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Dec 17, 2014

Women and The Preisthood

A fascinating parable I ran across, regarding the true nature of purposes and blessings of the priesthood.

"Once a man received as his inheritance two keys. The first key, he was told, would open a vault which he must protect at all cost. The second key was to a safe within the vault which contained a priceless treasure. He was to open this safe and freely use the precious things which were stored therein. He was warned that many would seek to rob him of his inheritance. He was promised that if he used the treasure worthily, it would be replenished and never be diminished, not in all eternity. He would be tested. If he used it to benefit others, his own blessings and joy would increase.
The man went alone to the vault. His first key opened the door. He tried to unlock the treasure with the other key, but he could not, for there were two locks on the safe. His key alone would not open it. No matter how he tried, he could not open it. He was puzzled. He had been given the keys. He knew the treasure was rightfully his. He had obeyed instructions, but he could not open the safe.
In due time, there came a woman into the vault. She, too, held a key. It was noticeably different from the key he held. Her key fit the other lock. It humbled him to learn that he could not obtain his rightful inheritance without her.
They made a covenant that together they would open the treasure and, as instructed, he would watch over the vault and protect it; she would watch over the treasure. She was not concerned that, as guardian of the vault, he held two keys, for his full purpose was to see that she was safe as she watched over that which was most precious to them both. Together they opened the safe and partook of their inheritance. They rejoiced for, as promised, it replenished itself.
With great joy they found that they could pass the treasure on to their children; each could receive a full measure, undiminished to the last generation.
Perhaps some few of their posterity would not find a companion who possessed the complementary key, or one worthy and willing to keep the covenants relating to the treasure. Nevertheless, if they kept the commandments, they would not be denied even the smallest blessing.
Because some tempted them to misuse their treasure, they were careful to teach their children about keys and covenants.
There came, in due time, among their posterity some few who were deceived or jealous or selfish because one was given two keys and another only one. “Why,” the selfish ones reasoned, “cannot the treasure be mine alone to use as I desire?”
Some tried to reshape the key they had been given to resemble the other key. Perhaps, they thought, it would then fit both locks. And so it was that the safe was closed to them. Their reshaped keys were useless, and their inheritance was lost.
Those who received the treasure with gratitude and obeyed the laws concerning it knew joy without bounds through time and all eternity."

Excerpt from-  For Time and All Eternity: Elder Boyd K. Packer, General Conference 1995

