Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Need Not Fear

Seems like the world is getting scarier by the day. Where we live the bottom has fallen out for those in the construction industry. No new building permits were issued for the entire month of June in my county. Not one. That's never happened. People in the construction field are scrambling. Home sales have plummeted. People are over-extended and living on credit cards. We are still engaged in a war. Fuel costs are out of control and affecting the cost of living, especially where I live because everything has to be trucked in to us.

Without the gospel, I'd be tempted to panic. But, the fact is, Heavenly Father is well aware of the state of our society. Things are bad, but what about during the time of Noah, things were pretty bad then. Those who listened to Noah, the prophet, were protected and saved. What about Sodom and Gomorrah? I'd have to say things were bad there, but again the Lord protected those who would listen.

Today we have a prophet of God. We need to listen to him. We need to heed his counsel. We need to follow the commandments. There is safety in obedience.

When we put our trust and faith in the Lord, he will bless us. We need not fear.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm a Kangaroo

I've decided that I should move to Australia because I must be a kangaroo. Why else would I have this belly pouch?

Up until baby #9 I could lose the weight I gained during pregnancy. In fact, after baby #8, I attended my high school reunion weighing 15 pounds less than when I was in high school. For some reason, though, #9 did me in. I even lost all the weight from #10 (which was on top of the weight from #9).

I exercise every day. I can't go to the gym, so I work out to videos or DVDs. My favorite is The Firm. I especially love the Time Crunch Workout because I can better fit it into my day and it works me pretty hard. I've always exercised or played sports and I continue do so now because it makes me feel better. I just wish I could see the efforts of it more easily, or at all.

So it seems that no matter how hard I work out or how much I limit what I eat (I don't eat chocolate or ice cream everyday--I wish I could), it seems as though I'm destined to keep this pouch. So . . . I must be a kangaroo.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

The 4th Article of Faith states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

The most basic, fundamental belief we have is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is what motivates us to do what we do. Faith is what changes us and transforms us.

When I was a young girl, I did not have religion in my life, Yet, I had this simple faith that God was real and he heard my prayers. After my mother died, I used to plead in my prayers that my grandparents would live for a long time so I wouldn’t be left again. Both of my grandparents lived to their mid-late eighties and died long after I was married with my own family. I remember just feeling that if I prayed about something Heavenly Father would hear me.

Over the years, my faith has been tested. One of my daughters was born with an infection. The doctors thought it was meningitis which, at her age, would’ve been fatal. I prayed and prayed for her and it seemed as though whatever I prayed for wasn’t answered. In fact, it seemed like the opposite occurred. I remember feeling completely broken, thinking that for some reason Heavenly Father wasn’t answering my prayers. Yet, at the moment when I most needed a confirmation of my faith, I received it. From this experience I learned I must trust in Heavenly Father and that he knows more than I do. In the end, my daughter was fine and has suffered no ill effects from her infection, but the refining of the experience strengthened my faith and taught me that, sometimes, we do have to have our faith tested.

In order for our faith to grow we must feed it. One of my favorite Primary songs is Faith. In this song we sing about how faith is like a seed. Faith is often compared to a mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds. Yet, when it’s properly fed and nourished it grows into an enormous plant.

We must continually feed and nourish our faith. We do this by attending our meetings, serving in our callings, magnifying those callings, saying our prayers, attending the temple, and doing all in our power to keep the commandments that we understand. Each time we pay our tithing we are exhibiting our faith and it is growing. Every time we do our visiting teaching or home teaching we are showing our faith and allowing it to grow. Sometimes, our faith grows most when our prayers are not answered the way we want them to be answered.

My niece lost her mother, my sister-in-law, to cancer last year. Of course, we all prayed that her mother would be healed, but that didn’t happen. Not long ago, this niece bore such a sweet and strong testimony and I marveled at her incredible faith to endure such a trial.

Faith is the foremost principle of the gospel. When we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, everything else will fall into place.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Three Degrees of Glory

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (3rd Article of Faith).

