Respect

Respect is a feeling of admiration, which generally has to be earned.

It also means refraining from interfering with other’s agency-we allow them to be themselves.

I remember when I was first married to my first husband, he went through my things and threw away a doll that I had cherished when I was a little girl. My mother’s visiting teacher took it when I was a little girl and made clothes for it. I had planned on cleaning it up (Ok, it’s hair was the example of a loved doll) and giving it to my daughter when she grew up enough to appreciate it. To me, he did not respect me enough to let me keep something important to me.

Respect always motivates us to want to be kind and caring toward him or her and gives us the opportunity to wish for the best in them.

The quickest way to lose respect is to do something dishonest or immoral. How can we trust someone who does something wrong that will affect us?

The best way to gain respect from our partner is to set high standards and stick to them!!!! Elder Hugh W. Pinnock has said, “Men and women who do not have a wholesome respect for regulations during the dating process will often continue to break the rules after the work ‘yes’ at the altar is spoken.”

I have worked hard to earn the trust and respect of my children. My middle child became 21 and told me that he was going to do something that was not appropriate in my eyes. He was honest with me and was open to my concerns. I gave him advice-probably not something that most LDS people would say, but I knew that he was going to do something wrong and I wanted him to know that I was still there for him because I love him, not his actions. Because of this, his evening turned out much better than I had envisioned.

To me, both he and his younger brother have promised that no matter what question I ask, they will always tell me the truth. I have learned to ask many questions and to brace myself for the answers when it is something that takes them away from the correct pathway. The part that is important is that I do not judge them, I do not punish them. I let them learn from their mistakes and I stand back because they punish themselves harsher than I ever could. In doing so, I have done my best to be a good example for them so that they know that they can come back when they open their hearts. I have hope for them because they know what I stand for and they will not do anything to jeopardize me. To me, this is the embodiment of respect-from children.

I have many friends around me and many respect me as much as I respect them. I have learned to work hard for that respect as well.

Remember, I am your friend. I have learned to be able to say that I love you for who you are.

We are not perfect, but as long as we are willing to work together, we can get there without being alone.

Moving mountains and those pesky grains of sand!

Ok, so I admit, I am much better at moving mountains in my life instead of focusing on the grains of sand! Ask me to help find a mate, background check them, introduce them, plan the wedding, move them I can do that. I have done that.

I spent a few years being a single adult representative. I had let go of looking for the quick-fix husband and instead, focused on becoming a good friend to those I associated with. I had many friends from all walks of life. I do not like games, so when I see a friend beginning to play them, I step in! I have gone to both the men and the women and told them about each other. I have had my fingers in many connections that got married. Most of them are still that way. When they announce the wedding date, I then pitch in and pull together weddings for a very low cost(remember, these are my friends and I had to consider this my hobby because I was not paid for most of them). I have even moved people in an efficient and quick manner!

I can start a business, run it and get it to run itself-without me.

But, when it comes to doing things like the dishes after every meal, or on a daily basis… maybe not going to happen.

I do my best to remember to get my visiting teaching done, but instead of actually visiting, I am emailing. Ok, so it is still a visit, but not the best! The results are great, though! My visit teachees actually do not mind because they are all so busy and are happy that I keep them up to date on activities going on and I do try to connect with them each time I see them.

My husband and I do read our scriptures daily together, but to do personal study, study for Sunday school, study for Relief Society, study for Young Women’s (I am the secretary, so it is good for me to be prepared to teach if I have to), and other studying, it may not happen…

When I really get my focus going, I can work my many jobs’ work schedules around each other nicely, but to get to the Temple on more than a monthly basis-not as easy…

So, what I see of myself is that I see the big picture of life, but sometimes my clothes may not match…

