What is a testimony?

My definition is that it is a true belief in an idea that should be shared to strengthen it. You can have a Testimony in anything and anyone.

But the one focus that all are concerned with is this:
Who is Heavenly Father?
Who is Jesus Christ?
Who is Joseph Smith?
Do I believe in these people and what they have done for me?
What is the Gospel?
If questioned, can I stand up for these beliefs?
Do I have experiences that will enhance these beliefs and do I have the ability to share these experiences?
When you have the ability to answer these questions to the deepest part of your soul, you have developed a Testimony. If you only have a little bit of a belief, it is still a Testimony. This is when you are to share it with others. Listen to others share their beliefs. Each person has the ability to help strengthen each other and support each other in the time that is used to grow.  If you have a testimony and do nothing with it, it will shrink and die. Treat it like a living object, for that is what a testimony is. If you share it and do everything that you can to help it grow by praying, reading scriptures, and all other experiences that you encourage to come into your life, it will grow.
It is good for a child to listen to their parent’s testimonies. It helps them to know what one is and how to nurture it.

I do remember a time when I was in Alaska and my family was the only ones in our branch. We would have a testimony meeting each first Sunday of the month and we were to share our beliefs. Because there were normally only 4 or 5 of us, we would each have the opportunity to share each time. As a teenager, there were times that I did not want to share. But the hard part was; if I was the last one to speak, all of the others would sit there and stare at me until I said something.
Now, speaking is not the only way to share your testimony. Living it is also a really good way to help it grow. During the same time that I was there in Alaska and this was my experience, I found that I had many opportunities to stray away from the church. I had the opportunities to smoke, drink, have sex, and all other temptations that were available to me at the time. Instead, with the strength of my parent’s testimonies, I found that I was happier if I stood my ground. I found that it was easier to stick to what I believed. I learned that I valued myself too high to give in to these temptations, though some of them were hard to resist because then I would fit in instead of being alone.  Throughout the years afterwards, I found that the experiences that I had up there, I carried with me through the hard-times and the better times. They taught me what I really believed.
Now, I find that many of the youth have been experiencing a small part of what I experienced at their age. This is through an experience called the “Trek”. I have sent 2 of my 3 children through this experience and have found that they found out a lot about themselves through this. For those of my readers who do not know what the “Trek” is, it is an experience that is created for a group of teenagers and leaders. They are to dress up in the pioneer clothing and push a handcart for a number of days. They are split up in families and they are given food to eat. They are not allowed anything that is more than 13 pounds each and they have a strict list of items that they are allowed to carry with them. This means no electronics! At the beginning of the experience, they have adults go through all of their items. If there are any items that are not to be taken with them for the next few days, the items are taken away. I found that there is quite a large pile of items that is left behind with each Trek. After all of the walking and the time spent together, these children have the opportunity to reflect on their lives and what they do have.
When I moved to Alaska, I was the last one packed, so I left quite a lot of my things behind and took very little with me-mostly clothing. All of my other things-things that would have been perfect for a girl, were left behind.  When all possessions are left behind, what do you have left? Your scriptures, your journal, and some clothes to keep you warm.

With this type of experience, you can either turn against the church, or support it. There is no fence-sitting. There is no complacency. You have to choose.
I am truly grateful for these experiences because I know who I am. I know what I believe and I do not waste my years trying to decide what I want to do.  I love the church. I love the gospel and what it means to me. I love Heavenly Father. I love our Savior. I am truly grateful for Joseph Smith and what he had to do to bring the gospel back for each of us.

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In the Temple

Learning Christlike love in a relationship can be done in the Temple. For many of us, we have been to the Temple. Many of us have been sealed. When we are there, we make promises to each other and to Heavenly Father. These covenants, if actually taken to heart (meaning we actually do them, not just talk about them), give us an opportunity to open ourselves to give and receive love on a much larger scale than if we did not go. In many marriage relationship classes that I have been to, there is one concept that I have tried my hardest to incorporate into my life.

Marriage takes 3 people. Myself, my husband and Heavenly Father. It is like a 3 legged stool. One can be shorter(weaker) than the others, but the other 2 keep the stool steady. The key is to keep all 3 legs to make the stool work. With Heavenly Father as a participant in our relationship, we are able to open our hearts and discuss things with kindness and love instead of accusations and self-interest.

Bruce R. McConkie said, “I am firmly convinced that it is possible for a man or a woman to love his or her companion abundantly more in this thing which is called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage than it is ever possible to love such an individual outside this order of marriage, because we are entitled to have, and we do have all of the normal and wholesome affection that does and should exist between the sexes and then in addition to that, we can have in our family the sanctifying influence of the love of Christ. We can have a love which is abiding and eternal and which never ceases and never ends but will grow and increase until the perfect day is attained.”

This is the pure love that we are working for. We have the ability to stand up for each other and to be there for when the trials come.  Elder Parley P. Pratt said this of Joseph Smith, “It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband, wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.

