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 Perhaps just outdated or worn, maybe even destroyed by sin.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.

ProvoCCTemple-LDS
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.

Backpacking Trip

Last week I took a four day backpacking friends with some friends. My husband strongly encouraged me to go, which surprised me, since he’s so busy right now. I wasn’t sure about leaving my family, but I went.

Pack and boots
Pack and boots

***More photos to come. Waiting on my friends since I didn’t bring a camera.***

Our group started out with five women, three over fifty years in age. None of them but me had ever backpacked before. We drove to a trail head and started out; after half a mile Bonnie’s 60 pound pack wasn’t working so well. Plus our trail wasn’t taking us where we wanted to go, and the friend with the detailed topo maps had decided not to come the night before. So I hiked back to the truck and drove around to where the ladies were resting. We drove back the dirt road to the ranger station, where we picked up a map. Then we re-read our trail head description and found the right starting point. Is it amazing that we can spend six months planning to go somewhere but forget to figure out exactly where until we’re there?

We started hiking again. This time we did much better. We took a slow pace and took breaks when the trail went up hill to allow everyone to catch their breath. It was already afternoon, so we had to hike steadily until evening to make it to our planned camping spot. It rained on us during the afternoon for about half an hour. That would have been no problem, except I had convinced everyone to leave their rain gear behind to save weight because the forecast said only 10% chance of rain. Really, we only got damp and none of our gear got wet, so we managed fine. We made it to our stopping point and set up camp. By the time everyone had set up their tents, cooked dinner, and filtered water, they were ready for bed. Frogs and an owl serenaded us during the night.

Tuesday morning we woke with the sun. Those of us that had slept, that is. When backpacking there is no option but to sleep on the ground. Even with a pad, this isn’t comfortable and takes a few nights to get used to. The dew covered our tents, so we waited for them to dry before packing up.

Bonnie asked to go home. Logistically it didn’t work to walk her back to the truck without all of us quitting so she said she’d keep going. We repacked her pack, taking all of the heavy items out and giving them to her granddaughter to carry. We gave her moleskin for her blisters and she borrowed my sandals. Then we started out. First thing we had to climb out of the canyon, but as we continued on we kept a steady pace. While looking at the map, I noticed our trail joined the next trail within 0.1 mile of a forest road. “Bonnie,” I said, “if we hike to the road and get cell reception enough to call your husband, you can get a ride home.” She liked that idea. So we hiked the couple of miles to the road, texted for a ride, and got a reply that he could come. Then we ate lunch together, brought their gear to the road, and left Bonnie and her granddaughter to wait. It was sad to have them stop, but I would rather let them leave than push them beyond their physical capacity. So far, blisters were the only injury.

Only halfway to our destination, we continued hiking. The afternoon was warm, and sweat soaked our shirts. The roasted pine needles released fragrance with each step. The trail was easy to follow, crossing four small canyons. With encouragement, we reached our next camp, a spring. We had more daylight left than the previous day to set up camp, eat, and filter water. We all took sponge baths using water from the creek below the spring. I lit a small camp fire and stayed up until the stars came out, but my two companions went to bed. I enjoyed the solitude of being alone in the wild. I heard elk calling across the canyon. I thought about how I saw God’s hand everywhere around me.

Our third day we had half as many miles to go. We hiked along a creek through a sunny canyon, with tall grasses and wildflowers. To our surprise we arrived at a cabin by noon. It wasn’t on the map, but the spring next to it was our planned stopping point. My friends took naps in the scenic meadow. I hiked up a side canyon and spend a few hours reading and thinking. We had finally adjusted to the slow pace and peaceful surroundings. Backpacking is a timeless occupation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 or 2. There are no deadlines, only the rough plan to hike until you arrive at a certain point, which is negotiable. You hike, eat, rest, as your body needs and spend the rest of your energy soaking up the beauty of nature.

We enjoyed a refreshing night of sleep. Then after leisurely eating and packing up our gear, we hit the trail one last time. Before we knew it we saw the familiar point where we had begun our journey. My companions smelled a bit more seasoned than they had begun, but their faces reflected the fulfillment of completing the trek. We hopped in my truck and stopped to eat some burgers before driving the rest of the way home. I dropped off both friends, and just as I tried to pull into my neighborhood, the power steering pump on the truck quit and I had to muscle the wheel to make it the last half mile. Whew!

Life is just like this trip. You can decide what to pack and where you’d like to go, but you have no control over what happens to you along the way. You hope what you brought will be enough for the challenges you’ll face. Your friends can be your greatest assets. When it’s over you look back at all of the memorable challenges and say, “Wow! That was amazing! Let’s go again!”

