Autumn and Misinterpretations…

Autumn is in full swing! Our Halloween went well (see pics below!) and it has been so very cold here. It was a weird year for us since normally the sweaters don’t come out until Christmas or even after here. The temperatures are starting to get back to normal for us now, warming up some but still with chilly mornings. Sharp, brisk mornings are one of my favorite things. My parents sent me a video of the Midwest where they’ve had their first real snow of the year and I can’t help but miss it (Maybe I’m crazy ha!). I can’t help but be thankful for the beautiful world we live in. There was a quote I saw from a book that about summed up my feelings on autumn. I did an 8×10 digital download for you that’s available below. It says,

“Steam rising underneath a canopy of whispering, changing aspens; starlight in the clear, dark night, and wondrous beauty in every direction. If only all could feel this way, to be so captured and enthralled with autumn.”

The sky does seem clearer in the fall (when those big clouds finally roll away!) and there is most definitely beauty in every direction. I am grateful for the uniqueness of autumn.

The other thing I wanted to touch on was a funny misinterpretation I had of the scriptures on a chapter on Isaiah (surprise!). Scriptural comprehension is not a strength of mine, as you’ll see… I was reading over 2 Nephi 7, which is compared to Isaiah 50. I don’t understand some of it still, but there were a couple things that stood out to me. First, in verse 5 it says, “The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” How often does the Lord bless us with the ability to know and do more and we turn away from him or even rebelled? I hope I can have the humility, faith, and strength to listen and do as He asks. Verses 7-9 tell us,

“For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded…

And the Lord is near, and he justifieth me. Who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near me, and I will smite him with the strength of my mouth.

For the Lord God will help me. And all they who shall condemn me, behold, all they shall wax old as a garment, and the moth shall eat them up.”

There are so many confusing messages today. Youth are being deceived and misled as are women, specifically. Satan knows that by targeting these groups he can greatly influence the future. Sheri Dew told us, “It is no wonder that Satan has declared war on motherhood. He understands full well that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire.” If mothers are targeted, children are targeted. I’m not saying men aren’t, I think they’ve struggled and been targets for a long time, but this point in history seems to be especially detrimental to the work of women and the progression of children. What I love about these verses of scripture is that it tells us that when the Lord is near we can “not be confounded”. Discernment is a gift. It’s something we can work on throughout our lives, but it is truly a gift to those who desire to do good. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost and His willingness to help us as we navigate this difficult world.

Okay, so now on to verse 11. This one I was completely and totally wrong about! Here it is:

Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow.

So my first thoughts (and even what I wrote in my journal) was that we are required to put in the sparks and kindle our relationship with the Savior, who will then give us guiding light and warmth, love, and comfort. Totally NOT what this verse meant!!! What it’s actually saying is that those who kindle their own fire and follow their own desires through life rather than turning to the Lord will find sorrow. Basically the complete opposite of my initial thoughts. I think I need a book on understanding Isaiah! I was totally off, however, I thought my initial thoughts were important. Sometimes we understand things in the scriptures differently because that’s the way the Holy Ghost wants us to interpret something at that time so we can understand what we need to do in our lives. At this point, I recognize I need to continue enduring and bringing my efforts to the relationship I have with my Savior in order for Him to bless me. I need to work harder at adding my “sparks to the flame”, getting my head right, and ensuring my priorities are straight. If I can do this, and maybe you need to hear it too, I know the Lord will share abundant blessings. We had a member of our stake presidency speak to us last week briefly and one thing he said was, “The Lord’s way is always the best way”. So many times we think we know best or we are set on doing something a certain way, but we don’t stop to think or realize that the Lord is trying to lead us differently to something even better. It may not be easier, but it will always be better. By improving our relationship with the Savior, we can more easily understand what the Lord’s path for us is. This is my goal and something I know I will continue to work on. Will you?

Lily at Halloween!
Download this 8×10 print below!

