Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Inspirations July 27, 2008

(Sorry about the spacing, I can't seem to make the post behave today.)
This was the lesson I gave in my Young Women's class today. I didn't make it to Sunday School, where most of my spiritual epiphanies originate, so I'm taking my inspiration from the messages I delivered in class.
Perspective is a funny thing. It has to be based on truth, not our interpretation of truth. Our own personal perspectives can be skewed by our experiences and the experiences others bring into our lives. These are not based on truth.
I've been thinking a lot about how others perceive the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church). For those who have heard nothing about it, or who have been taught by those who are against it, many of our beliefs may seem really weird, out-there, or nutty. Even in this century there are individuals who are still taught that Mormons have horns, that the men still have plural wives, and other things that simply aren't true.
It can be difficult not to get one's ire up just a little when these sorts of untruthes are spoken, but one of the big things I felt impressed to share with my girls is this: we don't know where others are coming from. We don't know what they've been taught. We don't know what experiences they've had to fashion out their own perceptions on life.
The same can be said for us. Others don't know what we've had to endure, what personal testimony we might hold, and why we are the way we are. Therefore, we must treat others carefully, and with respect concerning their beliefs.
The second big point I felt impressed to share was that God knows so much more than we can ever hope to know. He sees everything from where we lived before we were born, to what we need to accomplish in this life, right down to where we can hope to be in life after death. His knowledge far surpasses ours. He knows what we are capeable of, what we need to learn to make it to where He knows we can be. Sometimes He'll ask us to go through hard times. Ask anyone who has come out of a trial seemingly stronger for the experience, and they'll tell you they've learned things they never could have learned any other way. Our trials are not always punishment for doing something wrong. Sometimes they're there to help us progress.
We all have things set up for us here in this mortal life. One of my biggest paths has been to be a mother. I'm struggling along as best I can, and there are brief, brilliant moments when I can see the hard work bringing forth good fruits. Then, of course, there are days I want to hide in my closet, ear plugs in place, and pretend "Mom" isn't actually a word. I have been given many trials in this life, most of which can't be seen. The lessons I had to learn were in my brain and in my heart, and I've passed - not with flying colors, but enough that my Heavenly Father has placed the second part of my path in this life in front of me.
Tomorrow I go to a school orientation, and hopefully in a few weeks I'll begin college once again. I had no plans to do this, at least, not for several years yet. But my Heavenly Father told me it's time, that there's another work for me to do, and schooling will help me to become the writer He knows I need to be. At times this feels overwhelming. At times this feels beyond exciting. At times I'm humbled. And at times I'm scared. I've never been good at making changes, and this is a huge change.
Before I sign off, I want to express how important it is to keep an eternal perspective in our daily doings. We need to remember who we are: precious children of our Heavenly Father, who gave us an opportunity to learn and grow and choose this mortal life in the pre-existence. We need to remember why we're here: to continue learning and growing and making a daily, even hourly choice to keep along the Lord's path. We also need to remember where we're going, and what we can become: even like unto our Father, forever connected to our families. This knowledge has brought me through many a hard time.
It is so important to make sure our perceptions, of anything, are based in truth. We can guess at what something is or what it means, but then we need to take the matter to the Lord in prayer and ask if what we think or feel is truth. Be ready for the answer, whatever it may be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Rough Morning of Learning the Hard Lessons

I had all sorts of fun things planned with the kids this morning. They involved good times like the library and free samples at Costco. Then, as will happen from time to time, all of it had to be cancelled because of one bad choice.

Before I get too far into the story I should explain that Grandma Glenda has a little hair salon attached to the back of her house, and two of her grandsons live there. While M was getting her hair cut yesterday my boys were allowed to play in the rooms of the grandsons, who are several years older. All seemed well...until this morning.

J came in and slyly pointed something out to B, who gave him a conspiratorial look. My SuperMom sense of danger immediately went off. J and I immediately started playing, "Tell Me What's In Your Pocket - No I Don't Want to Get In Trouble." Know that game?

In my head I was expecting a forbidden piece of candy or something belonging to their older sister. Imagine my surprise when he pulled out a pocket knife. My mind went immediately to the day before and his chattering about how cool it is ______ got to have a pocket knife.

"Where did you get that?" I asked.

"At the park," J said.

