Friday, August 21, 2020

The Gift


Baptism as we know, when performed by one holding authority, washes away sin. We are buried in the depths of water as if dead and come out alive and new. At the very moment we emerge, we are clean every whit, we are new, and as children of our loving Heavenly Father, the goal is to stay as new as possible, even perfect, from that moment on, and throughout our mortal lives.

We know, however, that this is not possible, for we are human and not perfect. We do ere in our ways, but as the loving Heavenly Father that He is, He has prepared help, and never leaves us comfortless, or in need. There is always a way provided for us to do our very best and to achieve our desired goals.

To help us Father has given us a specific gift. This is not a gift just anyone can receive, this is a gift direct from God and is so special, that it can only be received like baptism, from those with the authority to give it. A worthy priesthood holder must be the one who not only performs baptism, but will also use the laying on of hands that we might receive this gift, as a token of our decision to come unto Christ and accept baptism and make covenants with Father in Heaven.

The gift is the gift of the Holy Ghost, who is a personage, or a spirit, that has been called of God to the specific calling of helping His children. He is a real spirit being that is with us always, in our minds, in our hearts, and in our lives. Its what the world might call our conscience, but as a gift from God he is even stronger and more powerful, and again, he is real.

It's a gift to not take lightly, for it is one of the greatest of all and will be lifesaving in our journeys, providing us with spiritual strength and inspiration, as well as helping us to recognize and understand the truth of all things. He will comfort us in difficult times and guide our decisions large and small as we work to bring ourselves and our families through the trenches of earth’s life to arrive safely back in the arms of God.

This gift is so powerful and so strong, and so real, that it will bring us the feeling of God’s love and we will recognize it and know beyond a doubt that He knows each of us by name, He and His Son Jesus Christ; and this will influence our daily lives in ways we can only begin to imagine.

John 14:26 teaches specifically of this truth stating: “the comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.”

However, though this is a gift and given freely to everyone upon baptism into His true church, it is conditional. Our ability to enjoy this divine gift depends on our obedience to Gods’ commandments.

The Holy Ghost is just that, holy, and cannot remain with those who do not live according to God’s teachings. If we drift or choose to continue in sin we lose the privilege of his guidance and inspiration. Therefore, it is extremely important from the moment we emerge from the waters of baptism, that we remain clean and pure and always strive to be worthy of his companionship.

Now let me stress the phrase ALWAYS STRIVE. If you are always striving to do our best and to live the gospel, he will never leave us and we WILL be lead. Do we have to be perfect, NO, we cannot. We only must be doing your sincere best and as we grow in the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as we gain knowledge, we will become stronger and stronger and the straight and narrow way laid before us will be a relief to travel and we will find the peace that comes with this gift.

Striving to keep the spirit with us can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing, but remember, we are never left without direction or comfortless. In our desire to keep the Holly Ghost with us, and to live the commandments to the best of our ability, the Sacrament has been provided as a reminder of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The bread is His body and the water is His blood, and as we partake repenting of transgressions, we are promised to have the Holy Ghost continually with us. When we honestly and sincerely partake of the Sacrament each week, repenting daily in our prayers with a focus on the Atonement, we recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ in the same way that we do at baptism and we are then able to move forward in our progression.

As you, my friend, upon your baptism today, or your baptism in the past, are honest and sincere before God, covenanting before Him, I know that you will feel the gift of the Holy Ghost as it is given unto you, and your life will be, not perfect, but will change and your heart will be strengthened.

I testify of the truth of these things, that God our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ are real, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true church upon the earth today, and that He indeed, knows each of us by name and will never leave us alone. The gift of the Holy Ghost is real, enjoy his company as you come unto the fold and continue life as a child of God.

Author Note: Talk written for Baptism August 2020 adapted for blog audience

References: Gospel Principles

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


As I sat down to write today, I wondered, what could I possibly have to teach to such a strong and righteous group of people that they don't already know, or that they don't already do. And I answered myself saying nothing. There is nothing I could possibly teach them, for they have taught me.

Then I wondered what I could possibly share with them that could strengthen them or help them through the trying times that we now face. And again, I answered myself saying, nothing, for if ever a people so valiantly have endured it is for sure them.