Peace and Strength

This world doesn’t seem peaceful a lot of times. It’s tumultuous, overwhelming, depressing, and hard. There is conflict. There is pain. There is sadness. There’s a lot of reasons to want to stay inside, away from everyone, where you can just be isolated from the tribulations and confusion of everything; but, we aren’t here to focus on that. We aren’t on this Earth to let the darkness consume us. We aren’t here to let fear overcome hope. We aren’t here to let Satan win the precious fight for our souls. There is peace in this world when we recognize the hand of Christ in our lives. There is peace through the hope of a child. There is peace through the natural beauty of the earth. There is peace through the unwavering testimonies of those who have utilized the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is peace when we include our Savior in our daily lives. Satan wants us to feel overwhelmed and he is working hard to make us miserable, but he does not win against Christ, nor will he win against you. Don’t give him that chance. You’re too important. Be still, find peace, and feel the power of the Lord as He helps you overcome all that burdens you in this life.

Good Timber

I saw a quote recently by Thomas S. Monson, but found it was actually an excerpt from a poem called Good Timber by Douglas Malloch. The quote is “Good timber does not grow with ease; The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees”. This is profound to me, as struggle is an important part of life, whether we like it or not. We can embrace it and recognize it for the growth opportunity it is, or we can be negative about it and miserable through the trial. Either way, struggle will come. There are trees that buckle under the wind. Some are uprooted. Some lose branches. When we are rooted in Christ with a firm testimony of His love for us, the winds won’t affect us like that. We may lose a branch here and there when times are tough, requiring healing and faith, but our roots are still good and our trunks still tougher. Many trees have scars. Trees are one of my favorite symbols of ourselves and our lives because they endure much and change much. The seasons bring drastic changes to leaves and branches, either by taking them away or bringing new life. The most majestic of trees have stood the test of time and been through great change. I needed this quote in my life as a reminder that struggle and change and endurance are all part of the plan. With the Lord’s help, we’re all tough enough to make it through any wind that comes our way.

Here is the full poem by Douglas Malloch, with free digital downloads below of the quote!

Good Timber

by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

He restoreth my soul

I read this from Psalm 23:3 while looking over the talk, “Good Shepherd, Lamb of God” by Elder Gerrit W. Gong. I was thinking about how our souls get tired and exhausted. They get tired from worry, from spiritual strain, from longing for our heavenly home or for people who have passed, or from seeking guidance and answers that seem to never come. Sometimes our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling and we become jaded or even bitter. Our souls, like our bodies, sometimes need to be refreshed, restored, and rested. This works differently for everyone, but it can come from learning more about our Savior by reading about Him. If we can strengthen our relationship with Him and learn to love Him more, our souls are restored. It can also come from serving others. Dieter F. Uchtdorf told us, “As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger.” Service restores our souls. I have also found, for me, temple attendance is incredibly helpful. It goes along with service, but it is a special and unique kind of service. President Gordon B. Hinckley gave us a promise that “if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you.” He didn’t say it’d be easier. I don’t expect that, although it may be easier in a sense when we realize Christ is sharing our burdens and helping us endure the storms of life. But that’s what makes life better. When we recognize the presence of our Savior and His hand in our lives, we can find peace in our trials and a refocused eternal perspective on things. Temple attendance restores our souls. I know attending the temple is challenging for many, but it is so important to try to attend as often as possible. If you can’t, at least keep your sights on it. Remain worthy to attend. Show the Savior that if you could step into the temple right then, you’d be able to do so in His presence. The temples are so special and give us an opportunity to give and receive unique blessings. I hope you can find ways that you can step back and restore your soul through Christ. He is the one who can help. He’s the one who will give you peace, comfort, and strength. Reach out to Him with the intention of restoring your soul, and you’ll find a different feeling than other requests. The Holy Ghost will confirm His love for you the way you will understand it best!

You Can be Mended

I saw a quote the other day that I wanted to share. I looked back at the original talk, called “Broken Things to Mend” by Jeffrey R. Holland and realized the entire talk was pretty amazing. I love Jeffrey R. Holland anyway, but was thankful for the nudge to go back and read this talk.

The quote I saw was, “If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.”