When the Savior was crucified, he made it possible for all of us to be resurrected. He gave his life freely and as such all those who have ever lived on the earth will be resurrected, just as he was. As everyone will die, so will everyone be raised from the dead, reunited with their physical tabernacles, and become immortal. This is a free gift to all.

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 we learn of the different degrees of glory in which we will reside after the resurrection and judgment. We will be judged by our works in mortality. True, it is only through grace that we are saved, we cannot save ourselves, but we will also give an accounting of our lives. Choices that we’ve made in mortality will determine where we will spend eternity. “For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:111).

In the telestial, or lowest degree, those who chose to lie, commit adultery, or other abominations will spend eternity. The telestial kingdom will have some glory and is compared to the glory of the stars. Those who chose not to receive the gospel or a testimony of Jesus will reside in this kingdom. “These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world . . .” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:86).

The terrestrial kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon. Those who will reside in this kingdom died without law, accepted the gospel after death but did not receive a testimony while in the flesh. “These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). Those who will inherit the terrestrial kingdom were not valiant in their testimony of Jesus.

The celestial kingdom, compared to the glory of the sun, is for those “whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:68). This is where Heavenly Father dwells and where those who make and honor covenants will reside. The celestial kingdom itself is divided into three degrees, with the highest degree allowing family relationships.

We believe that family relationships do not cease after death. We believe that we can be sealed to our families in the temple and then enjoy an eternal relationship with them. While we know of the other kingdoms, it is the celestial kingdom that we strive to attain so that we can spend eternity with our spouses and families.

The Savior made it possible for all of us to be redeemed and to return to Heavenly Father, but we must choose what this means to us. Yes, we will all be resurrected and we will all be saved, but to what kingdom is up to each of us. As we live our lives and make choices, we will be making eternal choices.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Defining LDS Fiction

Seems to be a controversy brewing. A book advertised as LDS fiction appears to be anything but.

Does LDS fiction communicate something specific? I think it does. I believe that authors who write for the LDS market have a responsibility to uphold LDS standards. If authors don't want to adhere to LDS standards they should write for a different market. It's unfair to market a book to the LDS community when that book twists gospel principles and it's overall message is to turn to Satan instead of the Savior.

No one is forcing people to write for the LDS market. It's a small niche market and no one will ever become wealthy writing for it. But, it deserves respect and if authors don't want to respect LDS values, write for a different market.

I rarely buy or read books for the national market because I've been disappointed too many times in the language or themes even for middle grade fiction. I buy and read LDS fiction because I expect it to uphold my standrads. I do not expect to be assaulted by profane language (especially using the Lord's name in such a disrespectful manner), or read graphic scenes, or read the glorification of immoral and unrighteous behavior. I have certain expectations when I purchase an LDS book. I expect to be able to hand it to my daughter, without reading it first, and not have to worry it will contain inappropraite material.

I will also read books by LDS author for the national market if I know I can trust the authors to write a clean book. I just don't have enough time to waste on books that I won't like.

I'm certainly not going to dictate to others what to write, but if they want to write for the LDS market I believe they commit to writing a story that upholds LDS stndards.

I think it's flat out wrong to advertise a book as LDS fiction when that book isn't. What do you think?

You might want to check out the discussion on this topic over at LDS Publisher.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Youth Conference Testimonies

I’m going to detour today from writing about our basic beliefs in the LDS Church because I wanted to share an experience I had over the weekend.
I am currently serving in the Young Women’s organization in my ward and decided I wanted to attend the 4 Stake youth conference this last Friday and Saturday. Though I could only attend a portion because of babysitter issues, I am very thankful I was able to participate.

The conference was held on the old campus of a local college, nestled in the trees and surrounded by the mountains. It’s a beautiful place that’s used for these kinds of events. When I arrived, the youth were involved in different games, including a few water fights. After the games, they all participated in a square dance. It was fun to watch them dance in groups and try to keep up with the steps.
After the dancing, we all had a barbecue and visited for a bit before we started the testimony meeting.

