My study of the scriptures has had a profound effect on my life. As I have studied, I have grown closer to God and found answers to real challenges in my life. This blog is a scripture journal that records insights I have discovered in the past and continue to gain as I search, ponder, and pray.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

It's a Long, Long Haul; Be Diligent: Doctrine and Covenants 10:4

Will I ever get it done? I think I want to give up.

I don't know if you've ever had those thoughts in the middle of a huge goal or project, but I certainly have. In February 2020 I set a goal. Write a book--my first one ever--and pitch it to an agent. End date: May 15, 2020. 

Having never written a first draft let alone a polished book, I had a na├»ve belief I could do it all in a little over three months. 

May 15 came and went. June came and went. In July I evaluated my purpose and changed my approach. I started over. August, September, October all came and went. In November I completed the first draft. Wahoo. Look out world, here comes the next best seller.

Then I started the edits. November passed. I took December off for Christmas and forged full steam ahead for the next two months. In the first week of March, I sent a second draft off for beta readers. Over 13 months, I started, stopped, revised, battled discouragement, and floated on spiritual highs. 

In January and February I wanted to quit. It felt like the project would never, ever, ever end. Fortunately for me, Joseph Smith had a similar struggles publishing "his" book.

Book of Mormon Manuscript

Joseph received the Golden Plates from Moroni in September 1827. Two and a half years went by. Joseph faced persecution. He caved to peer pressure and lost the ability to translate. He had to work the land to provide for a family. He started and stopped. He learned. He grew. He accomplished. In March 1830, the Book of Mormon was published. 

During Joseph's long journey, he received several revelations related to translating and publishing the Book of Mormon. Many of them contained the words diligent. "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end" (D&C 10:4 italics added). 

I received courage to continue on my journey by reading the scriptures that encouraged Joseph Smith. Diligence opens the way for Heavenly Father to bless us. President Russell M. Nelson said, "the Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it." Keep working, keep trying, keep enduring. Victory and lory come from "diligence, faithfulness, and prayer of faith" (D&C 103:36).

Now, one year later, my goal is nearing completion. The hard road I traversed to finish it, gives me courage for another long, hard goal in a completely different area. I did it once, and I can do it again. Bit by bit, goal after goal, we will grow to be more like our Heavenly Father. 


Monday, March 22, 2021

Promises Made; Promises Fulfilled: D&C 11:21 and D&C 23:3

Statue of Joseph and Hyrum
at Carthage Jail

Hyrum Smith

 Hyrum Smith. I love this humble servant of God. He wanted to serve the Lord. That's all he wanted to to do. In seeking direction, he asked Joseph for a revelation, and the Lord gave one, which is now Doctrine and Covenants 11. Rather than embarking on the work immediately, God instructed Hyrum to study, to prepare, to read the scripture--both the Bible and the soon-to-be-published Book of Mormon. If Hyrum would first "seek to obtain" the word, the Lord promised "then [his] tongue shall be loosed,D&C 11:21 (italics added). Later in the same section, he showed an intimate loving relationship with Hyrum and called him "my son," (verse 23)

Hyrum obeyed and God fulfilled his promise.

A year later, The Book of Mormon had been published, The Church of Christ had been organized. Hyrum again received a revelation from God through Joseph Smith. The Lord said, "Hyrum, a few words; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually (D&C 23:3 italics added). 

Notice the words "tongue" and "loosed" appear in both revelations. God fulfilled his promise. Hyrum served the Lord and His church the rest of his life.


My Son Hyrum

These two chapters became very person to me the past few weeks. God is merciful and his timing is perfect. I am about a week behind in my study of Come Follow Me, and I read these two chapters at the right time.

I have son name Hyrum. Like his namesake, Hyrum Smith, my son loves God and all he wants to do it serve Him. My son has looked forward his whole life to serving a mission for the The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. The last week of January he met with the Bishop to start his paperwork. We anticipated a quick and easy application process. Instead, my son faced complications that delayed his call.

I read Section 11 during this time. Because my son shares the same name, the revelation suddenly became very personal. The Lord asked my son to wait. To study. To prepare. If he did, God would loose his tongue. 

We completed the extra medical appointments and preparations that needed to be done. He studied the Gospel, continued to attend seminary, Church meetings, and mission prep. I saw a mellowing change come over my son as he patiently waited on the Lord. One time he was discouraged, and his father gave him a priesthood blessing. After a long day of school and work, he came home singing. The Spirit strengthened him more abundantly.

Still behind on my Come Follow Me, I read Doctrine and Covenants 23:3 the exact same day my son opened his mission call.  My son Hyrum's tongue will be loosed on his mission, and the service will provide a strong foundation for him to serve God the rest of his life.

