Monday, April 17, 2017

Teaching the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord

Dear Family and Friends,

Lately I've been thinking about how blessed I am with such wonderful parents. Almost every night when I think about the things I am grateful for I feel such an overwhelming graditude for my amazing family, particularly my parents. I cannot express the extent to which they have blessed my life, especially these past few months. In a lot of ways they have walked through much of this "trial of fire" with me. 

Parents are a pretty influential part of our lives, there are many prophets who write of the goodness and impact of their parents. This week I read Enos's recognition of his father. 

"Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—" (Enos 1:1)

As I read and reread this verse I realized I wasn't entirely sure what Enos meant by "nurture and admonition of the Lord". There was a cross reference that took me to Ephesians 6:4 which had the same phrase it in. I was able to look up the verse from Ephesians on and see what the original Greek words were used to write the verses as well as looking at the meaning. Looking at the words this is what I learned. Nurture was "bring up, nourish up, to maintain . Admonition meant basically "the whole training and education of children. training and care, cultivating the soul, correcting mistakes and curbing passions. Instruction aimed at increasing virtue." 

With a flushed out meaning, Enos's words had a much greater impact. With just a simple line he describes what I can only imagine is an entire childhood, adolescence, and adult years with being guided and taught the ways of righteousness. I felt like I could also apply those words to the way my own parents brought me up. I am grateful for the many things I was taught, not only by my parents but by the many others that have influenced my life. 

I know that I want to one day teach my children in these same patterns to help them come to know Christ as well. I also know that even though I don't have children now there are others I can influence now. We all influence and shape those around us, particularly those that we love. My hope is that we can all recognize the influence that we have on others and live in such a way as to teach in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord!" 



Sunday, April 9, 2017

He Counseleth in Wisdom

Dear Family and Friends, 

Well the days keep coming bringing with them Finals and all the stress that comes with those. I'm amazed the semester is on it's final days, and quite relieved to see this particularly challenging semester end. I've learned so much these past few months, far more then I would have asked for. I'm grateful for the empathy these experiences have and will give me, but I'm still not sure I wanted them, particularly at the price they came. I understand that someday these experiences will bless me to be able to lift and relate to others. However, on the days I still cry for how painful this semester has been, I'm not sure how much I really want to be able to help others. Maybe because this has been a more stressful tear filled week is the reason this verse hit home. 

 "Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works." Jacob 4:10

On hard days I am guilty of crying to Heaven "Is this worth it? Did I really have to go through this valley of tears? When will it end, and the past hurt me no more?" I know we all have days we cry out, feeling lost and discouraged, because the path we are on is not what we wanted. We cry because the lessons we are learning come at a high price. Sometimes, even though we don't see it from the depth of the valley of tears, these paths really are required to get us to higher places. There is a reason Jacob tells us to "Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand." Our Heavenly Father sees the whole picture when all we might be able to see is a few steps in front of us, and maybe not even that. We don't know what lies around the next bend, what might have happened if he hadn't taken us away from what we though was "good" to better paths. 

This verse from Jacob really does summarize most of the prayers and blessings I've said and been given this semester. God really does know what he is doing, I can feel that by the spirit. However, being mortal there are days when it is hard to not want to tell God that this seems like it is too much. However looking into my own past experiences during my short 22 years on this earth I can testify with Jacob that "he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works." I know when this challenging chapter ends I will see the great wisdom in why this path had to be walked. My hope is that each of you that are struggling with something will to be able to find strength and trust in God's council. I know that if we all hold on and keep going through the hard days, as well as the good, we will be able to testify of the goodness of God and in his great mercy and wisdom! 