So I said to myself, what I would like to do is to convince them of their strength, and righteousness; that they may see how the trial of their faith has brought them forward, for they are a humble people and boast not in their hearts but approach their days in a spirit of learning and love; yet, how could I do something like that? Just about everything that I could say to them I have learned because of them. So at a loss as to where to start, I began a study, in hopes that my goal would be met, and you the reader, the listener, would see the impact of the endurance of the trial of your faith, not just upon yourselves, but upon all those whom you come in contact; personally, through social media, in your work and family lives, in the many ways you live your days coming in contact with the children of God.

In my study, I read a passage from Elder Neil L. Andersen Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stating:  "Fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us." 

I like the way Elder Andersen stated that trials are often camouflaged making them difficult to identify and that the root in our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us because I think that is the most qualifying trail. We expect to have hard times when we are facing pandemics, facing protests, and the falling apart of our country.  We know these things are to come, and we face these trials with great strength and resolve we are valiant in remembering our God, for these trials are prophesied trials, and though, they do take us off guard, we come back and face them knowing that He has our back and come what may, in the end, it will work out for it is in His plan.

But what about those things that are not prophesied, that are not public but personal and hit us below the belt when we least expect it.   What about those things that are camouflaged that we don't recognize right away and hit us in the most sensitive spots? How do we endure then?  And how do we endure not only then but then during pandemics and war?  How do we remain “steadfast and immovable” (Alma 1:25) during a trial of faith when everything hits us all at once, public and private?

As you know, I have spent the past five and a half months living in Iowa to help the family.  I left for Iowa with a glad heart and full of my strength ready to face new challenges and serve in whatever way the Lord would desire of me.  Little did I know what he desired of me would be a very real and intense trial of my faith. 

I found that not only Satan, but personal feelings, things that seem normal and just part of life; can combine against us during tough times, and we may find ourselves in a place of depression, embarrassment, or sorrow; coupled with a feeling of neediness, aloneness, and even despair.  These are all the things I felt at one point or another during my time away, and it was a struggle at times to keep my head above water and my heart correctly in the game.  I know that we have all been in this place at one time or another, or maybe you are here now, so the question again is, how do we survive. 

Elder Anderson also taught that: "When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.  It is within the sanctuary of the Church that we protect our faith. Meeting together with others who believe, we pray and find answers to our prayers; we worship through music, share testimony of the Savior, serve one another, and feel the Spirit of the Lord. We partake of the sacrament, receive the blessings of the priesthood, and attend the temple. The Lord declared, “In the ordinances … , the power of godliness is manifest” (D&C 84:20). When you are faced with a test of faith, stay within the safety and security of the household of God. There is always a place for you here. No trial is so large we can’t overcome it together (see Mosiah 18:8–10).  

But what if the tornado that hits is a quarantine? How can we face our trials together and not step away from the church when there is no church? 

In my time in Iowa, I was a member of a lovely tiny little branch.  I had barely gotten started with membership and serving in a new calling when pandemic and quarantine hit and I quickly found myself alone, in the gospel, as my family are not active members.  The branch tried but it was small and I didn't hear from anyone aside from email messages from the stake.  I had no priesthood in the home to help with sacrament, blessings or other needs and at this time none could be offered as church members were not allowed in the home where I was staying, and as an essential worker my ministering priesthood holder's family was not comfortable with me in their home so, I struggled.  Even to keep the Sabbath was a great task as I was caught in the middle of family and faith and I found myself having to make tough choices which at times were very painful and I was filled with all the emotions of despair. 

I felt bad because I couldn't partake of the sacrament.  And Satan used this to try and make me disappointed with my branch for not being more proactive.  But instead of letting that fester, I kicked it out by reading the sacrament prayer to Heavenly Father each week, personally, as if I was participating and praying to Him in a spirit of repentance and gratitude dedicating myself weekly to Him and praying for strength. I also prayed for my little branch, the leadership, and priesthood that they may be strengthened and have the help they need to help others. 

I was then hit with aloneness as my little branch didn't really have a social media gathering, a very small number of us posted to the branch page, but there was not "gathering" on zoom, or even through apps.  We didn't really communicate other than like buttons and a comment here and there.  I tried a couple of times to get something going but it didn't work and so Satan came to tell me I should feel sorry for myself because I was alone and be upset because I had no phone calls to check on me.  But it just wasn't right and I couldn't allow myself to feel that way and instead of letting it fester I quickly extinguished the fire by praying for those who would have served me if they could for they too were in a terrible state.  I chose to pray mightily making it not about me, but about we, and other than small disappointment I was okay and I felt strengthened and even happy.  I found that as I daily immersed myself in scripture study, church history study, and family history I was filled with companionship and I was not alone. 