It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love… I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved-with a pureness- an intensity of elevated exalted feeling.”

What a wonderful thought! Can we ever feel this way? The answer is Yes! Let us prepare ourselves to go to the Temple and learn how to love and to become a better person. Let us go to the Temple and encourage each other to do so. Many of us do not have recommends or have let them expire without using them. Some may have a recommend and have forgotten when they went last. Let us try to make an effort to go to the Temple. Why deny ourselves the blessings that we are entitled to?

40 days-40 nights challenge

40days 40nights

I am planning on doing this!

It starts today, so if you want to join me, you are welcome to do so.

Let me know if you are unable to open the attached page.

Mary

I wish that I had these ideas when I was growing up!

Dresses 'n Messes

For those that don’t know by now, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or a Mormon. I believe in living prophets. Why would God have had prophets all through the ages, and not have them now? They speak to us, guiding us on how to raise our families through the craziness of this world. Their words makes sense! This weekend, I get the incredible opportunity to sit in my living room, turn on my TV, and listen to their counsel (we call it General Conference). It’s the most inspiring weekend!

Because I have a large audience who also believes how I do, and many of us are young moms, trying to instill this belief in our children, I like to share ideas to help keep our children engaged.

With that being said, Emily is here as my guest today, sharing a fun tradition…

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“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” from Matthew 6:33.

I have dated many guys throughout my life and found that my church activities are very important to me. If they are not willing to go to church, the Temple or associate with my member friends, I feel a great loss.There would be an emptiness that is between us and I am not happy.

I know that I am very far from perfect and as one good friend pointed out to me recently: The church is like a hospital. We go quite frequently because we know that we need to have spiritual healing and this is the place to go for it. We have the opportunity to escape from the “Real World” and have a chance to find ways to heal our hearts. Even just going to church helps.

Another friend of mine had not been able to go to church because she did not have a ride and had to go home in the middle of it because she had to work. After finding out that this was the only difficulty, I offered to take her and her daughter to church but to get her home in time for work in the middle of church. After being at church the first week, the next week I asked her how her week was. She said that she noticed a big difference in just the way the week progressed. It was much better.

How does this affect the topic that I am addressing now? Well, most of us are looking for someone who has a spiritual focus. It is good to go out and play, to go to the dances, etc. But most of the ones going to the firesides are working on their hearts. If you have a Temple Recommend and find someone else who has one who uses it quite frequently, Bonus Points! Now, if you notice, I did not say that the other person just has one. But the focus is that they use it. And Frequently.

What about ourselves? Are we using our Recommends? Have we had to replace our covers because we wear them out? Have we been there frequently enough that the workers in the Temple know us by name?

There is a gentleman who was in a motorcycle accident many years ago. He finds that with his handicap, the only thing that he can do that creates service is to go to the Temple and spend each day there-all day long, doing sessions. I am not saying that we need to do as he does, but have you met him? Do you know his name? I had him as a neighbor for a short time and enjoy the spark that he has for his wife. He has a very sharp mind; he just has a difficult time getting the words out easily of what he thinks about.

I have another friend who prepares himself before he goes to the Temple so that he can bear his testimony to the person he is doing the work for. I truly admire that focus.

The word that we are describing and looking at is “Spirituality”.President David O. McKay defines spirituality as, the “Consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite.” Really take the time to think over this statement. It is very deep and can change a life.

Remember, though, there are many people who go through the actions, but do not put it in their hearts. I remember doing this quite a number of years ago. I went to church, but did not try to learn anything. I was doing my part just being there-or so I thought. I read my scriptures, but did not contemplate what they were really saying to me. I went to the Temple, but did not seek for deeper understanding. The spark was there, but it was quite dim. I was just “Going through the motions.”

I had to make a decision to change. I had to begin to seek for the good in each meeting I attended. I began to look for messages in the scriptures that I was reading that I could apply into my life. I began to look for the spark in my heart and encourage it to grow. I began to make changes in my life by small decisions. Should I go to my meetings or skip them for a movie? Should I go to the Temple or spend time eating out with a friend? Many of these decisions are good and it became hard to choose which was better. I began to listen to my heart which showed me which brought more light into my life. Yes, sometimes being with a friend is more important than going to the Temple. This is where praying on my knees, listening while praying and focusing becomes important.

My recent favorite quote is this, “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands of our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” Ezra Taft Benson.The interesting thing is that this is very true. Many things that I felt were very important dropped out of my life because they were not items that should not have been important to me.

Lastly, Howard W. Hunter said, “Developing spirituality and attuning ourselves to the highest influences of godliness is not an easy matter. It takes time and frequently involves a struggle. It will not happen by chance, but is accomplished only through deliberate effort and by calling upon God and Keeping his commandments.”

We are in this together. As states in one of the movies that I actually have enjoyed, “Never give up, never surrender.”