I often shudder at the evil that exists in the world today. It seems as though today’s youth don’t stand a chance against Satan’s subtle, yet powerful, influence. As I sat listening to these testimonies, I was blown away by the strength and the power of these young people.

Young men and women bore amazing testimonies as tears fell down their cheeks. A common theme with these testimonies was missionary work. One young man shared his conversion story. He said one day two young men came to his house and he let them in and pretended to listen to them. At the time he thought they were Catholic missionaries. When they asked to return he agreed, though he wasn’t sure why. When the missionaries returned he decided to listen to them and it changed his life. He found the gospel. He was so grateful for the two young men who didn’t give up on him.

Another visibly emotional young man talked about his oldest brother who served a mission and when he returned handed his name tag to the next oldest brother. When that brother returned from his mission, he handed the name tag to this young man. He said he will serve a mission and when he returns, he’ll hand it to his father who’s never served a mission and ask his dad to plan to serve. Wow—what a powerful testimony to his father.

A young man from South America asked a sister in attendance who was also from South America to translate his testimony in English. After he concluded, she took a few minutes to testify about missionary work. Missionaries found her parents 58 years ago. She bore a strong testimony of how those missionaries have changed so many lives. She also warned the young men to stay away from anything that might prevent them from serving a mission because someone was out there waiting just for them to bring the gospel message. She also counseled the young women to encourage the young men to serve and to never prevent the young men from serving.

Several youth bore testimonies and spoke about how someone in their school class invited them to come to church and taught them about the gospel. It was wonderful to hear about so many youth sharing their testimonies with their classmates and moving the work forward. I marvel at their courage.

I was so impressed by this testimony meeting. The Spirit was so strong and I was touched by how many kids were converts. Despite Satan, people are proclaiming the gospel. It will go forward.

We have the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have something that everyone needs and we must share it. We must prepare our children to share the gospel. We must open our mouths and shout to the world what a wonderful and blessed thing it is to have the gospel. If these kids can do it, so can I.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Free To Choose

“We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” 2nd Article of Faith

A basic belief of the LDS church is that we are all responsible and accountable for our own individual actions and choices, not for anyone else’s. The Savior’s plan that was presented to us in the pre-existence hinged on allowing us to make our own choices. While Satan wanted to compel us to keep the commandments, Jesus wanted us to choose to follow the commandments of our own free will. We are free to determine our own destinies. David O. McKay said, “Next to the bestowal of life, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man.” Of course, with that free agency also comes consequences.

One of my favorite lines in Gone with the Wind is when Rhett and Scarlett are visiting shortly after Frank Kennedy’s death and Scarlett says she’s so sorry for what she’s done, that Frank was Sue Ellen’s beau and that she should never have married him. Rhett replies that she’s just like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he’s done something wrong, only that he’s been caught.

Our society is all about evading consequences. We continue to develop vaccines to protect against sexually transmitted diseases so that people don’t have to be chaste. We support school programs that teach our kids to be “safe” when it comes to sexual behavior so that they can avoid AIDS or other STDs rather than teaching our kids to be sexually moral. Many lawyers constantly look for ways for their clients to avoid doing time for their crimes. We allow drunk drivers who kill innocent people to receive probation, thus avoiding paying the price for their choice to drink and drive. Even many of our politicians practice this same ideology. President Clinton was the epitome of trying to escape consequences for his actions. Our society teaches us that it’s fine to do whatever we want, just don’t get caught. This is man’s philosophy, not God’s.

Every day we are faced with choices and each of these choices has a consequence. If we choose to keep a commandment we receive the blessing for keeping that commandment. “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21).

However, when we choose to break a commandment, we must pay a price. At the very least, we will lose the accompaniment of the Holy Ghost. At worst, a choice we make may take the life of another, lead someone away from God, or destroy our own chance for exaltation. Regardless of what our society teaches, there is a consequence to every action and/or choice. If we aren’t prepared to accept a consequence, we should not make that choice.

