Brittny – 30 December 2009

Oops! Sorry, I thought I’d posted this a couple weeks ago. Here it is now 🙂

Low: Sam is teething, poor kid 🙁

Highs: Today was my niece’s wedding and it was awesome to get to be a part of it. She did an awesome job of keeping everything focused on the spiritual aspect of the day rather than all the frills. We started the day by all participating in an endowment session. Eric and I have had a difficult time going to the temple lately because Sam is going through separation anxiety, so we were worried that he was going to make it so we couldn’t go. But when we got to his cousin’s house to drop him off he just hopped down and went straight to his cousin. Apparently he was good for her the whole time! The Lord really does bless you when you are serving Him!

It was really neat to get to do an endowment session as a family. It was really cool to look around the room and realize that all of the siblings in Eric’s family could be in the temple. Not all of them were able to be there right then, but all 9 siblings had received their endowment, married in the temple and was living worthy to be in that sacred place. That was such a neat feeling to be surrounded by faithful people as part of my family. I can’t wait for the day when we can have that experience with our family, although obviously we have to wait until Kyle’s old enough to receive those blessings. It was pretty cool.

Then we got to go straight from the endowment session to the sealing. It was awesome to see how the ordinances all flowed together. You know that they all build on one another but it’s different when you can actually see it right next to each other. I really want to go to the temple sometime and start with doing baptisms and go all the way through to doing sealings. Obviously it would be a long day but I think it would be so cool to see the whole progression in one experience.

Thanksgiving – Love & Law

This was my visiting teaching thought that I shared with my sisters in November 2009.

As I was thinking about the messages from our most recent General Conference I decided to read over Elder Oak’s talk called “Love and Law”.  I found his talk to be really profound during conference and wanted to share a part of it with you.

First, consider the love of God, described so meaningfully this morning by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” the Apostle Paul asked. Not tribulation, not persecution, not peril or the sword (see Romans 8:35). “For I am persuaded,” he concluded, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, . . . nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (verses 38–39).

There is no greater evidence of the infinite power and perfection of God’s love than is declared by the Apostle John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Another Apostle wrote that God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Think how it must have grieved our Heavenly Father to send His Son to endure incomprehensible suffering for our sins. That is the greatest evidence of His love for each of us!

I was really struck when reading this by the incredible love our Heavenly Father has for each one of us.  The power of His love is so great that nothing can separate us from it – not tribulation, persecution, peril, the sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers or any other creature.  I know I’ve had some times in my life where I felt like the things I was going through put me far from God’s love.  I’ve felt at these times like I’d gotten myself into situations where He could barely reach me anymore.  However at these times it seems His love has found me more powerfully than ever.  It seems at the darkest points in our lives our Father in Heaven is able to reach through to us and lift us from our sufferings and prove to us how great His love for us truly is.

This week, as we’re getting ready for Thanksgiving, I hope we remember to give thanks for the love of our Heavenly Father.  I know that I am so grateful for the love He has for me.  I am filled with gratitude when I think that His love for us is so profound that He would sacrifice His only begotten Son so that we could be forgiven of our sins and healed from all of our sorrows and afflictions.  I know that our Savior lives and loves us

Brittny – 18 October 2009

Low: Eric and I have decided to go back to being more adamant that Sam sleeps in his playpen and not in our bed (since he’s kicked Eric out of bed – literally – every night this week). I have a feeling tonight is going to be a loong night.

Highs: My lesson in Relief Society went fairly well. I had a lot less material than I had thought so I was sort of panicking as we raced right through the first two sections. And I didn’t feel like my thoughts were coming across very cohesively. Luckily, Eric had a video clip that he was using in his lesson that he let me play from his laptop for my lesson. It was from Elder Holland’s talk in our most recent conference. It pulled together my lesson very nicely and filled out the rest of my time perfectly. Phew!

This evening we got to take a family nap after lunch, Sunday naps are the best! (and yes, I do mean nap, get your mind out of the gutters people!)

