And the prophet said…

Dear friends

This past weekend (first weekend in April) was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member.  This happens twice a year, six months apart, and is when the general (world wide) leaders of the church address the general membership and the world.  With satellite and internet technology, wherever we are in the world, we can receive the messages, virtually instananeously, through live streaming, audio and/or video as the conference takes place at church HQ conference centre in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

As a Latter Day Saint I believe in living prophets and I trust that, for our spiritual safety, when they speak, we should listen and follow.  For me it’s​ no different to the trust the ancient Israelites had to have in Moses, that if they followed him, they would gain their freedom from the Egyptians where they were in a state of slavery.  Which ultimately is what happened.

So the conference actually all began last weekend with the women’s session where female church leaders spoke on trusting the Lord and not leaning (Proverbs 3:5-6), the beauty of holiness and being faithful, certain women, in the New Testament sense.  And then an Apostle (Henry B Eyring) spoke on the peace that we can only receive from the Lord Jesus Christ; it was sublime.

When you prepare yourself for conference, it’s as if the speakers are speaking to you, personally.  The words resonate within my spirit as I hear words of truth.  There were admonitions to be kind, charitable, true, faithful, how to recognise and follow the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, how to not live by fear, how to overcome the world. 

And the prophet, Thomas S Monson, in his Sunday morning address, asked: We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? And the answer: I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.   And to develop and keep a strong testimony: read the Book of Mormon, each day 🙂  And the promise if we do this? 

As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.

I am very grateful for the simplicity which is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ – it is a the greatest blessing in my life and that of my family.  I love our Saviour, Jesus Christ; I’m grateful that He speaks still through living prophets, same as anciently – all things have been restored.  

Primary role

Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19 verse 14

Dear friends

In recent weeks I have been called to serve in the Primary organisation of our church ward (local unit).  The Primary organisation is for the children, up to 12 years.  

It’s been about 10 years since I last served there – I recall because Son1 had not long been baptised (at age 8) when I was released. Daur1 and Daur2 were also there, but Daur2 was 3 years old so doesn’t remember.

You can imagine how excited Son2 has been since finding out that his Mum will be with him each Sunday:)!!  And I’ve been excited too.  I’ve already had a week in nursery (with children aged 18 months to 3 years) – I’d forgotten how delightfully stubborn a 2 year old can be! And this month I’ll be doing sharing time, with all the 3 to 11 year olds, about 12 of them so not too many.

Of course, I will miss the youth Sunday School class… not sure if the feeling is mutual 🙂 … and Daur1 did remind me they are little children!!  We had our first presidency meeting – I’m a counsellor -the secretary is the same, and filled us in on recent issues. With a couple of families moving out before summer we will lose several children in a short space of time. But things change quickly so we’re not relying on a small number of children to ease anything.  

This will take me out of my comfort zone, that’s always a good thing for me as it stops me becoming complacent. And I feel it’s so important to be able to share the gospel with children; the gospel of Jesus Christ is beautifully simple, and simply beautiful (not my phrase… I think one of the modern day apostles) and so to be able to explain eternal concepts in a manner that a child can understand is important.  That’s the way the Saviour taught us 🙂

perilous times

Dear friends

Family is who you die for

That’s the strap line of a billboard advertising an adult rated game showing several people holding guns. I was going to post a picture but that advertises the game!  So here’s a family stock photo!  

It seems to me that the advertisers have replaced the kill for die and therefore make the whole game seem more… honourable.  Literally glorifying violence! 😦 

It’s an(other) example of how we, and our children, are being bombarded with slightly false messaging.  After all, most people love their families enough that if it were asked of them, they would risk their own lives. But this false messaging seems symptomatic of the last days, these perilous times that Paul described (2 Timothy 3 vv1-5), particularly having a form of godliness.  

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come….

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,…

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:

I did listen to this wonderful talk from one of the female LDS church leaders, which speaks of these perilous times and how we, as women, need to rise up in strength.  I encourage you to listen and be uplifted 🙂

 Bonnie L. Oscarson – September 2016

seeing the good, tender mercies

Seeing the good and tender mercies can missed, like seeing the juxtaposition of old and older in this Normandy village

Dear friends

My last post – small things -set the scene of last week’s events – it was a difficult week! But I should say that during this, I did notice the Lord’s hand and his tender mercies, protecting our family – I especially felt this when the clutch on the car failed.  It could’ve been a lot worse!

It could’ve failed the day before, on our way to church (children and me in the car, we would have all missed partaking the sacrament), or on our way back home from church (all five of us again and none of us took coats – it wasn’t raining but it’s not mid summer!), and we live about an hour walk from church.

It could’ve failed on Saturday when I use it the most – Son2’s piano lessons, Daur1 work (drop off & pick up), Son1 pick up from late shift at fast food restaurant.    

