Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thoughts on the Strait and Narrow.

As I have walked down this path I am currently on, I try to see the relation to what I am reading to what I see with my own eyes. I found myself remembering Christi urging me to see this on many occasions, but not until recently had I had an open heart to see them.

As I read, 1 Nephi chapter 8 was speaking of a vision about the tree of life and partaking of the fruit. As people were partaking of the fruit, a building high in the sky was full of people scoffing at the ones partaking of the fruit and people were embarrassed that they were making fun of them. As the embarrassed ones left the tree, they strayed off the strait and narrow path. This spoke so clearly and straight to my heart I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath.

This is happening to me now, I feel like I have finally found the strait and narrow and people are questioning my every move and thought. It is also very much a part of everyday life for many members of the church, no matter how old a rumor is or a joke people poke fun at the church.
I keep remembering a talk I had with some missionaries awhile back about this, I then realized at that moment as well that the further we go down this path the days may be difficult, but if we remember what the ultimate goal is it is so worth it. The ultimate goal its to return to our Father in heaven and we must remain steadfast and true to what we know to be true within our hearts, souls, and minds. It may seem easier to just walk away from the path, but if you are quiet and open your hearts the Spirit will never let you down and the Spirit will help you every step of the way.

As a younger person, I read of the strait and narrow and I always thought straight, as in a straight line. Never did I realize it is actually spelled strait, as in rocky and not smooth at all. When it was pointed out to me recently, it hit me like a board to the side of my head. I always thought if I go to church and do all the things I am supposed to do, then life is cake. Never did I think it's supposed to be full of trials and moments of sadness and frustration. These are the things that help us grow. When I finally realized this, I was promised it was worth it.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lessons Learned: The Snow Blower

The air is cold today. My little fingers are freezing as I write this, despite having both my space heater and the regular (house) heater going. We’ve had quite the storm going on in our little part of Utah, one that has been consistently dropping snow on us since Christmas Eve.

I’m grateful for the snow (deep down), grateful for the water that will come from it during the dry months this summer. It’s heartbreaking to see once robust creeks and rivers dwindle to nothingness in drought years. I hate it. I hate to see dry rocks and a tiny trickle of water where there used to be big swells and rapids. It makes me sad. I know, I know. Sadness because of dry creeks and riverbeds? Silly. I just hate seeing nothing where there should be something. Our spiritual riverbeds can dry up just as easily, if not fed by the snow of scripture study and prayer. This is something I am (unfortunately) all too familiar with. We need to feed our rivers and creeks with the rejuvenating power of a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father. In fact, Heavenly Father taught me a powerful lesson just this morning, using snow and a finicky snow blower as His tools. I feel like I should share it, because the lesson learned is one that is all too easily forgotten.

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE Utah, but I HATE snow. You can’t have Utah without snow, so I just have to pick my battles. I woke up to about 7 inches of snow on my driveway this morning. This after having snow-blown (is that a phrase?) approximately 5 inches last night. It’s hard to be grateful and remember those empty riverbeds when you are faced with an hour’s worth of snow blowing. So, as the grumpier version of myself, I hitched up my big-girl panties and my snow gear and went out to face the dreaded white stuff. Now, I understand that snow blowers make our lives infinitely easier. I’m also keenly aware of the fact that not everyone owns one. We didn’t have one in the last house I lived in, and that was a nightmare (we lived on the side of a mountain. I’ll let you fill in the gaps). While I am grateful for this piece of modern machinery, in all my first-world problems existence, I wish they were easier. I want to turn a key and have it start like a car. I don’t like all this pull-the-choke-out-and prime-then-pull-ridiculously-long-string-to-start business. Oh, and as an added bonus, I needed to add gas to the thing.

Although the grumpier version of myself, I went out with youthful positivity that I would be able to start it, get it done, and move on with my day. I had grand plans to get myself a new tire, since I shredded one last night on my way to pick up a gift card that I purchased but never received. And then, I pulled the cord. And pulled. And pulled. Pushed the primer again. And pulled. Shouted “Are you kidding me?”. And pulled some more. Whined something about my knight in shining pick-up truck, and where the heck is he? And pulled. Then, I prayed. Just a little guy prayer. A quick couple liner asking for help because I needed it. With renewed confidence that the Lord would help, I resumed the task at hand and pulled with all my might. A stutter, a whiff of gas, and…..nothing.