"Are you sure it isn't ____'s?" I asked.

"No Mom, it isn't," he said.

So I pulled out the super-sneaky-get-results-quick card. "So if we went over to _____'s house right now and I showed him this pocket knife he wouldn't say it was his?"

Oh the tears, the blaming on little brother, the finding out a Batman toy had also made it's way into our house. We immediately packed everyone into the car and took the two minute drive back to the scene of the crime. By this time I could see the thought of fessing up to the person he stole from had J really scared.

We knocked on the door, handed over the pilfered items, apologized, and headed back out. By this time J was almost hysterical. He grasped my hand tightly with both of his and I knew I needed to stop and talk before we even got to the car.

I asked him how he felt right then. "Really bad," he whispered. So the two of us talked about not making a bad choice even if your brother or best friend is telling you to. We talked about not stealing, and not lying to me about it. We talked about remembering how he felt at that moment, and that if he ever feels tempted to steal again that he should remember how he felt at that moment and decide if he wants to feel like that again. Hopefully B listened hard enough and learned a few lessons himself.

They've just spent an hour in their room, and won't be allowed any privileges today. We'll see how long this lesson lasts. Hopefully it's one that will stick.

A Rough Morning of Learning the Hard Lessons

When we got M's hair cut yesterday my boys were allowed to roam the house. This has never been a problem before. The two boys who live there are a bit older, but haven't had a problem with my kids playing with their stuff. None of us had any reason to think there might be a problem.

This morning J came out and slyly showed something to B. Not taking the item out of his pocket sent warning signals up to my brain. I asked his what he had. J got the smile he gets when he's being "tricky," and we played a game of, "Tell Me What You've Got That You're Not Supposed to Have." I was fairly certain it would turn out to be some type of food, or something belonging to his big sister. Imagine my surprise when he finally pulled out a a pocket knife.

As he was going through some of the toys yesterday he found said item. Things happened, brother's dared each other, and the next morning they were confessing what the other had done. Soon I was looking not only at a pocket knife, but a Batman toy as well.

To say the least I was vastly disappointed. We quickly packed everyone into the car and headed back to the scene of the crime. J began to cry heavily at the thought of admitting what he had done, and giving the stolen item back. He hated the thought of what this young man, whom my son respects immensely, would say.

It wasn't easy to watch the process. While B simply handed the Batman back and said a quiet, "Sorry," J was in absolute tears. He felt so bad. I knew from the way he was crying his chest probably hurt, he was struggling to breathe, and he felt the entire thing down in the depths of his little heart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Did Exactly What I Threatened

Earlier this year my oldest decided she wanted to try and grow her hair out to donate, like her mama. I told her one thing, "You take care of it yourself or we chop it off."

"I promise, Mom, I promise," says she. Night after night she'd carefully wash and condition her hair, even taking the spray on conditioner just to be certain. Then she'd come innocently into me so I could brush out the tangles and braid it.

"All right," I thought. "At least she's making an effort."

Then school got out. No longer did she take her nightly bath. No more did she come into me to comb out tangles and put it up in braids. She'd brush the top down so things looked relatively normal at first glance. It wasn't until I tried running my fingers through her hair that I almost lost them in the mass of giant knots that had formed underneath. Was she building a nest for birds? Was the effort of getting the hair next to her neck so tremendous her arms lost their strength too soon? I don't know. I just know it was starting to get old.

I finally made good on my promise. Okay so it wasn't a completel chop, but Grandma Glenda did cut off a good six inches! I've recorded a before and after picture. The nice thing is, with that face, just about any haircut looks awesome.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Inspirations July 20, 2008

What kind of missionary are you?

I had a bit of personal revelation today as I taught my Young Women (girls 12-18) a lesson on learning to share the gospel. We live in a time when the possibilities of how we share the gospel are as endless as our imaginations.

Russell M. Ballard, a latter-day apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church), had an article published in the Church's magazine, the Ensign, that talks about sharing the gospel online. My mother spoke about it being a good talk, but that the idea didn't really interest her. I, however, gobbled the article up. I felt it to the center of my being. I knew, more than ever before, the internet was my opportunity to be a missionary.