We must also keep in mind that we are only blessed or punished for our own individual choices.

As we seek to teach others about our faith, we must clearly communicate what we believe about the freedom to choose. We choose our lifestyle. We can choose whether or not we’re honest. We make choices each day that show others whether or not we are trustworthy, dependable, or have integrity. We write our own story, compose our own melody, and are the architects of our own lives. As we do so, we will either enjoy the blessings from our choices or suffer the consequences.

Our choices determine not only our life’s path, but our eternal destiny. And, we will only be held responsible for our own individual choices, not for anyone else’s.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reading: My Confession

When I was a kid, I was an advanced reader. In fact, I was always placed in the highest reading groups, though that was the extent of challenging good readers back in the day when I was in elementary school. Because I wasn't challenged enough, I lost interest in reading.

As a teenager, I never, ever chose to read a book. I would always choose to go to the beach, play basketball, go to movies, hang out with friends, flirt with boys, or play pranks. I never had a book in my hand and I never purchased books. My family didn't read, either. We watched a lot of TV, but we never read much. Grandma did read the National Enquirer or other celebrity magazines and Grandpa liked National Geographic and non-fiction titles that either promised him untold wealth or health secrets. He also read a lot of anti-Mormon books.

Despite my lack of reading, I always wanted to write and wrote as much as I could. But, I missed out. I didn't read the classics. I don't know Anne of Green Gables. I didn't get lost in the writings of Charles Dickens. I simply missed entire worlds, ones that I now want to create.

As an adult, I've tried to "catch up" with my reading because I now realize how my lack of reading affected me. I try to read as much as I can, but with all of my kids and other responsibilities, it's hard to read everything I'd like to.

I wish I could speed-read and devour all of the great books.

I have tried to break the non-reading cycle. We converted our old living room into a library so that books are the center of attention. I also let my kids go to the thrift store regularly to fill bags with books and I let them order books at school. We also attend the library program each summer to encourage reading. I talk to my kids about books and authors and let them see me read.

Some of my kids have taken to reading. My son has read some books over and over again and can read a Harry Potter book in a few days. My oldest daughter attends all the midnight parties when a new Harry Potter comes out and devours books. My younger kids all seem to enjoy reading, especially when they can cuddle up on my lap and listen to me read.

Reading opens up so many worlds and ignites the imagination. I know that I've suffered from my lack of reading because reading is so important.

Do yourself a favor and read today!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Father and The Son: Separate and Distinct

“We ought to be real students—students like no one else. … If we, in this lay Church, don’t become proficient in learning the gospel of Jesus Christ, who on earth will? If the elders of Israel do not become profound theologians, who on earth will? If you mothers and mothers-to-be don’t learn the gospel sufficiently to teach your children, who on earth will? And, you missionaries, if you don’t learn the message the Lord would have you teach, who on earth will? Many painfully discover the obvious—you can’t teach well that which you do not know!” (Joe J. Christensen, “Learning Is Everybody’s Business,” Ensign, Feb. 1979, pp. 64–65).

I’m going to focus on this quote as I blog about missionary work over the next several weeks. I will be writing about the basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in hopes that those who are not of our faith can learn more about us, and those of us who are LDS can strengthen our knowledge and be more effective as we teach the gospel to others.

The First Article of Faith states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” As we consider this basic belief, we must also contemplate the First Vision wherein Joseph Smith literally saw the Father and the Son.

One of the most important aspects that we learn from the First Vision is that young Joseph saw two distinct personages. Both the Father and the Son appeared and both spoke to him (Joseph Smith History 1:17-20). Many churches today believe in the trinity, that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being, not distinct separate, beings. We have been blessed to know that each member of the Godhead is distinct and separate from the other.

