sees where I am, and plans for my success despite my imperfections. I love the principles that have changed the direction of my life. I love the bridge between the divine and the messy reality of human existence. I love Jesus Christ, whose message is eternally of hope. Hope for all mankind. Hope for those who are lost, or struggling, or trying and failing. Or seem good outside but still need so much help inside. I love the church despite all of the imperfections of the real people I worship with on Sunday. I believe The Church of Jesus Christ is what it claims: the only church directed by Jesus Christ and representing Him on the earth.

I’ve been inspired by Nikki’s thoughts at LDS Woman at the Well. Her words describing God’s love resonate with me (and evidently with thousands of others). I like her honesty. She shared this, which describes why I am a Mormon even though I find it challenging to live my religion:

“Living the Gospel demands a lot, but living “in the world” I found demands a lot more and it gives a lot less. It has an insatiable appetite with standards that are impossible to meet. Unlike finding completeness in Christ, who came in the fullness of Truth and Grace, the world offers us nothing.”

I am Mormon even though my faith has caused me to do the things I find hardest in my life. And I plan to continue on, working to overcome those things that challenge me with the help of Jesus Christ.

Mormon culture vs gospel culture

A unique culture exists among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each person lives their life based on their core beliefs. Each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or “Mormon”) applies what they believe to choices they make, and over time a common culture has emerged. Anyone who has visited Utah will notice differences between the culture there an other places in the country. Some may be good, others not so good. For example, Utahns take good care of their yards, but Utahns aren’t very courteous drivers.

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Welcome to Utah sign. From the Monroe family blog. https://themonroefamily.wordpress.com

I’d like to talk about the difference between Mormon culture and Gospel culture. Mormon culture is the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group, in this case a group of Mormons. Gospel culture is the behaviors and beliefs taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ, as contained in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are different because Mormon culture may emerge from practices not founded in the gospel, for example eating green Jell-O with carrots. A person trying to live the gospel will inevitably do it imperfectly. So as Mormons live and practice their beliefs a Mormon culture emerges. Occasionally people get Mormon culture and the gospel mixed up. They think that the gospel teaches that you have to drive a big van, have lots of kids, and volunteer a lot. Or perhaps they had an experience where a Mormon said or did something less than Christlike and think the gospel condones such behavior. Neither is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect because it is based on eternal truth. Mormon culture is imperfect because it is the expression of imperfect people.

“There is a unique gospel culture, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel culture, or way of life, comes from the plan of salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of living prophets. It is given expression in the way we raise our families and live our individual lives.” L. Tom Perry, October 2012 General Conference

Latter-day Saints around the world may not all live the same flavor of Mormon culture, but all of them are trying to live the gospel culture. Gospel culture includes choices like valuing marriage and family, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and studying the scriptures. I enjoy meeting other members in the church and finding out how they live the gospel, what they are working on right now, and hearing their testimonies about the happiness they have found. Here are a few examples:

I have also noticed that church leaders have tried to adapt teaching the gospel to all cultures. They are willing to discard cultural practices that are simply Mormon culture, while not changing the culture of the gospel. “While we treasure appropriate cultural diversities, our goal is to be united in the culture, customs, and traditions of the gospel of Jesus Christ in every respect.” (Elder Cook). Last time I flew on an airline, I sat next to a man who is married to an inactive returned missionary. He was raised a good Christian and they are raising a happy family based on Christian values. He knew a lot about Mormons and we had an interesting discussion about Mormon culture. I do not know why his wife decided to leave the church, but I imagine it’s probable someone could have offended her.

In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless. Elder Bednar

I think if we realize the difference between the cultural practices of people who are Mormons and teachings of the gospel, it is easier to see that a Mormon may do something contrary to their beliefs even though the gospel itself is true. Also realize that living the gospel will look as unique as each person trying to do so.

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A Mormon girl
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A Mormon from India.
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A Mormon from Guatemala.
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A Mormon from Canada.
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A Mormon grandpa.

As a mom, I have to be careful to not get a perfection complex. I call it Martha Stewart complex when someone tries to have a perfect home, fabulous meals, manicured appearance, well-dressed children, etc. Those things are nice, but in the end they are not important. What is important? The gospel. Because it is the key to happiness. I hope we can see past the imperfections of Mormon culture to unlock our potential through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Easter: Everything good happens because of Him

I look around at the world. The plants are blossoming, the world has been reborn as it is every spring. I think how God created this beauty, from the oceans and mountains to the molecular structures and biochemical processes of life. TulipsI notice my new baby. He has come alive. From complacent newborn he’s grown into a curious infant. He can scoot across the room and explore things that capture his attention. He brims with happiness over his new-found abilities. He freely shares his gushing happiness with anyone around.

