Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

In 2013 I was reacquainted with my cousin Sindy. We are only a year apart in age and had been close as children, but because of extended family dynamics we didn’t see one another for several years. We both married, had children, lived in San Jose, California and led our own lives… even though we lived only miles apart.

I contacted Sindy when I found out she had stage 4 brain cancer. I was devastated for her, her husband and her 4 children. What do you say to someone you haven’t spoken to in 40 plus years…especially when you know they are going to die?

Well it was much easier than I thought. We just started where we left off years earlier. I could tell Sindy’s perspective on life was very different now. She wasn’t raised in a religious family and really had no need of church and God. But now she was hungering and thirsting for answers. The difficult part was that many of her friends from various religions were trying to “save her soul”. They wanted her to go to their church or have her repeat certain phrases so she could be assured that she would go to heaven. I knew I had to be careful and let the Spirit guide me in sharing the gospel with her.

I sent her a Book of Mormon with my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ written inside. I also wrote her a letter assuring her that I knew her soul was just fine and that Heavenly Father was very aware of her and loved her unconditionally. That opened doors to further conversation about the church. I knew the Lord was leading me along this path. I was able to feel His extreme love for her.

One day as she struggled with the effects of chemo, losing her abilities, and hopelessness I asked if she would like a blessing of comfort. I explained what that entailed and she agreed. I asked a former bishop, Steve, in my San Jose ward to visit her and give her a priesthood blessing. Steve is a great man with a solid testimony and is always looking for a good missionary experience. I went to the temple the day before I knew she would be getting the priesthood blessing and our family fasted on Sunday for both Sindy and Steve.

Sindy and Steve formed an instant friendship. It’s as if these two had been friends before. Steve and his companion stayed several hours at Sindy’s home getting to know her, talking about the gospel, and answering Sindy’s many questions. As far as Sindy was concerned Steve “walked on water”. She was so comforted by his presence and his blessing. He explained many truths to her that day, all of which rang true to her.

I thought this would only be a one- time meeting, but Steve stayed in contact with Sindy and reached out to her family (who weren’t interested in the gospel at all). He became a friend to them and was there at Sindy’s side the night before she passed away.

I knew I wanted to do Sindy’s temple work, but couldn’t quite find the words to say to her. Finally Steve gave me the courage to ask. She was delighted, humbled, and felt very unworthy of this blessing. She knew she hadn’t gone to church in her life and felt undeserving. As both Steve and I taught her about “the plan of salvation”, she really began to understand the Savior’s love for her and for all His children. We sent her a paper to sign giving us permission to do her work in the temple. At this point she was so weak she could barely sign her name. But it was good enough. She would remind me quite often that I had agreed to do her temple work. She didn’t want me to forget. It was obvious that it was foremost on her mind.

Sindy passed away February 1, 2015. A year and 3 days later we were at the Mt. Timpanogos temple. My daughter, Kellie, acting as proxy was baptized in behalf of Sindy. What a spiritual feast that was! We went on to do the rest of her ordinance work by proxy and I know that Sindy was there with us.

I learned so many things during this journey. I surprised myself with my reluctance to share the gospel that I love dearly. I’m a convert after all! Where would I be without my friend who had the courage to open her mouth and love me enough to share what she held most sacred and dear? I had forgotten about that special missionary spirit – that special feeling the Lord blesses us with when we share the gospel with others.  I had forgotten that we are the Lord’s hands and voices. If we don’t act and speak, who will? I had forgotten that there are so many who are searching for truth. Would we deny ourselves and others of this great gift?

One of my favorite scriptures is in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”

Sindy and I are forever reunited. We have an eternal relationship that will never end. She is in the spirit world teaching the gospel (very enthusiastically, I’m sure) to our family. I am here trying to gain a relationship with her family so they too can have the blessing of the gospel in their lives.

What’s not to love about this gospel!

Renee

Sunday, May 15, 2016

For Time and All Eternity

During my teen years I developed an unfortunately negative view of and attitude toward marriage and children. Partly this came from experience. Though I have since learned that my parents expressed their feelings of love and tenderness in private, what I too often witnessed were criticisms and arguments. Also, growing up as the oldest of a large family—the tenth child was born during my senior year in high school—I experienced all of the drudgery and few of the joys of motherhood.

