*Years of enslavement in Egypt which were unpleasant to say the very least.
*Living through some of the plagues that afflicted the Egyptians when Moses was trying to free them from enslavement.
*Being hungry, thirsty, and uncomfortable as they wander through strange places, not knowing where their next meal is going to come from.
*Parents worried about their children as they most likely listen to them cry because of hunger pains. As a parent, the thought of this tugs at my heartstrings.
So, what have I learned from this group of wanderers?
But that is why God is God and He is perfect. He is perfectly patient and perfectly merciful and we see that being exhibited in His interactions with the Israelites. After the first dozen times of non-stop whining, He could have said, "You know what? I'm done. Enjoy your time in the wilderness. I have blessed you and helped you and for what? More complaining?"
But, He didn't. He kept blessing them. He kept giving them chance after chance after chance to turn to Him, to learn from their mistakes, and to make changes in their lives. As a parent, this helps me to see where I can improve in patience and mercy as I encounter frustrating times with my children. As a child of God, this helps me to know that God loves me, no matter how many times I turn away from Him, forget Him, or whine and complain.
This has caused me to think about how many times the Lord has given me an opportunity to humble myself before Him and I haven't taken it because I think I know better than Him. (Ugh. The natural man/woman in us, am I right?)
The thing that is interesting is that most of the time, when we do not take the opportunity to humble ourselves on our own accord, we actually make things harder for ourselves. Look at the Israelites and the poisonous serpents that the Lord sent down to "humble them". All they had to do to save themselves from dying from the bite of the poisonous serpents was look at the brass serpent that Moses had been instructed to make. They just had to look up! That's it! It wasn't a difficult thing to do! (Numbers 21:5-9).
I think I'm more like the Israelites than I want to admit.
Thankfully, though, the Lord is just as patient and merciful to me as He was to the Israelites. He gives me chance after chance after chance and man, I am so thankful for that. I need those chances and I need His love and mercy in my life.
CAIN...AS IN THE GUY WHO KILLED HIS BROTHER, ABEL
CONNECTING CAIN AND COVID
You are probably wondering how I can connect Cain with COVID-19, the enemy of the day. Stick with me for a minute and hopefully, you'll be able to see where I am going with this.
For my connection, I'm not comparing Cain to COVID. I'm comparing Cain's reactions and choices to our reactions and choices to the current pandemic. Allow me to elaborate...
What do we know about Cain?
Here's where my connection comes in...are you still with me?
Cain chose to disobey God, to love Satan more than God, and to kill his brother. He chose to make an offering that he knew would be unacceptable to God, but he did it anyway. To be fair, maybe he didn't fully understand why the offering had to be the firstling of his flock. But, that doesn't matter. He was asked to make the offering in faith and he chose not to. All of the consequences that came along with all of those choices he had to deal with because he exercised his agency and chose for himself.
We also have a choice during and after this pandemic. We have a choice to live through this time exercising our faith in God. We have a choice to come out on the other side better people, kinder people, more understanding and empathetic people. Or, we can choose to be bitter about all the rules and regulations and cancellations. We can choose to come out on the other side with more biases, more anger, and less empathy than what we started with.
The connection is...just like Cain had a choice...we have a choice.
I love this quote from Joseph Fielding Smith:
WHAT WILL YOUR CHOICE BE?
Every single person on this planet has a choice to make. How will you come out of this pandemic? Will it change you for the better or for the worse? Will you allow it to help you see people with more empathy or with more disdain?
Will the unknowns propel you to search for answers from accurate sources or will you continue to trust everything you see on Facebook? I get it. It's hard to find the truth. And...just when you think you've found a truth, something else comes out that makes you second guess that truth. It's a world in commotion and finding truth so you can make educated and wise decisions is a difficult task, but I know we can do it.
In my New Testament class this week, I studied about some of the Savior's miracles that He performed and also some of the parables He taught during His ministry on earth.
There is no way that I could possibly share everything I learned this week. That blog post would be WAY too long and boring...even for my 5 biggest fans who still read my ramblings on this blog. :)
I'm going to try and narrow this down to three main points...my three biggest takeaways from this week.
#1- It is important to have friends who help you come unto Christ.
In Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:18-26, we find the story of the paralytic man who was brought to the Savior to be healed of his infirmity. There was a huge crowd around the Savior, and the man's friends, who were carrying him on a stretcher of sorts, were having a difficult time getting him close to the Savior. Because of their faith, they knew that if they could get their friend to the Savior, He would be able to heal Him.
Did these friends tell the man, "I'm so sorry. I know we have brought you all this way, but we cannot get close to the Savior, this man who can heal you. We will have to try another time."
These friends exhausted all their resources, finally resorting to removing the roof of the house that the Savior was in so they could lower their friend down to the Savior. They did not give up on their friend and they did not give up on their faith.