Create a Life Handbook

I’ve been inspired to create a Life Handbook. A life handbook is a personal manual that encompasses your goals and dreams, personal mission, and ideas that you have on your journey of becoming. Often, we get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of the practical means necessary to realize our dreams. By working on a physical expression of my life purpose, I want to increase my ability to accomplish my own potential.

from lds.org
from lds.org

Life is always harder than we envision. As a youth, I thought my life would be a straightforward execution of my goals, with occasional episodes planned by God. That was naive. In reality, I have discarded some of my lesser goals in pursuit of the ones that I found more worthy. Even some of the skills I spent years acquiring have been simply nice nick-knacks on my accomplishment shelf. My life has been a series of days upon days with the detours from God being the better ones. I see how learning one admirable attribute may take a lifetime. I see how there is never enough time to work on the mediocre aspirations, because there is so much out there and so little time. I would like to organize my spiritual life better, to make spiritual growth a priority that won’t get pushed aside by the daily chores. I’m going to create a life handbook about and for myself.

Here’s how to create a Life Handbook. (from Celestine Chua at Personal Excellence.)

Spend a few minutes a day pondering the following list. Begin writing down your thoughts about each. Estimate taking between two weeks to a few months getting a “rough draft”

  1. Your life purpose/vision/mission
  2. Your values
  3. Your strengths
  4. Your improvement areas
  5. Your life adages (I.e. your personal mottos on living a great life. These can be inspirational quotes or personal mottoes.)
  6. Your vision board (Vision boards are visual representation of your goals and dreams. Check out Celestine’s vision board tutorial.)
  7. Your long-term life goals, comprising of five-, three-, and one-year goals
  8. Your short-term life goals, usually a breakdown of your long-term goals
  9. Your action plans to achieve your goals
from lds.org
from lds.org

Continue adding to your book on a regular basis (daily). Add images, reflection, to-do lists, track goals, motivational quotes, etc. Make sure to include any spiritual experiences, promptings, and tender mercies. Back up your document regularly. (I don’t really envision this document being a hard copy at first). Use your document to see a snapshot of your inner self over time. Since I’ve never done this, I’ll have to write more about how it goes. Wish me luck! (I could have started tonight, but wrote this post instead.)

ask-yourself-what-important-quote
Found on bestliving.biz

Update: I told a few of my most-admired friends about my goal. I’ve spent a couple of days thinking about what format I plan to use (excel file) and today I’m starting to create my life handbook. I always have goals I am working on, but I have never thought about writing a comprehensive list down, prioritizing them, and tracking my progress. I’m excited!

Feeling down

Today I notice this verse of scripture

And now, my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother; for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?  – Alma 39:1

After writing fifteen verses to his obedient son Shiblon, Alma proceeds to give much lengthier advice to his disobedient son.

Parents tend to give more attention to the children in need of correction. Which means sometimes the obedient children wonder if they’re worth commending. They make right choices and then fail to get as much attention as their wayward peers, which can make rebelling look more attractive.

To give some credit to Alma, his fifteen verses to Shiblon include some great counsel.

And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Alma believes Shiblon is making decisions that will end in his ultimate happiness. That is doing pretty well, if you ask me. Alma doesn’t give his wayward son the same approval.

alma-younger
Alma had experience to share with his son. He had rebelled as a young man until he had an amazing conversion experience.

I noticed this verse because sometimes I feel like the obedient child who doesn’t get noticed. And although I try to show positive attention when my children are trying to make good choices, I know they also sometimes feel this way. It would be easy to pass over, but sometimes I also wonder if God is happy with my attempts to do right, or if I’m failing miserably. It’s possible to slip into feelings of depression and discouragement without anything major going wrong. There are probably lots of factors that play into feeling down. But if you’re sacrificing everything inside to try to accomplish something, it becomes important to know you’re on the right track.

Here’s what Elder Bednar said about these feelings:

My beloved brothers and sisters, godly fear dispels mortal fears. It even subdues the haunting concern that we never can be good enough spiritually and never will measure up to the Lord’s requirements and expectations.

I can tell you that haunting fear is real. I feel it.

mother-baby-sadness
Motherhood: the most rewarding and also hardest job in the world. See my last post.

I’m working on building my relationship with God so that I can feel His acceptance and love for me, instead of fearing I will never measure up. I testify that as a parent, I’m learning how parents love. They love their children unconditionally and watch their childishness with patience, hoping to build them and help them accomplish their potential. I know God feels that way toward me. He isn’t discouraged by the things that get me down. He knows they are small things that I will overcome in time. He also sent His son, Jesus Christ, to rescue all of us from our mistakes. Christ’s atonement is so all-encompassing it empowers God’s entire plan for His children’s growth.

There. I feel better just saying all of that.

Everything that gets us down can be overcome because of Jesus Christ.
Everything that gets us down can be overcome because of Jesus Christ.

Images from lds.org

Motherhood: the hardest thing

Motherhood begins with nine months of physical discomfort. The birth of every baby is an adventure: unpredictable, painful, joyful, life-changing. Newborns require hours of holding, feeding, rocking. Through the first bleary days of waking and sleeping until mother and baby emerge bonded into two beings whose hearts beat as one. Out of the exponential burst of physical growth blossoms a unique personality. Bright innocence shines from a child’s face, giving a Mother a glimpse of heaven.

newborn baby

Motherhood requires a certain level of proficiency at housework. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, planning, and budgeting grow out of the need to care for the children we love. Mothers pick up bits of information in subjects they never knew existed, becoming an encyclopedia of practical knowledge.

motherhood-3kids
Photographing 3 youngsters: an example of no matter how hard we try, it never turns out perfect.

