The Atonement or what does it all really mean?

I had the opportunity to teach a lesson this last Sunday about the Atonement to my 12-14 year old class. We had to start out with the basics and I feel it is too good to not share some of it.

First of all, what is it?

Well, we all sin. Either we have in the past or will in the future. It is because we are not perfect and mistakes happen. We are not perfect. We are here to learn that.

We are not able to return to Heavenly Father because of those sins because he cannot be in the presence of sinners.

Therefore, we need someone to atone for our sins. To pay for them so that we can return to Heavenly Father when the time comes.

What kind of person should that be? Well, I found the best description here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/he-lives-all-glory-to-his-name?lang=eng

Richard D. Scott said this of Jesus Christ’s challenges:

First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.

Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.

Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity.

Wow! Now that we put it this way,  Jesus did do something amazing for us!

Now, can we still sin and be able to enter in the presence of Heavenly Father? No.

So what can we do and how do we learn about it?

We are to repent (see the sin within ourselves and never do it again, doing all within ourselves to repay what we did). That is simple-even the worst sins can be let go.

We learn in going to church, reading our scriptures, listening to Apostles who will teach us, and praying for understanding.

With what Jesus did for us,  is it important for us to do all we can to keep from being part of the pain that he suffered?

Look within ourselves and see what we can do to become better. In doing so, we will be greatly blessed!

Judge not

Ok, since the world is focusing on judging everyone for every little thing recently, I find this quite a lot frustrating!

I learned a long time ago not to judge anyone. I have a very colorful background and so I have learned to see the judgements of others and let them roll off my back like water falling off of Teflon.

I was married for the 4th time 2 1/2 years ago.

The first one decided to take a different path than the one I was on. He decided that we did not deserve to live and that we were bad parents, so we needed to all die. He even was on the phone calling around for a gun in the presence of our children while I was at church choir practice. After packing all of his things and then telling him to decide to be a part of our family or get out, he left.

The second one was all about eating, sleeping and bedroom experiences. He did not even talk with my children when in the same building with them.

The third used me to get a green card and was gone 2 days after receiving it. He was dating online and when asked why, he said that he was looking for another wife for when our marriage failed. Everything was all about him. He repeated the same kind of life with his next wife and when she contacted me, I guided her to what I understood. She and I are actually good friends now.

My fourth is the best! We work hard to make this marriage work. We do almost everything together. We always consider each other’s feelings and always do what we can to keep each other’s happiness in the forefront. I have been a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints all of my life. He has been a member for the last almost 3 years. Not because I pushed him, but he decided it for himself. I made sure of that! We have goals that we make together. No, we do not have all of the same tastes,  but that is what makes our lives interesting.

In our branch, we are truly diversified. It depends on the mood of the week it is as to if we have more whites or colors in our congregation. The only one that we have one of is a Hawaiian and we only remember because instead of saying “Good Morning”, she says, “Aloha” to us.

Now, here is something to think about: My husband is African American. Black. I am White. We have no issues concerning color. But, it is interesting to see reactions in the world we are currently living in. We live in the Northern part of St Louis. It is very interesting because very few white people live in this particular neighborhood. I go shopping in stores where I am definitely a minority. I have been pulled over 5 times since moving here over a year ago because the police want to know what a white woman is doing with a black man in our neighborhood. The last time I was pulled over, they actually admitted that they did not care about minor infractions, but were looking for bigger ones and then proceeded to ask me if I had ever been arrested. Of course not! But they felt the need to ask…

My daughter is a drill sergeant for the Army. She married a guy that is about 7 years younger than I am. He is older than my husband who is 10 years younger than me. Yes, it is a little bit different than normal, but you know what? This works for all of us. We are all happy in our relationships.

My middle child is gay. He believes in the gospel, but because of opinions of other not-enlightened family members, they chased him away instead of loving him for being him. The church states that it is ok to have the feelings, just do not act upon them. I have the paperwork to prove it but these family members are only thinking of one side of the sin-the act. So, I give my son the unconditional love that he needs and he brings light to those around him.

My youngest son went the way of drugs and the lifestyle that surrounded it for a while. He is pulling himself out of the messes he created and is doing a wonderful job with what he has. I wish that I could help him more, but he just wants someone to hear him, nothing else. I hear him.

Now, with just that much in my background, do you think that I judge? I find I cannot because it hurts those I make those types of decisions about as well as myself.

I learned to love unconditionally. To do my best to open my heart to all around me. Ok, so I may still have a lot to work on, but I find I now have friends from almost all walks of life. I accept them for who they are, not what they may have challenging them.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect-yet. But is that not what we are all trying to become? If not, what are we doing instead? Is it healthy for us and those around us? What can we do to change? Do we need help to achieve it? Who can we turn to?

That last question is why I am LDS. It fits me. I use the lessons I learn to become a better person. To help others to become better as well-if they want to. It gives me a pathway that in my heart feels right.