I would give anything...even my life...for my family and friends to be able to come to know how much the Savior of the world loves them, how much He has done for them, and how He is the one to turn to in order to receive peace and joy in this life and beyond. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic and unbelievable, but it is 100% true. The Savior is everything, my friends. Everything.
#2- Part of the Savior's divine mission is to call the sinners to repentance.
"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." -Mark 2:17
We are all sinners because we are all imperfect. Sin comes in many forms and even though it sounds like a harsh word, a sin is something as simple as losing your patience with someone. We are all in need of the power that comes through the Savior's Atonement and because He is the one that offered that great atoning sacrifice, He is the one that sets the terms for what we need to do, and how we should live in order to fully partake of all the blessings He has in store for us.
"Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement.
#3- The Savior's compassion and power to heal are extended to all people, everywhere.
In Mark 5:25-34 we find the story of the woman who had an "issue of blood" for twelve years. Because of this illness, she was considered an outcast from society and despite her best efforts of seeking medical help, she was not able to be cured from her ailment.
"When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes,
Immediately, Jesus sensed that "virtue had gone out of him", or in other words, He knew that His power had been used to heal someone. His disciples thought He was crazy. "There are so many people here", they said. "How can you say, 'Who touched me?'"
But the Savior knew because He knows all of us. He knows our hearts, our fears, our weaknesses, our strengths, our desires...everything. He knew that this woman had come to Him to be healed and through her faith in Him, this healing took place.
The Savior didn't care that this woman was an outcast in society or that she had something "wrong" with her. He saw beyond all that and extended His healing hand through her faithfulness.
And He does the same for us, for you and me, for all men and women everywhere. As we turn to Him, as we trust in Him, as we do the things He asks of us, as we exhibit faith in Him, He heals us.
I know this. With every ounce of everything that is in me, I know this to be true. So turn to the One who can truly save you and He will make you whole.
As I have already witnessed by spending years at Girls Camp and with my job as a substitute Seminary teacher, the youth in this gospel of Jesus Christ are absolutely phenomenal. Hands down, the best ever. I am so looking forward to learning from the beautiful young ladies in my ward. (And yes, this means I get to go to camp this summer. Words cannot express how excited I am about that. :) :) :) )
But enough rambling now...the song I have chosen for today is the theme song for the youth this year. The worldwide theme for the youth of our church is "Ask of God" taken from the bible--
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I love this concept and blessing of being able to ask God when we have questions on our hearts and minds. He is there waiting. Sometimes the answer does not come immediately and often times the answer is far from any that we were expecting. Sometimes the answer is just, "For now, you need to wait." (Ugh. I don't like receiving that answer.) But, I know that God does answer our prayers. He does hear each and every prayer whether it is shouted, spoken, whispered, or just uttered in the recesses of your mind. He is there. Ask of God.
Ask of God (2017 Mutual Theme Song) by James Han
Life has hit crazy overload around here and I am finding it harder and harder to blog more than once a week. But I am okay with that. I am anxiously engaged in good things, and although I love sharing light and goodness through blogging and social media, it is something that is going to have to be scaled way back at this time in my life. I have decided that I will only be focusing on sharing a new post every Sunday when I do the Songs for the Sabbath post. If I feel prompted to share other things during the week, then I know the Lord will help me have time for that in my schedule. This is all a part of turning my will to Him and following closely the promptings that I receive from His Holy Spirit.
Now, on to the song for today and man, is it a good one. I stumbled upon it today after having a prayer in my heart about what I could share today. This song was written by the fabulous Britt Nicole, with the cover being done by the equally fabulous, Mercy River. The four ladies that bring this song to life (Britt + the 3 Mercy River gals), have really brought a little piece of beautiful into this world.
The message is one that the women of this world need to hear. There is power in womanhood, especially when women come together in good and righteous causes.
The time has come to STAND, ladies.
STAND with the Savior.
STAND for truth and righteousness.
STAND for goodness and light.
STAND for decency in humanity.
STAND for love.
STAND by Mercy River (written by Britt Nicole)
will be settling in at the Provo Missionary Training Center where he will spend 9 weeks learning
Mandarin, preparing to be a missionary, and begin the process of turning from young man to man.
It's incredible. It's crazy and...it's time.
With each big milestone in this kid's life, we have been ready. When he started Kindergarten, I didn't shed any tears, nor did he. He was ready to conquer that challenge, so I was ready to conquer that challenge. When he started middle school, again, he was ready, so I was ready. High school...you get the picture.
Now he is ready to dedicate two years of his life to serving His Savior and the people of Taiwan. If he is ready to do that, then I am ready to let him do that. We have all been preparing for this day from the time he was little, and I have thought a lot about it. As I have been thinking, I have felt like I should share some of my thoughts and answer some questions that have been posed about missionary work.