Again, God fulfilled his promise. 

This little story is a reminder that we can trust our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Just as He has kept his promises in the past, He will in the future. Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf said: "[God] knows you. He hears your pleas. He is faithful and dependable. He will fulfill His promises" (God Will Do Something Unimaginable). He always does, in His own way and in His own time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Was All that Really 30 Years Ago? 1 Nephi 1:1 and 2 Nephi 5:28-30

Graduation 1983
What were you doing 30 years ago?

I was finishing high school. That is the age group of girls that I work with as Young Women's president. I thought it would be a good idea to read my junior high and high school journals. I figured it would help me remember what it was like to be that age.

Oh, my, did I ever relive my life. It was fun to become reacquainted with friends and relive experiences. But, I learned a lot. One thing I learned was about perspective.

In 1 Nephi 1:1, Nephi wrote that "having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days...yea, having a knowledge of the goodness of God...." he wrote the record. I love how he emphasizes that he was highly favored and knew the goodness of God. When we read the record, we often see the trials that he faced. Yet, he talked about a good life. The thing that is really important about this, though, is that he was writing the record a full 30 years after he left Jerusalem (see 2 Nephi 5:28-31).

Wow! 30 years! I graduated from high school 30 years ago. Thirty years makes a huge difference in perspective. The things that were important upon graduation were very important in that how I handled them shaped the rest of my life. At the same time they are not that critical. For example, now I can honestly say who cares that the there were contentions among the yearbook staff that were referenced in the final "swan song" article at the end of the yearbook. At the time it made me furious, because those who knew, knew that it was talking about me. Through the years I had remembered that it happened, but didn't remember the details until I read about them. Moreover, I had no emotion wrapped up in the event as I read it. It is over.

To cite another example, in February 1983 I was so discouraged about my homemaking skills, especially sewing, cooking, etc. Finally, I thought I had found a true homemaking skill at which I could excel--crocheting. However at this particular time, the afghan I was working on was not going
well. I wrote an entry wondering what good my current skills would do me when my "children were freezing with no clothes and no blankets to keep them warm." Oh, the drama! :) Yes, I did finish the afghan, and I even made another one years later. No, my kids have never frozen for lack of homemade clothes or homemade blankets.

Although I can still be insecure about my "homemaking" skills, and I have had more than one melt-down over the lack of these skills (even when I have been married), I can honestly say that I am a good homemaker. I can cook, which I do, and I can sew, embroider, and crochet if I need to. But that is not what makes me a good HOME maker.

The things that really mattered, I learned 30+ years ago, too. I learned that God loves me. I learned I can pray to Him and he will answer my prayers. I learned I to love. Each day I try to show my husband and children how much I love them. I try to teach them the Gospel and show them through my actions how much I love the Lord and how much He loves them. Crocheting won't get them "home" to our Heavenly Father, but loving God will!

A 30-year perspective. That's what I need. As I face my trials and challenges in life now, I need to remember that 30, 20, or even 10 years down the road, life will be different. The attitude I take now will shape the future, but the event will be over.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kidney Transplant--A Similitude of Christ's Life


Things I Learned about the Savior
from Our Experiences

As I contemplate this Christmas Season, I'm humbled by the love of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I learned so much more about his life and sacrifice by the experiences of kidney failure including the following:


·        Martin needed the great personal sacrifice of another individual in order to live. We need the sacrifice of our Savior in order to live.
·        Although I didn't really "want" to undergo surgery, I wanted to because of my love for Martin. Likewise the Savior pled with the Father for another way, yet, he stayed faithful to the end because of his love for us and for the Father.
·        I had to be enough like Martin (a match) and yet different enough (healthy and without medical conditions) to donate the kidney. The Savior had to be a match (a human) yet different enough (a god) to do the work.
·        I am bound in covenant to Martin, and it was my right to do what needed to be done to save him. We are bound in covenant to the Savior through baptism, and it is his right to save us.
·        In order to fully accept the sacrifice of the kidney donation, Martin has to take medications for the rest of his life and do what he can to live a healthy life. In order to accept the sacrifice of the Savior we need to do all in our power to stay spiritually healthy.
·        We can never repay the kindness, love, and compassion given to us by neighbors and friends. We can never repay the Savior for his sacrifice, never!
·        We can honor the sacrifice of our neighbors by paying it forward to another who needs help. We can honor the sacrifice of the Savior by building his Kingdom.

Because of our many experiences of fear, pain, anxiety, stress, peace, love, and mercy I know with much greater surety that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live! I know these things because I have learned them more deeply through the trials of my faith the last two years.

Having the honor of donating a kidney to save Martin's life was one of the most sacred experiences of my entire life. I am grateful for the right and privilege I had of doing so.And I am most grateful to the Lord and Savior for his love and sacrifice for me!