I'm painfully shy in person. Those who have known me since high school days have seen me in a more forward light, as I'm much more myself around those I know well. The thing is, I don't know a lot of people really well. I've become much more extroverted as I've advanced in years, but I'm still very particular as to who gets to see the "real" me.

Because of this trait, sharing my testimony with anyone and everyone has always been a difficult thing to do. My testimony is very personal, something I received when I was 17. Though I'm happy to relate it to those who are members of the Latter-day Saint Church, sharing it with those who aren't feels like putting my child in front of a firing squad. I'm worried what I hold dear and precious will be shot down.

This was one of the big focuses in my lesson today: how do we overcome our fears, our insecurities, our lack of knowledge and share the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in the latter days? How do we bring our spirit brothers and sisters back to a knowledge of who they are, of why they're here on earth, and what they can one day become?

It seems like a "duh" suggestion for those who've heard this most of their lives, but first and foremost we fast and pray. These supposedly simple acts open us up to personal revelation and brings the Holy Spirit in to our hearts. We need to be specific in our prayers. What do you want to see happen, both for yourself and the person you hope to make contact with?

Next, we wait. We practice faith and patience. We look for opportunities to open up before us. We don't give up if our first attempts fail. As I spoke on this I was immediately reminded of the children of Lehi, found in the Book of Mormon - another testament of Jesus Christ. There were four sons as the history begin: Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam. Laman and Lemuel were quick to give up when things got tough. Nephi and Sam were not. If Nephi hadn't practiced both faith and patience, he would never have received the "Brass Plates," or the ancient record of the Jews from Adam on down. His family would have quickly fallen into apostacy. He didn't give up.

We may have a hope and a wish for light be brought into the lives of a loved one. We may try once or even twice to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, but it may be rejected. Just remember, sometimes it takes years for people to recognize the truth. Practice patience. Keep yourself open to every spiritual prompting. Be faithful in your attempts.

When Mitt Romney began his race for president, he must have known, as did our Heavenly Father, what focus would be brought to the "Mormons." Suddenly websites popped up all over the internet, some good, some bad. I had an extraordinary opportunity to be part of one of the good ones. LDS Blogs is not offiliated with the Church officially, but it's a way for Church members to share their testimonies, their insights, and a far more realistic view of what this gospel is all about. It was our chance to begin some missionary work. Those of us who began writing discovered from our blog manager that when someone does a search engine on "Mormons," they find countless numbers of anti-mormon sites. There is a huge effort to change this. If you look at the top of the site, there are links to other helpful sites.

We've learned to put links in all of our posts to help those who may not know what things like latter-day apostles, the Pearl of Great Price, and High Priests are. This is one of the reasons you see me clarifying or placing links to certain things in my posts.

I began this blog with the inspiration to have the word "Mormon" in the name. I knew it's what Heavenly Father wanted, and that it was yet another chance to share my testimony with those who might chance upon this site. I cannot be afraid of any one person's comments or hurtful words, which I've not had to deal with as of yet, thank goodness. It is more important for me to focus on possibly influencing just one person to think kindly on this Church.

We also need to study the gospel. You can't teach about things you don't know. Don't be afraid to tell someone who's asking a question if you don't know the answer. Guide them on to the official Church website, look things up with them, or ask for a little time to look up the answer yourself. Take some time to study the basics of this Church. Think of D&C 11:21 which reads, "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men." If you want to be able to teach others about Joseph Smith, you need to study his words and about his life. As you study the Lord will grant you His Holy Spirit and through this you will be able to bear your testimony in such a way it will work towards the convincing of others.

This post is getting longer and longer, and I feel as though I haven't said half of what is in my heart. One last thing I wish to impart is this: we can all be missionaries in our own ways. Some of us write beautiful poetry, or compose incredible music, or write inspiring stories and sermons. Some of us work hard, show extraordinary strength in the face of hardship, serve without asking for recompense or recognition. Some of us provide needed money, have a gift in teaching others, easily make friends out of strangers, set an exemplary example. Some of us are natural righteous leaders, fearless when it comes to calling others to repentence, or provide a listening ear to those who feel utterly alone.

We all have our own ways of being a missionary. We all have unique gifts when it comes to sharing the gospel.

What kind of missionary are you?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Quick One: ABC's of Summer Fun

LDS Living Magazine just sent out a newsletter with this link, and I instantly became addicted. With four kids at home during the summer I'm always looking for ways to entertain them all. I'm looking, but I don't always follow through ;)

There are a lot of fun ideas in this article however. Some I might even try!