Missionary work-Be an example

Missionary Work- Not just for missionaries anymore…
Ok, I am sure that you have heard this many times. You have heard all of the talks, you have read many of Wilford Woodruff’s words concerning this issue. I am also sure that when you saw the title, you tried to go on to something else, but then you came back to see if there was anything different that is being said.

Well, yes, I am going to say it. You are a missionary.
For those of us who have been born in the church, we have been missionaries from that particular time. We have been watched from birth and have been examples from that point on. We have been missionaries when we make friends. We are missionaries at any and all points of our lives. Especially when something changes in our lives.
Others are watching to see who we are. If we live our religion, we are missionaries, mostly by example. What about when we were small children and did not understand the value of money in this world? Then we may have taken something and our parents made us give it back. We are examples at that time. How we react is being studied by others around us. Not in a “Stalking” manner, but more as curiosity and learning.  When we meet someone and become their friend, we are showing them what we believe. So, what are our choices at this time? Do we show that we like our religion and act upon it, or do we complain and do not take anything seriously?
How about the new job, how many people are watching us at this time in our lives? We spend many hours with these people each day, how are we acting? Are we swearing? Are we doing the things of this world? Are we trying to make others more comfortable around us? Are we doing positive things to improve ourselves and others?
There are other places that we are known, such as the grocery store, the post office, the court house, the schools, the hospitals, etc. How are we acting when we are in each location?
Have you ever had anyone come up to you and ask how you do this?
I have.
I was in the midst of an ugly divorce. I should have been completely falling apart. I should be crying all
of the time. But, I did not because I needed to keep my head clear. I prayed for help. I trusted the Savior
in knowing that everything would be fine. I was able to be a good example for my children, but also, I
found that I had become an example to my lawyer, the people that I came in contact every day both at work and at church. Many have come up to me and asked me how I do this. How do I keep everything under control? How do I seem to be happy in the midst of all of this mess? I may not have had any of them join the church, but I do know that their lives have changed because I have touched them. I know this, because of the changes that I have seen after I connect with them.
I find that I am an example even to those who have been in the church for many years. I know that many
are watching me to learn how I do “IT”.
I was a single mother who worked, trying my best to keep up with 3 teenage children who have pivotal moments in their lives all at the same time, worked on bringing the outside family back together, writing
in my spare time, exercising  and tried to take a few moments to get back out there and create new
relationships. I also find that with each blessing that either I or my children had, that we were constantly
blessed with health and strength to keep up with what we were doing. I do not understand why I keep
this pace, but find that with the blessings of our Heavenly Father, I can keep up. I ask why am I doing
this, then I keep receiving a strong feeling that I am doing this because I am being an example to those
around me. I am helping them find ways to strengthen their own testimonies. I am helping them find their way back to Heavenly Father.

This is missionary work.
It may be subtle, but it still supports what Heavenly Father and our Savior would like for us to do. I truly
love our Heavenly Father. I love our Savior. I love the gospel and the ever-changing and growing that it
creates within me. I know that this is the pathway that I am to be on. I would recommend that all should
follow what they believe in. Be an example to those around you. Teach them the way back to our Heavenly Father and Savior. If you have a choice between something that will create less or more light withinthe heart, follow the light. It is the right choice.
This is what it is to be a missionary.

Follow the Prophets

In the Primary, there is a song called “Follow the Prophet”. We teach this to our children. Are we doing
this ourselves?
There are many times that our leaders have told us to do this, but are we listening? It took me some time to come across this particular address, but it really helps:
“The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” By Ezra Taft Benson on Feb 23, 1980 at Brigham Young University. I would recommend that you attain a copy for yourselves to really understand the simple steps as to why we should do it.
Instead of quoting it, I am going to talk about how it affects me instead.
I was born in this church. I remember as a child, twice a year when we did not get up for church and have everyone changed in our Sunday clothes. Instead, we would be encouraged to come to the TV and while having breakfast of either Blueberry or Chocolate Chip pancakes, we would watch a bunch of old men talk behind this funny stand with a lot of flowers all around. Then when there was a break between these men, a huge group of men and women dressed alike, would get up and sing. Why were they separated? Why, when they are singing, can we get up and move around? I have to admit, this was many years ago and I have learned that listening to those men taught me a lot more than I thought!
Since that time, I have always tried to attend at least one if not more meetings because of the spirit that is there. These men who talk to us are talking to us about the present! This is now! If I do not get a chance to listen or watch a session as it happens, I try to take time and read the sessions in my spare
time.
Have you had a chance to meet our prophet? He has made many attempts to meet as many people that he can. He is always working for the Kingdom. He works circles around me at least! And, no, I have not met him, but I have spent many years listening to his words and he has created a special place in my heart.  If he tells us to do something and we do it, we are blessed. If he tells us that something needs to be done and we do not do it, we miss those blessings and many times our lives are worse. This is a very simple concept.
Our gospel is organized around simple concepts that have many layers. This is why we are always learning more each time we come to church or have an opportunity for more learning. The activities at the Temple are based around the same thing. I have been attending for many years and have found that I learn more each time that I go. I am glad that I have been guided by our Prophet to go.
When we lose a Prophet, there is always another to fill his place, but there is only one on Earth at a
time. I have personally had the opportunity to see this in action. To me, each Prophet is a link. Each one has his own personality, but also has our best interests at stake. Therefore, each Prophet had his special interests concerning us brought to our attention. Remember, we have had a Prophet who was truly organized and had the ability to move thousands of people to a remote location and build a new city. We have had learned men. We have had some who guided our church back into paying our tithing, some who’s main focus was Missionary work, some whose  focus has been on building Temples. Each
time, they have been right and we needed to hear what they say when they say it. This is a constant growing and changing church. If we do not pay attention, we will miss something. I understand that other churches say that when they reach the end of the bible, all is finished, but we have living Prophets who are constantly “Writing” our books. They are adding chapters each day. I am glad that we have this gift that has been given to us.