But, he's so young!
I have heard this a lot, and I couldn't agree more. He is young. Barely 18 years old. How can I let him live in a foreign country so far away? Well, for one thing, he's an adult now. Yes, 18 is young, but if it wasn't serving a mission, he would be headed off to college, or...joining the military, or...backpacking across Europe. He would be doing whatever his brand new adult mind and heart wanted him to do. Serving a mission just happens to be the path his 18-year old heart and mind have chosen. And I can honestly say that I would be proud of him whatever he chose to do (except for maybe joining the circus or dedicating his life to the XBox...)
Isn't it true that he is going because the church is forcing him to go?
Good question. There are a lot of misconceptions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this is one of them. While it is true that every young man is encouraged to serve a mission because it is part of their priesthood duty, there is no forcing and no coercion. It is still the choice of each young man (or young woman). Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, said this in the October 2012 General Conference...
But, doesn't the church make young men feel guilty if they choose not to serve a mission?
No. Now, having said that, here's another question...Do people who are members of the Church say dumb things to young men who have chosen not to serve a mission? The answer to that is, yes. Unfortunately that does happen sometimes because people are dumb and people make mistakes...all people. No matter what religion they are a part of or not a part of. But, our Apostles, our Prophet, and other church leaders do not condone making young men or women feel guilty if they choose a path other than serving a mission. And I am 1000% percent sure that the Savior, Himself, does not condone that kind of behavior either.
My heart hurts when I hear of young men or women who have had people say dumb things to them and made them feel like less of a person, or less of a disciple of Christ. The only thing I can say about these unfortunate situations is, don't let our dear brother, Satan, take control of the situation. You have a choice to be offended or not. Satan wants you to choose to be offended. The Savior wants you to turn to Him and allow Him to take the burden of guilt, sadness, and hurt away from you.
Aren't you scared for your son to be so far away?
Truthfully? There are times when I feel a little anxious, but those times are far and few between. I mostly feel joy and excitement. Yes, he will be far away from me in a country across the world, but He will be in the hands of his Father in Heaven who knows Him and loves Him so much more than me. He will be just fine. I believe that. I know that.
How will you communicate with him while he is gone?
Mostly by email, but I am sure that there will be a lot of letters/packages sent as well. We will definitely have to increase our postage budget. I will only be able to talk to him on Christmas Day and Mother's Day. I'm not going to lie...that is going to be tough. REALLY tough. If he were just headed to college, I could call him any time I wanted to, but as a missionary who is dedicating two years of his life to serving the Savior, I cannot call him whenever I want to. But, it will be okay. We can all do hard things.
So why? Why am I excited to be a missionary mom?
Because my son is going to tell people about Jesus Christ.
My son is going to tell people how their families can live together forever.
My son is going to tell people that they are children of a God who loves them and has a plan for them.
My son is going to serve the people of Taiwan.
How can I not be excited when he is going to be doing all of these things?
Yes, he is going to have hard times. Yes, there will be tears shed, mine and his. But there is a much bigger picture to look at here. All of the hard times will be worth it. All of the tears? Yep, you guessed it. Worth it. Every single one.
Our family has a favorite scripture that helps us through hard times. It is because of this scripture that I know everything will be okay.
I don't need to be fearful. I don't need to doubt in the goodness of my Savior and Father in Heaven. They will watch over my son when I cannot, while he is on his mission, at college, or wherever else life takes him.
Are you ready for this, folks?
A few FAQ's:
(okay so maybe I should just say a few Q's because I there have been no Frequently Asked Questions about this journal so far, but I digress...)
#1: What does "a guided journal" mean?
Here is an excerpt from the journal's introduction page to explain more about it.
"Sometimes it's difficult to get your though process rolling, especially when you are overwhelmed with challenges. This is where your It All Begins with One journal will come in handy...
#2: What is the difference between Volume 1 and Volume 2?
Each volume includes enough blank journal pages to write for approx. 6 months (if you write one page per day). The difference in the volumes are the quotes and doodle pages that are found in each. The journal prompts and introduction pages are the same in each volume.
#3: What art medium can I use to color the doodle pages?
I would recommend coloring with colored pencils.
#4: How can I purchase a journal?
These journals will be available on Amazon and on this website. Approximate publication date will be October 1, 2017.
Any other questions?
If you have any other questions about this journal, please feel free to comment below or send me an email. I would love to hear from you!
There is always prayer.
Of course, we can always pray. No matter where we are, we can pray and God will hear our prayers. Prayer works. It can bring comfort in times of anxiety and grief. It is true that prayer cannot take all of the problems away, but prayer can help strengthen people to do the hard things that are in front of them. Yes, there is always prayer and anyone can pray.
