Sunday, September 27, 2015

Men Are That They Might Have Joy

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

Twice a year, the prophets and apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints speak directly to the members of the church, giving much needed counsel and wisdom to help buoy us in these turbulent times.

Last night was the first session of October 2015 - the General Women's Conference. While I was unable to watch it when it originally broadcast, I became intrigued by the memes and comments others posted on social media. Most especially from President Uchtdorf's talk entitled, "A Summer with Great-Aunt Rose".

Today, while sitting quietly in the foyer at church as I waited for choir practice to start, I listened to his talk. In his beautifully accented voice, he told a simple, yet profound story about a girl who went to live with her great-aunt Rose for the summer and the lessons she learned there. I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with his words, for I've learned those same lessons in my own life.

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

There was a time when I found myself miserable and depressed, when nothing seemed to go right for me and I lamented my poor, pathetic existence. I didn't realize how much that attitude of self-pity and victimization affected every aspect of my life until one day, as I was reading back through past Facebook posts, I noticed how negative most of them were. It was no wonder no one cared to spend time with me! I wouldn't want to be around someone so dark and depressing, either.

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

It was at that time that I decided to make a change. No more negative posts. Nothing sad and depressing. No more complaining or whining when things went wrong. At least, not without putting a positive spin on it. Every post had to be uplifting and happy.

I made that change simply to change how I came across to others online, however, a curious thing happened - I changed. I became happier. My life became better. I became the person I had always dreamed of being.

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

Life became brighter and full of a joy and contentment I had never before experienced. No longer did I believe true happiness could happen only once I had passed through the veil. It is possible now.

My heavy burdens lifted. The doubts and resentment I had toward God, which had kept me from fully embracing His truths, eventually dissipated and I found an intense desire to return to his fold.

Not only that, but once I stopped obsessing over my own problems, my eyes were opened to the needs of those around me. Service stopped being a burden and instead became a joy.

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

For the first time since I was a child, the pure love of Christ filled my soul and I felt a burning desire to share that love.

"Men are, that they might have joy" - www.believeisaverb.com

My dear friends, I do believe we are that we may have joy. When our Father in Heaven presented the glorious plan of salvation, we shouted for joy. He gave us this amazing opportunity because He loves us. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to rejoice! 

So go out. Find your happiness. Share it with others. Praise God, thanking Him for all that is good and wonderful. Be joyful, for that is what He desires most of all!

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Comforter, My Friend


Once again, the post for today is not the one I originally planned. The Holy Spirit speaks and so I listen.

Being an emotionally sensitive being, when the Spirit fills me, I am often overwhelmed and am unable to keep the tears at bay. For several years, this was the reason I had distanced myself from all things spiritual, keeping them at arm's length. Yet, I know one day, when I was able to face the onslaught of feeling, I would return. I believed in God, I believed in the power of prayer, and I believed in eternal families.

However, I did not act. I feared I would lose control of my delicate emotions when the Spirit beckoned. More than anything, I did not want that. I feared man more than I feared God.

Despite my fear, I never stopped believing. My heart knew the truth which could not be denied. Bit by bit, I allowed myself to move closer to the gospel. As my confidence grew, so did my desire to become what God wanted me to be.

But those bothersome tears! They sprung up at the most inopportune moments, the latest during the last verse of my favorite hymn - "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" - as I sang for the congregation of my ward. I searched for a solution to keep the tears at bay. The only option I could find was to once again distance myself from the church and all I believed. That solution was and is unacceptable. How could I again deny what I've come to know as truth?

Then my uncle died and with his death came further spiritual enlightenment. Not only was my belief in eternal life strengthened tenfold, my desire to follow my uncle's inspiring example of service and Christlike fears pushed my doubts aside.

In the aftermath of my grief, as my life returned to a semblance of normal and I accepted the truth of my uncle's passing, an inkling of a thought tickled my mind. I pushed it away, dismissing it as nothing more than a passing fancy. Days later, it returned, stronger and more insistent and I knew it was the answer to my prayer.

Just as my tears over the loss of my uncle had decreased and eventually subsided, the same would happen the more I embraced the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

There's a reason the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter, for his continued influence in my life will bring peace to my soul and I will become attuned to the emotions such a hallowed presence invokes. The tears that escape and run down my cheeks will not be anything to fear, but will bear witness of the depth of my love for Christ and His gospel. Those things I feared most will become my greatest testament of God's word.

For I know that my Redeemer lives. By accepting His Holy Spirit's presence, I will become a beson of His everlasting light; for a candle set upon a hill cannot be hid.

And if I cry, so be it. For God knows my heart and that's what matters most.

26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Families Can Be Together Forever

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
My husband, me, my parents, and my sisters

My uncle's funeral was yesterday.

My uncles, aunts, and cousins came from hundreds of miles away to attend. Several drove through the night so they wouldn't miss saying goodbye.

At the viewing Friday night, the line went out the door and the service yesterday was standing room only. The funeral procession stretched longer than I could see. Hundreds, if not thousands, of tears were shed for the loss of so great a man.

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
One of my many cousins. Seriously, I have a LOT.

My uncle was an amazing man - one I greatly admire. He was the epitome of dream chasers and touched the lives of so many people. His drive and ambition coupled with his true love of others has always been an inspiration to me. And any who knew him, even briefly, knew of his deep and everlasting love of Christ and His gospel. He bore witness of it through his every word and deed.

His death hit me harder than I thought it would, invading every waking moment and even into my dreams. It took three days for me to stop crying at random times. I struggled with wanting to go to the viewing. Seeing him lying in the casket would make it real and I didn't want to deal with the resulting emotions. It was almost more than I could bear. But knowing I would regret not going, I went.