An even bigger contributing factor was that I failed to understand certain doctrines and principles and misunderstood others. I thought that marriage and motherhood meant that I had to diminish, to become less than my full potential, to sacrifice the essence of who I was and the things I most desired. I thought I would be miserable! Though I dreamed of romance, I tended to avoid boys and dating because I truly believed in the gospel, the scriptures, and the commandments, and therefore I couldn’t see how I could have the romance I craved without the marriage and family I feared.

I needed to understand why marriage and family were eternal parts of the gospel, and all my prayers and study of the Book of Mormon left me dissatisfied. The first glimmers of an answer came when I went to the temple in August 1992. The Holy Ghost taught me that Heavenly Father was pleased with Eve’s purity and righteous desires. I knew that not only did he love Eve, but he loved all of his daughters, and he loved me. I knew that he would never require of me anything that wouldn’t lead to my greater happiness.

A year later I was serving a mission. As I studied the October 1993 Conference Report, tears filled my eyes as certain talks finally answered my questions. In fact, several of the talks contained doctrines that would be collected, refined, and published two years later in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  (See talks by Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Boyd K. Packer.)

In the safety of a mission environment when dating and marriage were clearly against the rules and I didn’t have to act immediately, I felt the first seeds in my heart that marriage and children just might be right for me.

Even though I had a testimony of the importance of marriage in the Plan, it was still hard to exercise the faith I needed to act on it. The real test came almost four years later. I’m ashamed to say that not even an hour after I accepted my husband’s proposal, I told him that I wasn’t sure and needed more time. The problem wasn’t this man I knew I loved; the problem was marriage itself. It was forever, but would it lead to my eternal happiness or misery? The next several hours of uncertainty were agonizing for him and for me. I spent them on my knees, plagued with tears, fears, and indecision.

Finally, as I read from the Book of Mormon, the impression came to me that I could not rely upon my own feelings in this matter but must rely on the witnesses of others. I thought of what I had learned of marriage, and I also had the witness of those close to me, who assured me that he was a wonderful man. That evening I called him and said I was saying yes for real this time. Our very short six-week engagement was filled with more doubts and fears, which I tried to keep to myself, but finally the day came, and in 1997 we were sealed in the Mount Timpanogos temple.


We will have been married 19 years in August, and we have three children. Marrying him has proven to be one of the greatest blessings of my life, and each year gets better! I know that the doctrine of eternal marriage leads to our happiness, and that happiness in marriage results when covenants are made and kept between two people who serve, honor, and love the Lord and each other.

Cedar Hills 10th Ward member (blog post submitted by anonymous)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trip to Israel

I had the opportunity to go to Israel a couple of summers ago and had a marvelous time!  Not only did we visit the places where the Savior and the Apostles walked and taught, but we learned so much more about the Savior’s life and what it would have been like to have lived during His time here on the earth.  It’s different than just looking at a map of the area.  I’m one to notice my surroundings and to comprehend the distance from one place to another.  Just to travel up to Galilee and cross the Galilean Sea where we read about so many of the Savior’s teachings and callings of His Apostles was thrilling to me and to all of us.  It makes the New Testament come alive!

I loved the time we spent in the Garden of Gethsemane and also at the Garden Tomb!  Both places have been preserved and well taken care of.  There are a few places in Jerusalem that are believed to have been where the Savior was laid to rest, but this is the one that our Prophets seem to feel best about.  There is a very serene and peaceful feeling there.  Whether or not it is the exact spot, doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t change the fact that those events took place there, in and around Jerusalem.

We were quite surprised to see how green and lush the surrounding areas were.  I have always imagined it to be quite dry and barren.  I believe it might have been that way at the time that the Savior lived on the earth. It was, although, quite hot and barren as we traveled down by the Dead Sea and passed through Jericho.