When I was a little girl, my mother was in search of the truth. After my father’s death, she desperately wanted answers. As a result, we investigated many different religions. I remember a specific instance when I was in a class and asked about where Jesus resided. The teacher responded that Jesus was all around us. I asked if he was in my heart and she said he was. I asked if he was in my hair and she said he was. I then asked if he was in my fingernail and, again, she replied that he was because he was everywhere all the time. Even though I was young, this simply did not make sense to me. I couldn’t believe that Jesus was everywhere all the time. I had always envisioned him as a person (in fact, I would say my prayers and then open my eyes as quickly as possible because I was sure he was there and I was determined to see him before he left my room). The idea that he was some sort of mist that could be everywhere at the same time didn’t seem right to me.

After my mother’s death, I discovered the LDS Church and soon learned that Jesus was once a mortal man who walked on the earth. He is now a resurrected being with flesh and bones, as is Heavenly Father. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; . . .” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). Heavenly Father and Jesus are separate personages.

This makes perfect sense to me.

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The Power of One

I’ve been thinking about the power of one lately. We are all aware of the One who sacrificed his life and took upon him our sins through the atonement (which has one contained within the word). The Savior had the power to save his life, but he chose to lay it down for each of us. The Savior is the one who provides the way for each of us to gain exaltation. It is only through his name that we can be saved. He is the one shepherd and we must come unto his fold.

We read in the scriptures how the Father and the Son are one. Some misinterpret this to mean that they are the same person, but we understand this to mean that they are one in purpose, they are unified. We are counseled to be one with our spouse. Our families should be one. Our organizations within the church should also be one. When we have the same purpose, the same goal, the same vision we can be one.

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 we read, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” How great will be our joy in bringing one soul back to God. Of course, when we bring more than one soul our joy is multiplied, but even bringing one soul will make a difference. As teachers and leaders we are counseled that even if our words only touch one person in our class or organization, it will be worth the sacrifice to reach that one person. If a lesson or a talk or a testimony can make a difference in just one life, how great will be our joy.

In these latter days, we can see the power of one in Joseph Smith. Through his unyielding testimony and faithfulness, he restored the gospel to us. He was only one young boy who has since changed the lives of so many. The world saw him as an insignificant teenager, but we see him as one who’s changed the world. He could easily have been overwhelmed by his calling and believed that he, as just one person, couldn’t make such a difference, but he did. One young boy made a difference.

Rosa Parks stood, or sat, alone and with courage and determination, she made a difference.

What can we learn from these examples? There is power in one.

We often hear that one person cannot do much or make a difference, but I believe we can. Each one of us can have an impact on those around us. Each time we pick up a pen or sit at our keyboards we are using the power of one. Every time we compose an article or create a story we are using the power of one. Though we may never know the effect our words might have on another, we have the power to change lives because our words may be the healing balm that comforts, teaches, or helps someone else. If only one life is touched by something we’ve written, it is worth the sacrifice to create it.

There is power in one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Charity Drive



By Julie Coulter Bellon

Political campaign expert Kristen Shepherd excels at staying cool under pressure, but this time she’s in over her head. After leaving her high-profile fiancĂ© at the altar, she uncovers the shocking truth about the man she nearly married—truth that could ruin her life. With the press on her tail, the only person she can trust is Ryan Jameson, her political opponent and former boyfriend.

Army doctor and LDS convert Brandon Shepherd shares his sister Kristen’s talent for keeping a level head, and his newfound faith gives him steady strength during times of turmoil. But when he and fellow doctor Rachel Fields are seized as Iraqi prisoners of war, he faces a crisis of personal integrity that may cost him his life.

In this gripping tale of unlikely heroes and unexpected romance, two siblings must risk everything for freedom. And in the heat and sand of enemy territory, they discover that all’s fair in love, even if not in war.

I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, but I wanted to let everyone know that in conjunction with the book's release Julie will be doing a charity drive, "Skittles for Soldiers," to help send a little taste of home to the troops serving overseas.

From July 14 to July 19th, you can drop off any of the items listed below at any Seagull location across the Wasatch Front, from Logan down to Spanish Fork. When you do, you will receive an entry to win a free autographed copy of All's Fair.