It could’ve failed on Friday, the chauffeur evening, when the three older children were in the car and we were traveling on the motorway at 60 miles per hour on our way to or back from the stake centre in the next city.

It could’ve failed on Wednesday when I had the pelvic scan and in the afternoon I took my dear husband, down the motorway at 60 miles per hour, to an eye appointment at an out of town clinic, before coming home to take oldest siblings to evening Seminary.  

The leak could’ve been nearer the middle of our room, rather than the corner.

And the mouse, well, that could’ve gotten to the front room and scurried all over my dear husband and I during the night… nibbling toes…. eeewwwww….

From Apostle Elder David A Bednar (April 2005):

the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).

chauffeur service update

Dear friends

It’s chauffeur night. Actually, it’s been a chauffeur day and right now is my break = 🙂 I read an article recently about how we feel most at rest when we are alone – I concur!

View from our longest road trip, Normandy, France

I am like many parents I’m sure where personal chauffeur for our children is part of the job description.   And let’s face it, we wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Our eldest daughter, Daur1, has recently labeled this time as older siblings road trip.  For me, it’s when I get to hear what’s really happening at college – X loves college because she can get high everyday!…  I know what weed smells like now!… I’m disappointed with Z, he tried ecstasy! Class A drug!.. The sniffer dogs were in college today.

I’m sure it’s not a complete den of iniquity but I’m glad the children are comfortable with opening up with at least one of their parents.  I tried not to get too concerned about the interest and exposure to illegal drugs! 

So, my chauffeur duties today have been: drop dear husband at train station before 7h; drop Daur2 close to school before 8h20 (so I can get myself to work for 9h meeting); pick up dear husband from station; wait and pick up Daur1 from station; take Son1, Daur1 & Daur2 to Stake Youth Seminary & Activity – older siblings road trip plus one (i.e. Daur2); and then drive back home. 

So, I’m looking forward to the drive home and hearing the news from stake youth. I am grateful that they enjoy being with their peers at church and I know I will look on these days, evenings, fondly… one day… maybe sooner rather than later since Son1 turns 18 years in the coming days 🙂

who we are…

Dear friends

I promised this post a couple of months ago.  Back in April, I was asked to give a talk with 6 days notice and no topic at the Saturday evening session of stake conference.  For those of you not familiar with latter day saints, a stake consists of several units of the church in a geographical area.  It was a sublime experience to be led by the Holy Spirit as to what to prepare to speak on and on the evening, being the penultimate speaker, it was humbling to note that my words summarised all those who had spoken before.  So, here’s the talk.

 

Good evening, Brothers and Sisters.  As I pondered this assignment, I felt impressed to speak on who we are and our relationship with God.

Some years ago, when I was a young girl, I looked in a mirror while getting ready for school, and into my eyes.  I didn’t see a gawky, shy but slightly mischievous 11 year old girl.  As I looked in my eyes, I saw something else, something far deeper, beyond my physical appearance, and I recognised that this part of me would still be alive after my physical body passed away.  I didn’t understand what this overwhelming feeling was; I burst into tears, was inconsolable for some time, and missed school!  Unable to really explain what I had felt, it was years later before I came to understand who I really am.

The knowledge that we are spirit children of God has been with humans since our first parents, Adam and Eve, walked the Earth, and permeates humanity.  That we are literally all spirit sisters and brothers within the human race follows, since we have the same heavenly parentage.  Some time ago, before the earth was formed, though it probably would not seem long ago if we could remember, as the children’s primary song (#4) states: we lived in Heaven:

Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.

Then Heav’nly Father presented a beautiful plan,

All about earth and eternal salvation for man.

 

We knew who we were then; we knew our identity and our relationship to God was clear – we knew that we are His children and we chose to follow, and defend, Father’s plan for us to become like Him.  We chose to honour our relationship with God.  And now we are here, on earth.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom at April 2016 General Conference explained:

“Here on earth, we identify ourselves in many different ways, including our place of birth, our nationality, and our language.  Some even identify themselves by their occupation or their hobby.  These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity —that of being a son or a daughter of God.”

From the scriptures, two individuals who, I feel, did not let their earthly identity supersede their eternal identity, despite the difficult times they lived in, are Mormon and Abraham.