We visited so many wonderful places, including attending a Shabbat Day Meeting at the Jerusalem Center with Pres. Uchtdorf and his family.  I loved feeling the beautiful spirit that attends all of these places that we read about in the scriptures.  My intent for writing this though, is not to give you a travelogue, but rather to share a marvelous and most unusual experience that happened to me while in Jerusalem.  We just never know when the influence of the Gospel will touch another’s life.  Or maybe I should say, when happenstance puts you in a situation that you can share a moment in time with someone, which can speak a myriad of different things all at once.  Like introducing someone to family members and the kind of people you associate with.  Let me explain...We were down to breakfast a little early one morning and while I was waiting for my omelet to be cooked a man passed by that reminded me of a friend from high school. I just saw his profile as he sat down at the table in front of me with a Jewish man, his back facing me, so I really couldn’t tell if that was actually him.  And then, would you believe, that when he got up to leave, he turned just enough so that I could recognize that it really was Bill!  How absurd that you would run into a friend from high school at breakfast in Israel!!!  I just looked up absurd in the dictionary--- (wildly unreasonable or illogical).  That’s exactly how I felt about the unlikely encounter.  It was so bizarre!  I jumped out of my seat and stood right in front of him and he, of course, was speechless!  Well, after the excitement and introductions of why we were both in Israel, (he being there with his wife for the wedding of a friend), and I being there with my son and wife on a tour of the Holy Land with Dorothy Bryson and friends, we took pictures and visited in the short amount of time that we had together.  He told me about our high school reunion that would be held in Denver in August and asked if I would be attending.  Since they didn’t have my email address, I was not aware of it.  I told him I would try and then we said our good-byes ... marveling at the experience we had just had.

So that brings me to the reason why I am relating this experience.  I was able to attend our reunion, as I have done in the past and was so happy to be aware of it.  I am still in contact with many of my friends from high school.  Because Bill is on our reunion committee there at South High in Denver, he was conducting a portion of the evening.   He, in his Greek enthusiasm, excitedly told of our meeting in Israel and while doing so, he said that I was there with a “Christian” group touring the sites of the life of Christ.  It thrilled me that he referred to us as a Christian group, because he is aware that I am of the Mormon faith.  It opened the door for me to bear a simple testimony to other friends during the evening.   A friend of mine (he being a Pastor in another faith) asked me if I had always been a Mormon and was I a Mormon when I was in high school?  There were several friends surrounding us at the time and that’s when I was able to explain the reasons why I became a member of the church.  Like being able to express to them that when the missionaries taught me, I immediately related to them, and that what they were teaching me was everything that I had always believed to be true about the Savior and Heavenly Father and our purpose here on the earth.  It was a very wonderful and unique opportunity to discuss briefly a little bit about our faith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I’m convinced it was not by accident that I ran into Bill halfway across the world in Jerusalem.  Whatever comes of it, I have no idea, but I do know that the Lord provided that moment in time for a reason.  I’ll tell you the “Rest of the Story” when it unfolds ---  if it does in our lifetime.  I know the Lord provides a way for all who have “ears to hear and eyes to see,” to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in His own special way and in His own time.  We just need to do our part and be prepared when opportunity knocks at our door.  We are all in this work together!  It will be most interesting to see Heavenly Father’s plan unfold in all its Glory!!!

I bear you my witness that I know the fullness of the Gospel is upon the earth at this time (The last Dispensation of Time) and that the work that we are all involved in is true!

Nancy Read

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Faith and Courage One Must Create

There are times in our lives where the refiner's fire purifies us to the point that we go beyond ourselves and think and write things that seem above us.  Maybe our true divine nature comes out and the spirit flows through us like running water.

I have had this experience happen to me a few times, where there seems for a time that the veil is lifted a little and where God's Holy Spirit personally teaches a truth.  I would like to share one experience in particular that happened to me.

I want to tell you about my Mother, Mabel Austin Crandall.  At age 18 she was a convert to the LDS church and loved the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with all her heart.   Even though her family could not understand why she left the Methodist religion that they had raised her in, she and my father were married in the Methodist church to make them happy and 1 year later were sealed in the Mesa, Arizona LDS temple for not only time but for all eternity. At that time, she gained a strong testimony of eternal families and of temple work.

She was the type of person that ate very healthy, exercised, worked hard, and was on every committee in the community you could think of.  I think she single-handedly made sure 25 scouts in her ward received their Eagle Scout awards. She worked in the scouting program, PTA, and Boys and Girls Club helping young kids succeed in life.  She was my best friend and great example of everything good. Her grandchildren were her life and she made each one feel so special. She taught me so many important life skills that I use daily!