I know there are times when I feel down and think there just isn’t any light, or there is no way to get out of my slump. There are negative feelings that I struggle with sometimes that just snowball into a black hole. Satan loves this, because once he’s hooked our mind into his trap of negativity, he can keep you from realizing you can pray for help. This is why it is so important we learn to control our thoughts. If we can realize when we are slipping into a mindset contrary to the Spirit, we can stop it before it gets out of hand. There are medical exceptions to this where more assistance may be needed, but there is no harm in practicing positivity. Learning more about our Savior and His Atonement for us can also aid in strengthening our abilities to fend off the adversary in his attempts to trap us. Jesus Christ will always have his hand outstretched, ready to comfort, give hope, strengthen you, or mend you. Never let Satan allow you to think otherwise.

For Thy Good

I have had a little bit of a hard week this week (and last week honestly!) especially because Lily is in a sleep regression, was sick, then I was sick. Everything has just been a little tough lately, and I won’t really complain much, because I know I am very blessed and hard days come and go, but it’s ok to recognize the hard days and go through the motions to get to better days. This morning I was reading in 2 Nephi 2 where Lehi is giving last words to his son, Jacob, before he died. Jacob was Lehi’s first child born in the wilderness, and he experienced a lot of trials because of his older brothers and their situation overall. Despite this and his young age, Jacob was faithful in listening to his father and to Nephi. In verse 1 and 2, Lehi tells Jacob,

“1. And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.

Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”

I don’t always receive comfort or revelation when I read the scriptures. I guess it just isn’t normally the way the Spirit speaks to me, but this was important, and I knew it. Jacob had dealt with a lot of crap. He was born into a difficult situation and wanted to be good. He knew of the “greatness of God” and because he was righteous, he was told that “he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain”. We all face difficulties and bad days, but our afflictions don’t have to be in vain. We don’t have to suffer meaninglessly. Our trials can instead be for our gain when we are working to live righteously. When we don’t give up, when we keep praying, when we keep Christ at the center of our lives even though it’s hard, our trials and difficulties can be seen as they really are- opportunities to grow faith and to receive blessings. It doesn’t seem like it at the time, and it’s hard to keep an eternal focus when we’re struggling, feeling defeated and down, but the Lord is on our side and He NEVER loses His eternal focus. As we strive to keep the Spirit as our companion, we will see how our afflictions are consecrated for our gain.

Being like Nephi

I was reading through 1 Nephi again and been writing notes in my journaling Book of Mormon (got it from Line Upon Line, see them here! I am not paid for this, just love their books!). I have also been trying to highlight where the Savior is mentioned and pay more attention to the lessons taught by the prophets. They gave us great examples of endurance, faith, and steadfastness. This was a passage that stuck out to me a while back and I’ve been thinking about it lately as I’ve faced my own trials. Nephi and his family have been wandering around in the wilderness (just before he was commanded to build a ship) and he was talking about how they had had a lot of affliction as they traveled. However, at the same time, he recognized the incredible blessings they were given as they faced those afflictions. Nephi, to me, was the ultimate example of a positive, eternal attitude. He tells us in 17:3 that “And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God He doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which He has commanded them”. Sometimes we are commanded to face hard things in order to find a better way. Sometimes I don’t consider our trials really “commandments”, but I still believe that we are strengthened and nourished through them as we strive to keep the commandments given us. Just after Nephi told his brothers he was going to build a ship, Laman and Lemuel recall the same account of traveling in the wilderness, but point out every single negative thing they can without acknowledging any of the blessings they were given. This attitude is more what I tend to lean towards sometimes, unfortunately. It’s so much easier to be sad about things, recognizing the difficulties and letting them consume us into a dark, depressive state. Or just making us want to eat a full gallon of ice cream while watching a cheesy Hallmark movie… depends on the day… Either way, we can find comfort in the fact (and it is a fact) that if we are working to keep the commandments of the Lord, we will be blessed in our trials. If we can work on recognizing them, we will find ourselves with a more Nephi-like attitude of positivity and gratitude. I am thankful for his example and hope I can be more like him to grow my relationship with my Savior. I hope you can, too!