Finding Home and Heaven on Earth

I've heard that there is a lot of mention of temples in the news recently.  With Mitt Romney running for President "Mormonism" has become somewhat of the religion of the moment to be talking about. I'm not one to dive into political topics or debates and what I think of the Presidential race will remain a secret to the rest of the world. Only my voter's ballot will know what I think. What I would like to do is to share how important temples are to me.

There have been times where people have asked me questions about what goes on inside these holy edifices. Please know that they are sacred houses of God and what goes on inside is not a secret but they are sacred. The best way that I know how to answer these questions is with the words of Latter-Day Prophets and Apostles. I keep the following quote from Brigham Young in my wallet so that I can share it at any time. Its getting a bit ragged around the edges because I've had it since I was just a young girl, maybe 13 or 14 years old.

Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels...being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood and gain your eternal exaltation...-Brigham Young
It would be almost another 10 years from the time I first read this quote until I would enter God's house and take part in this ordinance myself. The endowment, however is not the only covenant, or promise, that we make in the temple. We do baptisms in behalf of those who have died without a knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. To learn more about that read this talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He explains it much better than I ever could. If you don't have the time/aren't interested in reading that much at the moment you can check out this page on 

Someday in the hopefully not too far away future I will be married in a temple for time and eternity. Marriages that are solemnized in temples of God do not end when we die. There is no "til death do you part" in the ceremony because it is a sacred union of a man and woman and God. I have seen the blessing of a temple sealing in my parent's marriage and I know that it gives them a better focus on things that really matter. They will be together forever and my siblings and I will be right there beside them. Forever is a darn long time and I get a better perspective of how much I should show my love to my parents and siblings.
I know this isn't the most comprehensive view of temples and there is so much to be said, taught, experienced and enjoyed about them. Absolutely anyone can enter a temple, so long as they are living worthily. I would encourage anyone who reads this to make a commitment to be more active in temple worship if already a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and if you are not, to learn more about why these buildings are so vital to us by inviting a set of missionaries to your home or asking a friend who is a member of the church. If you do not know anyone that you could ask I would be happy to share more with you on facebook and you can find me here.
Just a brief last note: Thank you SO MUCH to those who participated in the September Book of Mormon reading challenge. It finishes up tomorrow and then the best month of the year begins! Make sure you start October off right by participating in General Conference on October 6th and 7th. Click this handy little banner for more information. Oh yeah..and don't forget to celebrate my birthday on the 5th! [It's an international holiday nowyaknow.]
Come listen to living prophets

I Love Hymn, I Love Hymn Not

What happens when you've had a really spiritual experience reading from the Book of Mormon with your friends and you realize there are just 10 minutes before you have to be home, but you don't want to kill the spirit by just getting up and leaving right at that moment?
You turn to your companion and she suggests, "We could sing a hymn."

[Insert an acapella version of three women singing How Great Thou Art. Not necessarily in tune or all in the same key]

Then leave with a prayer and tears in your eyes.
This is the formula for a perfect evening.

As I've been pondering what else I could say about the power of music and how I feel the Spirit nothing have come out right. I simply cannot find the words to describe it. I 've heard an analogy that explaining feelings of the Holy Ghost is like trying to tell a person what salt tastes like. It's just an experience that you have to figure out yourself, and then you'll recognize it forever.

So due to my lack of ability to figure out these feelings I've found some quotes from the Prophet and some Apostles in hopes that one will speak to you.

Also here is a moment where I shared the gift of song with some very dear friends on the day of their baptisms. Its taken me a long time to be brave enough to sing solos (or in this case a duet) in front of a group of people. So even though it's not a picture, this is a milestone to put something like this on the internet so I'm including this as a BIG embrace moment.

President Thomas S. Monson
Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite. However, music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity. You cannot afford to fill your minds with unworthy music.

President Boyd K. Packer
When temptation comes, you can invent a delete key in your mind—perhaps the words from a favorite hymn. Your mind is in charge; your body is the instrument of your mind. When some unworthy thought pushes into your mind, replace it with your delete key. Worthy music is powerful and can help you control your thoughts.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
The music of sacrament meeting is a vital part of our worship. The scriptures teach that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto the Lord ( D&C 25:12). The First Presidency has declared that “some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns” (Hymns, ix). How wonderful when every person in attendance joins in the worship of singing—especially in the hymn that helps us prepare to partake of the sacrament. All sacrament meeting music requires careful planning, always remembering that this music is for worship, not for performance.

President James E. Faust
Many prayers are spoken while we are on our knees. The Savior knelt as He prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. But silent prayers of the heart also reach to heaven. We sing, “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed.” Sincere prayers come from the heart. Indeed, sincerity requires that we draw from the earnest feelings of our hearts when we pray rather than using vain repetitions or pretentious affectations such as those condemned by the Savior in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Our prayers then truly become the “song of the heart” and “a prayer,” not only reaching God but touching the hearts of others as well.