Dec 16, 2014

To Mothers with Small Children

I am a stay at home mother of small children. Recently my newest little one came...5 months ago. I have been hearing about your lives, your struggles that it seems no one cares about. Your frustrations that you tell to the arm of your couch because it seems no one else is there to listen. Sometimes those struggles end up on Facebook. We know we need each other right? I am going to share what has happened to me in the last few months, though it may seem small on a world wide scale. Let us remember though the hand who rocks the cradle rules the world; that world begins in our home.
 In many ways I have been excited to be a mom. For much time growing up I had visions of grandeur. They were good visions. They were correct God given visions of what raising children should be. I was so excited! I WANTED to be a mother so badly, because it seemed so fulfilling!
Then I had kids and as they have come along they have come with their fair share of pain, patience, sleeplessness and equal, greater joy. The joy has been more glorious than I have ever expected! I have watched myself change in so many good ways. Children have been the BEST and most difficult personal growth path ever.
Just before my 2nd came along 6 months ago, a lot of other things happened in our lives. We crashed our old car and bought a new one. We bought, and renovated a 4 bed home, after living in a little 1 bed apartment (that is a miracle story right there). Much more maintenance goes into owning a home. The hubby got promoted at work, was called as a spiritual leader for the men in our congregation (service and care to 80 something families). I was put in as the choir director (much more time consuming than I expected). These things were definitely what God had in mind for us. Then my 2nd was born...
I started the first few weeks off alright. I would hit a mess wall and my hubby would help me out of it... I was pumped about handling this mom thing. I could do it. Someone told me, "Well, you feel about 5 steps behind all the time, but you get through it." No. That was not going to be me. I would not survive motherhood, I would THRIVE, regardless of how many small children I had. That's what God wanted me to do of course. The problem I did not realize at the time was that I was going to conquer. Through study, perseverance and hard work I would succeed, because that is what God wanted me to do. I read up on it and tried to get a schedule going to pull things off.
Well, God saw to it that I was sufficiently humbled. The I thing had to go. Both children got sick with croup and another bug for 3 months straight and then my little 3 month old got the WORST case of eczema, miserable all day and did not sleep at night. There were nights he would wake up every other hour and cry. Our toddler had nightmares and would wake up on top of it. Different creams would not keep it under control. It took us a month and a half to get it manageable with a couple of Dr. visits. Meanwhile, I kept on with the "I can do it" motto...but I was slipping.
Finally, the calling that I was so afraid of, that I had tried so hard to accomplish had caught up with me. I was hopelessly embarrassed 2 weeks in a row because I had forgotten to get a sub pianist and cancel choir and other seemingly brainless things. I was pretty sure everyone thought I was a complete flake and our choir was doomed, because ward choir success relies heavily on a consistent good director who attracts volunteers. I had been the opposite for the last 3 months.
I came home after that Sunday and just cried. I was in a pit of despair. I did not see a way out. On top of it all my house was a wreck. I was surviving laundry load to laundry load. Dishes all over and a huge to do list before winter set in that just wasn't getting done. I was drowning, really. What scared me most though wasn't the laundry, it was the interaction in our home with each-other and with God. I was not praying morning and night and reading my scriptures every day. It was kind of hit and miss deathbed repentance communion. It was not A#1 as it ought to be. I was losing my temper with my kids and reacting to their needs in ways I should not. That terrified me because I know it has such a lasting effect on kids when they are so young. I was course with my husband and he was suffering emotionally because I was. Husbands also need to be supported in housework and caring for children to feel that the home they are providing for is thriving. The feeling in our home was FAR from my goals, God's goals and having a temple-like home. I was not fulfilling my role and it was causing a downward spiral that did not just affect me, but my family.
I was having horrible thoughts like, "I must not be cut out for this job." "Maybe I am not strong enough or awesome enough to do what God needs me to." "I am a horrible person. Terrible mother." "God may have to find someone else for His blessings because I just can't do it." It was a terrible, dark place. I felt so weighed down by the adversary (Satan) and I recognized it. He was pleased I was not succeeding and he wanted to kick me while I was down. I wanted out. Out, out out. I was scared. I just wanted it all to go away, perhaps a vacation for 2 weeks to calm me down... yeah. But that was not possible.
Jesus didn't get a vacation from the Atonement. Where would we be if He did? What would my children, husband do without me? I could not quit now. I had to fight back. What do we fight Satan with? The Savior, because he always, ALWAYS. Wins.
I needed something from Jesus that I could not give myself. Obviously I could not do it. Point blank. I needed the Atonement. Not just to repent of sins but to be enabled to do this Super Woman thing that I obviously could not do. I needed the ENABLING POWER of the Atonement pretty badly.
I fell to my knees and prayed. I told God I could not do it. He confirmed that thought. He told me that I could if I let the Atonement change me and completely relied on Him.  I asked to free me of the adversary. I asked desperately how to apply the enabling power of the Atonement, and God said... You have the answers, go find them.
I spent 4 days pouring over the scriptures, and conference talks. Elder Bednar was my friend. :) Every spare chance I got. I listened to conference talks through doing dishes, before bed at night. I lost sleep finding answers. I had daily, hourly answers to prayer. It was so BEAUTIFUL! There were moments I felt like cranking up Mormon Tabernacle Choir and dancing like a crazy, because I knew. Mysteries of LIFE were unfolded. The spirit gently gave answers to my questions. I KNEW there was a way out. I can't fully describe that sacred time, but I am happy to report that my children were fed and taken care of through that period. The house remained a wreck.
I reached a point where I thought I knew what had to be done in order to apply the Savior to my life. What I needed to do to make Him first. I presented my plan to the Lord and He made a few tweaks that I was nervous about. It seemed to add to my load. He made it clear I needed to engage in Family History and prepare names for the temple and he also made it clear that I needed to make time to serve those in my ward family and that I needed to make time to blog and pursue studying the Home and Family. He told me I needed to make time for dating my man and make special time for my kids. He needed to make sure that what He wanted me to do seemed impossible. I felt like the Children of Israel, receiving instruction on how to fell the walls of Jericho. O.o.
I sat down and made a weekly plan on how to further the work in each of the areas that God needed me to balance. The hubby and I had a Family Night where we talked about how we would change and support each other in this work. My husband was thrilled. We used the daily missionary routine from "Preach my Gospel" as a foundation. We made daily, weekly, and monthly plans. No matter what happened that day personal and family PRAYER and SCRIPTURE STUDY came FIRST. And...the vision of the rocks in the jar came to mind. We put the big rocks in first and would fill the sandy details later.
Hubby restored the house to its former glory over the course of a weekend. He did 12 loads of laundry in one day among other things.  It was so nice to float through the house like a dream; all clean and sparkly.
It came down to the morning before my new life would begin. I felt a little nervous, but prepared to give my will to His. That was all I could do.
I started with sincere prayer first every morning and asked for the power of the atonement to enable me. I also asked to listen to the Holy Spirit so I could know what God wanted me to do.  I sat in a quiet place where I knew I would not be bothered by kids and immersed myself in the scriptures for 10-20 min. Sometimes it meant getting up before kids; even though I was dead tired. Then I went to work following what I had outlined and tweaking where the Spirit directed.
Miracles. Miracles. Miracles. Every Day. I feel so empowered and free. I am enjoying, rejoicing though my job. Does Satan throw me curve balls? Yes. Do I listen to the lies? Sometimes, but I am much quicker to catch it and ALWAYS Personal Spiritual Preparation first. It’s like putting on my bullet proof shield for the day. I am learning fast! It’s like he is dumping information into my brain almost at a rate that is at the edge of my abilities to assimilate. Does my house look perfect all the time, no; but, it remains at a point in which we can function well, leave it for a bit to serve elsewhere, and it is NOT it crisis mode. YAY! He is filling the holes in my Faith. I LOVE IT.
As I prepare to act in the morning and as my day goes by, God accelerates my abilities, keens my mind and brings things to my thoughts that need to get done in the right order. I feel as if I am on fire! It’s Weird. And so cool! It baffles me. I am connected with my world and I get to participate in His miracles. It is possible. 
Ladies we can. Not because we are made of some super human stuff, but because HE is. All can come unto Him. He gives LIFE even to our little, seemingly insignificant, but most important family lives.