Thursday, June 23, 2016

Here Again. Here to Stay.

Its been quite a while since I posted here. So many life changes, and yet the scriptures and the gospel have always been my solid foundation.
Recently, as I've been dating Shawn Hollenbeck, my interest in and questions about gospel topics have swelled and I've been doing a lot more intense studying. It was hard for me to wrap my head around some of Shawn's thoughts and opinions at first, and quite frankly I was afraid to study even church published materials, for fear that they might shake my testimony. But as I've realized all saints are imperfect and even the church has had difficult circumstances in the past, I've recognized those things don't have to shake my faith. Regardless of any of the foibles of men, I know the gospel is true. I cannot deny the experiences I've had in the temple or in sacred moments on my knees, and I especially cannot refute the sublime moments of peace, and treasures of wisdom I gained through the Spirit, during and after my divorce. I have felt so much love from my Heavenly Father, for me, my children, friends, even Chris. And for Shawn. Our relationship has helped me to open my mind to other ideas, realize not all situations are black and white, and recognize how I can help my children and others deal with difficult and painful circumstances.

I've come to value the importance of asking questions. Understanding that its OK and even essential to ask questions and come to an understanding of why ugly things happen and how the gospel is applicable specifically to my circumstances. For the last several years, I have wanted to understand the Atonement more. I know it is central to all of human existence. It is the center of our gospel and "all other doctrine is merely appendages unto it." That being said, I don't always know how to fully explain to my children WHY it was necessary. Like why can't we just repent and pay for our own sins? How is Christ's sacrifice able to Atone for our sins? Was there no other way? Was He just a great Man who came to earth and set an example as some religions believe? Its easy to minimize the importance of the Atonement in a world that doesn't value or even recognize Him as the Savior. But what is Truth and what am I to understand about the Atonement?

Years ago, I bought the book, The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R. Callister. I have always meant to read the whole thing, but have only gotten through bits and pieces here and there. When I read from it, I take days to digest and process the knowledge therein. So I've decided I'm OK with reading a chapter at a time. A few days ago, I began my search of "Why?" It has been a glorious search. I read the following chapters: Ch 1 What is the Significance of the Atonement? (again for like the 5th time), Ch 7 The Consequences if There Had Been No Atonement and Ch 26 Was the Atonement Necessary or Was There Another Way?, and parts of Ch 25, How Do Justice and Mercy Relate to the Atonement? All such wonderful insights. I love this thought from Ch 25, sharing the parable of the bicycle from Stephen E Robinson's book, Believing Christ. "This is the spirit in which Nephi counseled, 'For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do' (2 Ne 25:23). In other words, we contribute to our salvation, but we do not earn it. That was also the spirit of Paul's message: 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast' (Eph 2:8-9). Thus works alone cannot save us; grace is an absolute prerequisite. But a certain amount of works (ie, the best we have to offer) are necessary to trigger God's grace and mercy. No matter how hard we work, how diligently we serve, or how righteously we live, we will never deserve more than we receive," (Callister, 320)

I think I've mistakenly thought that were it possible for us to live a perfect life, we would qualify ourselves for exaltation and wouldn't necessarily need the Atonement. I've equated Christ's perfection with His ability to atone for our sins, forgetting that the Atonement and exaltation are so much more than just wiping away guilt. Exaltation is about becoming like God. We are feebly here on earth trying to do so, and just like our little children, we can't quite possibly be like our Parent without help. The Atonement was not only to cover our sins, but Christ's mission to bridge the gap between us mortals and our Heavenly Father. Being deity Himself, He was able to descend below all things and "bring Nature up with Him."  His mission was to help us to become perfect, "even as I, or your  Father who is in heaven is perfect" (2 Nephi 12:28). To be like God requires so much more than perfection, though. It requires massive amounts of knowledge, wisdom, and experience. What better way to gain all of that than through the Atonement, through guidance and the bowels of compassion of the One who experienced this mortal realm so that He can help us through it? I love that Christ not only showed the way to becoming like our Father in Heaven, He suffered and experienced all heartache and sinly sorrow so that He could understand us, and pull us through this mortal realm into an exalted godly state. What a beautiful way to go through life, always with help from above. I love that we can understand this "help" through being parents, serving others and acting as proxy in the temple for deceased ancestors. That we too can be saviors on Mount Zion.

I have been listening a lot lately to a beautiful version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," ( and its been so inspiring. The first time it popped into my head recently was at girl's camp. I was able to go with Maddi and be on the Stake decorating committee. Since my calling was minimal, I spent most of my time with Maddi doing ward activities. We went on a hike with the bishop and as I sat pondering alone, the words "prone to wander, Lord I fear it, prone to leave the God I love... Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above," seemed especially applicable to my laissez-faire attitude toward gospel study sometimes. I know its important, but I don't often make it a priority, especially with our crazy busy schedules. But its not just important, its essential. And I see the opportunities to teach my children slipping away as they get older and more firm in their habits. So, in trying to overcome my proneness to wander, I went to the temple on my birthday. First time I had been in so long. (Truthfully, it was a day I had been looking forward to for several months). As I drove up to the temple listening to that song, the lyrics, "Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love," came beautifully streaming right as my car faced the temple. I felt so much love and knew that Mount was the Lord's house. This is the place I have always received so much peace and direction. The place where my perspective is always drawn toward the eternal. When I am focused on that eternal perspective, it is like the clouds opening up and being able to see life and eternity clearly. There is nothing that I want more than for all my children to be there with me and to have that eternal perspective that can help them overcome pain, confusion, frustration and sorrow that is inevitable in this life. So I must continue in my pursuit to learn, see eternally, listen to the Spirit and teach.