As we stood in line at the funeral home, I both wanted the line to move more quickly so I could get it over with and prayed it would never end. What would he look like? How would I feel? And more importantly, how could I keep from completely losing it?

When it was finally our turn, I forced myself to look at his lifeless body and a thought - more crystal clear and vivid than any - came to my mind.

That was not my uncle.

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
Sister and cousin!

The pale, still shell lying there did not resemble the man I knew and loved. And as I looked again, another thought - even more real and true - shouted, "He is not here, for his spirit has departed. He lives on!"

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
Aunt and cousin (in-law, but it counts)!
That realization kept the tears at bay and as I turned away, my eyes were instead filled with a room full of love and laughter. My family - more than I had seen in one place in many years - surrounded me. It was the ultimate family reunion, one my uncle would be overjoyed to see for he was the glue that held our extended family together. It was he who emphasized the importance of family. He loved and supported and encouraged each and every one of us in our endeavors to better ourselves and grow our faith.

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
Uncle and aunt!
And I found comfort knowing that while we are parted for a time, in the grand scheme of the eternities, it will be but a moment. For families are forever through God's eternal plan. By staying true to the faith and fulfilling the covenants made in the holy temple, we can be together once again.

Families Can Be Together Forever - www.believeisaverb.com
Cousin!
"The end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity." ~ President Boyd K. Packer, April 2015 General Conference
 "'And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.' (Helaman 5:12) It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides this foundation upon which we can find lasting peace and build eternal family units." ~ Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2014 General Conference
This is what my uncle taught. This is what he lived.

This everlasting truth...

This is his legacy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Believe is a Verb

Note: This post was originally posted on my sister blog - LysandraJames.com - to introduce this blog. That is why the title photo has that web address on it. I promise I'll be better about keeping the two web addresses straight. :)

"Believe is a Verb" - www.lysandrajames.com, www.believeisaverb.com

Believe is a verb.
A verb is an action.
Therefore, to believe is to ACT.

Sunday was the debut of my faith-inspired blog, "Believe is a Verb". Its focus is on the spiritual side of things with an emphasis on acting upon your beliefs. And yet, believing in something or someone isn't exclusive to spiritual matters.

Belief is universal.

What does it mean to believe?

"Believe is a Verb" - www.lysandrajames.com, www.believeisaverb.com
Definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster Dictionary app for iPhone.

To believe is to accept something as truth; to have a firm religious faith; to have a firm conviction as to the goodness or ability of something.

But it's so much more than that.

When you believe something, your actions are the evidence of your belief. 

If you believe in God, you pray and attend church.
If you believe one person can make a difference, you help others whether you receive recognition or not.
If you believe in your personal potential, you seek to improve your skills and talents.

On the flip side, negative beliefs are evidenced by our actions as well.

"Believe is a Verb" - www.lysandrajames.com, www.believeisaverb.com

If you believe you're worthless, you hide yourself away and lose yourself in meaningless activities.
If you believe you have no talents, you don't seek to try new things.
If you believe you're alone, you don't reach out to others when things go wrong.

Belief is a choice.

Believing in something doesn't just happen. You don't wake up one morning suddenly believing. You must choose to believe.

Choose to believe you are worth the effort. Get up, get dressed, and get out of the house. Stand tall and look others in the eye. Discover what is great about who you are.

Choose to believe in something greater than yourself. If you're not inclined to believe in God, find something else to believe in - science, the greater good, whatever feels right. Seek out information through books, blogs, or talking to others. Learn everything you can and put what you learn to use.

"Believe is a Verb" - www.lysandrajames.com, www.believeisaverb.com
Add caption

Choose to believe in your dreams. Take steps to make your dreams happen. They can be baby steps or even a slow shuffle, but always move forward. 

Never give up.

Belief takes time. Just as the smallest seed only grows when watered and cared for, so does your belief. There will be days when you will be challenged - days where you want nothing more than to hide under the covers and wait for the storm to pass. 

But don't give up. If you want to believe, truly believe, then act. Move forward. Do what it takes. You can do it.

I believe in you.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Master, the Tempest is Raging

"Master, the Tempest is Raging" - www.believeisaverb.blogspot.com
Oops. That's the web address to my sister blog.

This is not the first post I intended to write for this blog. However, the Spirit speaks louder than words can express and who am I to ignore such a prompting?

Two days ago, my dear sweet uncle died suddenly. Even now, I want to cry out and deny the truth of his passing for he was a giant among men and went much too soon.

Earlier in the week, a link came across my Facebook feed. The topic was grief. I was not grieving at the time, so I almost passed it by. But something told me to read it.

Courtesy of www.thatericalper.com
How true this is! And yet, it's spoken from one who endures grief alone.

But you don't have to endure this alone. As you drift in the sea, battling the waves that relentlessly pound, you cry out, "Master, help me!" Before the last word is uttered, a life preserver flies though the air and soon you are joined by our Savior, the one who has suffered it all. He is there to guide you through the storm, having been there before.

When your grip slips, He is there to wrap His arms around you and keep you from drowning. As tears streak down your face, you look to find those same tears mirrored in His eyes. For only He knows the true depths of your pain.

So when the waves of grief wash over you, reach out. Cry out His name. Beg for His help, His guidance.

He loves you more than you will ever know, for He has suffered deeper than you would believe possible. And He did it for you. Yes, you.

22. Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
23. But as they sailed, he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.  
24. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 
 (Luke 8: 22-24)