Motherhood piles up responsibility so high a woman bends with exhaustion. There is always more to do, more that can be done. She wants the best for her children. So she tries to balance the work with episodes of play: going to the park, reading a story, giving undivided attention. The work piles higher. Things break, children get sick, time runs out. She feels tense, anxious, hormonal. The children argue, throw tantrums, ignore her quiet responses, yell, tease, pout. Her patience runs out. Every day her patience is stretched further and further. Sometimes it breaks. At the end of the day, falling into bed, a Mother feels the quiet assurance that her work is the most important work she could have done.

A mother sees the infinite potential in her child and nurtures it. She teaches, tutors, trains. She sees a talent and works to give the child the chance to develop it. Karate, building kits, music. Mother wishes she could be the perfect mentor. As the child grows, there are missed opportunities, negative peer pressure, laziness. A child becomes a youth exerting independence. Mothers have to navigate child psychology, honest disagreement, autonomy and responsibility. They teach the lessons, learn the lessons, and live the lessons they try to instill.

Motherhood is a road to becoming. A mother develops maturity, capacity for work, patience. So do her children. I have done hard things. Motherhood is the hardest thing, but also the best thing I have ever done.

motherhood-mothersday
a busy mother

Life’s challenges never let up. A woman willingly takes on more when she becomes a mother. But somehow amid the tears, there are smiles. Somehow between the trials there is growth. Looking back through the struggle there are golden memories. The human connection between mother and child is one of the strongest bonds on earth. The generations of life would not continue without mothers.

God is our Father. In this whole messy experiment of humanness, He planned for our growth. He saw our potential and He designed our lives to intersect as Mothers and children, wives and parents, daughters and aunts. God, the perfect Parent, wanted us to become more like Him and so he created Mothers.

Happy Mother’s day to the special women in my life. My life wouldn’t exist without you.

#LDSconf thoughts

exterior-lds-conference-center

Conference Weekend

It was a whirlwind weekend. Saturday morning DH went out riding motorcycles with a friend. Five minutes before conference started, I tried to move the computer out to the living room so we could all watch. But I didn’t know how to set up the wireless internet connection, and daddy wasn’t home yet, so we listened to primary songs and worked on cleaning the house instead. Once our chores were done, we went over to Grandma’s house to watch the Saturday afternoon session with extended family.

Watching conference as a family is my favorite way to spend conference. Some Sundays get harried and hectic by the time we get ready for church and do all of our assignments. On Conference Sunday, we can just be together. I love it. And whenever there is a family gathering, there is good food. Since it was Saturday, I asked my kids to watch one talk plus watch if President Monson spoke. The rest of the time they spent playing with their cousins.

On Sunday we stayed home and watched conference as a family. By this time our computer was all set up and ready to go. We turned on the Tabernacle Choir broadcast and enjoyed the Easter Sunday concert. Sometimes it can be hard to watch conference with little kids, but mine were pretty good this time. My daughter had the Friend magazine out and played bingo on the board in the magazine. My son sat and read a book, pausing to pay closer attention once in awhile. The little ones played in the room with us.

I love the messages presented at conference. There is always a smorgasboard: messages of personal improvement, testimonies of Jesus Christ, gospel application, missionary work, and the plan of salvation. Usually there is a balance between calls to repentance and consoling our efforts. For example, Elder Oaks helped us evaluate our soil in the process of conversion. He has spoken many times on the theme making eternal goals our highest priority. Elder Bednar spoke about fear: how the fear of God can actually help us feel peace in a troubled world. For those of us who get over-anxious about the challenges we face, his message was soothing.

Video quote: Source of Enduring Peace — David A Bednar

My favorite messages were the back to back talks on Grace. First, Elder Holland’s talk about how Jesus Christ’s mission was the greatest expression of love ever known. Christ gave us “the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins.” Then Elder Uchtdorf gave a beautiful and concise explanation of grace. It is the power that erases sin, raises us to a level beyond our capacity to reach, and pours into our lives the power to accomplish all we strive for. Without understanding grace, Latter-day Saints get depressed when we try to achieve perfection and fail (every time)!

Video quote: The Path of Discipleship — Dieter F Uchtdorf

I also appreciated the talks about Returning to Faith and Waiting for the Prodigal. Because there ARE casualties in the trials of life. Living the gospel is hard. Some of us fall away, become inactive, etc. Yet even for those of us bogged down with difficult doctrines or difficulty living the doctrines can find peace in the gospel. And those of us who are strong can extend love and help to those who need it. Because none of us are strong enough on our own. We need each other and we need Jesus Christ.

I’m grateful for conference. It gives me a chance to take my spiritual temperature and evaluate where I need to improve. I know our leaders are righteous men who are in tune with God’s direction for the church. I also feel the camaraderie of the worldwide Saints. There are people like me who are also trying to live this glorious gospel and feeling its blessings in their lives.Pres-Monson-exiting-conference