Spiritual Fire Insurance

D&C 64:23
“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a
day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.”
I remember when I was in Seminary many years ago and this was the scripture that was called the Fire Insurance Scripture. It was always an incentive to keep my tithing paid.
I hear that there are many people in our church who do not pay their tithing. A large part of one of my congregations that I attended  had not been paying. This had been a shock to me because I always felt that this is what separated us from the other churches on a temporal level. Did you realize that we were and as far as I still know, still are the only church organization that is out of debt? Why is this? Because we pay our debts.
During the time of the early Saints, people brought their tithes to the bishop’s storehouse. This was paid normally with food or other items of value. Now days, it is simpler. We write a check then we put it in one of those many gray envelopes and hand it to a member of our bishopric.
When did the time come that we have forgotten what the blessings are that come to us if we pay our tithing? What are the blessings we receive if we do pay? We receive both Spiritual and Temporal blessings.
For example, when I left home to go to College, I carried my tithing with me in hopes that I would be able to pay in my new ward. I did not pay it. I held the money for a month. While I did this, I was looking for a job. I could not find one. I looked and looked. When the time came that I decided to pay, within the next 24 hours, I had 3 job offers! Why did I not do it sooner? Why did I “Rob God?” and why did I rob myself of these blessings? Other times, when my health needed to be strong, when I paid my tithing, I had a miraculous amount of strength. I had endurance! My family was happy, there was peace in my home. These are great blessings!
There are many talks from our Prophets and other general authorities concerning these issues.
Why are we not listening? Do we really want to be burned? Have we forgotten what happens if we do not pay?  Are we earning so much money that we do not feel we need the blessings? Are we earning too little money where the question of whether we pay the rent or our tithing becomes the issue? Have we talked with our bishop and asked him for guidance? Have we gone to our family?
Tithing has been around since the time of Adam and Eve. We are to give a percentage of all that we have to Heavenly Father because it is his anyway. I understand that we have heard this before, but have you thought what the tithing would be used for? For buildings, learning materials, for Temples…

How about the fast offerings? How are they used? These items are in the hands of our chosen leaders and they are to listen to Heavenly Father as to what they are to do with it. Normally, it is used to assist those in the ward who needs that little blessing to help them keep going.

Have you been one of those? I have. I cherish the moment that I have had to ask for help. This is because it is given. There is hope created because there will always be the blessing of plenty for those who truly need it. I may not like to go for help, but that is because I have been taught that I am the only one who will change my life. I should be able to support myself. But, there are times when this is not the best answer. If I am able to give back, I try to give what is expected in my tithing, but I try to give more in my fast offerings. If it is a matter of money, then remember, there is a promise that the Savior will give 10 times back what you have given. I have tried this and with a prayerful heart, gave all that I have and found that sometime during the next week, the amount has been multiplied at least 10 times!
Try this, what have you to lose? Give of your tithes and fast offerings first when you receive your bounty. You will not miss it if you do so.  I love this gift and I appreciate the ability to see blessings in action.

Commitment

Commitment is the word for this week.

In John 15:13, it states “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” To be able to do this, do we not need to develop a strong friendship first? Do we not need to have trust, belief in that person, faith in who they are? Should we respect and care for that person? To really think about it, is this not what I have been talking about all along?

We need to be able to develop a relationship based in honesty, common values, and ideas, respect and the big one-love. These are the building blocks that we need to have or wish to have in place before we face the challenges of marriage.

As Elder Marion D. Hanks stated,”Married people should be best friends; no relationship on earth needs friendship as much as marriage… Friendship in a marriage is so important. It blows away the chaff and takes the kernel, rejoices in the uniqueness of the other, listens patiently, gives generously, forgives freely. Friendship will motivate one to cross the room one day and say, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.’ It will not pretend perfection nor demand it. It will not insist that both respond exactly the same in every thought and feeling, but it will bring to the union honesty, integrity. There will be repentance and forgiveness in every marriage-every good marriage-and respect and trust.”

To have this kind of friendship is commitment. To stand up next to the one you care about when life gets tough, to be able to cheer them on when they are facing a challenge, this is commitment.

May we continue in our developing our friendships with each other, creating reasons to be committed to each other and finding the wishes in our hearts is my hope.

Christ-like Love

We will be focusing on Christ-like love. I remember one time that we were taught that a marriage took 3 people, you, your spouse and Heavenly Father. With this unbeatable mix, we have the ability to do much more than we would have ever been able to do with just the two of us.

What is Christ-like love? Well, please remember the saying “As I have loved you, love one another.” Think about it. What kind of love did Jesus give to those around him? It was unconditional love. It was a love where he was willing to give all that he had for his brothers and sisters. Not only then, but those who came before him and those who came after.

We are not expected to sacrifice ourselves like he did and it would not be accepted because we are not able to do so. We are not begotten of our Heavenly Father. We are not perfect. Jesus was. But, he did teach us many wonderful things and the one that we can use to change the world is to love unconditionally. We can love those who are not perfect and have difficulties in spite of those difficulties.

