Thursday, November 22, 2012

All that I have...

So I'm just happy today. I had just finished my scripture study on Alma chapter 8. A favorite of mine. I just admire Alma's ability to do such hard things. Sure we read how speedily he returned to the city of Ammonihah, but how easy would that have been? To go back into a city where you had been spit upon, reviled, and cast out of. I sure wouldn't want to go back. But after an angel appears to him and tells him his work is accepted of the Lord, he's asked to go back. And he goes speedily. What courage. What faith.

So I read and was pondering those things. When I received a phone call from a husband and wife I was able to meet in Dallas on my mission. They're my black mama and papa. My goodness their amazing. We are not members of the same church, but we are believers in the same God. They simply called to tell me happy thanksgiving. Just hearing their voices and chatting for a short time filled me with love for them that once consumed me while serving my mission. Suddenly I recalled all the many other people I got to meet while serving the Lord. My heart was full. I was then able to with clarity think upon all the many wonderful things I have in my life.

I wont proclaim that I was the best missionary ever. But I will say that I did my very best to love all the people I was privileged to come in contact with. That's all I really knew how to do well. And what I got in return was an outpouring of love.

I got of the phone with my mama and papa and just got tears to my eyes. I was filled with love. And thought, really what else matters in this world more than loving others? Is there anything else that is as lasting and fulfilling? I began to list all the things I have in my life. I'm truly blessed. We live in a country of peace. We don't have to worry about our safety from day to day as so many of God's children do. I have loving parents and family members. Wonderful friends. I've been blessed to receive an education. I find myself in a career that brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I have a healthy body that works and I get to do things that make me happy. I could go on... amid all those things I get to love others and feel love from others. I really see no greater blessing in life.

So this thanksgiving day I proclaim gratitude for the greatest blessing I think the Lord has giving me, the ability to feel love from others, and the desire to love others. I think that's why I love being a teacher. It doesn't take me long to care about each one of my students and wish the best for them. Gosh right now I just want to hug all those I love. I don't know how to better show my feelings than through time and affection.

Above all of that, I'm grateful for my relationship with my Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ. I'm not able to put in words how my heart longs to be near them. And how grateful I am that each day I'm able to work hard to get to know them better and become more like them. Father, my expressions of thanks are not sufficient for the gratitude I feel towards thee and they Son.

I pray that we all may be able to enjoy this holiday season with those we love. Not only to feel that love from them, but mostly to be able to show our love to them. In whatever way will communicate it best.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank you C.K.

"We can lift ourselves... when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude." - Pres. Monson

Dear C.K.,

Thank you.
Thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for always believing in me.
Thank you for motivating me to set goals.
Thank you for supporting me in my standards.
Thank you for all the road trips.
Thank you for holding my hand in public.
Thank you for motivating me to be more active.
Thank you for the hours of hugs.
Thank you for wanting to help me with school work.
Thank you for being interested in my career.
Thank you for laughing with me.
Thank you for watching Disney movies with me.
Thank you for being supportive of my career.
Thank you for being patient.
Thank you for showing me what it feels like to be loved.
Thank you for being with me when I was sick.
Thank you for all the miles put on your car coming to and from my house.
Thank you for spending time with me doing nothing.
Thank you for giving me tips on how to wrestle more effectively.
Thank you for showing me what it's like to stop day dreaming.
Thank you for building my faith in Christ.
Thank you for helping me better understand the Atonement.
Thank you for showing me I can be better.
Thank you for teaching me.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for showing me how good it is to be a team.
Thank you for communicating so openly with me.
Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for following the spirit.
Thank you for giving me the chance to prove to myself that no one can ruin me with God in his proper place.
Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Institute Insights

So this was from last week. I'm taking "Teachings of the Living Prophets" so we get to go over the most recent conference talks.

Last week we watched Pres. Uchtdorfs talk, "Of Regrets and Resolutions" But what stuck with me the most was how my teacher chose to preface the talk.

He told of a CES fireside given by Elder Holland back in 1999. It was broadcast to the entire church but live in attendance were the local CES employees. So my teacher, Robert Line, was in attendance. Bro. Line told how the fireside ended and they all got up to leave and suddenly over the speakers they hear Elder Hollands voice say, "Wait! I'm not done. I just had to finish because of the broadcast. But sit down. I still have more to say." I love Elder Holland.