Take a look: The ABC's of Summer Fun

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Journaling and Family History

Ask anyone near and dear to me and you'll be told, "She's doesn't do genealogy." It's certainly not because I don't think it's valuable. I fully recognize the vast need to tie our family lines as far up as they can possibly go. There is this niggling part of me that's also extremely jealous of those to whom digging up ancient family members seems to come as naturally as breathing.

I am simply not one of these people.

I do, however, have a great love for discovering the story behind the names and dates. Before you start cyber-yelling at me, I am fully aware this is another important part of genealogy. It's just not the first thing I think of when the word is mentioned.

Whether we've thought about it or not, we are the ancestors to be of some budding genealogist down the family line. More than ever before we have untold resources to help us in the effort of providing an accurate picture of who we are. I have found one of the coolest resources in an online site called

I saw an ad for the site on the way down to one of my in-laws. The name jumped out at me in such a way I knew I needed to write it down. My darling hubby was deep into reading a book at the time so I nonchalantly reached down to grab a pen and scribbled the name on the back of my hand. Having done this before I figured it would be washed off before the end of the night and all thoughts on seeing what the site was all about would vanish with the inky lettering. This time it didn't happen.

For those of you who aren't members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church, don't turn away just because this was put together by Church members. If you are an enthusiast of putting together a personal history, this is still a great site to join.

Some of the features I've explored so far:
  1. They have preset questions you can click and comment on in many different areas such as: "All about me," "Education," "The world around me," "Spiritual," "Family," and others. If any of these questions don't apply to you, just skip them.
  2. You can go back in and change or add to the answers any time you want.
  3. You can put in regular journaling posts, which are then saved by date, title, and will give you a little snippet of the beginning of the post in case you want to revisit one.
  4. If you forget to journal for a week or so, they'll send out an e-mail reminder to start up again.
  5. One of the coolest things...when you feel you're ready, you can actually pay to print your journal into a book.
  6. Best of all, keeping this online journal is free!
They have recently added a footnotes section, but I have yet to explore it. So, for anyone who loves to journal, or who wants to add to their family history, or is looking to start either one, this is a fantastic place to go.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Downtown Salt Lake City

Hubby and I took the kids to the (Mormon) Church History Library for family home evening last night. We have to hold FHE on Sundays since during the school year he works his second job, and we keep the tradition going even when he's home in the summertime.

This was the first time we'd taken all the kids together, and it was a blast. The kids had loads of fun looking at all the "really old stuff!"

While there I took a few minutes to photograph the Salt Lake Temple. A friend of mine wants a picture in black and white. Though I am by no means to be considered a photographer, every once in a while I really believe the Lord grants me the chance to capture something special. In any case, here are a few of my favorites.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Inspirations July 13, 2008

"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that
the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall
prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he
them." 1 Nephi 3:7

This scripture can be found in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I've heard this scripture and studied the meaning behind this scripture many times over the course of my life. Yet something hit me especially hard today.

We were discussing obedience in Relief Society (Mormon Church organization for women 18 and over). In particular our teacher focused on why it is we tend to rationalize our way out of doing the things the Lord commands, especially in these latter days.

We have been blessed with a prophet to help guide and lead us. We have been blessed with apostles, quorums of seventy, stake presidents and leaders, bishops and local ward leaders. We have been granted so much in the way of leadership so that we might not be easily led astray. These men and women who lead us have been called of God, yet we too often groan and complain the moment we're reminded of what we should be doing. Instead we tend to focus on what how we think things should get done.

This is not the Lord's way. He knows so much more than you or I. He knows what needs to be done and how it should be done, and has placed specific men and women in positions to help us keep to the straight and narrow. But we have to make the choice to obey.

The Prophet Joseph Smith has taught:

If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and the children of Israel, and all God's people
were saved by keeping the commandments of God, we, if saved at all, shall be
saved upon the same principle. As God governed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as
families, and the children of Israel as a nation; so we, as a Church, must
be under His guidance if we are prospered, preserved and sustained. Our only
confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from Him; and He alone
must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall.

