Monday, July 30, 2012

Sacred Places

Looking towards the Sacred Grove from the
back door of Joseph Smith's childhood home

I have had a week I will never forget as I was part of a Church History tour of the Eastern States.  We began our tour in Boston, Massachussettes touching on American History and how it was intertwined with the early ancestors of Joseph Smith.  We went through Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New York. We ended our tour in Kirtland, Ohio which I learned is one of the most sacred places on earth.

I am forever changed by what I learned and experienced.

This picture your are seeing is one I took while standing in the kitchen area of Joseph Smith's log home as he had a perfect view of "the place he pre-designed to go" to pray to God. 

It was there that in answer to his question, "which of all the churches is the right one to join?" an innocent but heart-felt question by a young 14 year old boy -God, the Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph. 

Entering the Sacred Grove as it has been now named, is a sacred walk.  They have created a walkway where you can walk through the grove.  It is about about 1/2 mile long that loops around.  This is a very serene peace there that you don't feel many places. 
It is extremely quiet, reverent, and holy.

In the grove there are a few large trees that some call  "witness trees".  They are called witness trees as  they were possibly there, witnesses, to the First Vision. The one in the picture above is one of those trees.  It is much bigger than it looks in this photo.

"Joseph Smith's home and the Sacred Grove are  two of the sacred places on earth!  You feel it and cannot be there without being changed.
Karl Anderson, who is the author of several books on sacred places in  Kirtland, described these places best when he said, they  are of the small and simple places on the earth not unlike the manger"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preparing for Trek

Made by my father

My thoughts are on a trek as we head off with 25 youth  to Martins Cove and other sites nearby for our ward youth conference.  Our trek will be a 3 day experience not meant to be physically grueling but spiritually stirring.  I am sure it will be challenging regardless.

We plan on experiencing Independence Rock, Martin's Cove, Rocky Ridge, and Rock Creek Cemetery.

Our theme for Trek is the mutual theme for this year, "Arise and Shine Forth" (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5) focusing on how each of us can arise and shine forth in our day much like the pioneers were asked to arise and shine forth in their day.

We are:
  • Dressing in pioneer clothing
  • Going in a pioneer name
  • Pushing a handcart
  • journaling and reflecting
  • Having the men and young men carry us across the Sweet water
  • Doing a women's pull
  • camping at Sun Ranch near Martin's Cove
  • taking our youth to sacred sites
  • Square dancing
  • eating well  with our cooking crew
  • being organized into trek families
  • among many other things

Here are some quotes I have displayed with the handcart above.  I don't have the source, but I believe they are from James E. Faust:

"We must continue to move this work forward as a covenanted, consecrated people, with faith in every footstep"
Every footstep those pioneers took came from faith and required faith.  Are we any different?  We must also have faith in every footstep we take as we strive to live our lives.

"This is not a time for the spiritually faint of heart.  We cannot afford to be superficially righteous.  Our testimonies must run deep, with spiritual roots firmly embedded."
Living during this time in the history of the world is not for the spiritually faint of heart.  As it says, we cannot afford to be superficially faithful.  Our conversion must be real.  Our testimonies must be constantly growing. 

 As we know, testimonies don't stand still.  They are either growing or shrinking.

In order for the pioneers to have endured their trials and hardships their spiritual roots had to have been deeply and firmly embedded.  How did they embed their testimonies?  How can we embed ours? 
"The Lord isn't asking us to load up a handcart.  He is asking us to fortify our faith.  He isn't asking us to die  martyr's death;  He is asking us to live a disciples life." 
How can we fortify our faith?  This is more about knowing.  It is about doing, living, and becoming. 
Living a disciples life:  Is it harder to die for the truth or to live for it?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Becoming a Scriptorian

I love the subject of studying the scriptures.   Here are some  principles which can apply no matter who you are!  These were not necessarily from any manuel...but just some of my own insights into the whys of reading and studying the scriptures.

Well, we all know how important it is to read the scriptures E-very day.  Right?  But WHY are you reading?  What are YOUR motivations for reading the scriptures?

Maybe your list looks something like this:
  • know you should
  •  how you FEEL when you read [aka the Spirit]
  • to find answers or receive help
  •  habit...your day goes better and you can't live without it
  •  history....there are some great stories in there
  • or to become a SCRIPTORIAN--not necessarily for yourself, but for others.

Spencer W. Kimball said this..."We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians—whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family.
Regardless of your particular circumstances, as you become more and more familiar with the truths of the scriptures, you will be more and more effective in keeping the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Become scholars of the scriptures—not to put others down, but to lift them up! After all, who has any greater need to “treasure up” the truths of the gospel (on which they may call in their moments of need) than do women and mothers who do so much nurturing and teaching?
Think of your last teaching moment you have had-either with a friend or family member:  Did you have time to prepare for your answer?  To run and quick go do some studying to familiarize yourself with those truths?   Of coarse not.  Teaching moments are just that: moments. You can't schedule them, and usually they come when you least expect them.

If we have taken the time to read the scriptures, to study them, and understand them...we will be prepared to be an instrument in the Lord's hands when those teaching moments  pop up.  We will be able to say what the Lord would have us say because we have scriptures in our mind and in our heart. 

We don't have to say, "In Matthew 24:1 it says...."  or use scripture language..we can put the scriptures in our own words and if we have strived to become scholars of the scriptures...we will be able to teach principles,and strengthen and lift others.

How great is that? 

Spencer W. Kimball quote found in this talk: {Click Here}

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing to a Missionary

Things to ask about

·           The work
·         Their schedule
·         The culture
·         Their  experiences
·         Who are they teaching?
·         When they tell you about an investigator, follow up and ask about them

Things to share

·         Insights you’ve gained in the scriptures, seminary or Church lessons
·         Testimony building experiences you’ve had
·         News about mutual friends who are also serving missions
Things to avoid

·         Asking how many baptisms they have had
·         Don’t complain or criticize  if  they have not written back to you
·         Mentioning problems that arise at home.  There are some problems they should know about, but many that would only distract or worry them unnecessarily
Good things in small packages

·         Missionaries love receiving thoughtful packages but make sure to honor the guidelines of their mission
·         Remember to keep your  gifts simple.  Include an extra item for their companion
·         Check before sending off a box to a missionary abroad-due to custom fees
Messages from Family and Friends

·         Tell them the important things that are happening in your life with school, family, and the gospel.
·         Encouraging, friendly, non-romantic letters
·         You can help them focus on the work of the Lord with uplifting letters and reassurance that they are where they need to be.

·         Avoid gossip stories or what party you went to last week
·         Do not write “I love you”  “I miss you”  “I can’t wait to see you again"..this is very distracting.
·         Avoid romantic allusions

 My daughter enters the MTC this week!  I found this in my files and thought I'd share it with anyone who would find it useful.  I do not know where I got this, so if it was you-thank-you!  I have used this many times in Young Womens when we have done missionary writing activities.  
Writing to missionaries is so important to help build them up and encourage them along. I have written to a missionary, and have been a missionary.  I know being a missionary Mom will be an even different perspective. 
Print this list {click here}
Young Women's Activity: Missionary Service Activity