Elder Holland then counseled these CES teachers on the "6 Top Priorities in Your Life." So I'm going to share them with you now.

1. Physical and Spiritual Self
2. Spouse
3. Children
4. Calling
5. Career
6. Civic duties

We then talked about how important it is to keep these priorities in line.

Immediately I noticed that I needed to take better care of myself physically. I've been doing better and have set goals and have noticed a difference,  but this is something I'll need to continue to do the rest of my life. Bro. Line told us that Elder Holland continued to explain that #1 was really just putting God First in our lives. That with God in the proper place all the other priorities will be able to be taken care of. And to not let one over power the other. That physical and spiritual needs are equally important.

One girl raised her hand and said "Um, where are friends on that list? I'm single and friends are really important to me." My teacher went on to say that maybe they fell in line around 3 or 4. I disagreed. I raised my hand, not to be confrontational, but I felt like if friends needed to be up there Elder Holland would have added them. So I said 'No. I think it's exactly how it should be. How often do we, as singles, replace friends with #2. It's a whole lot easier to just priorities our friends than find a spouse.' There was no argument.

But this could go with anything. How easy it is to mix up these priorities. I'm guilty of it. I reflected and recognized times that I haven't put the Lord first and my relationship with him, and I've suffered. Not only spiritually, but physically as well. And then all my other 'priorities' took a beating too.

So with that teaching in mind we listened to Elder Uchtdorfs talk.  What I remember most about his talk is the counsel to "find happiness". I remember envisioning this mass of happiness that was just out there. Something tangible, waiting to be grasped. All we need to do is find it.

Along with that, I was talking to a friend on Sunday. We had been having a very personal conversation, he mentioned that he missed the sunshine and that always makes him gloomy. I said something like "Oh yeah! Seasonal depression is a pain. But some of us get to deal with it year round." He looked at me puzzled. I smiled. Then he said "So... " I said, "Yes. I suffer from depression. I have for years." My friend: "Well, then can I ask you something? If that is the case, why is it that you always seem so positive all the time? Because, it doesn't seem like you'd be someone who deals with that."

I told him that I've learned to recognize it for what it is. A space of time that causes me to lose all desires to do anything. I acknowledge it, accept it, and keep doing what needs to be done. I remind myself that it's not permanent. That the things I feel and think are not truth. I told him that I've learned to recognize the difference between what is truth and what are the lies Satan is trying to feed me. I told him that I may have depression, but I don't have to be depressed. That I believe all things can be healed through the Atonement.

But I think a main reason that I'm able to preserver through this physical/mental abnormality is that I do my very best to put God first in my life. He is my strength and motivation. I don't want to ever think that I don't need him there. Nothing frightens me more than when I think "I don't need to pray today." Or "I don't need to read my scriptures." Because who am I to not need the Lord that day?

Another institute teacher once taught this same idea that we needed Christ at the center of our lives, holding everything else up. Because if we put our spouse, family, job, or anything else there, those things may fail us. A spouse may die, or leave, family may choose to not stick around, or not come at all, you can lose a job, but Christ is and always will be the Savior. He will not let us down. Upon the rock of our redeemer we cannot fail.

I think this is a day by day thing. At least it seems like it will be for me. Each day  making decisions that put my priorities where they need to be. To be open to the spirit and following the counsel of my Father at what is best for me to be doing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Daily Study Thoughts Sunday Nov 18

Well this is from yesterday. So maybe I'll just be a day behind.

I've added in reading talks from conference with my daily scripture reading. It's been amazing to see how the Lord is even in tune enough with me to lead me to the talk  I need most that day. I do not read in any order. Instead when I'm praying before my study, I tell the Lord what I will be reading in the scriptures, and then I say "Then I'll read a conference talk from..." And then the first session that comes to mind is the one I choose. I then look through the talks and one usually stands out. I've done this in the past and a specific name has come to mind. So I read that. Every time there is an important lesson for me to learn. I'm humbled by the countless things I need to work on. But thankful that the Lord is patient with me and I know he will teach me little by little.

