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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Children of God + Forgiveness

Hi, all! I know it's Saturday, but I had to read, re-read, and think about this week's talks because I felt the need to do so, as I have been struggling. It's the end of the school year, it's my first year of teaching, and I feel a mixture of emotions. If any of you are also teachers, and have had similar experiences, please let me know and give me advice below! :)

And now, on to the talks. I am going to do some bullet points on thoughts I had for both of them, plus I do have a print for each talk as a freebie for you! First up, "Am I a Child of God" by Elder Brian K. Taylor.
  • I think it is normal and human to question where we come from. Even if we know our royal origin as children of God, we all wonder if it is true at times. This is nothing to be ashamed about! It is an opportunity for us to come closer to our Father and Savior, should we choose that route.
  • In a world where many question who/what they are, we can always find peace as we strive to understand our eternal potential and learn from the Spirit the answers to these questions. The gifts of prayer, priesthood blessings (especially patriarchal blessings), and scripture study can lead to answers we seek.
  • Service to others help us to strengthen our belief of our divine nature, as well as see others' divine heritage. It also helps us to come together as brothers and sisters.
  • When we put the belief of our religion into practice, we will come to have a perfect understanding of our Father's and Savior's perfect qualities, and perfect them in ourselves.

Next up, "Even as Christ Forgives You, So Also Do Ye" by Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk. This one was particularly difficult for me, because I struggle to forgive myself and those I feel should know better, especially when a sincere apology has not been forthcoming. Therefore, I am only going to share a few thoughts, and keep the rest to ponder on.
  • Repentance is a personal responsibility. This means that nobody else can do this for us. I believe that forgiving is also a personal responsibility, which is difficult for me to admit.
  • When we seek the Holy Ghost and always remember our Savior's Atonement, we can forgive anything. 
  • I loved the example of extending love to the family of someone who has offended us/done us wrong. I have often wondered about the families of those who commit heinous crimes and how they feel. While most of us (myself included) are quick to judge and say they are probably partially to blame, I feel there are times when this is not the case. Each of us has the ability to choose, no matter what our parentage or upbringing.
  • Forgiveness brings peace. We all need more peace. I've decided that when my anxiety starts to increase, I am going to do some self-reflection to see if it is because I need to forgive. I had the opportunity to do that this past week, and it really helped!

That's all I have for today, friends! I will be back (hopefully tomorrow) with another General Conference talk to share my thoughts on. Until then, have a wonderful and blessed day!


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Precious Gifts from God + Easter Week Recap

Hello, all! Sorry I missed last week--I had a very busy weekend that included watching General Conference, so blogging took a back seat to being inspired! Very quickly, I will give you a short recap of my week leading up to Easter:

  • My focus was "Choose Hope".
  • It was a very rough week, but each day I was blessed with a situation that helped me have hope or see hope in my daily life.
  • I need to continue with this focus to help me live a happier life.
  • General Conference was a beautiful way to help me end a stressful week and gave me even more hope because I was able to go on Sunday morning with a coworker of my husband's who is interested in learning more about the Church!
  • Heavenly Father answers prayers.
So, there are my thoughts on that. 

Next, I am very excited to get to be writing this post to go along with the talk "Precious Gifts from God" by President M. Russell Ballard. My sister-in-law had a great idea to create a calendar of talks for us to study until the next conference in October, and this was the first talk on the list. Each week, I will share thoughts on the assigned talk and what I learned. The original challenge is to read the talk each day, but I am not sure I will be able to follow through with that, so I will at least read it each Sunday and refer back to it as it enters my mind during the week. My thoughts will be added to each weekly post. I'll also try to keep including a freebie print. :)

Here's this week's freebie.