With a huff I stomped off into the house, throwing off snow gear as I stomped to the living room. A pouffy coat here, a beanie there, gloves everywhere. As I sat on the arm of my couch, grumbling in frustration, I saw a picture of the Savior on my mantel. “Why aren’t You helping me?” I said to Him out loud. I am (usually) grateful for lessons, but was frustrated and wondering why today had to be the day I learned one. Then, softly, I heard the Spirit whisper to me “Try one more time”. I hurriedly put all my snow gear back on and went out the garage where my nemesis sat in all its red glory. It had now been an hour since I began trying to get this thing to work. I put my gloved hand on the handle, reached down, and pulled that stupid string with all my might. Fully expecting it to roar to life, I looked up happily, and then realized it had not. There it sat, with my hand on the handle, stupid string in my other one, not doing a dang thing. Just as I was about to have a Clark Griswold style freak out, I saw it. The ignition, turned to the “Off” position.

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

I had forgotten to turn the thing on before I did my whole pull-the choke-and-string process. You have to turn it ON before it will START. Imagine that. I had just spent over an hour of my life trying to get this thing going, and it wouldn’t simply because I had overlooked the obvious.

And then it hit me like a train. The Lord wants to help us. He wants us to succeed and come back to Him. He wants to help us when we need it, even with seemingly small things like starting a snow blower. But our Heavenly Father also gives us a brain for a reason. We are here to grow and learn eternal principles before returning to Him. But He won’t give us the answer right away if there is something to be learned from guiding us in figuring it out ourselves. I felt ashamed for asking why He wouldn't help me, as I realized that I hadn't done everything I needed to do in order for Him to help me.

In Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8, we are reminded that we must first figure it out, then go to our Heavenly Father and ask if the thing we have decided on is right:

7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must astudy it out in your bmind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your dbosom shall eburn within you; therefore, you shall ffeel that it is right.”

He could’ve fixed it right away for me. He could’ve turned the key to on when I was in the house so that the machine would rumble to life when I pulled the cord that last time. If he had, I wouldn’t have been reminded of this valuable lesson. We always need to make sure we have our ducks in a row, and that we are doing everything we should be doing in order to increase opportunities for our Heavenly Father to work miracles in our lives and teach us things we wouldn’t know otherwise. We need to make sure we have our ignitions set to “On” in order for Him to do even more in our lives.

After I switched the ignition, my nemesis the snow blower quickly rumbled to life and I was able to clear my driveway and get my chores done. The tire on my car remains, but there will be time for that later.

I am grateful for snow, a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I do. A Heavenly Father who wants me to be the best version of me, and is guiding me in the journey to get there.

What lessons have you learned recently that have had an impact on your life?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brigham City Temple

I don't know about you guys, but around here it's been a decent week! I've been struggling personally lately, and I'll admit that I've been pretty discouraged. Like full on, breakdown at the kitchen counter while talking to my mom kind of discouraged. Honestly, sometimes it is hard to understand why certain things happen and why the Lord's timing is the way it is. However, the Lord is truly aware of us personally and is always there to comfort us and provide us with just what we need. Which leads me to this weekend...

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to attend the Brigham City, UT LDS Temple open house. What a great experience! We piled Kerri, myself, my mom and my friend Di into the car and took ourselves a little hour roadtrip to the country. Temple Open Houses are open to any respectful person who would like the opportunity to tour a temple, and are done prior to the dedication of the temple. After the open house, the temple is cleaned and then dedicated. Because open houses are held prior to dedication, you do not need an LDS Temple Recommend to attend. 

                                         (Click here to learn more about why we build temples)

                                                     Brigham City, UT LDS Temple

No matter how many times I have been to each temple, the experience always takes my breath away. It is such a beautiful, touching experience to be able to serve our Father in Heaven and His children. It is a place for quiet reflection where we can be so close to our Heavenly Father, a place where we can ponder and remind ourselves that there is so much waiting for us beyond our earthly experience. While I am worthy to enter the temple, actually going to the temple inspires me to be a better person and to work harder to care for others. I have never known a more incredible happiness than the happiness I feel while serving in the temple.