My family has taught me this kind of love and I am grateful to them for it. As you know, my family is quite dynamic. The ones who taught me this love were an ex-husband who taught me that I could love someone and walk away from them to protect myself and their soul, my daughter who joined the Army(which can be quite frightening to any parent), my oldest son who decided that he was gay and has been living the lifestyle, and my youngest son who gave me a very difficult time just before I encouraged him to move out on his own. I found that I have the ability to love each of these people in my life without having to love their choices.

Spencer W. Kimball said, “For many years I saw a strong man carry his tiny, emaciated, arthritic wife to meetings and wherever she could go. There could be no sexual expression. Here was a selfless indication of affection. I think that is pure love.” I was in a ward where I saw more physical and emotionally challenged people than in any other ward. One couple that I saw was the organist. She guides her husband in and gently sits him down on the front pew by her. After the sacrament was passed, she would then guide him out for a short time before she brings him back for the rest of the meeting. There is a gentleness that I see in her eyes and a trust that I see in his body. I am glad that I have the opportunity to see this in my life experiences. I have a chance to see many variations of Christ-like love on a daily basis and I am truly blessed for this.

May we all have a chance to encourage it in our hearts as well as see it in others.

Am I Fasting or Starving?

Matthew 6:16-18
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy
Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Many times, I have taught the value of fasting to my children, but it seems that I had at least one that did not understand no matter how I have tried to teach him. On Fast Sunday, as soon as our meetings were finished, he gathered his brother and sister and found me and dragged us to the car so that we can drive home as quickly as we can and eat everything in sight!
What is fasting?

Well, to me, it is a time set aside to focus on the most important issue that needs to be addressed with our Heavenly Father. It is a time where all other things are set aside, including eating, so that the communication is clear. How can you focus on your closest desire and be making a sandwich? How can
you talk with Heavenly Father with a singleness of thought when you are trying to decide if you want cheese or not on that sandwich?
Is Fast Sunday a day once a month that we suffer because we miss a couple of meals? Or is it a time to reflect? A time to heal?
I had a question that I felt that I needed to have answered. I asked for my Home Teacher to come by that night for a blessing. I wanted to make sure that I was hearing what was correct and not just my imaginings. So, I decided to fast. I thought that it would be difficult. I do not normally fast other than on Fast Sundays, or for a long period of time. It was in the middle of the week, so I was able to skip breakfast, then when lunch came around, my non-member friend who always walked with me to find restaurants to eat at, wanted to go. I told her that I was not going to eat. This surprised her, but not so much as the fact that I told her that I also was not going to drink anything-including water. So, we walked together. She ordered a meal and ate it in front of me, but it did not bother me because we were talking about the value of fasting and it has opened up a lot of doors to discussions that we have had since. I was not hungry. I was still praying through the day in preparation for the blessing that I was to receive. Meanwhile, many of the answers were being answered during the day, but not the main one. I was grateful for each answer, but I was still waiting for the big question to be answered. My Home Teacher came by and brought another with him. I am not sure if they had been fasting as well, but I had found that most Priesthood holders will fast before a blessing. This helps them as well. I was given a blessing. I asked specific questions, but the answer was not specific. In being thus, it has even blessed me more than I had thought! Instead of a yes or no, it was more along the lines of being “You will receive the peace to know your answers.” For many days afterwards and even now, I am still blessed from this particular blessing. No, I never got a direct answer  for the one question to be answered, but I had let it go and began focusing on what is far more important-
Eternal Life.
That is more important. The rest will fall into place. By the way, I did not eat until the next day because I was not hungry. I really was not hungry even then, but when I did break my fast, then the body reawakened and let me know what it’s needs were.
Try this, use it with a sincere desire to understand not only the act of the fast, but to understand the blessings that come from it. I know that you will be blessed if you do these things.

Have you prayed today?