So yesterday I read Elder Scott D. Whiting's talk "Temple Standard". He spoke of the time he was the coordinator for the Laie Hawaii temple re-dedication open house.(I've been to that temple. Happy 23rd birthday to me!) He gave stories of two instances where the inspector of the building finding grit on the walls and a small 2 inch piece of glass out of place. Then when going through the temple again to only see that wall paper covered the wall and a plant stood in front of the glass window.

I then thought about me as a temple. As we're told we are. 1 Cor 3:16-17,19. I thought of all the grit and two inch piece of glass that exist within me. How the smallest things are important to the temple of the Lord. So the smallest things that need adjusting in my life are too of great importance to the Lord.

I continued to reflect and thought of how careful I must be to not allow grit on my walls, and two inch piece of glass to be out of place. And not in the sense that I have to be perfect, but how often I invite grit onto my walls, and glass to be out of place. How often I justify it being okay to be there. How easy it is to bring it in and allow it to stay. But how much easier it would be to just not let it in at all. To refrain from creating these circumstances in the first place.

There are so many different forms of grit. The older I get the more I learn about the ones I have on my walls to get rid of. I was faced today with a slap in the face, (I shall write about tomorrow). I'm uncertain as to how I am to fully get this grit removed from my walls. It's so much a part of the decoration of my temple that it almost seems improbable that it can be removed. But I have faith that with God all things are possible. I have faith that Christ can help change me. Bring about the power of repentance and build me into the temple he knows I can be. Even if I doubt at times that it can be done, I must have faith in him. Not me. Not someone else. But him. My Savior. And him alone. He will not fail me.

I recently renewed my temple recommend. I love this process. I wish it could happen more than every two years. I find strength and power come unto me when I am able to answer those important questions. I feel it's almost a process for me as well as the judge in Israel to know of my worthiness. Then being able to be in my Fathers house, close to him... that's were I hope to always be. Close to him. So though I may have grit on my walls, or a scratch on my floors, and I anticipate it will take much work to remove them, I also know that these are not things that keep me from the love of my Father. Nothing can keep me from that. Except myself. His love is unconditional. Meaning, even with grit, or scratches, or mud, or breaks, or missing pieces, he does and will love me. And when I'm ready to fix those blemishes He is more than willing to help me and teach me the process. This I know to be true.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daily Study Thoughts

I hope you don't mind me sharing my daily scripture study thoughts. I don't do this out of boasting to show off what I learn, I do it more with a feeling of gratitude for the things I come to understand better.

I read Mosiah 27 today. I love this chapter. It shows how truly remarkable the power of the Atonement can be.

I had a thought today about these sons of Mosiah and the son of Alma. We know that they had "become numbered among the unbelievers", "wicked", "idolatrous", "leading people away from the truth", "stealing away the hearts of the people, giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over" others. (Mosiah 27:8-9) Then through the "power and authority of God" an angel comes to answer the prayers of Gods servants according to their faith.(Mosiah 27:14) As the chapter continues we read about the conversion of Alma the younger. Later in the Book of Mormon we are able to know better about his conversion. But my thought today came near the end of the chapter. In verse 32.

It recalls how Alma(the younger) now begins to go about and teach the people about the redeeming power of the Atonement. "Traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they(sons of Mosiah and himself) had heard and seen, and preaching the word of God..." Now here comes the important part, "Preaching the word of God in much tribulation, being greatly persecuted by those who were unbelievers, being smitten by many of them."

Now, continuing through the story we learn that these 5 men become instrumental in building Gods kingdom at this time. I thought to myself, how difficult that would have been to remain firm in their testimonies.

They went from one extreme to the other. Before the angel came they had many friends I'm sure. Many that believed them and followed after them. Listening to their every word. I'm sure they were very well liked by this group of people. And then following their conversion to then go and tell all these people, their friends most likely, about what was real and true. That they were wrong. Then to only be received with "much tribulation", "persecution", and "being smitten by many." How easy would you find it to continue to be true to the gospel and what you know is right? Which would be the easier thing to do?

How would I do in this situation? How many times do I find myself repentant and ready to change, only to go right back to what I once did because it's easier? Easier to live in my sin than to be diligent and continue forward facing much tribulation, persecution, and being smitten.

How did they do it? How do I do this?