Love to you all, 

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Dear Family and Friends, 
It's always interesting reading the scriptures to see what stands out; particularly when it's really not what you expected it to be. For me this week as I finished up 2 Nephi I came across two verses that I found particularly beautiful. Chapter 33 Verses 6-7. 
I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.
I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
I love Nephi's faith, how not only is he so confident in his own redemption but in the redemption of others as well. As I read these words the though that came to mind was "wow, that's beautiful". I know at times, particularly when I go through hard times, I become a bit cynical about life, and struggle to believe in people with pure and good hearts. I feel like they don't exist because so many of the people seem shallow, selfish, or deceitful. Reading Nephi's affirmation that there would be spotless souls before the Judgement-seat of Christ reminded me I need to stop seeing only the worst around me and give people more credit for the good they do. Yes my generation has a high propensity for selfishness, but that doesn't mean all of them have turned away from Christ. Just like me there are souls reaching out to Christ, we are all being strengthened and purified by him. 
I am reminded of the need to try harder to see good. To not be so critical, and believe a little more in the innate goodness of men. I want to encourage all of you to find some good too! We are all travelers together on this mortal journey, and I know all of us could be better at believing that we all have the potential to be purified totally. Redemption isn't a competition, its a personal journey. The price has already been paid and Christ has the ability to cleanse ALL of us. There is no limit to his power, no mistake to deep to be not be healed. Not only for us personally, but for those around us, even them who hurt us. May we all believe a little more completely in the complete power Christ has. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pray Always!

Dear Family and Friends, 
This week included a huge reminder for me about the power of prayer. In 2 Nephi 32: 8-9 it reads: "8...For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. " "9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
Friday morning for some reason I really just needed to connect with Heaven, I work up at 6 promptly got out of bed and started praying. The prayer I had was one of the best I have ever experienced, I can't really explain exactly how it felt different, in part because it was to personal of an experience to share. The thing I want to share though was the difference I saw in the rest of my day. I was calmer and more at peace with life than I have felt in months. Something very noticeable when I got a lower score than normal on a test and felt totally happy that it was okay and that everything would work out just right for my good. 
What I wish for all of you is to really take the time to connect with Heaven in prayer, seek to find peace and carry it with you. Say a prayer and keep it in your heart all day. I promise if you do it will make a huge impact on your day and week! as Nephi said, pray unto the Father... that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul! I know these words to be true with all my heart! 
I love you all,

Monday, March 20, 2017

Have Faith

Dear Family and Friends,

God never will cease to amaze me in the ways that he is always teaching me. It's one of the ways I know that he is there, and that he loves me; he is always teaching me new things I thought I already knew. This week I learned a lot about Faith. I spent a lot of time studying it in an attempt to understand why I felt like I had lost some of my faith these past few months. As I looked and studied nothing seemed to answer my question about what faith really was until just the right words came along from Elder Oaks in his talk "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" from the April 1994 conference. 
"My beloved young sisters, each of you needs to build a reservoir of faith so you can draw upon it when someone you love or respect betrays you, when some scientific discovery seems to cast doubt on a gospel principle, or when someone makes light of sacred things, such as the name of God or the sacred ceremonies of the temple. You need to draw on your reservoir of faith when you are weak or when someone else calls on you to strengthen them. You also need to draw on your reservoir of faith when some requirement of Church membership or service interferes with your personal preferences."
Reading this my perspective changed, I realized I was picturing faith like blocks built up upon each other and the decrease of those blocks represented my faith being destroyed. My perspective changed however and I now pictured Faith like an oil used to light a lamp. During the “day”, or good times of life, I use some oil to keep the lamp burning, but I am putting far more oil in reserve than I am using. But when “night” comes, and trials surround me, I draw heavily on that oil to keep my lamp lit for greater periods of time. I was still adding to my faith by studying the scriptures and praying for help, and that act of faith was still contributing to my faith and keeping my “reservoir” from running out. What I realized with that new perspective was that it was okay that I was drawing on that reservoir and that I was using more than what I was putting in. This is exactly why I build up a reservoir. It was to get me through this night and others like it until the sun would rise again and I would find my reservoir refilled and increased because of enduring the night by faith. 

Armed with a new visual picture, Matthew 17:20 ("...verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.") took on new light for me. Using (a tool my religion professor showed us in class) I was able to see what Greek words were used in the verse and what the words meant individually. I focused on the words that translated into "have faith", ΕΧΗΤΕ ΠΙΣΤΙΝ and this is what I learned.  ΕΧΗΤΕ ("have") had a long list of possible meanings and associations, the ones that stood out most were "to have, maintain, possession of the mind, held fast." ΠΙΣΤΙΝ ("Faith"), also had a long list, but the key ones I noted were, " conviction of the truth, conviction or belief respecting a man's relationship to God and divine things. A conviction and belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah." 