Julie will be appearing on Good Things Utah on July 14th at 10:00 a.m. on Channel 4 to kick off the charity event and doing several booksignings that week as well.

Suggested Care Package Items

Individually wrapped hard candy

. Twizzlers
. Tootsie Rolls/Pops
. Skittles
. lollipops
. Life Savers
. Sweet Tarts
. chewing/bubble gum
. mints, breath strips

Lunch box sized snacks

. nuts
. seeds
. pretzels
. cookies
. chips (Pringle type
containers best)
. Cracker Jacks
. crackers
. Corn Nuts
. fruit snacks/fruit leather
. Gardettos
. microwave popcorn
. trail mix
. energy bars
. protein bars
. breakfast bars
. granola bars
. nut bars
. beef jerky
. fruit: cup/canned/dried

Instant meals

. instant oatmeal
. Kraft Easy Mac
. ramen
. Cup of Noodles
. non-refrigerated
microwaveable meals
. canned meats-
no pork!
. stews
. chili
. ravioli
. soups

Hygiene

. hotel/travel sized: gel, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash
. small hand sanitizer
. toothbrushes
. dental floss
. sanitary pads /tampons
. twin blade razors
. eye drops
. nose drops
. unscented baby wipes/
wet wipes
. Mach III Turbo Razor
Blades
. small Kleenex packets
. Q-Tips
. anti-fungal creams
. Band Aids
. medicated foot powder
. sunscreen

Beverages

. sweetened drink mixes
(ex. Gatorade,Crystal
Light, Kool-Aid)
. hot chocolate
. cider mix
. sugar or sweetener
packets

Entertainment and miscellaneous

. DVDs
. AAA and AA batteries
. pens/pencils
. blank greeting cards
and stationery
. stickers
. disposable cameras
. AT&T phone cards
. condiment packets
. sandwich, gallon,
quart, and snack-sized
Ziploc bags (to make
care packages)

If you live near the Wasatch Front be sure to stop by a Seagull Bookstore and help send a little bit of home to our soldiers.

You can find out more about the charity drive and Julie at her website www.juliebellon.com.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Whitney Awards and Other Stuff

For a list of books eligible for a Whitney Award this year you can visit LDS Publisher, LDS Fiction, or Write Bravely. Books are added each week to the list so be sure to check it out regularly. If you read a fantastic book by an LDS author, go to The Whitney Awards and nominate it. Changes have been made to the awards this year and representatives will be at the LDS Booksellers Convention in August.

LDS Fiction is hosting a Summer Reading Trek. You can still sign up and win books. You have to commit to read a book (or more) by an LDS author and then post a review before August 31. It's fun to read the reviews and see other people's reading lists.

I will be posting a review of Farworld Water Keep as well as an interview with J. Scott Savage next month. I'm still reading the book because I'm the world's slowest reader, but I do love how the main character has a disability and it's not limiting him. That really speaks to me because it's the message I want to shout about my own son.

My blog tour concluded yesterday. I've been very touched by the wonderful reviews and the great support everyone has given me. I'll leave the links up for a bit in case anyone has a chance to stop by any of the blogs. I can't express enough gratitude to all of the amazing bloggers who participated in the tour. Thank you!

I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th of July weekend. We had a family picnic, watched fireworks, and took the kids swimming. We also visited Henderson Lake which is located high in the mountains with spectacular views of the valley below and other mountain ranges. The lake itself is gorgeous, surrounded by mountains and pine trees. Absolutely breathtaking.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Power of the Book of Mormon

My daughter met a young man while she was at college who had stopped attending the LDS Church when he was a youth. He even joined a different church. When a friend of his returned from his mission, this young man set out to prove why the LDS Church was false. He wanted to make sure his points were valid so he decided to study the Book of Mormon in an effort to find the holes in the gospel. A funny thing happened. As this young man studied the Book of Mormon, instead of finding holes, he found his own testimony. Though he is older than the other young men, he is now serving his mission and hoping to share with others what he learned himself in an unconventional way.