This open house was special, because it was the first time Kerri has seen the inside of a temple. She did not grow up in Utah, and thus has never had the opportunity to attend an open house. Seeing her face as she experienced the architectural beauty firsthand was incredible. I felt the Spirit so strongly as we walked through, and I felt the promise of increased happiness for her.

Temple work is vital to Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. It will also help you increase happiness in your life directly, as you serve faithfully. The temple has blessed my life in numerous ways, and I have had many sacred experiences in the temple that have solidified my faith in our Father in Heaven and his work, as well as his plan for us.

How has the temple blessed your life??

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Special Edition: Stake Conference Part II (Kerri)

     I have been pondering this last week as to what to write and after many times of starting, stopping, and erasing, I think I finally got it.
There was a talk given at my stake conference and the young man said it was time to stop saying prayers and time to start praying.
So my question to you is, do you really pray with all of your heart? Or are you just praying, saying the right words at the right time?
I thought I was praying with all of my heart, but after reading 2 Nephi chapter 32 I had to ask that question to myself again. That young man at conference spoke volumes with that question of us. Nephi spoke of it in verse 9, saying "I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint."
    So, next time you get down to pray, remember those great words of Nephi. Do not pray faintly but listen to the Holy Ghost, for He is a gift from our Heavenly Father and He will never leave us alone. We just need to open our hearts and speak to Him and listen to what He is trying to say.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Special Edition: Stake Conference Part I (Christi)

This weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to attend Stake Conference with Kerri. And how awesome it was, indeed.

For those of you not familiar, a perfect explanation of how our church is organized into local congregations may be found here. Twice a year we have Stake Conference, a time to gather and learn together as a larger group and also see those we don't see often. It's a great time to learn and strengthen each other.

Alright. Now that everyone is in the loop, I can continue on with lessons learned at Stake Conference.

Lesson 1: It's NEVER too late to come back. 

  I learned this lesson quite awhile ago, but this weekend was a nice reminder. 4 years ago, I made the BEST decision of my life when I decided to go back to church. Seriously, it was the BEST thing I could have ever done for myself.  I plan to write down my (re)conversion story in a future post, but for now, just know that I really feel this was the best decision in all my 29 years. During the time I was "away", I met my best friend Kerri. So not all bad. But I will tell you that it took me a whole lot of tears, heartache, embarrassing moments and years to get back to a place where I am comfortable in the gospel.

   Kerri is on this journey herself at the moment. She has recently decided to come back to church, and I couldn't be more excited for her. I'm excited for her  as she works toward remembering that our Heavenly Father loves her. Attending her first stake conference (well, sort of. She did come to mine so she could see me sing in the tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City!!) was nothing short of exciting. I never thought we would be in this place as best friends, and I am beyond thrilled. There is so much joy in the gospel, and it is so fantastic to be able to share that with someone, especially someone you love as your own sister!

  If you have wondered about coming back (or even joining) and are scared, it's ok. It can be scary making serious life changes. But they are changes for the better!! We are always here for you. The one thing I wish were different about that time period in my life was knowing someone who had been through the same thing. Someone to talk to as I made my way back. So email us if you want to chat or just need some support. Believe me, Kerri and I have put ourselves through some pretty terrible stuff. So chances are, we have been in a similar situation. It's a process, but not one you have to do alone!! 

Lesson 2: STOP IT. 

  Again, more of a reminder. Maybe this should be titled "lessons reminded" rather than "lesson learned"??Anyhoo, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first presidency gave a wonderful talk on this very topic in the April 2012 General Conference of the church. He had this to say: 