In 1995 my very healthy mother of age 63 was diagnosed with cancer.  Sometimes Heavenly Father throws us a curve that we are not sure we can handle.  This was one of those challenges for sure!  I watched my beautiful mother gracefully have chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumors.   She would dress up and go to her chemo appointments like she wasn’t even sick and I watched while she was getting her chemo treatment.  However, she acted different than all the other patients sitting in their chairs.  She got up from her chair, while the medicine was dripping into her, and knelt down by each sick patient and took their hands in hers and said…”You are going to beat this.”  She was so brave and wanted everyone to have hope and faith that they were going to get better.

She fought a hard fight pretending like nothing was wrong.  But I could tell that she was getting worn down and very tired.  She still kept going so that we wouldn’t worry about her.  She would say “I’m going to beat this”.   As time went on, the Lord had other plans for her.  As I started dealing with the fact that I was going to lose my Mother and best friend here on earth, my heart fully turned to my Father in Heaven and I found myself writing a poem for my Father and one of my daughters who I could see were sinking into grief and despair.  The words just flowed like water and in a poet’s world, it’s probably not great…but for me, I was just writing what was in my heart that the spirit dictated to me.

Faith and Courage One Must Create
by Annette 1998

Let down thy shoulders, and calm thy troubled heart
The Lord is with thee from the very start

Tho earth’s tribulation, none shall escape;
Faith and courage, one must create.

Born with affirmatives, weakness and wo
Learning to deal with daily, as we go.

And as if sometime, somewhere along the way,
We stumble and fall, bearing a heavy load on our tray;

The strength is within us to carry on and be,
The strong, servant in heaven, who pleaded, PICK ME!!!

I will go down and serve those below,
Whose burden is heavy and hope is no more.

But how can I serve when I myself suffer;
When doubt and despair creep in at my door.

Surely life’s curves have been thrown my way;
I thank thee dear Lord for helping me through this day.

I will fight the thoughts of discouragement and fear
Because I know surely that my Savior is near.

He’s been through this too; all of my feelings of not
And I thank him for these experiences that I have not sought.

Remember, he suffered and died that we may ever be,
pure and clean, with him throughout eternity.

Perfecting my spirit is not too late.
Faith and Courage one must create!


In June 1998 as she was fighting for her life, Provo City Mayor showed up and presented her with “Citizen of the Year” for Provo City Chamber of Commerce.  Everyone loved and appreciated Mom in the community for all her hard work.

She put up a good fight and as the family gathered around her in her final moments, She managed to say with much deliberation…”I cannot face my Mother on the other side not having her temple work done.”  She would not let her spirit go until my girls got in the car and went to the temple to do the baptism.  We were all around her bed when the girls left to go to the temple.  That satisfied her to go ahead and walk through the veil.  I went to the temple that very evening to finish up her mother's work.  In fact, my whole family found ourselves in the temple that night thanking Father in Heaven for her life and just wanting to carry on her legacy by serving others.

I know my Father in Heaven knows me and helped me through this difficult time.  I also have had a very strong impression that my mother was taken early to help convert her sweet Christian family who have all passed away now.  Yes, we are doing their temple work and Mom is bearing her strong testimony to them that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ and I know they are accepting the work because of my dear Mother!!!

If you want to know how you can be linked with your loved ones throughout all eternity, please visit LDS.org or Mormon.org and the missionaries will teach you about our sacred temples and the work for the dead we do there.

Like my mother, I am so grateful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’m a Mormon and love my life!!!

Annette



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Furnace of Affliction

Life is complicated, life is not fair, and our life experiences can stretch our hearts, minds, and souls to a breaking point.  Those times feel like the “furnace of affliction” Isaiah speaks about.  Frequently, these times are not the product of poor choices made, but rather, choices made by others, or simply the result of being mortal.

Death of a loved one, a heart attack, cancer and chemotherapy, broken bones, abuse and betrayal put me into that fiery furnace.  I wondered if I would survive!  The intensity of the furnace consumed my life.

However, my epiphany in this personal furnace of affliction changed my life.

Life seems to follow the seasons, growing and flourishing seasons are followed by dying and cold seasons, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it.  However, the growing time always comes after the cold and dead season, so there is always hope for the coming of Spring.

The sun literally does come out tomorrow, we can trust that event, and each new day brings blessings if we look for them.  There were days in my furnace journey I defined blessings every day and wrote them down:  the sky was blue, I saw a flower, I felt the companionship of a friend, a quail walked across the lawn just as I looked out, water came out of the tap, lights went on with the flip of a switch.  Simple things that made my life easier were happening all the time when I looked for them. And recognizing them cooled my flaming soul.