Make wholesome music of all kinds a part of your life. Then learn what sacred music has to do with revelation.  Secular music may be inspiring in a classical or popular sense, but it will not prepare your mind to be instructed by the Spirit as will sacred music. The Apostle Paul counseled the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”Eph. 5:18–19;

I'm so clever when it comes to blog titles. Har har har! The truth is I pretty much love ALL hymns!

Crazy Cat Lady

I'm embracing this great moment right now. One that was too perfect not to catch on camera. One of the best parts of my mission has been making lifelong friends. I LOVE the people in Tennessee and Kentucky that I've spent so much time with for (can you believe it) the last 15 months. Sadly I've been a slacker and not taken pictures with all of these amazing people! I'm a big believer in snatching photos in the moment because it gets really boring to look through pages and pages of posed shots in an album.
So here is a real life moment with Terry. I could spend all day at her house. And she'll be the first to admit that it smells like a trailer where 500 cats and a dog live. Oh wait, because it is a trailer where 500 cats and a dog live. Her gigantic heart always has room for another furry friend (or 4 in the case of these kittens).
Part of the reason that I could spend forever and a day with her is because she has so many stories to share. Miss Terry was and still is a bit of a wild one. But when she found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints something inside of her changed. It wasn't a magic fairy wand that went "POOF!" and everything was perfect. OOOhhhh no. What she had found was much better than that. Because God's way takes time, effort, and sacrifice. And the blessings that come from following God's commandments are always worth the fight we wage against the adversary to keep them.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

I'm Just a Broken Bird

The first time I saw this video on the Mormon YouTube Channel I knew it would be one of my favorites. At first it could have been the accent in George's voice that woke up the Anglophile not so deep inside me. Or it could have been the beautiful owls and falcons that he has rescued and brought back to health. What really made this clip a keeper to me however is the testimony shared of Christ's redeeming Atonement.

"When I was a bit of an idiot nobody put me down"

How grateful I am that in my own life this has been true. My family and friends didn't give up on me when I was a bit of an idiot. Instead they continued in faith and patience to live as examples for me. They encouraged me to take my solace in Christ and find joy in repentance. Now it's my turn to be the rock for others. It's my turn to bring others to Christ and rescue them the way that George has saved these beautiful wild creatures.

"He became my best friend, and He still is today.
I've let Him down many a time, but He's never let me down,
and I know for a fact He never will, and He's there for anyone who wants Him."

"You don't give up on them just because they've injured themselves."

Makin' Pies

I wonder what God feels like when He looks down on his creations.

There is something really special about that feeling of accomplishment when I've created something and it turns out just the way I wanted it.  I'm a craftaholic and kind of obsessed when it comes to making anything with my hands. We'll focus today's creation on the best apple pie I've ever made.

If you've ever made a pie you know the detail and attention it takes to be sure that it turns out just perfect. It HAS to start with good apples. You can't expect a tasty pie to come from crummy fruit.

So here I am ignoring the squishy bruised and brown ones on the ground, taste testing to find the right kind for our homebaked filling. Once the apples are collected they have to be peeled and sliced evenly and mixed up with a top secret blend of sugar and spice.

The crust is especially finicky. It requires the ideal blend of flour, cold water, and shortening, and then comes the kneading! You have to mix and blend it enough, but if you do too much it will be tough. Rolling out the crusts has to be done with gentle care to make sure that it's all even and turns out in a big enough circle.

And then once you think your work is done, the hard part comes. WAITING! It has to bake for an hour that seems like 100 years and cooling is an eternity. The tantalizing smell that wafts out of the oven is like a moment of heaven on earth. This face says "I just don't have it in me! Don't make me wait any longer!!!"

So back to wondering what God feels like when He looks down at us. I think the heavens and the Earth were a little bit more tricky to create than a pie. Make that a whole lot trickier. Luckily He had the fact that He is God on His side and some help from Jesus Christ. His creations (including US) are absolutely perfect in their own right.

 I asked someone the other day how they can tell that God loves us. She said "Well look right out that window at what He's created for us! Isn't that enough to feel His love?"

Even though God knew we weren't going to be perfect (kind of like my pinch edges on our pie) He created the perfect place for us to live. He allows us to make our own choices. Often we're ridiculous and choose the cruddy ground fruit to bake into our celestial desserts. He is kind an loving and teaches us how to be better and measure up to our potential. He teaches us to stretch our arms up higher to reach the perfect fruit.

When we succeed I'm sure it thrills Him more than we understand!

And when we are struggling (like I am with waiting patiently for this double crusted dessert to cool) He is always there to be our strenght and support. Our Heavenly Father is the Master Pastry Chef and the pies that He's baking for us up in Heaven are going to be worth the wait. We just need to keep picking the apples down here :)