I am surrounded by love. My children and husband gush over me. Tell me how much they love me. They notice my moods. Sometimes when I am quiet, they come up and give me a hug.

The message of Easter is all of this and more comes because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Christ-at-the-wellHe created the beautiful Earth and all life upon it. The purpose of this splendor simply to witness of His love for us. He implemented God’s plan for His children by creating Adam and Eve, our first parents, and beginning family units.

Jesus makes it possible for little children to be born into the world innocent. They are alive in Him. They exemplify the beauty of heaven that we cannot remember yet yearn to return to.

Jesus was born into the world to experience all of the pain of mortality. He felt all of the emotions, physical pain, spiritual stretching, and uncertainty that comes with life. He felt the weight of the sin of all mankind in the garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross. He died.

Then he took his body again and became a resurrected being. He overcame death. He overcame sin and all mortal imperfections. He uses his power to reclaim all of mankind and offer us the blessings He received. He loved us and did not forget any of us in His miraculous mission. He and our Father focus completely on us, their children.resurrected-christ-wilson-ongAfter this life is over, God wants to share with us “all that He hath.” (Luke 12:44). He wants to take the little fragments of happiness that we have experienced here and make them into an eternal reality. Jesus Christ made this possible. Everything from creating the Earth through redeeming God’s children is encompassed in Jesus’ divine mission that He fulfilled when He rose the third day.

He is risen!

If you like this post, consider reading Because He Lives: Meditations on Christ

Children restored

Today I read the Book of Mormon and found this gem:

For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer. 2 Nephi 10:2

This verse took on a different meaning to me this time. I picture Jacob, a righteous leader and father thinking about his children’s future. Inevitably, being righteous is hard and some fall away. Life is hard. Yet God is still merciful. He understands that we struggle through life’s journey. Sometimes we are casualties in the fight.

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All of God’s children are precious.

I love how it says “our children shall be restored.” One interpretation is the return of the House of Israel to righteousness in the latter days. But what about all of the casualties between Jacob’s day and the latter days? Those children are precious too. This time it occurred to me that through the temple, all children of all time have the opportunity to accept the gospel message of salvation. That is comforting to me, because I look at my children and think how precious they are. I would hate to lose a single one, yet I can’t force their choices. All of us are God’s children, and He considers us all precious. Even generations of children who lived without the gospel. Through the grace of God, because of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are all given a chance to accept everything God can offer us. And Christ is not finished until every child has been redeemed.

Phoenix Temple Tour

The Phoenix Arizona Temple (aka Phoenix Mormon Temple) is the newest temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also the closest temple to my home. I got to tour it in October and wanted to share my experience.

Our family had a reservation on a Monday morning. The weather was perfect, with lots of sun and promising to be a hot day. We followed the volunteers who directed us to park in the lot of Wet-N-Wild water park. They were all super friendly. We saw one person we knew and got a 30 second update on how she was doing. I loved the helpful feeling exuded by everyone, they made me feel like they were so happy to be together and helping out.

My kids loved riding the tour bus the quarter mile over to the temple. They had never been on one before and we had to remind them to stay seated while the bus was driving.

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Photo Courtesy of Dave & Audrey Simonson from http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/phoenix

At the temple, we went into the church next door where we watched a brief video explaining temples and their purpose. I like the quote by Elder Holland, who says he can’t picture heaven without his wife and family–it just wouldn’t be heaven without them. I agree. I can’t picture heaven without being surrounded by the people who make me happy.

Our tour guides were also very friendly. They explained it would be a silent tour and encouraged us to enjoy the quiet feeling in the temple and save our questions for afterwards.

After our introduction, we walked over to the temple entrance. I like the desert landscaping around the building. As we approached the door, helpful volunteers put shoe coverings on for us to protect the carpet in the building. They were all talking and laughing and enjoying themselves.

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Courtesy of Dave & Audrey Simonson. From http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/phoenix/ November 14, 2014
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Photo by Matthew Reier. From lds.org news page 12 Oct 2014.
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Photo by Matthew Reier.

Inside the temple, we got to walk slowly through the entryway, with its beautiful door handles, mosaic floor, and sitting areas. Most of the walls are a pale sand color, but in the entryway there is a painting of Christ on a wall with dark paneling and art glass.

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Door detail. From mormontemples.org.

Next we went downstairs. The marble floor and marble stairs are shades of brown with swirls of pink. Very pretty.

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Stair detail. Photo by Matthew Reier.