We had family home evening tonight! It wasn’t anything fancy or elaborate, but it was good to be able to spend time together as a family and getting our lives in order and talking about the gospel. It’s been difficult to FHE since Eric’s been working nights, but we’ve finally found a good time that we can do it!

Speaking of working nights… my real high is *drumroll please*…. THEY FOUND SOMEONE TO REPLACE ERIC ON THE NIGHT SHIFT!! The new girl won’t take over the shift for another 2 months since she has to go through training, but it’s SO nice to know that the end is in sight 🙂

Obedience

A couple weeks ago Eric and I were assigned to talk about Obedience in our ward’s sacrament meeting. Since I put a fair amount of work into that talk I decided it would be beneficial to share it with everyone else as well. So, minus the story of how Eric and I met and who we are… here’s that talk!

I’ve decided to base my talk around a story shared by Elder Holland in last October’s General Conference. I apologize that it is such a long story, but it illustrated several aspects of obedience that I wanted to share. The story is of Elder Holland’s friend Clyn D. Barrus. Elder Holland said,

“Referring to his childhood on a large Idaho farm, Brother Barrus spoke of his nightly assignment to round up the cows at milking time. Because the cows pastured in a field bordered by the occasionally treacherous Teton River, the strict rule in the Barrus household was that during the spring flood season the children were never to go after any cows who ventured across the river. They were always to return home and seek mature help.

One Saturday just after his seventh birthday, Brother Barrus's parents promised the family a night at the movies if the chores were done on time. But when young Clyn arrived at the pasture, the cows he sought had crossed the river, even though it was running at high flood stage. Knowing his rare night at the movies was in jeopardy, he decided to go after the cows himself, even though he had been warned many times never to do so.

As the seven-year-old urged his old horse, Banner, down into the cold, swift stream, the horse's head barely cleared the water. An adult sitting on the horse would have been safe, but at Brother Barrus's tender age, the current completely covered him except when the horse lunged forward several times, bringing Clyn's head above water just enough to gasp for air.

Here I turn to Brother Barrus's own words:
“When Banner finally climbed the other bank, I realized that my life had been in grave danger and that I had done a terrible thing—I had knowingly disobeyed my father. I felt that I could redeem myself only by bringing the cows home safely. Maybe then my father would forgive me. But it was already dusk, and I didn't know for sure where I was. Despair overwhelmed me. I was wet and cold, lost and afraid.

“I climbed down from old Banner, fell to the ground by his feet, and began to cry. Between thick sobs, I tried to offer a prayer, repeating over and over to my Father in Heaven, ‘I'm sorry. Forgive me! I'm sorry. Forgive me!'
“I prayed for a long time. When I finally looked up, I saw through my tears a figure dressed in white walking toward me. In the dark, I felt certain it must be an angel sent in answer to my prayers. I did not move or make a sound as the figure approached, so overwhelmed was I by what I saw. Would the Lord really send an angel to me, who had been so disobedient?

“Then a familiar voice said, ‘Son, I've been looking for you.' In the darkness I recognized the voice of my father and ran to his outstretched arms. He held me tightly, then said gently, ‘I was worried. I'm glad I found you.'

“I tried to tell him how sorry I was, but only disjointed words came out of my trembling lips—'Thank you . . . darkness . . . afraid . . . river . . . alone.' Later that night I learned that when I had not returned from the pasture, my father had come looking for me. When neither I nor the cows were to be found, he knew I had crossed the river and was in danger. Because it was dark and time was of the essence, he removed his clothes down to his long white thermal underwear, tied his shoes around his neck, and swam a treacherous river to rescue a wayward son.”
Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 29–31

There are several principles that are taught in this story that I feel are important to this topic

1) Commandments are for our good
It’s very clear from the story that had Clyn been obedient to his parents counsel to not cross the river during the spring season he would have avoided a very dangerous situation. They knew that a young seven year old boy could easily be overtaken by the swift current. Because his parents loved him they had his best interests in mind when giving that rule.

This reminded me of a passage I read a while back in Doctrine and Covenants 59. A verse in that section that referred to the commandments in a way that I hadn’t considered before. Verse 4 in that chapter reads: …They shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.
The phrase that struck me from that verse was that the saints would be “crowned with blessings [and] commandments”. Somehow I’d never thought of commandments as being blessings. They’d always seemed like those things that we had to do, which would help us obtain blessings, but I’d never thought of the commandments themselves as being blessings. However, as I thought about it they certainly are blessings. The commandments we have are given to us by a loving Heavenly Father who has our best interests in mind. Like young Clyn’s parents our loving Heavenly Father is trying to keep us from dangerous situations. Our Father in Heaven knows the outcomes of bad choices and wants to keep us from them. All commandments are for our protection and good. When we obey the commandments in the Word of Wisdom we keep ourselves free from the dangers of drunk driving, or lung cancer from cigarette smoke, or the loss of control that comes from using illicit drugs. You can find the same thing with any commandment we are given, they are for our benefit. What greater blessings could we ask for than guidance to keep us from choices that will cause us suffering?

But sometimes we are like young children who don’t seem to understand that the rules their parents give them are to keep them from danger. Recently we’ve been trying to teach our son Samuel that he is not impervious to gravity as he would like to think. Again and again we try to pull him from the edge of our bed so that he doesn’t climb right off. But each time he tries to climb right back to the edge. I’m sure in his mind he’s saying “But Mom, look, there’s cool stuff at the edge of the bed, I want to go see that stuff so I’m going to go that way”. Of course, I know that if he crawls off the edge of the bed he will fall and be hurt. I think Heavenly Father looks at us the same way. He gives us guidance and counsel, “No, really, you don’t want to break that commandment, it will bring you suffering”. But we turn back to him like a small child, “but look at all the other people who are doing it. They make it look so fun!” Of course, in the end Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us and if we disobey his counsel the suffering he foretold will come to pass, just like if Sam crawled off the bed he would fall and get hurt like I’ve warned him.

2) If we are not quickly obedient it wastes our time
In this story young Clyn decided to be disobedient because he wanted to bring the cows home fast so that he could enjoy a night at the movies. However, I’m guessing that in the end his disobedience cost him that night out.

It reminded me of the story of Lehi’s family. In 1 Nephi 17 verse 4 we find out that they spent 8 years wandering in the wilderness before getting to the promised land. I wondered if that time would have been considerably shorter if Laman and Lemuel had spent their time working towards getting to the promised land and obeying the commandments rather than murmuring about it the whole time. Likewise the Children of Israel could have probably saved a lot of their 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness by just quickly obeying the Lord’s commandments rather than stopping to build golden calves.

In a well loved primary song we are taught “when my mother calls me quickly I’ll obey”. It reminded me of a lesson on obedience that a home teacher gave my family many years ago. In his lesson he introduced to us what he called the obey sign. His proposed sign was this simple hand gesture. He told us that if our mom or dad ever gave us the obey sign that we had to remember his lesson and immediately obey. I know, it sounds really hokey, right? The strange thing is, it worked. For the next several years when one of us kids would complain about a chore inevitably one of the other kids would call out “Mom! Give them the obey sign!” As soon as my mom whipped it out it was like a hex, and the complaining child felt like they had to do whatever they’d been assigned to do.

What changed by introducing the obey sign? Nothing really. It wasn’t truly a hex that caused instant obedience. We were simply reminded of a commitment we’d made previously as well as the futility of complaining about the task at hand. Perhaps we should implement our own obey sign to remind us not to complain about the commandments we’ve been given. Life is better if we will “quickly obey” rather than making ourselves miserable complaining.

3) Our actions of disobedience don’t just hurt ourselves but also harm others around us

In Brother Barrus’ story not only was he put in danger, but his father then was put in danger as well. His father had to swim across the nearly flooded river to rescue his son. Also, if indeed his disobedience cost him his night at the movies, his siblings and parents likewise would have been kept from that treat. In the story of Lehi’s family Laman and Lemuel’s disobedience kept Nephi and Sam and all those who were being righteous from getting to the promised land as quickly as they could have. Furthermore, I’m sure that the righteous among the Children of Israel weren’t too happy that they had to wander for 40 years while the rest of their people got their acts together.

I have seen an example of this recently. A dear friend of mine has made some really bad choices in the past year. I’m sure that in the world most people would look at the things he did and say that he was only hurting himself and that he should have done whatever he wanted. However, I’ve seen how the choices he made deeply affected his family and friends. His personal bad decisions have since cost his parents a great deal of money, not to mention many many hours of hurt, frustration and betrayal spent by every member of his family and many of his friends. Although at the time he could have easily justified his actions by saying that it’s his own life and that he can do what he wants and just face the consequences later, he was not the only one who had to face the consequences. None of us live in a vacuum. Every decision you make effects those around you, whether you realize it at the time or not. Don’t ever let Satan catch you with the lie that your actions won’t hurt anyone else, it’s simply not true.

So far I feel like my talk has been on more of a negative note, but in Clyn’s story there is ultimately a happy ending.

4) Even when we go astray Heavenly Father loves us

When Clyn realizes his mistake he prays for forgiveness and in answer to his prayer his father comes, and takes him in his arms and tells him how glad he is that he’s safe. In a moment where young Clyn was probably in deep despair his father’s love and help erases the problems he is having.

We have the blessing of the Atonement in our lives which works much the same way. In the third article of faith we read:
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. When we realize that we’ve done wrong we can turn to the Lord and he will take us in his arms. We can repent and Jesus Christ will erase the mistakes we have made. I would like to finish with a final quote from Elder Holland’s talk –

“I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.” On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting.”

As we prepare for General Conference this week I hope we can all take the challenge to listen to the counsel that we are given by those who we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. And when we get that counsel let’s remember to obey it quickly.

I know that as we are quickly obedient to the commandments given us we will be blessed.

Brittny – 10 October 2009

I’ve meant to post highs and lows a few times this week but hadn’t gotten around to it. So these will be for the whole week –

Low: Sleep. I think our whole family needs to sleep more consistently. We need to teach Sam to sleep through the night, and Eric to work normal daytime hours. And by teach Eric to work normal hours I mean teach Omniture to finally let him work the normal daytime hours since they’re not using him at night anyways (not that I’m bitter about that or anything :P)

Highs: On Thursday Eric pulled out his violin and practiced some and played for me and Sam. He thought he was rusty but I *loved* listening to him play. It’s not a coincidence that I agreed to marry him after seeing him play for the first time (ok, yes it is, but it sure didn’t hurt anything 😉 ). Whenever I see him play I am always left feeling in awe that I am the wife of such an incredible man. It’s hard to explain exactly what it is, but it always reminds me what a smart, passionate, dedicated man he is and how lucky I am to be married to him.

On Friday we had a really fun day. Eric’s friend Vance found this place in Provo that has authentic Taiwanese food so we all went there for lunch. It’s called the Cooking Taste Right Cafe and the food was really good. Definite high! Then that evening Eric and I went with our good friends the Criddles to Trafalga. Sam stayed at our place with Taylor and Ryan and apparently wasn’t a big fan of being left behind, but we had a fun night out with just the two of us, which doesn’t happen very often.

Today I went to our Quarterly Relief Society meeting. I ended up not signing up for any of the crafts because I had a hard time deciding on one to do that would be within my skill level without having it be no more difficult than putting stickers on something (sorry, I like the vinyl things that people do, but I have a difficult time considering it a craft) and something that I would actually want. So I spent my morning making a soup for the lunch and just going for that portion of the meeting. I’m really glad that I did! I got to talk with a sister in our ward who has two high-functioning autistic kids and is struggling with a degenerative disorder that is causing her to lose motor function. She needs some help in the evenings and Sam and I need to get out of the house and do something useful. Win win! I’m really excited to have made a new friend in our ward and to finally have something worthwhile to do with my time.

So, I guess that pretty well covers me! Happy Weekend 🙂