However, the trial was to continue and even grow in intensity as I felt ostracized by my family members who are no longer of my faith.  It was a most difficult and trying time as it wasn't expected and took me quite off guard.  Sometimes I was picked on with jokes concerning my principles, other times if I mentioned an event or thought I was questioned fiercely concerning church history or doctrine; and at other times I felt raked over the coals for participating or standing for what I believed was true or for what I needed to do.  Satan surely came then blasting my thoughts and feelings of defensiveness, despair, pain, and sorrow.  However, I just couldn't let him have this one, I had to fight and find a way to blend and love my family without leaving behind the principles I hold dear.  After a couple of particularly heated discussions and events, I found myself on my knees praying desperately for help for I was at a complete loss.  I was lead to approach my family asking for forgiveness for my defensiveness, and seclusion and I began to serve them, even on the sabbath, in the best way that I could without disrespecting my principles or theirs.  Things immediately got better and there began mutual respect that allowed us each to continue to worship at home in our different ways without feeling bad.  

But then I felt embarrassed and ashamed.  And believe it or not, it was because of the blog that I write for Come Follow Me.  After leaving and having my church records transferred and accepting a new calling, I was released by default from the position of Gospel Doctrine Teacher and I struggled greatly with feeling as if I had no right to post a blog when it wasn't my assigned task to do so.  Satan came then, in a camouflage, telling me that I might be overstepping my bounds, that I might appear as boasting in myself, or that I might be pushing myself and writings on others when it wasn't my place to do so.  This was a great struggle for me and I wrestled with it for many weeks.  But Heavenly Father reminded me through my heartfelt prayers that I wasn't writing for fame or blog hits, I was writing for Him and it mattered not whether one person read or many read, that preparing the lesson each week, was like going to church.  So each Sunday morning, I prayerfully went to church and wrote the blog, and learned many things and cried, and my heart was filled, and then....I posted it...and prayed that it would help someone else as it had helped me and that I would not be seen as boasting but as a humble student sharing what I had learned so we could all "go to Church" and be connected with the spirit. After this, Many blog hits came, many read and some even commented, liked, and shared and I was greatly humbled for even in quarantine I was able to serve. Then interestingly enough, some weeks later, I had a dream, and in the dream, I was being asked to teach again.  The following week, just as I was preparing to come home, I had a phone call and was asked to teach the zoom Gospel Doctrine Class for my homeward; and I cried....

Though I experienced many things in my stay away from home I must say the grand finale was fear.  COVID 19 is most definitely a scare tactic and a good one, however, at first I was not fearful for I followed the admonition the Prophet and I was careful with masks and distance and cleaning.  I was even blessed with a job where I had little one to one contact with others but for my daughter, it was not so and she and I worried daily of exposure, and then... it came.  I had been in direct contact on more than one occasion and my daughter had indirect contact and suddenly, I was terrified, for both of us.  What if we were positive, what if we had taken this home to our family, and the what if's kept coming and coming and I began to panic.  We started our self-quarantine and qualified for testing and talk about terrifying and traumatic and I am a healthcare worker.  Yet I've never experienced anything like what I did with testing and waiting.  This one really hit me hard, and the fear was almost overwhelming,  with the potential to take me down. I fasted and prayed in a way that I never have before and asked others to pray for us.  Overtime my prayers developed into not just a fasting and prayer to be negative and get results quickly but it was for His will.  I found that He had given me the strength to accept whatever should come, even though I was scared.  I knew he would help me do whatever I had to do and my prayers and fasting grew into not so much for myself but for my daughter and her family that they would be spared.  When our test results came in and read negative I cried like I've never cried before for both of us and I was immensely grateful for such a great blessing. 

These are just a few of the things I experienced in my time away,  they are not grand stories, but they are I think, typical stories of how we are tested and tried in ways that are camouflaged and have the ability to weaken us. 

While away I learned how to rely solely on the Lord, for there was no one else.  I could not receive a blessing or even treatment for my severe recurrent migraines, yet seeking the priesthood from the Lord through fasting and prayer I was healed.  I was spared from sickness, I was spared from harm's way, I was blessed immensely with the things that I needed and even wanted such as acceptance into a nursing program and a huge scholarship to be able to accept.  I found that my sole and complete reliance on Christ himself through the father was a game-changer.  I found strength, I found joy, I found the ability to not panic, to not be needy, to not have to seek the approval of others, but to live solely through and for Him.  I say this because I don't think I had ever solely relied on him in this way for I've always had access to others to lift me up, to care for me, to bless me, to see that my tender feelings were not hurt, to walk me through the many trials of my faith.  But this time, it was just me and Him.