I am so filled with energy and motivation to learn more. To draw closer to my Father and partake of every aspect of the Atonement, and bring my children to partake, just as Lehi brought his children to partake of the Love of God in his dream. The imagery Lehi's dream and partaking of the love of God has always been so dear and intimate to me. Imagining the beautiful fruit from that tree, and the deliciousness thereof, what a magnificent parallel to experiencing the love of God and I would say the peace and eternal perspective the Spirit can offer. I am so excited to continue this journey through The Infinite Atonement and hopefully other books about the Atonement to really understand more, and to continue to partake of that Godly love that has been the cornerstone of my faith all of my life.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Gems

Proverbs 11:

12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

to me, these verses are saying we need to watch what we say to others... as well as have discretion in the things we think and do... in other words use wisdom and understanding... love it.

24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
25 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that awatereth shall be watered also himself.

I also like the cross reference to vs 24...

Proverbs 13:7
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

So if we give willingly we will always be blessed! Whether with more things or to be satisfied with what we have. I think these verses apply to the law of tithing as well as service. :o)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Proverbs 10:12


So much truth to this one small verse...

12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We had a great lesson in Sunday School yesterday. It was over several chapters in Proverbs, which is so packed with bits of wisdom, insight and beauty. I love it. I decided a few days ago to study the scriptures by topic instead of trudging through the chapters in the Book of Mormon that are hard for me to understand. I finished reading the Book of Mormon all the way through earlier this year, so I decided its time for me to study in a different way. :)
Todays topic is wisdom. Proverbs 8 and 9 are all about wisdom and how it is more precious than gold and silver. I love how these chapters are written as though wisdom herself is speaking...
8: 22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

how beautiful, huh? As if wisdom is not merely something vague for us to acquire, but a constant companion to inspire and enrich, always available like the Spirit of the Lord. I know when I gain pure knowledge through the spirit, I definitely feel enlightened and grateful for that small treasure to add to the rest of my treasures I have received from Him. Because I can always access that wisdom, it does sorta feel like a friend of mine. Many priesthood blessings I have had talk about great treasures of wisdom and knowledge that will be mine if I will just seek. That has always intrigued me and helped me to realize the blessings of not only the scriptures but the Ensign, conference talks, and other great words from wise men and women. I always feel such an excitement to read about new experiences and ideas, like its Christmas and I have just been given a wonderful gift. :) I thank the Lord today for treasures of wisdom that have helped me be a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I hope to continue to grow each and every day. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

My favorite Book

Even though I haven't posted in a long time, I really have been reading the Book of Mormon. I actually just finished. :) Well, sort of. I started in Alma this last time and I just finished Mosiah so I'm starting in Alma again. I love Alma... definitely my favorite book.
I also thought I would add an illustration to spice things up a bit. What do you think about this interpretation of Nehor by James E Fullmer?
Some of the things I liked about Alma 1...
The shock of Gideon dying. When Nehor "smote" him with the sword, he died because he was so old. He really must have been pretty old... I mean, this was like 54 years after he had been King Limhi's advisor. He had helped King Limhi figure out that the Lamanite daughters that had been captured weren't captured by Limhi's people, but by the wicked priests of King Noah. You know, wicked King Noah, Limhi's father, who had escaped with King Noah and then killed him. Nehor must have been at least in his 20's or 30's to be an advisor to the king, and if so he would have been in his late 70's even up to 90 years old when he stood up to Nehor. What a stalwart warrior. Especially since Nehor was a "a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength (v 2)." I don't think Gideon much cared... he was a bold witness of truth, even unto death.

I also loved how Alma observed that "there were many who loved the vain things of the world (v 16)," these being the people who perpetuated Nehor's legacy of false teachings, for the sake of money and being "popular." In contrast, here is what he says about the saints:

25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.
26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.

I love how they "bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them." Note the term heaped... not just, oh they were given trials and they got through them... no, they were heaped upon them (heap- to give, assign, or bestow in great quantity; to load, supply, or fill abundantly). They didn't get angry and fight back (well most of them anyway), they didn't complain to the Lord or their good friends, they didn't stay at home and cry and feel sorry for themselves. They were patient. They still worked hard. They imparted their substance to the needy... they had compassion. And then, the results:

29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.

They were blessed. Who knows how long they had to bear their burdens before they were blessed, but they were. Not only with earthly riches, but with peace, even continual peace (v 28).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2 Nephi 26

I really liked these verses because they reminded me that even if we have faith, we are still persecuted and have struggles. But, we should look forward with "steadfastness in Christ, notwithstanding persecution." I love v 9, that Christ will heal the persecuted and give them peace:

8 But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are they which shall not perish.
9 But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness.

Interesting how the devil works, "with a flaxen cord" until those become "strong cords." I remember in the book the Peacegiver, the man's vivid image of the mists of darkness in Lehi's book being the "flaxen cord" that Satan binds on all of us, and no one realized what was happening, until it was too late.
22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

The Lords mercy and giving in contrast:
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Beautiful. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lehi's dream

I know I'm reading in 2 Nephi these days, but as I was reading in the scripture stories with the kids tonight, I was struck with something from Lehi's dream I had never thought about before, so I went back and read it:

5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.
6 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.
7 And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.
8 And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.

It really touched me that Lehi travelled in darknes for many hours before the Lord helped him. To me this represents that we all go through trials and actually struggle with them before Heavenly Father gives us an answer. Its a search, a labor for the truth. Sure Heavenly Father could just hand us the answer right away, but we all know what happens with children who get everything handed to them. Do they really appreciate it? Do they really learn? And the purpose for our being here on earth is precisely for learning and growth. Sometimes I just wishing the lessons weren't so hard. :/
But I am sure glad to have company in trial, struggle and learning. :)

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Here we go again. Starting up my scripture study blog again, in 2016! So excited to put my thoughts and insights down.