In the uncontrollable furnaces of our lives, we are still in control.  We can choose to curse God and resent the experiences, or we can choose to plant seeds of hope and nourish them.  Some seeds only grow after forest fires.  We develop patience as we watch for the seeds to break through the soil and struggle to move toward the sunlight.  As the seed grows, and is nourished by good, deep soil, soft rains and sunshine, it develops strength to share with others.

Being proactive in the raging heat brought more calm and peace.  What could I do?  I could make a phone call, send a note, bake bread and share, take flowers, make soup, share veggies from the garden, spend time listening, give of time and resources to others.  And I felt greater peace and calm in my furnace as I increased my random acts of kindness to others.  I could do something every day to positively impact another person’s life.

I have been through several furnaces during my life, and though burned and scarred by some of them, I have learned that I will survive, that I will learn, that I will control much of what happens by being proactive.

Sharlee

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lead Into Gold

Over two years ago, I sent a Book of Mormon to an inmate who belonged to a gang when he was arrested.  That book completely changed his life.  Recently, I received a letter from him that included the following:

“There’s a style of Asian art [kintsugi] where the artist fixes a broken bowl or a broken flower pot with gold.  So instead of glue or some other adhesive, the artist uses gold to put the pieces back in place.  This creates something beautiful because every crack, chip, and jagged edge is now golden.

“In my broken places, God has given me gold.  That’s how the Atonement fixed me up.  So when I say ‘God has turned my mess into a message’ I’m sincere because, really, I’m a new man in Christ.”

I love that analogy, because I think of God and Jesus as alchemists, turning our lead into gold.  In fact, I see the Atonement as not so much repairing the broken places, but as creating a whole new pot or bowl.  I mentioned this to my friend and he agreed.  Eventually, that pot or bowl—you, me—can become gold.

Dave Trottier

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Adversity - Yoked Through Love

Lately I've been thinking a lot about adversity. I know it's foolish or short sighted to think about the rotator cuff surgery I am facing as adversity, but to me that's what it is.  It's a kind of adversity that won't last too long. I've faced adversities before that have lasted decades. Some kinds of adversity I have been struggling with for perhaps a life time! Today a scripture from the Bible came to my mind:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

This is a very well known New Testament verse. But do we know what it means? I think, perhaps, that we slip on past the details and slide into the notion that Christ's way is the easy way, or, at the very least, the easier way. This seems like an almost seductive notion. But that makes no sense at all, so how does this verse address adversity?


In biblical times the yoke was a device of great assistance to those who tilled the field. It allowed the strength of a second animal to be linked and coupled with the effort of a single animal, sharing and reducing the heavy labor of the plow or wagon. A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke.

Some of us know this bit. We remember this from a lesson on the pioneers, or from an episode of Little House on the Prairie, or maybe from reading some Louis L’Amour westerns. But somehow we get the idea that the creature in the other bow is Christ. That Christ is the other ox. But Christ isn’t the other ox. It’s His yoke; He owns it. In this metaphor, Christ is the driver.

So who’s in the other bow? We are taught from a very young age that we are the Lord’s hands, that God accomplishes His work through us. WE are, every one of us, yoked to each other—with Christ’s yoke. We are yoked through covenant, and, more importantly, through love.

So it’s no surprise that nearly every church or Bible lesson is a discussion of histology: the knitting of souls, one to another, like cells into tissue, tissues into organs, organs into systems, and the systems into the organisms—children of God, knit together into the Body of Christ.

How are we knit together? One of the things that knits us together is how we react to adversity. Do we take on the Yoke of Christ? Or do we take another path? Do we “mourn with those that mourn”? Do we “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”? Do we “stand [in the place] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places”? (Mosiah 18:8-10) Adversity really is part of God’s plan for our eternal progress. It’s a personal crucible that burns away our impurities, that points up the cracks in our shells. But it’s more than that, really. Adversity is an opportunity for us to seek out others, and together build the Body of Christ.

Lee Williams

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blessings from Following the Prophet's Counsel

I know our prophet is a seer. In the Book of Mormon, the missionary Ammon explains this beautifully to King Limhi  "A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed ... and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them." (Mosiah 8:17)  We cannot foresee things to come but our prophets can.