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near. …
O thou by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way!
The path of prayer thyself hast trod;
Lord, teach us how to pray.
(Hymns, 1985, no. 145.)
Have you ever taken the time to read the words to this song?
When I was a little girl, my parents had a book that was called: “Do your prayers bounce off the ceiling?” I felt that I had not been praying in a manner that would do more than do the bouncing. One day when I was delivering candy, pop and other items to vending machines, I decided that I wanted to try to pray for the whole time that I had been working. This would be for 6 hours! I had never prayed for longer than a couple of minutes without running out of things to say.
So I decided to try this. I began really early in the morning so that I would not encounter too many of the employees at each of the locations that I was visiting. I would have everything set up the night before so that all I needed to do was drive away. When I was in the car and before I turned the key, I began my prayer. Then I would continue praying from that point on until I returned home. It was hard at first, I was grateful for the interruptions that happened at most of my locations because then I could begin again. But after a while, I found that my prayers were becoming more of a conversation and that when I was interrupted, I would listen instead of doing all of the talking.  I found that many times, I was crying because the spirit was so strong! I found also, that each of my prayers were being answered in an immediate way. Sometimes with a sense of humor, such as if I complained about the traffic, then seconds later, the next light was green and the rest of the trip was clear. I would then acknowledge that the answer was there and that the ones answering my prayers were better on top of things than I was. I always felt that they were right next to me and that they were always smiling when I understood the message. This created a closeness that I had never felt before. I desired to keep this feeling closer to me, so I would stop the prayer at the end of the trip, but then check in throughout the day. Eventually, I found that I was praying all day long, but in a manner that those around me did not know. I had a spirit that was always there so that I could just pick up where I left off. I did not have to wait to create this feeling. I was glad for this, so much that I reveled in it!
When I did not pray, I found that I was empty, that I was alone and that it took me a long time to recreate the feeling that there was a 2-way communication with our Heavenly Father and our Savior.
Pray.

Pray always. Try this, for it is a good way. Do it a little at a time, for as we are guided in 2 Nephi 28:30, “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.” If you do this, you will be blessed considerably!

Love thy neighbor

Matthew 22:39
This is such a hard topic because if you do not love yourself, then how can you love another?  How can I love myself? How do I know that I love myself?
Love is such a strong word, but not easily defined.

What is it? How do I know if I feel it? Is it defined by books? How about movies? Songs?  Is it something that you feel for a short time? Is it something that is forever?
To me, love is a forever feeling. It has many levels. You can love an animal, a child, an eternal companion, and the Savior and each has a different feeling. This is a good thing because it is an individual feeling.
This is why the definition is so difficult to pin down. I can love a dog because it is there for me for all of its life, but I can love dolphins and never be around one. What is this feeling of love?
Poems have been written for centuries concerning this word.
Now, do I love myself? How do I treat myself? Do I care about me?
I am a child of my Heavenly Father and I am to be treated that way.  This means that I am to take care of myself. My body is a Temple that I have been given. How do I treat my Temple? Is it clean and bright and open for good things to happen? Is it a little dusty from misuse? Do I have rooms in it that I would not like a guest to walk in? Is there enough light in each of the rooms? Is it welcoming, or do we avoid it when it is around us?
How about what I am stuffing in my library? What kinds of media is in there? If I went into my memories of music, will I be assaulted by pounding, screaming noise, or will it be soothing and peaceful? What about the movies? If I open the door to this part of my mind, will the movies be supporting or will they be bad? The same thing about the time I spend on the computer and books.
How does this affect my connection with Heavenly Father and our Savior? If I thought about them, will they be right there, or will they be far away because I have turned away from them.
My soul is a very precious thing and it tells me what is right if I listen to it. It will guide me to find out what love is.
Love is the total acceptance of another person, place or thing. Most of the time, this is used in reference of another person. But it is also in reference to ourselves. We desire to accept ourselves. We desire to find the person that we were born as.
When I look in the mirror, I can either look for the flaws, which will bring in the negative feelings, or I can look for the light of Christ. When we find this love of ourselves, we then have the ability to shine with the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We are able to express ourselves better and then go from looking inward, to giving outward.
How do we do this?

By praying to our Heavenly Father for guidance, by reading the scriptures that are available to us, by listening to our prophets who already have this gift.  When we have learned to love ourselves, we then have the ability to open our hearts and to “Love our neighbors as ourselves”.

Who should we trust?

Many times we have heard the words in many ways: Trust Me.

In this day and age, most of those who say these words are using them to hurt us. So, who can we trust? The car dealer? The bank? Our Lawyer? Our landlords? Our boss? Our family members? The insurance company? The government? Spiritual Leaders? Heavenly Father? Our Savior?

Who can we trust?

I had 2 very wise men who talked with me and they have both basically said the same thing. “Trust, but Verify.” One was my hometeacher, who is always watching out for me as best that he can, and the other was my Bishop who also watches out for me.

So, this means, do your homework. Test the sources before you let them take over a part of your life.

But does trust mean that you put the source under a magnifying glass? No, most of where you put your trust in, is where your heart is. Listen to it, it will always tell you true if you try to do the right things and bring the Light of Christ into your life. Also, the Holy Ghost is a great source to lean upon as to
who should be trusted.