I'm not sure how each weekly post will be presented, but this week I'm using bullet points. Each bullet point will include something from the talk that stood out to me from the talk, then my thoughts. I apologize now if some of my thoughts are unclear. Please feel free to ask for clarification in the comments below! Here we go...
  • Pres. Ballard encouraged us to write our feelings about the solemn assembly in our journals. I had not done so, but I still remember the feelings that I had. I felt an overwhelming peace and gratitude as I was privileged to participate in the solemn assembly where a new Prophet of the Lord was sustained. I did cry. I did feel hope. This was the beginning of the overwhelming happiness and hope that encompassed that weekend. I know that President Nelson is the prophet that this world needs today, that he was inspired to choose the men he did as counselors, and that the will lead the Savior's Church by hearkening to the work of Jesus Christ, the true head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • "In an orderly way we have now begun a new chapter in our Church history. This is a precious gift from God....With our raised hands, we promised to hearken unto his voice as he receives direction from the Lord." I love how the Lord prepares us step-by-step, even over the course of two days. This quote was a preparatory remark to help those of us watching each session become prepared for the different changes made to Church programs Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I am in awe with the way the Lord's servants can provide those stepping stones to us if we are faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
  • "Given the reality of our human weaknesses and shortcomings, how do we move forward in supporting and sustaining each other? It begins with faith—real, sincere faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Savior is the first principle of the doctrine and gospel of Christ." I personally struggle with human weaknesses. I struggle with my own and those of others. My faith has been very shaky the last few years because of illness, changes, and new chapters beginning in my life. This statement has encouraged me to work on my faith in Christ. I am hopeful that as I do, I will be able to come to terms with certain situations that have occurred and get past them. I will say this in behalf of all those who struggle with faith (all of us, honestly): DO NOT force your faith on them by making comments that are pointed and demeaning.  The side comments do not help, they create even larger chasms in trust. DO NOT judge them based on how you handle situations and think they should act. When you do this, you are acting from a place of personal opinion, not love. DO NOT view them as lesser than you because they struggle and choose differently than you do. You do not know their personal situation, nor do you understand their motives. DO reach out without the motive of forcing them to conform to any expectations. People don't like being forced into things. Allow people to grow they way they need to. We all have agency, we should respect each other's agency. DO try to understand their perspective by validating feelings to help them move past them. Telling them that they shouldn't have the feelings they do is shaming. The Savior would never shame. He seeks to help us feel understood. This is the basis of loving communication. DO love and serve them. Without strings attached.
  • "The power of the Sabbath day is to experience in church and at home the delight, the joy, and the warmth of feeling the Spirit of the Lord without any kind of distraction." This is something I need to work on. Specifically his statement about being too plugged into the world. I made the decision a few years ago to not have the internet continually available on my phone. I was experiencing huge amounts of anxiety. I felt the needs to be constantly available online via every device I owned. Taking a step back, turning off the internet on one device, and allowing myself to place boundaries with regards to getting back to others has helped my anxiety tremendously. My schedule and my life do not need to revolve around the desires and needs of others. I should be aware of them and want to help, but my life should be centered on Christ. In order to do that, I need to be able to hear the Holy Ghost and act when I am prompted by a perfect Being, my Heavenly Father. This means keeping an open mind, a semi-open schedule, and a willing heart when to go where I am guided. It helps when you have a husband like I do who is willing to aid me in my attempts at Christ-like service. Cutting out a lot of social media, email, and watching television on the Sabbath do help me focus on the Savior. I am not perfect at this, but I am wanting to be better!
  • "Partaking of the sacrament and renewing our covenants is a sign by us to the Lord that we do always remember Him. His Atonement is a gracious gift from God." This is something that is personal to me. It is something I need to do better. Because it is so personal, this is all that I will share. I think it would be good if each of us seriously took a step back and determined our motives, thoughts, and feelings each week during the sacrament. Am I just partaking because it's a habit? Am I only going through the motions? Does that benefit me?
  • "The privilege of service to Heavenly Father’s children is another opportunity to follow the example of His Beloved Son by serving one another." I feel that, in the past, I have been mistaken as to which service is most important--a Church calling or service rendered to those who don't attend the Church each week. I have come to realize that there are times and seasons. Service to any of God's children is service to Him. Not just those who attend Church each week, but anyone we come in contact with. We won't get more "points" for fulfilling callings than serving those outside the Church or vice versa. Our baptismal covenant doesn't specify that we "mourn with those who mourn" in our congregations only. There is no specificity in that language. I will say, though, I truly feel that where our service is going to be mostly scrutinized is within the walls of our homes. We have made specific covenants with those who live with us, and those covenants can bind us together or tear us apart. Each covenant we make is also tied to the Lord. How does our interactions with those in our homes (and outside of them) reflect on our relationship with the Lord?
  • "Peter may have given the best description of the Savior’s mortal ministry in five words when he referred to Jesus, 'who went about doing good' (Acts 10:38)." I need to stop putting boundaries on my service, and just go about doing good without worrying about stepping on toes or offending someone who feels it isn't my job to help. I firmly believe that when we are prompted to do good, we need no further "permission". You have been given permission from God. Who has a higher authority?
I am sure that as I ponder and re-read, I will be further edified. I invite you to come and join us each week, should you feel the desire! Have a wonderful week!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter Week

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Hello, friends! I am sorry I missed last week, although I'm sure I'm the only one who noticed. ;) I was down with bronchitis and slept all day long. It was glorious and needed. But, I'm back with a new post this week!

The Easter week is one that spur many to rethink and change. I look forward to each year as the Church offers an initiative at www.mormon.org/easter to help me focus my week more fully on the Savior, plus the beautiful Easter video (click to watch, or watch below). This year is no different, and I am so excited!

I love that there are four choices for me to choose from that I can use as my focus this week. The options are "Love Your Neighbor", "Look to God", "Focus on Family", and "Embrace Hope". After reading each section, along with activities to help keep each focus, I am torn between two--"Look to God" and "Embrace Hope". I will make my decision this evening, then be back next week with a report!

After I read through this page, I decided to start thinking about what I could do to help others feel the spirit of rebirth at Easter. With that in mind, I counseled with my husband and we have decided to make special Easter candles to take to specific people on Easter Sunday. I have made a tag to go along with it.

Here's the tag:

It measures 2" x 3". If you would like a PDF sheet with these (without the watermark), please find them HERE! Feel free to email me at onastampage @ gmail.com if you have trouble accessing the file.

I leave you with my favorite Easter video.
Have a blessed week, friends!