The prophet’s admonition for mothers to stay home where circumstances would allow was a counsel my husband, Chuck, and I had decided to follow long before we were ever married. But now that we would soon be having a baby it didn’t seem like such a good idea. We had just purchased a new home which I wanted to pay off as quickly as possible, so staying home just wouldn't work. Conflicted in how to proceed, we prayed for guidance. The answer came clear to both of us, “Follow the prophet's counsel. Stay home.” I questioned, how would we make ends meet? How would it all work out? Not knowing the answers to these questions was unsettling, but we didn't hesitate to follow the counsel we had received.

I quit my job which cut our income in half. My husband got a second job to make ends meet. I remember living off what little food storage we had and what seemed like many, many, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodle nights. We welcomed our first baby boy, Bradley, into the world shortly after and things did not get any easier. With only one car, I would drive my husband to and from work with newborn baby in tow. He worked from 6:00 am - 4:30 pm and then from 5:00 pm - 10:30 pm. I wondered how in the world the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home was truly blessing my life at this time, when all it was doing was making it miserable for both of us. I felt guilty staying at home as I watched my husband work two jobs. I was spending all this time at home enjoying my baby while my husband sacrificed time, energy and sleep. This could all easily be resolved if I went back to work; after all, our baby was so little, he would never remember if I was home with him or not. I prayed again and the answer was the same.  “Listen to the prophet, stay home”.

We obeyed, but still things did not improve. In time, we ended up having to sell the home we thought we would grow old in. We moved into an extremely humble apartment not too far from my husband’s work. Defeated and discouraged, we clung on to the promise that we would be blessed for following the counsel of our prophet.

Everything would come to light just a few weeks after moving into that apartment. My baby was now 22 months old and during a doctor’s visit, for what we thought was a knee sprain, we were told that our son had terminal stage 4 neuroblastoma. In an instant our world was turned upside down. For the next 15 months our dear son would endure aggressive treatments and surgeries that made him extremely ill and frail. Now I knew why I needed to stay home. Because of the changes we had made, I was able to stay at the hospital with our son and care for him as long as it was necessary. As time continued, no amount of praying, fasting, or pleading would save our son. Three weeks before his 3rd birthday, while I held him in my arms and expressed our deepest love for him, he returned back to our Father in Heaven. Our hearts shattered into a thousand pieces that day.

During one of many difficult nights that would follow after our son's passing, I was impressed to read from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi Chapter 17.


As I read through the account of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites, I was impressed by how much he loved them, and blessed them and their little children. I felt that same love from our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ at that very moment. It was such a personal witness to me that our Savior knew of our circumstance, loved us and loved our son deeply. The Spirit bore witness that our son was happy, free from sorrow, sickness and pain, and that he was not alone but surrounded by angels just like the Nephite children were so many centuries ago.  I was brought to remember that our temple marriage made us a forever family and we would see him again. I was brought to remember the blessings that came from listening to the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home. I had truly been given a gift I could never replace: time with our precious son! I was able to enjoy every minute of every day of what would be our son’s very short 3 years here on earth. I could see all of the pieces come together at that very moment and I was truly grateful for listening to the prophet’s counsel.

Jacqueline

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Straight Out of The Rez - New School, New Friends, New Life

When I was 9 years old, my mom and I moved to Utah to live with Grandma Ellen. She was the mother of my mom’s foster mom when she was in the LDS Indian Student Placement program.

The day before I started 5th grade at my new school I remember asking my mom and Grandma Ellen what clothes would be appropriate to wear on the first day of school. I wasn’t sure if the dress code would be different from the schools I attended on the Reservation (Rez).

Grandma Ellen suggested that I wear something a little dressier than jeans. I didn’t have any clothing that was “dressy” so Grandma Ellen found a pantsuit that she thought would be perfect.