Elder W.F. Gonzalez, spoke in Oct 2012 conference about "Learning with our Hearts." He speaks about the fact that we cannot have complete understanding without the applying our hearts to understanding.(Mosiah 12:27) It's only through this understanding with our hearts that I believe we can maintain conversion. Not just enjoy it briefly but maintain it, and live it. He continues and says....
        "We access this celestial source when we do things such as reading the scriptures, hearkening to the living prophet, and praying. It is also important to take to be still and feel and follow the celestial promptings. When we do this, we will feel and see things that cannot be learned with modern technology. Once we have some experience in navigating this celestial web, we will discern the truth, even when reading secular history or other topics. The honest seekers of truth will know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost."

He emphasizes that this is an important way to come to know Christ to feel these things. "By coming unto Christ, every soul can see, feel, and know of a surety that Christ suffered and atoned for our sins that we may have eternal life... Thanks to Him, wounded souls may be healed and broken hearts may be mended... He will not fail you... Verily our conversion unto Him is rewarded with our healing."

I'm so grateful for the scriptures and words of modern apostles that can lead us to know how to overcome ourselves and become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know there is no other way to find and experience peace in this life. I pray that each time I am once again thrown back into "tribulations", "persecutions" or being "smitten",(physically, mentally, or spiritually) that I will be able to be like Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah and continue to live in righteousness  feeling and knowing in my heart that Jesus is the Christ.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Student Teaching Tid Bits: Finished

Welcome to Student Teaching Tid Bits. 
This is where I will do my best to document that which is my experience of being a student while also being a teacher... a bit of a paradox. Want to come along with me through my experience of Student Teaching? Well if you don't then choose not to read.

Well... I did it. I had a lot of people who believed in me. My mentor teacher was a huge blessing. C.K. never doubted I'd be able to do it and do it well. He was right. (Thanks for never doubting me even when I always did.) My professors were encouraging and very complementary. And even some of my students would tell me I was doing a good job.

What I learned:
a) I cannot and will not tolerate a lack of respect for fellow students. More than one of my classes experienced my at my angriest(word? well it is now). I learned I could handle them talking while I was talking. It didn't hurt my feelings. But the minute they didn't show respect to a fellow student, I lost it. Not crazy out right yelling. But I got so serious they knew I meant business. Now I warn my classes that when presentations are going on, you listen. Because you don't want to see what I'll do. It seems to work. 

b) Students, well humans, need a reason for things. I got really tired of asking one of my classes to stop talking during announcements. You can only say "Be quiet" so many times without it registering and there just is no longer any point. So I waited. I didn't start yelling or screaming. What would that accomplish. Instead I sat calmly waiting for the announcements to finish and them to be quite and I told them... 'You know. One day you'll be sitting in a staff meeting and you'll have to listen to things that you don't really care about. And if you just acted the way you did during announcements you'd be fired. Fired. No warnings, no second chances, just fired. So be careful you guys, start learning lessons now." I always want to give a reason for why I'm asking them to do something. They deserve that. I need to make sure I never ask them to do something that doesn't have purpose.

c) Students, well people, just want to feel as though someone cares. I've blogged about seeing the change in students once I show a personal interest, but it's been fun to see how much it really means to them. Since I'm no longer student teaching, I'm substituting in the same school. So I walk through the halls and see my former students, and most of them say hello and smile at me. Some have even come into my classroom to tell me they miss me. Even ones that I thought hated me, poke their heads in to say hello. A few of them also said that they felt I 'got them" I don't think it hurts that I'm single, without children, and sometimes mistaken for a high school student. But I find that I'm glad they still want to say hi to me, that they tell me they miss me, that they want me back... I hope that means that they could see and feel how much I cared about them. I found that when a student would drop my class, I'd wonder about them. Or if I saw they were suspended I worried about them and their choices. 

d) I still look like I'm in high school... I gotta go buy more grown up clothes. Or wear more makeup. And probably stop carrying a back pack and my Wonder Woman lunch box... Wait a minute! I draw the line there. Wonder Woman ain't going no where!

