Sunday, September 28, 2008

Got a calling today. I'm now the new Sunday School Secretary. I don't know what the heck the Sunday School Secretary does... but... there is a cute single guy in my ward who I think teaches Sunday School and I get to give him his attendance roll. OK, single guy has a girlfriend. Small detail. He doesn't know I exist. Or as my daughter pointed out - he knows you exist he just doesn't care. But he is still cute. Maybe we could marry, he owns a house right across the street from the elementary school. I could quit my job, grow a garden, can the food from said garden, plant flowers, and make delicious meals. If only he knew how happy I would make him. ha

While the counselor in the bishopric was asking me to take the call - did I mention that there is no public speaking - he complimented me AGAIN on a talk I gave in June. It was the first talk I had given since I was 18. I was nervous. Shook like an earthquake. But he still remembered what I said. That was nice to hear. I was asked to pick from the Saturday morning session of April 2008 conference. I know you are dying to know what profound statements I made, here it is (if you need to go to the bathroom, you might want to go now).

I have chosen to speak on the conference report talk from the Saturday Morning session given by President Henry B. Eyring titled The True and Living Church. I have chosen this talk because in President Eyring's words:

"We have seen today a demonstration that this is the true and living Church. The keys of the priesthood are held by mortals, but the way has been prepared by the Lord for the keys to remain functioning on the earth so long as the people exercise faith - both that the keys are on the earth - and that they have been passed on by the will of God to His chosen servants."

In W. Cleon Skousen's book The Third Thousand Years he writes,

"There is nothing magic about the way God accomplishes his purposes. He performs his work through intelligent beings. His plan is dependent upon the cooperation of the intelligent beings. When they elect to disobey and fail in their roll as Priesthood leaders, it affects the rate of progress for the entire human family".

I believe this to be true. If you look back at the history of the bible there were many who failed in their calling. Take Sampson for example. He could have been one of the greatest leaders in Israel since Joshua - if he had been true to the Lord. If Sampson, foreordained and chosen by the Lord, had been able to master himself, he could have set an example of physical and spiritual courage that would rank with the finest in history.

At the time of his birth Israel had been in bondage for 40 years. An angel of the Lord appeared to his mother and promised her a son who would begin to deliver Israel out of bondage. Certainly this experience is one of the most remarkable instances of angelic visitation recorded in all of scripture. That fact heightens all the more the tragedy of Sampson's life. Heralded by an angel, born of a barren woman, and blessed with tremendous gifts from the Lord, Sampson should have lived one of the greatest lives. Instead, his life was one of self-indulgence, immorality, selfish seeking for revenge, and violation of the covenant. Because of this it would be over 200 years after the death of Sampson that his people would be freed from bondage.

How grateful I am that Joseph Smith was humble enough to realize that all of his priesthood power came from the Lord.

President Eyring also says: "When the Prophet Joseph was murdered, the enemies of the Church thought that the Church would die. They thought it was the creation of a mortal man and therefore would perish with him. But their hopes were dashed. It was the true Church, and it also had the power to live on, even when those chosen for a time to lead it died."

What I find interesting about those apposed to church – both then and now – is that this is not a new church. If you look back from the beginning of time you will see that it is the same church that was on the earth at the time of Adam. I know that many have questioned Joseph Smith as a prophet because of his young age. Noah was only 10 years old when he received the priesthood and call as a prophet. Enoch was only 25 – this doesn’t seem that young, so let me put it in perspective. When Enoch was born his father was 162 years old. When the city of Enoch was translated he was 430. At this time in history it was uncommon for men to receive the priesthood at such an early age. After the heartbreaking experience of Cain, Adam appears to have required that the man be old enough to demonstrate his complete worthiness before receiving divine authority. But with Enoch it was different; he had already been called of the Lord to go forth and preach repentance - and to complete this preparation, the priesthood needed to be given to him. He received the priesthood 13 years before his own father, and 244 years before his grandfather. For me, after studying the Old Testament and learning how the Lord calls his prophets and the seeing his pattern, I wonder how someone could doubt that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord.

President Eyring speaks a lot about gratitude for a true and living church. I would like to share some things that I'm grateful for.

I'm grateful that we have a loving Father in Heaven who wants to be a part of our lives. One of my favorite speakers is Stephen A Cramer. He gave a beautiful example of this that I would like to share:

"I'm reminded of an act of kindness in the Book of Mormon when the brother of Jared took the 16 stones to the top of the mountain to have the Lord make them shine so they wouldn't have to cross the ocean in darkness. One by one the Lord touched those stones. He could have done it with one quick swoosh of the arm, or one silent command. But one by one he touched them. It was like saying 16 times, yes my son you were correct in coming to me when you've done all that you can do. 16 times, I do have the power to grant man's request. It was 16 times adding another assurance of the Lord's desire to be part of our lives and to have us walk in the light of his love."