The first day of school arrived. I put on the light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side. I walked to school since it was just one block down the street.
As I approached the school I saw other children arriving who were ALL WEARING JEANS! The closer I got to the school the more anxious, embarrassed, and mortified I became. I just wanted to run home and hide. Just as I had thoughts to turn around my friend Mindi saw me and ran towards me. (A few days after moving in to my new home, my neighbor Mindi came over to introduce herself. We developed a quick friendship). That morning she said nothing of my attire or how different I looked. She only invited me to join her friends who were playing a game in the school playground. Mindi introduced me to her group of friends and told them how cool I was because I was a real American Indian who had lived on the Indian reservation. Throughout the entire day none of the school children made fun of my clothes, strange accent, or just how different I looked from everyone else.

Shortly after starting school my mom and I started receiving discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the LDS (Mormon) missionaries. I enjoyed learning about the plan of happiness. But there were times I wanted to be playing outside with my new friends from school rather than sit in an hour long discussion with adults. One day I decided to ditch my gospel discussion and stay after school to play with my friends. One of them asked me why I wasn’t at my appointment with the missionaries. I told them I didn’t want to go. This group of friends told me that it was very important to attend these appointments with the missionaries. They then walked with me back to my house to listen to the missionaries’ lesson. To this day I don’t remember what gospel lesson I received that day. All I remember is how these friends made me feel LOVED.

After receiving all of the gospel lessons, I felt what I was taught was true doctrine and I decided to get baptized and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My mother made the same decision too. Our baptismal date was January 2nd. In attendance were my mom, Grandma Ellen and her family, church members, the missionaries, and my friends; the same friends who had extended a hand of friendship on the first day of school.

That afternoon after my baptism, I remember playing outside in the snow with my friend Mindi. At one point she said to me, “Today you made one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life”.  It’s been over 30 years since that day and my memories of those friends, who made such a huge impact in my life, are an eternal  treasure. I am deeply grateful for their kindness, their love, and their friendship. What I thought would be one of the worst days of my life wearing a light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side turned out to be one of the best days of my life. So many other “best” days have followed, all because some 9 year-olds chose to fellowship instead of shun, to lift instead of belittle, to encourage instead of bully, to love instead of hate. They were simply doing what Jesus would do - love one another. Their gift of friendship played an important supportive role in my accepting the precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that God is our eternal Heavenly Father. I know that God sent his only Begotten Son because He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He loves me. He rescues me. He heals me. He can do the same for you.

Janet

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Creating a Simplified Life

This blog post is a little overwhelming. I am a private person these days and the only reason I am ever online is to help with a research paper or search up a great recipe for something. But since I was asked, and I really feel so strongly about what I am writing I am willing to share.

Hi. My name is Tami Meacham. I am a mother of four awesome kids (1 daughter and 3 sons ages 6-16) and I am married to the love of my life and local high school PE Teacher/Varsity Basketball Coach. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my whole life and I have a strong belief & testimony about so many things. Tithing, the power of prayer, President Monson our latter day prophet & church leaders, families, Joseph Smith, the Scriptures, Temples, the Atonement and the list goes on and on. Today I wanted to tell you about one of the things that took me years to figure out but I finally did, and I am ever so grateful.

Several years ago I was having a deep life conversation with a friend of mine in the middle of my dance studio. At the time I had three of my children and I had been running a dance studio out of my house for 10 years. At this point in time the studio was large (for a home run place) and I had over 300 dance students. My friend was going on and on about how amazing it was that I was able to run a place like this, all while having a coach as a spouse (any wife of a coach knows exactly what I mean by that ;) ), raising my babies with all the busy activities they were a part of, all the motherly duties that were expected of me and keeping on track with my church callings. I remember looking her in the eye and telling her…but there is more. I knew there was more I needed to do with every fiber of my being. After telling me that I was nuts, I then got a lecture from her about enjoying the journey, and stop and smell the roses, and just to be happy with what I had accomplished and where I was at in my life. I knew it was not enough. So here is what I did.

To save any reader of this post the lengthy stories of the next several years of my life I will just do my best to condense some of the main things that took place. 

I had another baby.

We bought a second home, we moved into it. Then 6 months later we moved out all while we had TWO renters in our “dance studio” home, and yes I was still running the dance studio there…what was I thinking?!

We put renters in our second home.

I sold my dance studio.

I became a Certified Crossfit trainer, created and opened a successful Crossfit gym.
… and then I did it again (with my hubby this time) and created Crossfit Gym #2.

We moved Gym #1 into a commercial facility (it was in our home barn at the time).

We sold gym #2.

We hired a contractor and subdivided our home into a home and a lot.