We have been chastened by the hand of God heretofore for not obeying His
commands...we have treated lightly His commands, and departed from His
ordinances, and the Lord has chastened us sore, and we have felt His arm and
kissed the rod; let us be wise in time to come and ever remember that "to
obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22).

This quote was taken from History of the Church, 5:65. Our discussion turned to the prophets of old. What would have happened if Abraham hadn't directly obeyed the Lord when it came to sacrificing his son? How would Isaac's life have been different if he'd married someone not of the Lord's Church? What would have happened to the children of Israel had Moses allowed his insecurities keep him from doing as the Lord commanded?

What of us? We have been told for years to put together a home and food storage. I'll raise my hand and say I wasn't one of the first to follow this warning. Of course at the time I was still a teenager living with my parents. Even when I left for a whole year of schooling, or came back home, or got married and moved into my own home, I still thought to myself, "It's all good. The Lord would never let me suffer, even if I think I need to buy other things more."

Years later and I'm kicking myself in the pants for not obeying. I could have learned how to garden, to can what we could not eat, to have found room in our little house that's long been filled up with clutter. I could have been so much more prepared, rather than frantically trying to put everything together when gas prices are making the cost of living more unbearable than ever before. To those who obeyed when the command was first sent out, I deeply respect your obeying nature.

For those, like me, who have to get hit on the head a few times over before the message sinks in, let's learn from our mistakes of the past. Let's do our best to become great men such as Abraham, Enoch, Adam, and Paul: to go and do what the Lord commands. It is time we recognize the truth of Nephi's words, place our faith in moving past our initial excuses, and come to the knowledge that whatever He asks, He will prepare a way for us to make it happen.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Children of God - Anything But Ordinary

I felt strongly impressed to write a few lines this morning. I've heard from many different people in the last few days how lost they're feeling, how hard it's been to fulfill even the most basic of callings, and how they wish they could simply live their lives under the radar.

In short, they desperately want to be ordinary.

The problem is, we are anything but ordinary.

We are children of God. In this one, simple sentence, we are told life will never be completely easy. Whether we're doing our best to raise our children in a world of frightening things, have been given spiritual gifts that set us too far apart from the rest of our family and friends, or find ourselves fighting debilitating illnesses we have no control over, all of these things and so much more set us apart from everyone else in the world. We have been given unique gifts, and personal strengths and weaknesses, so that we might learn and grow and help in furthering the work of the Lord in our lifetime.

There is a spiritual awakening happening throughout this world. For anyone who believes in God, look for the signs. Strengthen yourselves through church attendance, scripture study, and prayer. This is doubly important as with the increase of good things, Satan will be at the ready to counteract with evil. One of his greatest tools has always been to create within us the desire to live our lives under the radar.

I believe as the next few years go by, we will begin to see more of the same miracles and spiritual gifts as we're told of in Biblical days. Satan will be ready to make us believe these are works of darkness, that they simply don't happen any more. God, however, is unchanging. If He blessed those in the days of Abraham, of Daniel, of Joseph, and of John with gifts like prophecy, seeing angels, healing and ministering, He will certainly do so in these the Last Days.

We are children of God. We were born to be anything but ordinary.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pics of a Few of My Roses

My absolute favorite flower in the world is the rose, and the more unusual the color, the better. So I thought I'd share a few pictures of my own roses with you. The first isn't that unusual. In fact it's the least favorite of all my roses, mainly because the moment the buds open the petals fall off. But it's still a very pretty color.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Angel on Earth

I had amazing writing plans this week. I was going to post all I needed for teens on I was going to share with you oodles of way-cool spiritual insights I'd gained on Sunday. I was going to keep going in both my scriptural journal and my regular journal.

Then my world kinda skewed.

It's nothing tragic, unless you're me. About 2 1/2 years ago the most remarkable woman I've ever met moved in right across the street. I was doubly excited because her older boy was just the same age as my older boy.

Natalie has been like a balm to my soul. At the time she moved in I was feeling extremely low due to another friend having moved away. I don't make friends easily. I'm not talking about being socially acquainted with someone, nor about really liking someone you talk with once or twice a week. I'm talking about meeting with someone who opens up her entire heart to you, and finding your own hesitant heart welcoming such a warm spirit. I had been so lonely even my sweet parents had been praying for someone just like her to come into my life.