May God bless you this Christmas Season!
Michelle

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Acts 23 A Different Pathway Than Expected

Why  isn't it happening? Do I lack sufficient faith? What about the faith of the hundreds of others who are praying for us? What more can I do?

A few weeks ago I asked these  heartfelt questions in my journal. Since I had no satisfying answers, I left the questions hanging with the closing statement of "I don't understand."

I wonder if the Apostle Paul experienced the same questions?

In Acts 22-24 we read about the attempts of the Jews to kill Paul. It must have been a terrifying time for Paul. At one point, in order to save his life he  resorted to pulling rank as a Roman citizen, an action he usually avoided. At which point he was thrown in prison, not released an escorted to safety.

During the night the Lord appeared to Paul. In Acts 23:11 we read that he didn't just appear before him, but the Savior "stood by him. and told him to "Be of good cheer." In the NIV it reads "take courage."  The message continued. Just as Paul had testified of the Savior in Jerusalem, he would testify of the Savior in Rome. For a man who was in prison and whose life was in real danger, this must have been comforting.

Yet, we read at the end of Chapter 24 that Felix held Paul a prisoner in Caesarea for two years. I wonder if that period seemed like a long time to Paul? Did he ever begin to doubt that the words of the Lord would be fulfilled? Would he ever really preach in Rome? And why is it taking so long?

We know the end of the story. Paul was taken to Rome. He testified of Christ in Rome, even while he spent the first two years of his stay there as a prisoner. The Lord's words were fulfilled. However, in the midst of the imprisonment--in the middle of the pathway that took him to Rome--it probably didn't feel like the right path at all.

In God's own way and in his own time, he will fulfill his words. And in my case, his words are usually fulfilled by a different pathway than I expect.

But, he is a God of truth and always keeps his word. It is my task to wait upon him with patience.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Grudge Against Martin Harris -- Enos through Words of Mormon



True Confessions: For many years I held a slight grudge, against Martin Harris. Okay, maybe grudge is too strong of a word. Annoyance is better. I love 2 Nephi 2, where Lehi discourses beautifully on the Plan of Salvation. I felt that if we had the 116 pages in our scriptures today, I would be filled with deeper insights, and even more insights, from Lehi.

One day, though, I found a great need to repent after reading Doctrine and Covenants 10:45. The Lord declares that the small plates of Nephi “throw greater views upon [His] gospel.” As it turns out, we have the “better” stuff now and the lost 116 pages were not nearly so important.

Martin Harris
This shouldn’t be surprising. The Lord in his infinite wisdom and planning cause the small plates to be made. Of course he would have them contain more important information, since he knew that they would contain the message we would have. Mormon wanted those plates included because they were pleasing unto him. But what exactly is the message they contain?

I love Jarom 1:2. Jarom declares that he will not be writing very much because the small plates already contain the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation. “What could I write more,” he asks. Included in this doctrine is the invitation for all to come unto Christ. At the very end of the small plates, Amulek urges every one of us to “come unto Christ who is the Holy one of Israel and partake of his salvation and the power of his redemption.”

In fact, all prophets and authors of sacred scripture testify of Christ (see Mosiah 13:33). Is it any wonder that after Enos’s heart was changed by the love of God, he pled with the Lord to preserve the records for the Lamanites (Enos 13-16).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

John 9 A Kidney Transplant and The Works of God

"So you've got surgery tomorrow?" President Olson asked as I entered the office for my temple recommend interview.

"Yes, it's the kidney transplant."

"Oh," he responded, "so it's not you, but your husband."

"No. It's both of us. I'm his donor."

Silence filled the room as the impact of my words settled on this great man. After a few seconds he looked at me and said, "That is a very sacred thing."

The Spirit of the Lord filled the room as we wept together during the interview. My testimony drew strength as I declared that I believe in my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost and have faith in the atonement.

Upon returning home, I marveled again, at the effect this husband-wife transplant team is having on others.


“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him”


Truly that is what this transplant is all about. It is a witness of God's love, mercy, power, and atonement. Through my husband and through me, the power God has been and will continue to be made manifest!

To that end, I share my deepened testimony. Because of my many experiences of fear, pain, anxiety, stress, peace, love, and mercy I know with much greater surety that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live! I know they are mindful of each one of us. I know they love us. I know the power of the atonement is real. I know that we need the sacrifice of our Lord in order to live. I know that although Christ plead with the Father for another way, he stayed faithful to the end because of his love for us and for the Father. I know that because of our Lord and Savior we can return home and we can become like God! I know these things because I have learned them more deeply through the trials of my faith the last ten months.

I testify of these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.