 We had our entire home remodeled.

 We sold our lot.

 We sold our home.

 We had our small rental home renovated (remember that we had previously lived in for 6 months and then moved out?!) We then moved back into it...BIG CHANGE FOR ALL OF US!

We merged Gym #1 into another existing gym and I quit attending & training. My hubby is still there 3 days each week.

I turned 40.

That was a big one for me. Turning 40 has made me reflect on everything I have been through in my life at this point. I realized I had tried pretty much everything I could think of to you know, be somebody, contribute, be productive, fill in the blank when I say “Hi, My name is Tami I am a _________.” I was exhausted but now I had LAZOR BEAM focus! You see, what I came to realize through all my years of trying to be somebody, building business, creating, selling, and change is that I was missing out and had become so distracted from what I knew was my life’s calling. Don’t get me wrong, all the things I have been distracted with in my life have been good things, really. My testimony remained solid. But now I know that for me, there are “better” things. I will explain.

For the first time in my life I was able to make a conscious effort on how and where I spend my time. What an amazing gift! I realized, through all the productive chaos that was my life, that the main reason my Heavenly Father sent me here to this earth is to do one thing only, be a mother. That’s it. Just that. I have no other title to my name (although I will never ever get rid of the “former ballerina” title I am certain). I cannot think of another thing in this world that is more sacred, and fulfilling. Our Heavenly Father is putting His faith & trust in me with four of His children. He knows that they will teach me everything I need to know about becoming more like Him, if I will just stop, listen, learn and change. There is no greater calling in this world for me. This is my “but there’s more” that I had told my friend about years ago.

Here are a few of the “distractions” that I have eliminated from my life that I was talking about earlier. Remember I am now the master of my time and I will NEVER take that for granted again. I now spend the majority of my day inside my home. Oh how grateful I am to be able to do that! I cook..and cook some more, clean, fold laundry, do dishes, pay bills, and organize everything in sight. I wake my kids up; we have scripture study and family prayer each day. I make a hot breakfast and pack lunches for school. When kids come home I help with homework and sit in my car for hours on end running from one game or practice to another. I love every second of it. There was a time in my life where I had to hire “drivers” to take my kids to their activities. I had a hired cleaning lady because seriously when was I going to fit that in. I had hired tutors and readers for my kids, because again I was too busy. I have missed games, projects, test scores, school parties, etc. for so long…but not anymore! NOT ANYMORE! I now do it all. 

The funny thing is I am still extremely busy, but for me what I am doing now is way better! I am completely off all social media. I have been now for some time. That is really the biggest gift I have given myself. It’s not a bad thing, but for me having nothing to do with any of it is better. I am now very selective when I get invited to lunch, showers, parties or gatherings of any kind, because for me unless the topic of conversation is worthwhile or uplifting, I am simply not interested. I am way too cheap and practical to be a shopper so unless there is a specific need I do not venture out. I love listening to old conference talks, crossfitting in my garage, running, biking, and I stay informed with the news. I rarely watch TV during the day but I like a good show now and then before bed. I or my hubby tucks our kids into their beds each night. And I do it all again day after day. I will never take for granted the time I have to spend as a mother, and when the time comes my new calling will be grandmother, hopefully!

I have always known this is what my Heavenly Fathers plan was for me…it took me a while to pin it down but I have now. I have been a “mother” to so many throughout my life.  All the dance girls that came through my studio I loved each and every one of them. All the Young Women, Sunday School & Primary children I have associated with in my life, I love each of them! My CrossFit kids (and adults). Each one of my nieces and nephews, my children’s friends, the neighbor kids or all my hubby’s basketball boys through the years, I have loved them all and feel so grateful to have been influenced & taught by each of them.

I truly believe that you don’t have to have birthed children to be a mother. I have three sisters in my family that have never had children of their own (although one has now adopted two angels, and another has a step child) and they are FABULOUS people and mothers to my children and so many others. What a beautiful way to live your life. I cannot think of anything better. Rearing Gods children day after day to be valiant, strong, loyal, trustworthy, righteous, kind, loving, forgiving, generous, service oriented, and so much more all while they teach you how to soften your edges and become more like Him. I’m in! Laser Focused! SO grateful! Happy! I KNEW there was “more” I just needed to simplify to find it!

Tami Meacham