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!"
The stake president brought this talk up in his own talk during the Sunday session. And what a great reminder it was!
Ok, dirty laundry time....I have trouble with gossiping. I do not like backbiting, and I believe people always have reasons behind why they are doing something, and so we are not to judge or speak ill of them. I don't like speaking ill of people, but I still do (in some instances) when I'm angry (Hey! That's why this blog is about becoming Mary. If it wasn't, it would be called Perfect Patty and probably not be of any worth). That being said, thanks to my parents and some wicked awesome genetics, I am sooooooooooooooooooo nosy.  So nosy. I don't share info or spread rumors, but I like to know what is going on, how people are doing, what is happening. It isn't malicious, in fact it is usually the opposite. I like to know that people are doing ok, not talk trash about their outfits. Some of you may not classify that as "gossiping", but I do. Gossiping means discussing someone when they are not there to defend themselves. 
And this is a lesson I certainly needed a reminder in. Why, you ask? Because not one hour later, I was in a bad mood (veeery persnippety due to my headache and some other, ahem, lady issues). Riding in the car, I said something not so nice about a woman who had spoken in that day's meeting. It was something along the lines of "Wow, that sure felt more like a baptist revival than a talk in an LDS church, right?" (Please note that this is in no way intended to be a negative comment toward those of the Baptist faith. I celebrate all those who come together in Christ. It was simply an observation of the different ways our faiths address our congregations.)
Really, Christi?! Seriously?
A negative comment about someone who just spoke, even AFTER the reminder that we need to stop this behavior! I should have done the walk of shame for that one. Seriously. I am of the belief that church, above all, should be the one place where we are able to go and be free of judgement. There is enough garbage in the world today that we need a place where we can go to be 100% supported and uplifted. And there I was, spewing trash from my mouth without thinking about it. Great. Nice one, girl.  I'm sure the woman I was referring to is awesome. In fact, the things she had to say were of great worth in regard to raising children in today's world. Someone should've slapped me. I blame Kerri for not making it happen. 
And so, lesson #2 has been duly noted. Put that one in the back pocket for future reference. As in:
 " Dear Christi, get your crap together."  Thanks, conscience. 
Do any of you struggle with these things?? What are your favorite parts of stake conference??

**Keep your eyes peeled for Special Edition: Stake Conference Part II (Kerri) here soon!!**


Friday, August 17, 2012

Better and Best.

I'm a Martha.

 There, I said it. I typed it out loud for the world to see. And yes, I'm guilty, as we all are, from time to time. Guilty of being more Martha than Mary. It isn't terrible, but there are better things. I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and as such have chosen to live my life pointed toward service in Christ.

For those of us unfamiliar with the story of Jesus' visit to Martha and Mary, it is a short parable found in the book of Luke in the Bible. A parable of only five short verses, it is one with profound meaning. When Jesus visited her village, Martha received him into her home. Once He was settled, Mary sat at Jesus' feet and "heard his word" (Luke 10:39, King James Version). Martha, I imagine excited at having such a visitor, was busy preparing her home and preparing to serve. She went to Jesus, and had the following to say: "..Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." (V. 40)  In part, Jesus replied "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath achosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (V. 42

Was Martha doing a bad thing? Not in my opinion. She was attempting to treat her guest with respect and make Him comfortable in her home. Was it the best thing she could have done at that moment? No. There are good things, better things, and best things. It's a given that we should concentrate on the "best" things. I can't say I wouldn't have responded the same way as Martha. In fact, I know I would have. There were many times as roommates when Kerri and I would entertain our friends and I would be irritated or upset because I felt she was socializing more than helping to ensure the bruschetta looked just perfect. Do people remember bruschetta? Not really. They remember how much fun they had, and how you treated them and made them feel in your home. And whether you paid attention to them. 

In 2012, there are so many distractions. So many good things tugging at our attention. We are so busy developing relationships with those around us, trying our best to serve in the best way possible, serving as visiting teachers, friends, relief society presidencies and so on that it's becomes very easy to be more Martha than Mary. 

And so, when I realized a few days ago that I was in need of a major attitude adjustment, I decided to do something about it. I want to be more Mary than Martha, a woman who will sit at the feet of Christ and not let myself become too distracted by good things that don't matter as much as others. I enlisted my best friend, Miss Kerri, to aid me in my quest. Together, we decided to read all four books of Scripture: The Bible (King James Version), The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. We believe all four to be  the word of God, with the Book of Mormon being another testament of Christ. In addition to our daily scripture reading, our hope is to do something each week to put into practice the things we've learned through scripture study that week and post our experiences on our blog. It is my hope that you will come with us on this journey, and learn with us as we seek to improve ourselves through the word of God and apply it to life in 2012. 

Here's to new adventures!