The desert agave blossom motif on the anodized gold railing repeats throughout the building. I like how everything is very symmetrical and orderly and also uses themes from nature and neutral colors. To me, the interior design combines the best elements of a church, spa, and high-class hotel. Beautiful surroundings, peaceful, focusing on the experience of the individual. Only in the temple, the experience isn’t created to generate revenue for a corporation, instead the experience brings one closer to God.

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Baptistry in the Phoenix Arizona Temple. Photo by Matthew Reier. Photo from lds.org news page.

Downstairs we walked past many more paintings depicting Jesus Christ. Scenes from his mortal ministry remind each of us that this home belongs to Him. More marble covers the floors and walls. Everything seemed exquisite to the last detail, yet not ornate enough to draw attention to itself. I also enjoyed the way the sitting areas were arranged to encourage contemplation. I could picture myself returning and enjoying the atmosphere. The focal point of the lower level in the temple is the baptismal font, with its teal and coral highlights. The mural behind makes it appear to be a continuation of the river.

The next room we entered had a beautiful mural painted on two walls depicting the Sonoran desert near Lake Pleasant.

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Desert mural in Phoenix Temple. Photo by Matthew Reier.

My neighbor had told me a story about this mural, how this particular spot had a special meaning to one man who felt an answer to prayer there. He didn’t know that the mural would be painted at the same location where he liked to go for solitude. When he saw the mural for the first time, he felt surprised to see his “special” place depicted in the temple–another special place.

I enjoy the feeling of being outdoors while in the mural room. I love spending time in nature. It lends itself to contemplation. The murals of the desert feel like being outside here in Arizona, highlighting how “home” is always the most beautiful place, even in a desert.

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Photo from http://mormontemples.org/

The next room has beautiful columns that repeat the same agave blossom detail. Near the ceiling are geometric shapes that look like sunflowers and interlocking ovals. This room is brighter and lighter than the preceding room.

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Column detail. Photo by Matthew Reier. From lds.org news page.

The next room was the Celestial room, which is the most beautiful room in the temple. It had a gorgeous stained glass oval window in the center of the ceiling. The window is underneath the exterior spire, so during the day, sunlight illuminates it. At night there are lights in the spire that illuminate the window.

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Stained glass window detail. Photo by Matthew Reier. From lds.org news page.

Again, the rooms in the building are serenely beautiful with exquisite craftsmanship. Unlike the Gilbert Arizona Temple, which features a large crystal chandelier, this room has the oval window as a focal point with four smaller rectangular chandeliers. Stained glass windows surround the upper walls, repeating geometric themes found in the room.

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Photo by Matthew Reier. From lds.org news page.
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Interior room in Phoenix Arizona Temple. from mormontemples.org.

The final room of the tour is the room where marriages are performed. One of the core beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” (from The Family: a Proclamation to the World)

After walking through the entire temple, we exited through the main entry. We were able to enjoy walking across the grounds where there is a fountain that also acts as a reflecting pond. One nice gentlemen there offered to snap a photo of our family for us. He took a couple photos and was generally helpful.

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Reflection of temple. From http://www.ldschurchtemples.com.

As we exited the temple grounds, there was a covered tent with more information, water, places to sit, and a photo booth for picture taking. The booth was convenient because with the crowds and heat, our photos outside didn’t turn out great. Here’s our family photo.

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Our family at the Phoenix Temple photo booth

We hopped on the tour bus and returned to our car.

I was so impressed by how friendly everyone was. I loved the building and the beauty inside. I wanted to return again when it would not be busy so I could enjoy the serenity here. I also thought although this may be one of the most beautiful building in the state of Arizona, it probably doesn’t compare to what buildings are like in heaven. So why would God care about this building? He cares because when it has been dedicated, it belongs to Him. He also wants us to remember the beauty of everything He wants to share with us. He wants to give us everything He has.

So I got to tour this amazing temple, but unlike a construction worker who builds it and has to move on to the next project, I get to enjoy the beauty of this building for years to come. I also came away feeling inspired to keep my own home more organized and peaceful, to be more like the temple.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, especially if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and wonder what a Mormon temple tour is like.

Christ as a Savior to all men

Today I read John 17 in the Bible (KJV), which is Jesus’ intercessory prayer. Here is verse 12:

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus-Christ-praying-intercessory
Jesus Christ praying. Image source lds.org.

Reading this reminded me of a quote I found recently by Joseph F. Smith. It says,

Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although  he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time, except the sons of perdition. That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission.

-Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. p 442.

Wow. To me this means Jesus desires to help each one of us achieve our fullest potential. Every person receives the opportunity to repent and accept Christ as their Savior. If we follow Christ, we will help him with this, even in the afterlife. And each person will receive a kingdom of glory beyond any of our ability to imagine. All because Christ came and fulfilled his mission, which included the atonement.

I love how no one is forgotten in his amazing redemptive power.