Saturday, July 20, 2013

Parting Thoughts



Today is the last day before I head “home”. But it isn’t home. I’m leaving home. Stew screamed no into the silence after I told Hannah that we were leaving tomorrow. Today Hannah cried because her heart was breaking. The first time she’s cried because it’s breaking. Not because she didn’t get a new toy or because I told her no or because she got a scrape. She cried because we are leaving tomorrow. My heart was slowly falling to pieces, but watching the devastation on her face, my heart burst. I don’t want to do this anymore. This can’t be worth the adventures. The money can’t be worth this sadness. I watched Gatsby tonight and once again the fruitless tragedy of pursuing the dream in New York was made gruesomely clear. We have never been about becoming  rich, but we’ve aimed to be successful and to sacrifice for later. But maybe doing the world’s “smart” thing, isn’t really all that smart. Maybe it’s about getting to watch my children frequently visit my Nana. So she can grasp their hands, look into their eyes and with honest passion tell them how beautiful and wonderful they are. Maybe it’s going out to lunch with my Gammie and watching her cut up pizza and feed it’s cheesy goodness into a sweet great-granddaughters mouth. Maybe it’s not having the pit in my stomach, as I leave with dread that I might not make it back home again before they’ve passed. Maybe it’s about eating good food, going on walks, playing Wii and good chats with kindred spirits I’ve had in my life since I’ve been three. Maybe it’s watching my mom read to my girls or leave them fairy notes. Maybe it’s eating my dad’s homemade bread and hearing Hannah tell my Dad he fixes the best baked potatoes. I think a "successful life" is friends and family and maximizing those interactions. . .all that's left now is to do it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Worshiping and Defending God's Power

I wasn't excited to teach my lesson last Sunday when I heard the topic: "How can I Honor and Uphold the Priesthood?". I'm still exploring my initial lack of enthusiasm, but one thing I've deduced is that I, myself, was tired of hearing the usual direction this lesson seems to follow. Initially, I timidly explored going in a completely different direction, but the more I explored the thoughts that were whipping through my mind and flying from the pages as I was studying, I became impassioned and completely excited. I still can't stop thinking about the lesson and I'm hoping writing will stop some of the fever inside of me. Here are some of the finer points:

Priesthood is defined on the Church's official website as:

 "The word priesthood has two meanings. First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man”Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel."

We focused mainly on the first meaning: "The power and authority of God". We then defined what honor and uphold mean. Definitions from the dictionary:

HONOR
verb (used with object)
13.to hold in honor or high respect; revere: to honor one's parents.
14.to treat with honor.
15.to confer honor or distinction upon: The university honored him with its leadership award.
16.to worship (the Supreme Being).
17.to show a courteous regard for: to honor an invitation.

UPHOLD

verb (used with object), up·held, up·hold·ing.
1.to support or defend, as against opposition or criticism: He fought the duel to uphold his family's honor.
2.to keep up or keep from sinking; support: Stout columns upheld the building's heavy roof. Her faith upheld her in that time of sadness.
3.to lift upward; raise: The pilgrims upheld their eyes and thanked heaven for their safe journey.
4.British .

a.to upholster.
b.to maintain in good condition; take care of.


We then discussed how we could respect/worship/support/defend "the power and authority of God." We talked about the ordinances (baptism, sacrament, endowments, sealings)  that were possible because of the Priesthood. We talked about how we could better respect, defend and worship those ordinances. We talked about how the earth, the heavens and our bodies were created by the Priesthood and how we could better honor the earth and our bodies. 

Much of the lesson time was spent talking about respecting and being kind to ourselves and our bodies which are "God's Supreme Creation". "Woman is God's supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed  and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.  Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth" (Our Responsibility to Our Young Women, Ensign, September 1988, 11). 

I asked the girls to close their eyes and picture themselves getting ready for church that morning. What were they thinking about themselves? Were they admiring the way their hair was falling across their face? Were they pleased with how sparkly their eyes were as they smiled? Or were they instead picking out minor "flaws" and saying mean things about their bodies or their minds? I know I wasn't being kind. And I'm sure they weren't either. I would hazard that most of us disparaged ourselves. I then asked why we would think those things about God's supreme creation; why we would hurt and put down something that was created with God's awesome power?

For the next couple of weeks we are working on honoring God's power and more specifically God's supreme creation. We are specifically saying ten kind things about ourselves (physically, mentally or spiritually) as we get ready for the day in the mirror. We are also placing this quote  ("You are creatures of divinity, you are daughters of the Almighty.  Limitless is your potential.  Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it.  Do not let your lives drift in a fruitless and worthless manner...Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup.  The Lord did not send you here to fail.  He did not give you life to waste it.  He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience, positive, wonderful, purposeful experience that will lead to life eternal.  He has give you this glorious church, His church, to guide you and direct you, to give you opportunity for growth and experience, to teach you and lead you, and encourage you, to bless you with eternal marriage, to seal upon you a covenant between you and Him that will make of you His chosen daughter, one upon whom He may look with love and with a desire to help.  May God bless you richly and abundantly, my dear young friends, His wonderful daughters.") by the mirror and reading President Hinkley's empowering words. Be good to yourselves. Say nice things and notice/eliminate all the negative things you say to yourself throughout the day. You are God's greatest creation--you are His child. We all are, no matter our gender, color or personality. Don't mess with God's children, I don't think he likes it. Look in the mirror with us.

P.S. If you have some time, check out this conference talk about the Priesthood. I learned more about the Priesthood in this talk then I think I have anywhere else.