In 2 Nephi 28:31, it states: Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

You will never be hurt by Heavenly Father, the Savior or the Holy Ghost. This has been proven time and time again. But if you feel that you need to test your feelings about them, it is recommended that you do so. Read your scriptures, Pray about them, Ask if these things that you are reading about are true! Then listen. Listen with all of your heart. Take time from the world to search this out.

Remember, the Gospel is active. Take action! Learn about something that you want to believe in and try it out! This creates joy in your heart and brings you closer to Heavenly Father.

I have done this myself. I challenge what I am being taught, with an open heart. Each time that I have done this, I pray first, then do what I am asked from Heavenly Father and see what happens. I am so
pleasantly surprised because what I am expecting is so much lower than what I receive!

I was asked if I had a glass of water, was it ½ empty, or ½ full. I told him that not only was it ½ full, but full to overflowing!

I trust in Heavenly Father! I trust in our Savior! I trust the Holy Ghost! They help me to know who else to trust in my life and I truly appreciate it.

In Mosiah 4:6-7, it states:

I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—

I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.

The Gospel according to Mary

I was born and raised in the church and found that many words had no meaning to me because I had heard them so often and assumed that I knew what they meant. They were words such as “Remission of Sins”, “The Atonement of Christ” and “The Gospel”. At one point in my life, I decided to really find out what “Remission of Sins” really meant. When I did a lot of studying in the scriptures, I found that it really meant that every little sin was removed. That the soul was pure and if we work hard at it, we can keep it that way.
I found that I really did not understand what “The Gospel” really meant. People threw the word around so easily, that I knew that it was a thing. I knew that it was so important that people have died for it. I knew that the whole basis of our church was founded on it, but I did not know what it really was.
What is it? How complicated is it? Is it something that I could understand in it’s simpliest form?
I began to fast and pray. I began to really open my scriptures.
Now, I do believe that answers can come immediately because they do. They happen to me quite often and I appreciate it. If the answer is not one that I want to hear, I hear it anyway. If I do not receive an answer, that is my answer. The key is that after I pray, I listen. I spend maybe more time listening than
praying. Some people may think that I am sleeping because I relax so much when I do this, but when I am finished, I know what my answer is and I act upon it.  The words “God is Love” began to form in my mind. Then “The Love of Christ” followed after.
I found that I have to put my information to the test, so I challenged the Lord. I told him that if I did everything possible to be Love, to give Love for one day, that I would be following his commandments. I would then expect to receive the blessings that he has promised to me.

WOW!!! Be careful what you ask for!
I found that my focus was on love. That if I felt any other feeling, that it meant that I was not a follower of our Savior. I did not want that to happen, so when other feelings crept in, I would then do my best to remove that feeling as soon as possible.
I then asked for a blessing to make some decisions in my life because the life of a single mother, raising 2 children basically on her own, who had lost her job, was losing her home, a boyfriend that wanted to marry her, but could not decide if he was ready, and had a plethora of other issues plaguing her.
I was told that I was going to be making a lot of hard decisions and that they were going to hurt. But to know that I was not alone and that I would have the courage to do these things.
Within 24 hours, I had found that I had a new place to live that would not cost anything for a short time and that it would give me a chance to get back on my feet.
I had a temporary work service that found a job that would give me more than the unemployment that was going to run out in 4 months. It was still temporary, but it gave me a chance to catch up and clear out some debts that were getting nasty. My sons were beginning to talk with me again-yes, we had encountered the teenage angst that I had hoped to miss. I saw old friends that I found that either have greatly improved their spiritual lives or else need my love to help them grow. I also realized that my boyfriend was not for me because he could not cherish me the way I needed, so I gave him up. This was difficult, but it really defines the word “Unconditional Love”. I loved him unconditionally, and so I hope that his choices in life will give him joy. I was saddened by his choice, but I was not angry at him.
So, now that I have rambled on, let me tell you what the Gospel really is to me. It is a four letter word called Love.
That’s it. Love.
Heavenly Father gave us this place to live and give us a chance to be like him because he Loved us.
Heavenly Father gave us his most precious gift because he Loves us.
Jesus Christ gave his life for us because he Loves us.

We are to love everyone around us no matter who they are because they need it.  I challenge you to try this out. Only for one day. Do everything throughout the day only with the focus of love. If there is any other feeling, address it and change it to love. If you like the results, keep it up each day. Pray for the ability to keep it with you each morning so that it stays fresh in your heart and mind. I promise you that many doors come open to you when this happens.