So how do we overcome the trial of our faith in troubled times, what do you do when it's just you and the Lord, and all things are hitting us at once.  We go to church, even when we can't.  We humble ourselves in heartfelt, meaningful prayer, and/or fasting.  We communicate with others of our faith, of our wards and branches, and participate in zoom meetings or other activities given to us for our benefit in survival.  We find a base to hold onto by having meaningful scripture study, and not just a read through, for we are in the times where one cannot stand on the testimony of others, we must have our own to survive particularly in a new world of social distancing and war.

During this time I prayed to Father in Heaven to overcome my feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem, I prayed to overcome the neediness I felt and to be strong in service to others, I had to remember that the Lord wants us to be happy. He doesn’t “play tricks” on us to get us to doubt the gospel.  Choosing to choose the right in a time of turmoil and adversity will make us happy, It made me happy.  It made me humble, it made me grateful, it made me stronger.  It renewed in me the spirit of the Holy Ghost that I had a baptism and I became again even a new woman. 

How do you remain “steadfast and immovable” during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you attend church, even in quarantine and take the sacrament even if/when you can't.  You keep the commandments, and you serve others to the best of your ability.  This is what we need to focus on today, this is our future, for the trials will surely keep coming, and we must overcome that we may be perfected and stand strong. 

I testify to you that God is real, Jesus Christ is His Son, and they love you.  If we remain steadfast in following the admonition of His prophet and remain true to the gospel principles we will have safety, peace, and even joy, regardless of our circumstances. 

 How to Face Trials

Saturday, January 25, 2020

How Does that Work Again??

Sacrament meeting speaking assignment January 27th 2020

I was asked a question two weeks ago, in preparing for this assignment to speak, it was, "How does faith in Jesus Christ give us hope and strength to carry on?" When I was asked this question, my mind immediately flooded with memories of my life, and the miracle that I am still here today. In thinking about this I prayed for the last two weeks about what I should say, what I should focus on and what I should share and this is what came to my mind.

Do you need to know that things will get better? Is there one of you today, reading this that has a great desire or even a desperate need in some way to know, things will get better? Well, the answer is of course, every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better, some of us are just at a different level of need than others.

Jeffery R Holland tells us that "For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. " We just need to know we can get there, that however far away, there is the promise of “good things to come. We all need to know that things will get better, its how we carry on, and this is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of obvious need, so I'd like to tell you a little of why I know this is true.

The first tragic super tragic event that took place in my life, was in Nevada Iowa in April 1988 when my three year old daughter died in a freakish playground accident. I cannot describe to you the pain of that event, for there are not words but what I can tell you is that through this horrific event, strange as it may seem, I gained hope.

I had been a reckless young adult and made many mistakes, I lived in personal turbulent times, some of my own making some of others; but even in those times I never gave up, I kept going to church, I kept repenting, and I kept striving to do my best until one day Satan got the upper hand and I gave up in my heart, That's when the light left, that's when the darkness came and the struggle was near unbearable. It wasn't until the day my daughter died that things began to change. The day she died I had a choice I could stay in the world and be mad at God blaming him for such tragedies and trials, or I could embrace the gospel and gain understanding, hope and strength and press forward. I chose the gospel and began to know Christ. I cried to the Savior day and night for help and in the meantime dedicated myself to repentance and putting all of my faith and hope in Him, then waited for peace to come. Many of my friends and even my husband at the time left me because I chose the gospel, I chose Christ over the world. But I had gained an inner strength in making this choice and I was no longer afraid or helpless, I would not let Satan win so I pressed forward. How did faith in Jesus Christ give me hope and strength to carry on in such a horrible time? Through prayer and study He taught me basic principles of the gospel that gave me a first a testimony of the gospel and repentance, then of life after death and the ordinances of the temple and I knew I didn't have to be afraid and that I would be with my daughter again. Through talking to Him, church attendance, and personal progress, he brought me a measure of peace, that has grown throughout the years. And as I reflect on this event I can't imagine surviving such an trial by making the choice of the world.