e) I have a responsibility with these kids. I recently re-heard Elder Oaks talk from conference called, Protect the Children, there were so many things I took away from that of how I can do better as a teacher to build these children up. Am I setting to high of expectations for myself? I hope so, because I am not doing this job for the money. I'll tell you that. I'm grateful that the Lord has put me in so many teaching opportunities to not only show me my strengths but also my weaknesses, all the more better to prepare me for my children. 

f) I love learning about history. I'm so excited to one day know more about it all. So many fun stories!

g) I cannot always do my best. Sometimes I just have to do okay. My lessons will not always be amazing, but I can always make my classroom a place students want to come. One student told me that she wasn't going to go to Dance anymore because I wasn't teaching... I told her she better because I want her to pass. She deserved to pass. That's where I can always do my best. To care about these kids and their futures. Lessons are only secondary.

h) I know nothing about pop culture... and I don't care.

i) I'm really going to love this career. Finally, after so many trial and errors I've found where I feel I fit. Probably it's telling me I really just want to be a mom. Because, let's be honest, all I'm trying to do is help teach these kids how to leave my classroom better than when they came in. It's a hard job. But so far nothing compares to it fulfillment at the end of the day.

And that was student teaching for me. 

So no more student teaching tid bits... just teaching tid bits from now on. 

Feelings are worth being felt.

Someone very smart has told me that emotions are not bad. You feel them, give them to God and move on. And after learning what I have about the Atonement(my last post) this smart advice, makes so much more sense to me. How any time we feel pain, sorrow, betrayal  loneliness  sadness ... anything! Christ has felt that too. I've felt many things the past few weeks since learning this concept of how to better know Christ by empathizing with what he suffered through. Never will I have to feel as he did, but that's where the comfort comes. No matter what I go through, He went through worse.

I've had a lot of people tell me recently to just let me feel what I need to feel. I find I more often then not fight off many emotions. I tell myself, that I'm strong and that I don't need to feel this way. That no matter what's going on it shall be for my good so why should I feel sad, or whatever. Right? I've got faith. I don't need to be feeling anything but hopeful. Right?

Well I no longer think that way. I can still have faith and hope and still feel hard emotions. I no longer think that my feelings have to be justified. They are what they are and I feel them. No one can tell me that I shouldn't feel that way. No one can tell me to move on and get over it. That I'm over reacting. Because, no. This is how I feel. And you know what? Christ felt this way too.

When we chose to get baptized into the LDS church, we promise to "bear one another's burdens. Mourn with those that mourn. Comfort those who stand in need of comfort." Is this not the epitome of what Christ does? Does he not bear our burdens with us? He went through them already for crying out loud. Does he not mourn with us when we mourn? Well I know he does with me. Does he not bring us comfort when we are in need? Well, I know I've felt that way. So to be able to do these things for one another. To be able to bear one another's burdens, mourn with those who are in mourning, comfort those who need it, are we not simply doing as Christ does? Getting to know him and what it's like to be him just a little bit more.

So then why do we hold back? Why do we not let Christ bear our burdens, or mourn with us, or comfort us? Why do we, okay I. This is about me. Why do I feel like I need to do it by myself. That I'm strong enough, that I do not need to lean on others and let others see me fall to pieces. Why do I feel like I should keep in those things that will only provide my with greater opportunities to know my Savior better? Should I not embrace those emotions I feel? Turn them around and ache with Christ over how hard it is. How much I don't like it. How much I no longer want to feel that way. Just like he did in Gethsemane  pray for it to end, but accept the will of the Father. THEN receive the comfort of an angel so that he could continue to pray in agony. Is it really any different for me?

I recognize also that I'm denying others the opportunity to fulfill their baptismal covenants by being so prideful. They are not able to experience that side of knowing the Savior. Knowing what it's like to bear someones burden, or comfort someone, or mourn with someone. Who am I to deny them an opportunity to better know their Savior? I feel I've been doing better. I feel I have made strides. But I recognize how far I can go.

There is no doubt in my mind, heart, body, spirit, pinkie toe, that Christ is our Savior. No one else could comfort me through the things I've been comforted through. No one else could ease the burdens that have been placed upon me throughout life. No one else will continue to comfort me as I progress in this life. He is my Savior, and I never want to take that for granted. I want to let him save me. I want to get to know him better. For the better I know him, the easier it will be to be like him. I have no other objective.