First, the mighty prophet historian and leader commander, Mormon.  He lived at one of the most trying times in history, one which would see the annihilation of his nation (the Nephites) and leave his surviving brethren nation (the Lamanites) in a depraved and lost state.  He knew it, he could clearly see the state of his nation people, that “they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits” (Mormon 2v14) and that they “did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them” (Mormon 5:2).  Mormon leads the Nephite armies from the age of 15 years and he is about 50 years old, when he ‘utterly’ refuses to be a commander and leader “because of their wickedness and abomination” (Mormon 3 v11).  Mormon states “I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard… Therefore I write…” (Mormon 3v16-17) and certainly Mormon wrote – we know that!  It appears to be more than 10 years later when he decides to lead the Nephites again, though it is “without hope,” for he knew “the judgements of the Lord which should come upon them” (Mormon 5 v2).  Mormon’s final words, before Moroni records his father’s death, reach out to all, inviting to believe in Christ and be baptized, with water and with fire, with the Holy Ghost (Mormon 7).  Throughout his life, Mormon did not lose sight of his eternal identity, nor that of his brothers and sisters, including us, for whom he wrote.  He did not forget his relationship with God.  Can you imagine if Mormon only identified himself as a Nephite commander or leader, totally fixed on destroying all Lamanites, rather than as a child of God with a unique task to fulfil?

Then Abraham and the particular choice he made early in his life, to not identify with his fathers and the people around him – “In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of [his] fathers, [he], Abraham saw that it was needful for [him] to obtain another place of residence… [His] fathers having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshipping of the gods of the heathen” (Abraham 1 v1-5).  They utterly refused to hearken to Abraham, who identifies himself as “a follower of righteousness” (v2) with desires to “receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God” but instead they tried to offer him up, as an offering to strange gods, idols, as they had done with men, women and children before him.  Abraham was saved by an angel, leaves the Chaldees and goes to the land of Canaan.  As we know, in that land, the Lord makes a covenant with Abraham, which Abraham keeps, and through Abraham’s seed “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessing of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abr 2 v11).  Today, we take part in that Abrahamic covenant, become Israel – the covenant people, as we are baptised and receive all the blessings of Heavenly Father through temple covenants.  Can you imagine if Abraham only identified himself as a Chaldean, willing to be sacrificed to the heathen Gods, rather than as a child of God with a unique task to fulfil?

We live in equally troubling and difficult times – the winding up scenes of history – but also the best of times since we have been given the opportunity to be baptised, by water and by fire, with the Holy Ghost.  We individually have the opportunity to make covenants with God, possibly as no other people in the history of the world, with the building of temples across the world.  Truly, we are ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.’ (1 Peter 2 v9).

But do we identify with this, first and foremost, or do we put our relationship with God second, preferring to be identified by our profession, by money or where we live, our nationality, or our race?  And do we identify others by their profession, nationality or race rather than seeing them as a child of God, as we all are?  What would be the difference in our lives if we identify ourselves as daughters and sons of God with his unique work to fulfil?  Remember:  “These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity —that of being a son or a daughter of God.”  Elder Hallstrom

As I thought on this, I realised that God has told us, throughout scripture, what we can do to maintain and improve our relationship with him:

“Turn ye unto me,… and I will turn unto you.” Zechariah 1 v3

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.”  D&C 88 v 63

“Return unto me, and I will return unto you,” Malachi 3 v7

“Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you,” James 4 v8

How do we draw near, turn to Him, return to Him?  It is simple, we repent.  Through Zechariah, the Lord told Israel to “Turn you now from your evil ways,” and through Malachi, Israel was told to bring “all the tithes into the storehouse.” James wrote “cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded;” and early in this dispensation, through Joseph Smith Jnr “sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him.”  And to us now, a couple weeks ago in General Conference, our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, told us:

“When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency…  Although it is imperative that we choose wisely, there are times when we will make foolish choices. The gift of repentance, provided by our Savior, enables us to correct our course settings, that we might return to the path which will lead us to that celestial glory we seek.” 

I have made mistakes and I have felt the Lord’s forgiveness as I have needed to use the gift of repentance to turn back to him.  I am very grateful for our Saviour, our eldest brother, and that because of Him, when I make a mistake or neglect to do something, I can change.  Because of Him, I can improve each day and I have pondered on where I need to improve and I hope I can remain true and faithful to my Father, and choose my relationship with Him.  I know the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, available only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true.  I know for myself that it provides all necessary covenants and knowledge of salvation, so we can honour our relationship with Father, while on earth and return safely to Him.  I know Joseph Smith Jr is a Prophet, that the priesthood of God was restored to earth through His angels – John the Baptist, Peter, James and John.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Thomas S Monson is a true prophet of God.  I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My brothers and sisters, for that is what you truly are, we all have a special relationship with God; He is our Father and He loves us, you, very much.  We need to draw near to Him, keep our covenants, use repentance, feel the blessing of forgiveness, and honour that relationship with Him while here on earth. Then when we pass on, we will see Him clearly again, “face to face: now, we know in part, but then shall we know even as also we are known” (from 1 Corinthians 13 v12).