Learn to resolve differences

Elder Spencer J. Condie wrote: “the great plan of happiness provides countless opportunities for learning to resolve differences, to love, to tolerate and to forgive, and, in the process, to become more like our Heavenly Father and His Son. Opposition in all things, including marriage, does not have to include dissension and continual conflict, but rather the peaceable resolution of differences.”
When a couple has a difference of opinion, they need to talk it out. They need to see each other’s view. If this is not the case. If the couple cannot agree, then they need to realize it before they marry. It is easier to break up a relationship when there is no paper between the couple.
I am not encouraging breaking up. I am encouraging each of us to take the time to learn about each other. To grow in ways other than what is behind the bedroom doors.
Find the differences and find ways to work around them or in other words, learn to compromise.
Please remember to pray together after the incident so that you have a chance to thank each other for opening each other’s minds to more than what you knew before.
If you do this, many disagreements which lead to destruction of relationships would be avoided.

Have a wonderful week!

Mary

Brent A Barlow’s talk that was done at the BYU Campus

I am going to pull my thoughts from Brent A Barlow’s talk that was done at the BYU Campus during Education Week in 2006. If you would like to see it, I would recommend that you go to byutv.org and press “find a talk” then put in the title “choosing a marriage partner” and watch on the video.   Anything in parenthesis are comments that I am making.

God cannot steer a Parked Car! (We need to be going to the activities and making ourselves available to be able to meet our future friends and loved ones)

If you don’t date, you don’t mate. (This is a very true statement.)

Alma 60:21: Do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us? (We will never meet someone if we do not get out of the house and off of our “Throne”.)

If having a difficult time in a relationship, ask the Golden Question: If we were to be married someday, when would that be?

Dating is like going to the Zoo – you get to see the animals, but not in their natural habitat. (Which is why I truly encourage dating for up to a year before making any decisions)

Marry someone much like yourself. (This is so that you can actually agree on things as well as encourage each other. Try talking about gardening if your spouse is interested only in sports. It is an effort that would be defeated unless he is willing to open up his heart.)

Just because you love someone does not mean you should marry them. Love is not enough. (I should have had this advice with my first couple of choices…)

There is no such thing as the one and only. (If this was true and the one and only died, or chose someone else, where would that leave you?)

We expect too much from our spouse. (And this leads to too many divorces!)

There are ‘Weeds and Seeds’ in a marriage. We are to grow the seeds and pull the weeds. (Think of it, do you really think that the way you wash dishes or clean your room is perfect? I know that I am far from it! But be willing to make the effort to change)

Ezra Taft Benson stated “Don’t expect perfection in your choice of a mate”. (To be by their side, we would have to be perfect as well, I am not ready to be that good, so how can I expect my husband to be the same?)

There is a children’s book called Fanny’s Dream. It really helps to understand so much about ourselves. Lastly, there are 2 more thoughts that I pulled from this talk that were very good…

60% of marriages come from networking. (Yes, your co-worker, your family, your ward may know the perfect match for you.

And for those who have been on missions: Referrals-not Tracting!!!

How do we help our Priesthood holders reach their full potential?

Here are some thoughts:

We all know that the priesthood is much more than just a name or title. The Prophet Joseph taught that “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.” It holds “even the key of the knowledge of God.” In fact, through the priesthood the very “Power of Godliness is manifest.”

Too often our actions suggest that we live far beneath our potential.

1. Read the Owner’s Manual (The scriptures and council from our Prophet)

2. Seek the Revelations of the Spirit.

3. Find Joy in Priesthood Service (Do it NOW)

Don’t let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the Spirit.

Let us not pass through life immersed in the 3 W’s: Wearied, Worrying, and Whining.

What can we do as women?

1. Encourage our men to read their scriptures and to fully understand them. We need to do the same to be their support.

2. Ask for blessings as we are needing them. Sometimes they are not aware of our needs, but Heavenly Father is.

3. Create a home that is as peaceful as we can make it.

4. Be supportive in their callings.

5. Grow with them so that they feel whole.