I don't easily hand my children over to someone else, even if it's just for a play date. Yet I never had to worry about them going over to Natalie's house. I knew they'd be well taken care of, and well loved. She had a most remarkably giving heart, rarely asking for anything in return. Though she was not active in our church, she never made me feel awkward about sharing my love of the gospel and my involvement in it. Though I outweigh her by a good 100 pounds, and she's infinitely more beautiful than I am, I never felt it. She mothered me and loved me so thoroughly I might have been another one of her sisters.

Throughout the last three or four months, Natalie's been trying to prepare me for this day. I knew it was coming, but I still wasn't prepared for the rush of emotion that overtook me when she uttered the words, "We've sold our house."

I cried hard for a half hour after we hung up our phones. I burst into intermittant sobs for an hour after that. My poor children and sweet husband kept giving me hugs to let me know they understood I was feeling sad. I even had to go to the dentist with this hanging over my head.

I've been trying really hard to be supportive, but worry I've been coming off cold. I don't want her to feel bad that she's moving away as I can see how much it hurts whenever my older boy's face tears up every time it's been mentioned. This is such a wonderful opportunity for their family, and with as quickly as it came about I know it was supposed to happen. Unfortunately it doesn't make the intense ache in my heart any easier to bear.

This post today is dedicated to anyone out there who has a friend like this, but especially to anyone out there who is a friend like this. Most of all I dedicate this to an angel on this earth who my Heavenly Father knew would heal my lonely heart.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Inspirations July 6, 2008

As part of my prayers last night, and continuing on through my fast today, I asked that Heavenly Father inspire me with something He wanted said. Little did I realize my mind and spirit would be inundated with amazing messages, all of which cannot be given a proper place in one, jam-packed post. So I thought during the course of the week I'd share a bit of what I've learned in this one day.

The main inspiration I received today regarded the keys to successful missionary work. The well-known (among members of the Mormon Church) story of Ammon from the Book of Mormon was brought up in Sunday School.

Ammon and his brothers were the sons of a Nephite King. The Nephites were God's people who lived in the Americas starting 600 years before Christ was born. The king, Mosiah, asked his sons who should be king after his death? All of these young men declined the offer, wishing instead to go and serve as missionaries to the Lamanites. The Lamanites were those who were either led to hate the Nephites because of the traditions of their fathers, or who had openly rebelled against God's Church.

Mosiah feared for his sons' lives, but was reassured by the Lord that they would be kept safe as they performed His work.

Ammon came to the land called Ishmael that was ruled by a man called Lamoni. Ammon was bound and brought before the king, who asked why he had come to this land where he was hated. Ammon surprised Lamoni by saying his wish was to serve the king. Lamoni was pleased by this and set him up with other servants to guard the flocks.

A local band of Lamanites took immense pleasure in scattering the flocks of the king. The servants were far outnumbered and had no way of keeping this from happening. On the third day of Ammon's service to the king the flocks were once again scattered. The other servants began to murmur. They knew the king would have their lives, as it had happened to other servants before them.

Ammon immediately saw where he could use this experience to help open the door to missionary work. He calmed the servants down saying together they would regather the flocks. The servants obeyed, and soon enough they'd accomplished this task. Once again the band of Lamanites came to scatter the flocks. Ammon charged the servants to surround the flocks, and he stepped up to deal with these awful men.

Try to imagine the sight of one, lone, unknown individual going up against a throng of evildoers. They had no idea the Lord had promised Ammon's father no harm would come to this son, nor did they realize what power was granted to Ammon because of his righteous desires.

Ammon began to fling stones with his sling. The Lamanites were astounded as man after man fell, six in all. They rushed at him with their own slings and clubs, but none could touch him. Any one who raised a hand against him had his arm cut off. The only man to die by the sword, however, was the leader of the pack. The other men began to flee from this frightening sight.

Once the Lamanites left, Ammon placed his sword and sling away, continued to water the flocks, and returned to the king's household. The servants, no doubt shocked and amazed by all they had seen, followed his lead. But upon returning to the household they gathered up many of the arms that had been cut off so that they might use them as a witness of what had just happened.

Needless to say King Lamoni was astonished. He asked where Ammon was, to which the servants told him he was preparing the horses for the King's journey into his father's land, which had been commanded of them even before they left to water the flocks.