I was pregnant when all this happened, and I did not loose my baby but he was born two months early in full respiratory distress with collapsed lungs and a host of other problems. The doctor who had pronounced my daughter told me once again that my child would not live and I should make arrangements. But I was not willing to give up. I had read and studied about the miracles of Christ and I knew that the priesthood was on earth today, I believed in it, it was my only hope; so I chose to call my Bishop. He along with three other elders came and administered to my son. The same way that Christ and His apostles administered to those in need. I was not in the room when this was done but I prayed and I believed. I was told by the doctor and nurses that they had never experienced anything like what they had seen when my son received his blessing. I took him home three weeks later, a true miracle witnessed by believers and non believers alike. How did faith in Jesus Christ give me hope and strength to carry on? He taught me that miracles did not cease when He and the apostles left this world. The priesthood has been restored and mighty things are possible even with just a mustard seed of faith.

In 2009 On August 8 the birthday of my daughter who died, I received a phone call at 130am telling me that my son, the baby who had been saved by the miracle, had been shot. I then received a second call telling me that he had taken the shot himself. At first I thought it was a bad prank but quickly found out it was not and I was in complete horror and shock. My son born and saved after the death of my daughter died on her birthday as a victim of suicide, it was extremely surreal. Again I had two options to take, the way of the world, or Jesus Christ. Would I let Satan win, for this was a hard blow, so much so that I thought I wouldn't live through it. But upon hanging up the phone, I fell to my knees on the kitchen floor and began to pray. I cried out to the Savior in desperation and pleaded for his help. In the coming months and years since every time I felt a wave of panic wash over me I fell to my knees, when things felt surreal and I couldn't breath I fell to my knees, when the nightmares came I kneeled at my bedside, I talked to Jesus Christ more than I talked to anyone living on this earth, For this by far was the hardest thing I would ever face, not only had my daughter died but now my son was a victim of suicide. And these were not the only trials in my life at this time, these were just the monumental things. Turmoil ruled my world and it was a daily struggle to stay afloat. So how did faith in Jesus Christ give me hope and strength to carry on? By prayer, priesthood blessings, and scripture study the Savior taught me that by loosing myself in service the pain would not go away but I would understand it and he would help and guide me through all things that I ever faced.c

Like other people I have suffered a tremendous amount of trial and tribulations both physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and temporally. My life has literally been one tribulation after another, some, like before, caused by me, some by others and some just came out of nowhere. All I know about life is how to call upon Christ and survive. Its funny because when my best friend asked what topic I was assigned to speak on and I told her she said well that's your whole life, you got this one wrapped up. And I had to laugh a little but it was a good laugh, a laugh of love because I do know that I carry on today because of Jesus Christ.

So how does faith in Jesus Christ give us hope and strength to carry on? Elder Jeffery R Holland taught that Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. Christ was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” His career to some seemed a failure, a tragedy, a good man totally overwhelmed by the evils surrounding Him and the misdeeds of others. He was misunderstood or misrepresented, even hated. No matter what He said or did, His statements were twisted, His actions suspected, His motives impugned. In the entire history of the world no one has ever loved so purely or served so selflessly—and been treated so diabolically for His effort. Yet nothing could break His faith in His Father’s plan or His Father’s promises. Even in those darkest hours at Gethsemane and Calvary, He pressed on, continuing to trust in the very God whom He momentarily feared had forsaken Him.

Because Christ’s eyes were unfailingly fixed on the future, He could endure all that was required of Him, suffer as no man can suffer except it be “unto death,” How could He do this? How could He believe it? Because He knows that for the faithful, things will be made right soon enough. He knows that “the Lord … will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. … For the needy shall not alway[s] be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” He knows that “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” He knows that “the Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”

How does faith in Jesus Christ give us hope and strength to carry on? Because he knows us, he knows the things you are pondering in your heart this very moment that are troubling you, that beset you, that trial you. He knows your pain, and if you “Don’t give up, Don’t quit. keep walking. keep trying there is help and happiness ahead. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I testify that these are not just words, these are truths, all you have to do is believe even with the simplest of beliefs and faith and he will come, the help will come. I am living proof that the help does come! I have a journal full of miracles that testify. God Lives brothers and sisters! Jesus Christ is his Son our brother who died to save and succor us.

Some have lovingly told me that I have endured more than anyone should be asked to endure. That may be so sometimes it feels that way but truly, in reality, my story is not tragic but full of miracles, it is full of tender mercies, it is full of being saved, it is full of happiness and gratitude and strength when I thought I could not go on, it is full of the help Jesus Christ gave me and still gives me today. I would not be who I am today had I not lived through it all and came to know Christ. And it was faith in Him that lead the way.

Together God our eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ sustain us in our hour of need and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they do come. and I testify of this truth to you today in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen