Brittny – 30 July 2009

I’m going to break with my current trend and actually post my high and low in the prescribed order, since I think it will work better that way.

Background – As you all know, Eric and I have had a very special conundrum placed before us. On Wednesday, July 21 – the day before our due diligence deadline (the last day to cancel the offer we had placed on our house without losing our earnest money) – Eric was informed of an opportunity which would take us to China. Of course, this meant that we had to scramble to get information about this opportunity and others which we had and reconsider whether or not we were buying the house we had placed an offer on. It was an incredibly hard decision. On the one hand we’ve always felt like we wanted to end up doing something in China someday. However, the opportunity that Eric was presented with wouldn’t really make the most use of all of his skills or give him much room to grow. Plus, we were really happy about staying here in Orem. We *loved* the house that we’d put an offer on, and we’d already invested a good chunk of change in purchasing it. We have lots of family around here, and are much closer to the rest of them here than we would be in China. Now that we’re done with school, and have a baby we’re kind of ready to just settle down. Anyways, we were able to push our due diligence deadline back a week from Thursday, July 23 to Friday, July 31 while we tried to gather up all of the information about the different options we’d been given. By Wednesday, July 29th it was pretty evident that we weren’t going to get all the answers we needed to make an informed decision, and we were obviously staring down the barrel of a pretty major decision with a hard and fast deadline.

High: Taylor agreed to watch Samuel while Eric and I went to the temple to get a chance to think things over and ask the Lord for guidance. We were running a little bit later than we would have liked, and we got to the temple just after a session had started. That was actually a blessing because it meant that we had longer to just sit in the chapel and read scriptures and ponder together. I got in there before Eric and was able to flip through the scriptures for a second. I opened up to the back where the pictures are (yes, I am 4 and am drawn to the pretty pictures). As I looked at those pictures of the church history sites – most of which I’ve been blessed to be able to go to – I had a feeling of how blessed I had been to have seen those places with my own eyes and be able to feel of their spirit. Then when Eric came in he opened the scriptures at random to Doctrine and Covenants 68. We read through it and even though most of the chapter is devoted to priesthood hierarchy and things that would generally be considered less inspiring (not unimportant, but not what I’d generally look at and be inspired by), there were a few phrases that jumped out to me. In particular verse 8 –
Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Before going to the temple I was leaning towards that we should go to China, but since we didn’t have an official job offer, and we didn’t even know if it was going to come through ever… and we *really* liked the house, it was only a slight leaning and I can’t say I really wanted it to be true. After reading that scripture I felt like my leaning was confirmed and that I couldn’t fight it anymore, we were supposed to be going to China.

That endowment session was one of the best that I’ve ever been to. Somehow going with a purpose to receive an answer opened up the endowment for me. I can’t explain what it is exactly that I got out of it more than usual (not just because there are things that shouldn’t be talked about outside the temple, but because I can’t explain what I saw that was different even if I did talk about it), but everything seemed to have deeper meaning and I came up with more questions than ever before. Also, since Eric and I were the first ones in the chapel we were asked to be the witness couple which is always a cool experience. I felt like the Lord was particularly aware of us and our being there when in a prayer given in that session the brother giving the prayer asked that anyone who had come to the temple that day with a special purpose would have their purpose granted. No one there knew what we were facing at that time and I knew that Heavenly Father had inspired that brother to give that prayer on our behalf. The spirit that I felt at that moment was so strong and unmistakable.

After the session was over Eric and I had a few moments to sit together in the Celestial Room and ponder together. After a few minutes of silent prayer we discussed our feelings. We had both come to the same conclusion, even though we didn’t have an official job offer, or a place to live or many of the other things you’d want to have before making such a decision – we needed to be ready to go to China at any time. Which leads me to my low…

Low: Our lease on our condo ends next Monday and we don’t have somewhere to live yet. We don’t know how long we’re going to be here and we don’t have a particular job offer. We’re in the ultimate limbo land. However…

High Part II: My Facebook status right now says that we are “living it up by faith.” That’s not how you’d usually see it phrased but I’ll tell you why I phrased it that way. We’re not merely living by faith, but thriving on that faith. Even though we’re in this mega limbo land with nothing decided, I’m totally at peace. I hadn’t even realized how much turmoil I was in before receiving this answer and getting to a point where I was totally at peace. Weird huh? You would think that receiving an answer to move to the opposite side of the planet, and not having anything prepared would be a state of turmoil, but I am at peace about the whole thing. It doesn’t mean I’m not sad about not buying that house, or scared to death of moving to China, or frustrated that we don’t have somewhere to live next week… but I’m perfectly at peace. The Lord truly does take care of us when we are willing to listen to His counsels. I am so grateful for His guidance and the power of prayers and temples.

Brittny – 28 July 2009

Low: I went to the store yesterday with Taylor and didn’t realize that Eric and I were almost out of milk. So instead I only bought chili powder… and now we’re out of milk πŸ˜› I should know by now that it’s almost always a safe bet to buy more milk for our little family.

Highs: Taylor brought dinner over on Sunday and I had super yummy veggie casserole for dinner that night and lunch yesterday as well as watermelon, rolls and “Gorilla Poop Cookies”. Yum yum yum! Thanks Taylor! Not only was it really yummy but it meant I didn’t have to figure out what I was making for dinner that night AND I didn’t have to make more dirty dishes to add to my growing stack.

Sam slept for 3 hours by himself last night while Eric was at work so I was able to do all our dishes and clean off our counters (no, the floor still isn’t swept, but Eric took out the trash when he came home so we’re almost there!). It feels really good to have our kitchen mostly clean again. I was also able to make a strawberry rhubarb pie for Eric in celebration of him completing an impossible amount of work in a week. I was all ready to surprise him with it and he surprised me by coming home with leftover Brick Oven pizza and root beer – yummy pizza too with good veggies on it πŸ™‚ (wow, apparently my highs and lows are very centered on food right now… maybe I need to eat breakfast πŸ˜› ) It was fun both to surprise Eric and to be surprised by him.

After that 3 hours of sleep Sam woke up and ate and played with Eric and I for a little bit, then slept for another 2 hours in his crib. This meant Eric and I had some time to cuddle and talk before going to sleep. I’d forgotten how much I missed just being able to spend time with my husband when we can have each other’s undivided attention. Overall, it was a really good night!

Brittny – 17 July 2009

I’m going to break from my habit of posting my low first. Usually I want to focus on my high, but tonight I feel more like elaborating on my low.

High – I’m going to post highs both for today and yesterday. Today’s highs were getting my hair cut (it always feels SO soft afterwards) and getting to spend a part of this afternoon with my favorite sister πŸ™‚

Yesterday’s high – Eric got off work unexpectedly early last night. He came home and we started to watch some Battlestar Galactica together. I was still working on the dishes and taking advantage of Eric playing with Sam so I could do so. After a few minutes Eric handed me Sam and sent me to sit with the baby so I could focus on the episode (plus Sam wanted to be fed and Eric sorta lacks the necessary equipment). He then took over for me in the kitchen and finished all of our dishes!! For the first time in probably a month all of our dishes are clean!! Thanks honey, you are the best. I love you!

Low: One of my dearest friends, whom I have known since birth, posted in her blog tonight that she has left the church. I’m not sure I can describe in words how that wrenches my heart. This is someone that I have shared many spiritual experiences and who I love deeply and it just makes me want to cry to see her reject her testimony.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m completely shocked to see this. I’ve watched her decide to live on the fringe of righteousness for awhile now. Not that I’d say she’s been doing things that were blatantly wrong, just not staying as far on the side of the gospel as possible. She’s been participating in things like drinking caffeine, swearing, and attending activities in questionable atmospheres. Obviously, none of those are against church doctrine and you can definitely be a member in good standing even if you do any of those things. However, it seems that the closer you stand to that line between evil and righteousness, the easier it is for the adversary to knock you over onto his side. Satan truly is out there trying to attack us on every hand, and delights to watch us fall.

I’m not saying that I think those things were what caused her downfall. I’ve been guilty on more than one occasion of skirting the edges of the gospel. However, I think it’s the attitude we develop when we start participating in those activities that is dangerous. The idea that “well, it’s not *sinning* so it’s ok for me to do it” isn’t always true. The Spirit withdraws from us as we allow ourselves to rationalize these activities and we slowly give ourselves over more and more to Satan.

As I was pondering these events I thought of this scripture in 2 Nephi 26:22
[The devil] leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
I had been taught before something interesting about this scripture. Flaxen cords are made from very fine threads. Each thread is very weak and is easily broken. However when combined with other flaxen threads it forms a very strong rope that is nearly impossible to penetrate.

I was looking up a reference to confirm what I’d been taught about flaxen cords when I came across this interesting article. It talks about the story of Samson. Because the writer of this article did a much better job explaining this idea than I would I will just quote directly from them:

…Samson playfully allowed Delilah to bind him with green withes and with new ropes and to weave his hair into a web. In each case he escaped easily, mocking the Philistines, until at last he was betrayed by his overconfidence, deprived of his strength, and bound with unbreakable fetters.

The story of the binding of Samson is a powerful lesson in the dangers of flirting with evil and confiding in our own strength.

I think the last part of that quote is most significant. As we skirt on the edges of righteousness, or as they put it “flirt with evil” we are relying on our own strength to keep us from harm rather than allowing the Lord to protect us. As we near that line we allow Satan to slip one more thin thread around our necks that can slowly drag us down to hell.

There is some good news with this parable though. Quoting again from that previous article – When a flaxen cord is burned, the ash retains the cord’s outward form but crumbles at the touch… This can be compared to the Atonement. If we decide to come away from these choices Christ can come in as with fire and burn those cords so that they crumble to the touch. That’s not to say that it’s as easy as just asking Christ to take over. If the cords were set on fire while you were wrapped up in them… you would have problems that would likely outweigh the ropes. But with His help we can free ourselves from those ropes or questionable activites, then He can burn them so they crumble to dust and become as if they never existed.

I want to just take a quick opportunity to bear my testimony of the gospel. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. The more I put my life in line with the teachings of the church the more I realize that it is the only path to true joy. I have joy that is indescribable as I spend time with my husband and son and realize that we are blessed to be a family eternally. I can think of no greater blessing than to have the love of family forever, and of nothing more miserable than considering being without them. The more I free myself of choices that are evil or even questionable, the happier I am. I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life and for the way that it blesses me. I am grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ, that He would sacrifice his perfect life for us so that β€” as incredibly flawed as we are β€” we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again and enjoy the blessings of exaltation. Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can possibly imagine. We are so blessed to have a prophet on the earth today to help lead and guide us through the challenges that face our day. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Notes: Just for the record, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m condemning this friend. I still love her dearly (obviously, or her choices would not have such an effect on me) and hope for the best of everything for her. Nor am I coming out against the particular activities I’ve listed. My point is more the attitude of participating in fringe activities than these activities themselves.

Lastly, a quick legal note. All statements in this post are my personal opinion and should not be considered the official stance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.