I'm grateful for the loving nature of service. President Eyring has said, "The Prophet Joseph Smith… said that as a person becomes truly converted; he or she will want to range across the earth caring for Heavenly Father's children. That is already beginning to happen among more of the members of the Church. What is remarkable to me is that the pattern of giving to those in need extends to those who have less themselves and seems to be unaffected by whether we are in good or difficult economic times. That is evidence to me that the Atonement is working ever more effectively among the members."

I have been touched by the spirit if service from members in this ward. When I moved back to this ward I was going through a difficult time personally. Not only was I faced with raising 4 children by myself – the youngest was only 6 months old, but I was heart broken over certain events that has transpired over the course of the previous year. Christmas was fast approaching and I was having a hard time not only purchasing presents but finding the spirit to do so. One night about 2 weeks before Christmas there was a knock at the door. When we opened it there were gifts all over the front porch. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the generosity of those who put them there. To me this was a wonderful example to my children of what the spirit of giving is. Not only was I struggling with things, they were too. And to see there spirits lifted was something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

As we were bringing the gifts into the house I noticed that there was a large green bag that was for me. There were several of these bags, and I caught my mom looking through them – I get my nosiness from her I guess. She got to the green one and I said "Oh mom that one is for me." She started to take her arm out of it when a pair of white knee highs came out. I made a joke that someone noticed that I don't wear nylons to church. Then a pair of white slippers came out. The curiosity took over and as I looked further I found that there was an entire set of temple clothes in this green bag. I was once again overwhelmed. That night as I knelt down to say my prayers, through tears I asked my Heavenly Father how I would ever be able to repay who ever it was that gave me such a wonderful gift. In that moment the spirit whispered to me "just use them". And I have.

President Eyring has also said; "My sense of gratitude stems also from blessings to my family. It is the sealing power and our knowledge of it which changes and transforms our family life here and our expectations for the joy of family life in the world to come. The thought and the hope that I can have eternal relationships carries me through the trials of separation and the loneliness which are part of mortal existence. The promise to the faithful in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we may have associations and an expansion of families in the eternities. That assurance changes forever, and for the better all of our associations in families."

I have been blessed with an amazing family. I'm grateful for both of my parents – who are converts – to listening to the spirit telling them that this is the true church, and for choosing to be baptized. My mom was 13 years old when her father passed away. She had an older sister, who had joined the church years before, and my mom would go spend the summers with her and her family. She was 14 when she knew she wanted to be baptized. My grandma wouldn't let her, and told her she would have to wait until she was 18. I'm sure my grandma though that my mom would change her mind by that time. On July 18, 1964 – 3 days after she turned 18 she was baptized. I'm grateful for her strength. Because of the decision of these two people to be baptized and married in the Temple they have made it possible that my brother’s and sisters, their wives and children and myself to all be sealed together in the next life. Just with my direct siblings and their families that is 31 people that have been affected because of 2 people. Not to mention all of the seeds that have been planed because 4 of my siblings served missions. I'm grateful for the promise that all of this can be mine in the eternities. I'm also grateful that this covenant is dependent on my actions alone, and that I'm not bound to failure because of someone else. As it says in the 2nd article of faith “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.”

I'm grateful for the scriptures and for prayer. I have had many prayers answered through the words of the scriptures. I have learned that if I listen to the still small voice the answers will come.

Last summer my children went to visit their dad for the entire month on July. This was the first break I had for longer than 48 hours in almost 2 years – and it was the first time in 12 years that I was completely alone – making it also the first time in 12 years that I had time to think. I got a little depressed. I had been on pilot mode for 2 years and didn't have time to think about the reality of my situation. Toward the end of July I was in a panic. The kids would be coming home soon, school was going to be starting – I was worried about school clothes, and various other things that require money. Looking back now I realize that - #1 the situation was not as desperate as I thought it was – and #2 that most of these feeling were the result of fear. Fear that these 4 spirits were brought to me to teach and nurture not only to become good adult members of society, but ultimately return with honor to our Heavenly Father. What a great responsibility.

I would like to read you my journal entry from July 27, 2007

I had the best scripture experience today on of all places Trax. I have been really stressed out for the past week and I was up at 3:30 this morning worried out about my kids coming home and money (school clothes ect.). I prayed and then read a chapter in the book of Mormon and I felt better, and had the feeling that Heavenly Father is mindful of my needs. I finally fell back asleep around 4:30. I decided to read more while on Trax. I was reading 3 Nephi13. It is a really good chapter, and sometimes you read things and take them to heart when you need them in your life.

And then I read:

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

So then I start crying, looking like one of the many drunks that do the same while on Trax. I am excited for my kids to come home!

And then I bore my testimony. But I did that in my blog yesterday.

If you are sleeping from boredom, wipe the drool... you will ruin the keyboard.


1 comment:

Robb, Rhonda and girls said...

Hi Laurie- that was a great talk. I admit I didn't read all the quotes but I did read all your words. I'm glad I found your blog and could catch up.