My own grandfather, a baptized member of the Church, spent a great deal of time reading and studying anti-Mormon literature. Based on these different books and articles, he drew false conclusions about the Church and was quite bitter towards it. I begged him to read the Book of Mormon, but he refused. Why? I suspect it’s because he didn’t want to know the truth.

The reason we are asked to share the Book of Mormon with others is because of the great power contained within its covers. Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel and testifies throughout its pages of the Savior and His mission. People can’t help but feel the truth and power of the Book of Mormon when they read it with a sincere heart.

The promise in Moroni 10: 3-5 says, “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men . . . that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

The key to this scripture is that people must read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, with real intent, and believe that they will receive an answer. When missionaries find investigators who are truly searching for the truth, they will find it in the Book of Mormon.

As we’re involved in missionary work with our family, friends, and neighbors we must remember to invite them to read the Book of Mormon so they can feel for themselves the truthfulness and power contained in it.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Conversations in Cyberspace

"There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time." Elder M. Russell Ballard

Back in the day (as my son likes to say) these conversations took place face-to-face or through letters. When I was a teenager, we didn’t have the internet so we didn’t have MySpace, Facebook, Chatting or Instant Messaging. The opportunity to communicate has now exploded and boundaries that existed some years back no longer exist.

We live in a time when we can converse about the gospel in any number of ways and the opportunities to do so are limitless. Elder Ballard encourages us to use technology to further the message of the gospel and to share our own experiences with others. Blogging has become a popular way to share our lives worldwide.

While we now have access to sharing the gospel in ways we never imagined years ago, it is important to remember that no matter how we converse about the Church, we must always do so with the Spirit.

Some people are simply curious about our beliefs and only want the basic information. Others have a genuine interest in changing their lives and are eager to learn about the restored gospel. Either way, we must present our message in a non-offensive and non-confrontational way.

Missionaries have been cautioned to not participate in “bible-bashing” or trying to convince someone of the truth by finding specific scriptures. I’ve learned over the years that you can find, and then interpret, scriptures to justify almost any cause. It does no good to argue about scriptures because contention is the weapon of the devil and none of those who participate in such arguments are edified.

Some years ago, a couple of members of another church stopped by my home with the intention of teaching me their beliefs. The gentleman showed me scripture after scripture to prove his points. I let him share his scriptures and then told him that I was young and didn’t know all of the scriptures yet, but that I knew, in my heart, that what I believed was right. I’d had a witness from God. He couldn’t dispute that.

Nothing is more powerful than bearing our testimonies. We do need to keep in mind though, as we use technology to teach others about the gospel, that we should always do it in the way the Savior would. We should be willing to answer questions and share our experiences, but never become embroiled in an argument, even in cyberspace. The Lord has blessed us with technology and if we use it correctly, we can spread the gospel in ways we’d never even imagined and change lives one conversation at a time.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Perfect Summer Day

The other day we finished all of our chores (cleaning the house, watering the garden, hoeing the weeds, feeding the animals) early enough that we were able to relax for a bit and enjoy the day.

We filled the kiddie pool, spread out blankets and towels, and set the radio in the living room window so we could hear some tunes. We sat in the hot sun, sipping lemonade and reading books. The younger kids splashed in the pool and "shot" each other with water guns. My 12 year old thought it'd be funny to shoot his older sister with a cool stream of water from his gun. She responded exactly as I thought. She marched over to him, picked him up like a baby, and dunked him in the kiddie pool, both of them laughing along the way. The other kids ran through the yard playing James Bond with their water guns. Even my youngest was in on the fun, splashing wildly in his micro-mini kiddie pool.

We even had some relief from those nasty little gnats.

I marveled at the opportunity to just sit and watch my kids. I love seeing them interact together. As I watched them, I was filled with such gratitude that Heavenly Father chose me to be their mom and that I have been able to spend time with such remarkable children. I am truly blessed.

Yes, it was a perfect summer day.