Looking at what the original Greek words meant validated how I now saw Faith. Faith is not just a stagnant possession, it is a living thing that requires maintenance and care, attention and ownership. Faith is more than just an attribute, but a very encompassing idea that includes our relationship with God and our conviction in Christ. No wonder faith is something that is difficult to understand, describe, and takes so much effort to maintain. Faith isn't just something we use just to connect with Heaven, it is the very definition of our relationship with Heaven right now. Sometimes that Faith is a little stronger, and sometimes we go through hard things and draw from our "reservoir" of Faith. 

I think the greatest thing I came away from this understanding, and I hope you understand too, is how encompassing and fluid faith is. It is completely okay to feel like our faith isn't the same from day to day, because it isn't. Sometimes we are growing it, and sometimes we are drawing on it to get us through the hard times. The trick is to always be adding something to our reservoir; but I've realized it's okay to be adding to the reservoir and still find it lower than it was a few weeks or months ago. Faith isn't just a "collectors item" to put on a shelf, it's the oil we put in our lamp to light our way home. I hope you all recognize it's okay to have things be different day to day with how much Faith we feel we have. You may feel, as I often have, like I'm losing so much Faith going through trials. The thing I've realized is that it's okay I'm drawing on my faith, when the end of this trial comes I know I will discover that by using my oil of faith, I in fact increased it.  None of us are perfect, and we changed day to day, so it makes sense our faith changes too! 

I love you all and hope that you were able to get something from my thoughts. Maintain your Faith, use it and add to it every day, you can make it through, just like I know I will!

Ever Yours, 


Monday, March 13, 2017


Dear Family and Friends,

There really are no words to describe this week. It was not a week I would want to repeat again. Sometimes it feels like when I finally start to make some good progress things fall apart. I don't understand why, so I guess I'll just keep walking forward and hope things will be better. This verse I wanted to talk about really is for me, because there are definitely some days this week I am not sure how much I believed this verse. "O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit." (2 Nephi 9). I would definitely describe this trial I've been going through the last few months as "Hell" and "death of the body and spirit". Not quite literal death, but there have been some dark days these past few months that felt like they would kill me emotionally. Days were I have felt pretty hopeless and like there wasn't much happiness to be found.

Somewhere in my heart, and especially my spirit, I know that there are better things to come, but I've also never felt quite this tried before. " O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster!" I've always believed in the Goodness of God, he has provided "escape" from all of the other trials I have been through, and I know this will be no different. I wish I could see with his eyes why this is necessary, but for now it is enough to know there IS escape. I know, because I know God doesn't change, that he really does provide a way for us to overcome everything. Christ went below all, which means that even this time of overwhelming discouragement and feelings inadequacy isn't lower than what Christ can lift me from. I know that this trial will one day help me to reach out to others who are struggling, just like the trials of others have helped them to reach out to me. I know for all of us we are required to walk through hard times, my hope is that we all (especially myself right now), don't forget that God has prepared escape and hope for every valley and hell we may encounter.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Lift Up Thy Head and Rejoice!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was really quite good, not in a totally overwhelming temporary way, but in a calm pervasive way. I really didn't recognize how different of a week it had been until I looked back at my journal for the week and realized how many good days there were. It makes me so grateful for the atonement that has carried me thus far. It also makes me grateful for the tender mercies along the way that help me keep going. There in an incredibly fitting verse from Alma, shown to me by a high school friend put it in her weekly mission letter home. When I read it I felt like she wrote it for me, so thanks Sister Derbidge!
Alma 8: 14-15 " And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul... it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:" " Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him..."
Reading these verses was exactly the words I needed to hear as a reminder to lift up my head and rejoice in all the miracles and blessings around me! I have tried my hardest to be faithful and obedient, even though sometimes that has been difficult in times of anguish. There has been a lot of "wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul" this semester, and it was so fitting that this verse would be shown me during a week that I have really felt from Heaven and through the voices of angels on earth how it is time to "lift up [my] head and rejoice." There really is so much to be grateful for. I am on a good path, and my discipleship is settled. Sometimes the path of discipleship has challenges that cause us to be weighed down with sorrow, but when we are following path God has shown for us individually to follow there is always reason to rejoice! My hope is that those of you reading this, no matter what you are going though, can find a reason this week to also life up your head and rejoice! God is good, even when life doesn't feel very good. I know there are some wonderful things coming, sometimes it just takes a little more time than we expect it to take, so that it may come in God's time and way.