Everywhere I turn I am hearing of another organization that is collecting donations to help our fellow Americans, and this is awesome. This is what America is about--helping and loving each other through the hard times. There are many organizations that are doing incredible things to help people in need, which brings me back to my original purpose of this post...
Why the Church?
In the October 2015 General Conference, an apostle of Jesus Christ, Elder Todd D. Christofferson, gave an outstanding message on why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints needs to be. I cannot possibly say things better than Elder Christofferson did, so I am going to leave the video here for you to watch the talk in its entirety.
"There is a second major reason the Savior works through a church, His Church, and that is to achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups.
Disciples of Jesus Christ serve one another, they help one another, and they love one another. While it is true that this service, help, and love can be offered by each of us individually, there is no way that one person, as kind-hearted as he or she may be, could provide the necessities that people need in a crisis such as the aftermath of a hurricane. This is one of the reasons Christ organized a church in His day and it is one of the reasons why His church was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
But you don't have to take my word for it. If you skipped over the video, I implore you to go back to it and listen to the words of an apostle of the Lord with an open heart and mind. And, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words so I would like to close this post with some recent social media posts about some of the church's humanitarian efforts.
For these reasons and so many more, this is "why the church" for me.
Yesterday was my 6-year "Cancerversary" and I didn't even post anything about it.
Which is kind of weird because I have posted something every year until this year. But I just wasn't feeling it yesterday. I thought about it being my "cancerversary". I even thought about things that I could post, but when it came down to it, I just didn't want to.
Maybe it's because I am still trying to hang on to the lazy days of summer.
Maybe it's because I was too busy living the "mom life" by doing yard work, house work, and trying to squeeze out every last drop of summer time family togetherness.
Or maybe it's because I don't really feel like counting anymore.
Or at least, I don't feel like counting the years anymore...just my blessings.
And I could spend the rest of my life counting my blessings and never run out of things to count.
That is something that the past six years have taught me, and that is something that I will spend the rest of my life talking about.
Life is hard, but life is good.
The past six years have taught me that my job as a mother is my absolute most important job...ever. Teaching my children about the Savior and His gospel, helping them to be kind and generous, loving them, and being their biggest fan...those are the things that I need to focus on. Am I perfect at it? No. Do I try hard every day? Yes.
I am a mother in a partnership with God as I have been entrusted with His children.
I have been reminded over and over again that I can do hard things when I ask for heavenly help.
I Can Do Hard Things.
I have learned that every single day I am breathing is a gift from God and that I have a purpose here on earth. Some days I forget that and those are the days when I have panic attacks and feel the anxiety creeping in. But the days that I remember the bigger picture--the eternal perspective--those are my favorite days.
Each day is a precious gift from God.
I have taken a scripture to heart that has helped me through some pretty tough times. That scripture and so many more will continue to help me as I live to not only endure this life, but enjoy it as well, no matter what lies ahead.
D&C 6:36 "Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not."
And finally, I have learned that I am surrounded by goodness. I knew that before, but I cherish it more now. My family, my friends, my surroundings, they are all precious to me and I thank God every day for them.
There is truly beauty all around.
Yes, I have learned a lot over the past six years, but there is one thread that joins all of the lessons together.
One beautiful golden thread that is unbreakable.
All I can say is...
Where has the time gone?
Seriously! I feel like I was just beginning my school journey and now, here I am, two weeks away from graduating (from the Pathway Program, that is.)
It has been a wild, exhilarating, exhausting, humbling, and fantastic journey--one that I will cherish forever.
I will miss my Pathway group so much. As we have met on a weekly basis since September, we have learned so much about each other. It will be hard to start school this coming September knowing that I won't have my weekly Pathway gathering to attend.
But, I can do hard things, right?
And that is exactly what I will be doing as I move towards earning a Bachelor's degree through BYU-Idaho. I've got a long road ahead of me, and I cannot wait to get started.
By the time I finish this degree (hopefully in 4 years, but maybe more), I will have 2 children out of high school, one in high school, and one in junior high. This means that I definitely am not opposed to working, as long as I could find something that would allow me to work while the kids are in school. As I have prayed about this, I have one field of work that keeps sticking in my brain. What does that tell me? It's probably something that I should check into...
I feel that if I were to pursue a career, it should be as an LDS Seminary or Institute teacher. It brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it. How cool would it be to teach people about the Savior every day?
More Info about the Pathway Program
If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, active or inactive, and have ever thought about going back to school, you must check into this program. It is inspired. It is incredible. It is life-changing. I cannot say enough wonderful things about it and I will be forever grateful to a loving Father in Heaven for making a program like this available.
I am loving my second chance at life.
Every day is an opportunity to do good and to be a little better than the day before.
I love being a mommy.
It's my favorite thing in this world and my most important job.
What's Happening on
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You Can Do Hard Things
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