Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving: Tithing Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I love Thanksgiving so much because it is not about anything but being grateful.

Today I want to write about how grateful I am for the blessings of tithing.

I know. Kinda random.

 But tithing blessings are some  the GREATEST blessings of my life.

Elder Bednar spoke about this in our last General Conference.  He titled his address:

 The Windows of Heaven

The insights I loved especially from his address was how the blessings we receive from tithing are not always the visual, physical blessing like always having enough money for our necessities, enough clothing for our family, enough food for our tables, ect.
But, that tithing blessings are also SPIRITUAL blessings that if we are not watching and paying attention, we may not notice them.  Yet we have them.
He called these blessings,

Subtle but Significant

Don't you just love Elder Bednar's careful and inspired choice of words and phrases? They have layers and layers  of meaning! Doesn't subtle but significant  just capture perfectly the nature of blessings from paying tithing?! 
"Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14)."  -Elder Bednar, Windows of Heaven
Think of a blessing you MOST desire and MOST want?  These may be blessings that no one even know about. They are your greatest desires, tucked away quietly deep in your heart.  You have them and the Lord knows about them.  You may think the blessings may never come  or that the Lord didn't answer your prayer the way you expected or wanted.  However, if you look closely and are "spiritually attentive and observant" as Elder Bednar so eloquently stated, you have already been blessed. Maybe with strength, hope, gratitude, or faith.  Here are Elder Bednar's words:
"For example, a subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15).

We may need and pray for help to find suitable employment. Eyes and ears of faith (see Ether 12:19) are needed, however, to recognize the spiritual gift of enhanced discernment that can empower us to identify job opportunities that many other people might overlook—or the blessing of greater personal determination to search harder and longer for a position than other people may be able or willing to do. We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.

We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity (see Luke 2:52) to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired. We might want and expect a larger paycheck, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.

The stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 53; 56–58) prayed earnestly that God would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Interestingly, the answers to these prayers did not produce additional weapons or an increased number of troops. Instead, God granted these faithful warriors assurance that He would deliver them, peace to their souls, and great faith and hope for their deliverance in Him (see Alma 58:11). Thus, the sons of Helaman did take courage, were fixed with a determination to conquer, and did go forth with all of their might against the Lamanites (see Alma 58:12–13). Assurance, peace, faith, and hope initially might not seem like the blessings warriors in battle might want, but they were precisely the blessings these valiant young men needed to press forward and prevail physically and spiritually.

Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10). We also will remember the Lord’s declaration:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).-Elder Bednar, Windows of Heaven

We will be blessed in the Lord's way, not ours. But we will be blessed! The windows of heaven will pour out blessings upon us.

Elder Bednar's Testimony: I testify spiritual and temporal blessings come into our lives as we live the law of tithing. I bear witness that such blessings often are significant but subtle. I also declare that the simplicity of the Lord’s way that is so evident in the temporal affairs of His Church provides patterns that can guide us as individuals and as families. I pray each of us may learn and benefit from these important lessons.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

 Consider the blessings you have that come from paying your tithing!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Elder Holland Must-Read

I have been away from my blog for what feels like a super long time.  I apologize to anyone who has come here looking for a new post to read!  I have not quit....I love blogging....I have just been super busy making a recipe book for my awesome co-workers at the temple.  It has taken over my life and has been way more involved and complicated than I ever thought. I am almost done, and I can see the light at the end of the recipe book tunnel.  I did volunteer for this and came up with the whole idea, so I can only blame myself and ask, "what was I  thinking?!" 

In the midst of all of that, my college-age twin daughters, who are awesome, by the way, have this strict schedule for themselves of increasing their spirituality and coming closer to the Lord. One of them is waiting for a mission call [should get the call before Thanksgiving], and the other wishes she could go on a mission right now, but because of braces, she is not eligible at this time. 

So they read from their scriptures for 30 minutes every morning, write in their journals everyday, and study a conference talks every week.  They are always coming to me and asking  "Mom, what's a good talk to read?"  I have a lot of favorites, as you know here, as well as the most recent Conference that we are studying for the next 6 months, but I suggested a power-packed one from the past that I knew would answer many of the questions they are dealing with at this stage in their lives.  A Mother knows.

The talk is an old classic by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland given when he was the President of BYU at a Tuesday Devotional on March 2, 1999.  The talk is called:  Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence . A definite must-read for everyone.

 I remember listening to this talk on that very day.  I was cleaning my house, and had the BYU Devotional going on in the background. It was as if the Lord chose that message for me that morning.  Everything he said was what my husband and I  needed at that exact moment in our lives.  As he was speaking a thousand "ah-ha" moments were going off in my head. I remember running to find a pen and piece of paper to write down all the insights for my life that he was speaking (this was before DVR). 

It was a great talk for me then, a young mother, and is great for my daughters at the cross-roads of life they are at right now.  This talk is exactly what the title says...don't cast away your confidence and sure knowledge who have once received when personal revelation has touched your life. If it was true when you received it, it is still true later, although you may begin to doubt and wonder if it still applies, or if you were truly inspired. It is a great talk about having faith and trusting in the Lord when we receive revelation for our lives.

 Love this whole talk! Hope you will take the time today to read it.