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

the burning hut

Dear friends
One of my cousins passed this story to us, so I’m passing on, hoping it will encourage someone else 🙂

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little
hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, and soon there was nothing left. The worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. “God, how could you do this to me?” He cried.

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” The weary man asked his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

In life it’s easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, when things are not going our way, but we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain, and suffering.

Remember this the next time your “hut” seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. Please consider passing this message on, because “You Never Know Who Feels Like Their
Hut Is On Fire Today”

Tender mercies

Dear friends
This past weekend has seen some miracles in my life, not large scale like parting the Red Sea but equally meaningful to me and I know the hand of the Lord was involved.  A prophet (Thomas S. Monson) has said:

The Lord is in the detail of our lives

I truly believe that and these are the details where I saw Him in my life the past few days.  I encourage you to look out for the Lord and the Holy Ghost at work in your life – Father is always there.

1. Finding matches: Some weeks ago we noticed the match box (we use them for lighting the gas cooker) was low. They were on the shopping list but last week when we went shopping we couldn’t find them in the household goods section. None. This wasn’t critical until this weekend but my dear husband still didn’t buy them.  Yesterday, Sunday we used the last few and I checked with dear husband that he still had a lighter (he’d bought them to light to cooker but I find them difficult to use without lighting my thumb!) So early this morning, resigned to using a lighter, I went to my husband’s desk to find one. As I dug around the top drawer, lo and behold!, I find a small box of safety matches!! 🙂

2. The conference talk: last Sunday, after sacrament meetwith as I was getting the classroom ready, for the youth Sunday School class that I teach, I was asked to give a 10-15 minute talk on the Saturday evening session of stake conference, in 6 days.  (For those of you who are not LDS, this is a large local area meeting for the church, the Saturday evening for all adults, so typically around 200 people in attendance).  The presiding area seventy had made some changes to the proposed programme and asked me to speak.  No topic – I was to be inspired, like general conference (from Salt Lake City, for everyone #LDSconf).  I looked at him and said “Me?” I was a little incredulous but was assured that this is what the Lord wants.  So last week I prepared a talk, completing it in the early hours of Saturday morning, the theme being who are we and what is our relationship with God and each other.  I timed it, 11m 30s, and practised reading it a few times.  When I was asked to sit on the stand, beside another speaker (who said she’d received her assignment some weeks ago, with a verse of scripture to base it on), I still has no idea when I was speaking or the other topics.  As the meeting began, I peered forward to check the programme held by the stake president.  I saw my name, after the intermediate hymn and right before the visiting seventy.  I was the penultimate speaker, eeekk!!  I did, however, feel a great calm as each speaker spoke. And by the time the stake president had finished, I knew that the talk I had prepared was in fact the perfect summary of the previous three – right down to the stake president using a phrase which I had written.  It was one of the most sublime experiences that I’ve had and I am humbled to know that the Lord knew that I had the personal views and experience that would meet the stake’s needs for that meeting. (I’ll post my talk separately).

3. My tablet – I have a Samsung 10.1inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablet and since a little after Easter it has not charged, at all.  I had bought some new cables, left it charging, returned from work, and nothing.  The children were interrogated. I’ve never understood the full story – “Son1 killed it” “Daur2 switched it off!” “I didn’t touch it!” You know how it goes!  I took the back off, back on, left it to rest, tried again but nothing. So, I reluctantly decided to take it to a fixer shop at the end of this month (payday!), dreading how much I’d be charged.  This morning, as I was about to go to work, I thought, let me try again, and I set it to charge.  I’ve already learnt to be patient with devices… seconds later, the screen lit up with the battery symbol, charging!!  Yeah!!! 🙂

PS – when I told our daughters about the tablet charging again, they gave each other a knowing glance and Daur2, we thought it might – maybe Heavenly Father took it away so it wasn’t a distraction while you were writing your talk!!

spring is back!

Dear friends
This weekend is Easter #Hallelujah and the clocks spring forward so we are heading into long, long evenings.  We have virtually 7 months of British Summer Time… it’s almost ridiculous to me that Greenwich Meridian is based in the UK, given most of the year we spend in BST!  Anyway, spring it is – grog spawn has been seen in ponds, daffodils are blooming everywhere, pumps are replacing boots, and Son2 left (abandoned!) his jumper at school!  We’ve had the school Easter concert – a great, stirring rendition of Bring him home from Les Miserables by the school concert band (not featuring Daur1 on flute who has been committed to revision sessions) and the Glee (interesting!) version of Homeward bound by the student led A Capella choir, featuring Daur2 singing alto. 
And today is my last full day in the office until early April – I have to go in next week to get a new, long awaited, laptop, but that will be the morning only.  And I think tomorrow we have a cinema trip planned – Batman vs Superman and Kung Fu Panda 3!  And I really must do some Christmas preparations!!  🙂