Lamoni's words beautifully show his surprise. "Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them" (Alma 18:10). Lamoni sent for Ammon, and then the missionary work began.

From Ammon we can learn some keys to being a successful missionary.

First, is to study, pray and fast (Alma 17:2-3). You can't teach what you don't know. You need to pray about the things you read to know if they are truth, and you should fast to keep yourselves in better tune with the Spirit of the Lord.

Second, you need to love God and others. I think loving God comes first. It was because of their love for God that the sons of Mosiah wanted to go out and preach His word, to turn the hearts of those who didn't know better towards the light. As you explore and enlarge that love for God, you might be surprised to find your capacity to love those who may hate you growing by leaps and bounds.

Third, we need to give service and develop trust. Why is giving service so important? It is a remarkable teaching tool. Think of the Savior, who led a life of service. Only the most humble willingly set aside their own pride and serve others. Those who voluntarily give of their time, efforts, talents, and means instill in others the desire to trust. Ammon's first act as a captive of Lamoni was to offer his service. He saved the king's flocks. He could have gone strutting back in to the king, all full of himself, and demanded that Lamoni now listen to him. He could have caused much fear in the hearts of those who didn't understand. Instead, he quietly went on with the work he'd been commanded to do.

Fourth, we need to teach from the scriptures. Once King Lamoni trusted Ammon, he allowed this great man to teach the word of God. Doors were opened. Lessons were taught. An entire city was converted to the Lord's Church. It was truly a miracle.

One last thing. We can be the greatest orator in the world, teaching and preaching whatever may come into our hearts, but it won't mean a thing unless we have the Holy Spirit with us. If we are not worthy to have his presence with us, if we are teaching things that go against the Lord's ways, the Holy Spirit cannot reside. It is the Holy Spirit that testifies to our hearts, and then the teaching truly begins.

To be the most effective teachers, or missionaries, we have to have that Spirit with us.
If you'd like to read the story of Ammon, go to Alma 17.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

That's Right - It's an Embarrassing Laurie Moment

Typically when someone puts up a question saying, "What's your most embarrassing moment?" I struggle. It's not because I'm so amazingly self-aware that I never do anything to embarrass myself. In fact I'm quite happy to make a bit of a fool of myself. Of course I wasn't always so.

I've always been a people pleaser. I'm more apt to say what someone wants to hear rather than what I'm really thinking. This is one of those moments.

I was about 16 or 17. My Sunday School teacher was named Jon Schmidt. He's a fantastic redhead (redundant? tee hee), who has made quite a name for himself with all his piano doings. I find him quite remarkable. Of course it has so much more to do with the man (and his amazing wife) who helped mold my spiritual outlook on life during those awkward years.

One particular evening his wife was out of town. My best friend and I took him some spaghetti dinner, because, naturally, there was no way he could take care of himself and it became our self-inflicted duty to provide him with sustenance. After providing him with dinner I realized we forgot dessert. I know. And that's not even the embarrassing part!

Upon arriving to his downstairs apartment I found a note saying he and a friend had gone over to our church building to practice the piano. I found him and this totally cute guy named Paul Cardall playing a bit of music. Jon invited me to stay for a moment and listen. I've always been fantastically moved by music in so many forms and wholeheartedly agreed to stay (it didn't hurt that I got to sit and stare at the cute guy a while, too). Paul played a self-written variation on a song originally written by a man whose name eludes me, a song I was very familiar with and dearly loved.

After Paul was finished Jon asked me which version I liked better. I could see it in both their eyes: they wanted me to say Paul's version. I was flustered. I was scared of saying something stupid. I blurted out, "I like your version better." Then I felt like a fool. Why?

Well, first was the sly look the two men had, a look that screamed, "I think she's crushin' on you, man!" I began to blush furiously at the thought (and blushing really clashes with my hair!). My second thought was how I so wished I'd told them exactly how I really felt.

I'd wanted to say I loved the original, as it had captured my heart long ago. I also really like Paul's version as it brought something new to the picture and evoked so many emotions in something I already enjoyed. That's what I wanted to say.

Instead I came out sounding like a dumbstruck, moony teenager who couldn't get past a cute face and nimble fingers. Grrr. The day a time machine is officially on the market I'm heading back to that day and saying exactly what I thought!