Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Truth.

After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
                                                                         Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
                                                                        The First Great Commandment

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday.

Perhaps one of my favorite testimonies of the Atonement
 and the Sacrament is from the recently returned
 and newly engaged Elder Backus (my nephew).
I have made it part of my sacrament preparation each week. 
On this Good Friday, it seems appropriate to share.

Like many of us, he had been struggling to find spiritual renewal in sacrament meeting amidst all of the distractions that can come in ward meetings. As a missionary, he had lots of concerns about how to overcome those distractions that were out of his control, and truly feel the peace that should come from taking the sacrament. In his personal studies he came to a powerful conclusion:

 “In the 27th chapter of Matthew, we read of two Jewish prisoners. The first, Barabbas, was guilty of sedition and murder, clear and severe offenses to the Jewish law. Under that same law, Barrabas' fate was set; he was to be put to death. The second prisoner, Jesus, had been accused of high treason, but after examination by both Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate, had been found innocent of such a charge.

During the Feast of the Passover, it was customary for the governor, Pilate, to release one prisoner according to his wish. After comparing the two candidates, the answer was simple; Jesus Christ was undoubtedly innocent and therefore should be released. Beginning in verse 20, however, it says, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. Pilate, they all said unto him, let him be crucified. And the governor said “why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more saying, let him be crucified. Then released he Barrabas unto them and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Against all justice and logic, the guilty prisoner was set free and the innocent son of God was sent to die.

Amidst the noise of squirmy toddlers, cell phone distractions and perhaps even wandering thoughts, this account is replayed every week of our lives in our sacrament meetings. Each one of us, through the week, fall short of keeping all of the commandments. Each Sunday we are presented at the sacrament altar as the guilty prisoner in need of punishment. But each week, the Savior offers himself, in the form of bread and water and takes our place. We humbly promise to try to do better this next week and then we, like Barrabas, are set free.

He concludes by saying:

When we truly understand and look forward to the sacredness and importance of the sacrament, no matter what the circumstances are around us, we can guarantee ourselves a spiritually renewing experience at church.

May your Easter weekend be renewing and filled with the hope that comes from the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Love Jesus.

It's just one week until Easter Sunday 
and as I love to do this time of year, 
I am pouring through my my Jerusalem things- 
my study notes, my pictures, and my journals. 
I am in heaven.
This afternoon as I listened to Elder Holland's beautiful Easter talk None Were With Him, I sobbed openly (as I am known to do lately-I blame pre-menopause).
I love Jesus.
I do.
I would walk the roads of the Old City over and over again if I could, trying to feel and know the love He had for that Holy land and its people.
I would take my journal back down to Gethsemane and sit for a few hours, trying to imagine the agony and  heartbreak of the greatest moment ever in the history of eternity. 
And then I would sob as I felt just a tiny fraction of the love that motivated that kind of pain.
And finally, I would sit beside that beautiful garden tomb.
The one where latter-day prophets have felt was actually THE tomb.
I would just ponder it's emptiness.
And I would probably sob once again.
Because that's what I do when it comes to Jesus.
Last week in the temple, I had such a beautiful moment of clarity as I witnessed the atonement repair and heal a broken family.
That's what it does. 
That's why He did it.
It filled me with such hope and peace.
And that's why I love Him so much.
Jesus saves--He saves me over and over and over.

May this Holy week be filled with His love.

Shabbat Shalom.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Tale of Two Temples.

It's no secret that I love the temple.
But I deeply love the Provo Temple.
I love its history, I love its odd architecture, I love its holiness.
When the new Provo City Center Temple was announced, I was thrilled.
But I knew that the old Provo temple would always be "my" temple.
I  have sixteen years of spiritual history with that place and that is hard to compete with.
A few weeks ago I came to a point where I felt depleted.
I was mentally, spiritually, and physically exhausted.
One night I texted the Relief Society president and asked her to please find someone to take my volunteer shifts at the new temple open house.
I was spent and I just couldn't face them.
I decided to go ahead and do my first one, but for the others, she found replacements.
And so, before the sun came up one morning, I was inside that beautiful temple,
positioned near a stunning stain-glass window of the Savior.
My job was to point people to the exit of the tour, but I felt my real responsibility was to help people to see that window.  It was easy to miss if you weren't looking for it.
And so I found myself whispering, "Please don't miss the beautiful Savior right behind you,"
and "Don't forget to look up." 
The shift was a long five hours of  standing and smiling.
But when I left, my heart was just as swollen as my feet.  :)
As luck would have it, those same shifts I gave away, needed to be filled for someone else.
I took them.
And each day, the temple has lifted my mood, cut through this funk that I can't seem to shake,
and energized my exhausted spirit.
It was as if that temple was whispering to me, "Don't miss the Savior right there behind you, and don't forget to look up."

Provo, you do temples really well.

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 11th,1998

Eighteen years ago yesterday, Elijah was born. 
He was our first boy.
I knew he was a boy before the ultrasound. 
I also knew his name was supposed to be Elijah. 
I've never felt any "supposed to's" about any
 of my other children, but I felt it strongly with him. 
His birth was easy and the room was aglow with such sweetness after he was born.
I remember just basking in that feeling.
I also remember the first time my Grandma Brown held him. 
She whispered "There is something special about this boy."
I felt it too.

In the midst of his terrible two's I wasn't so sure about that anymore...
Every night when I put him to bed he would say, "I'm a bad boy."
"No, you aren't," I would say, "but you have to stop biting people."
"Okay," he would agree.
It took a good year to get that under control.

One day when he was four he came to me and said, "Mom, I don't know who I can marry. When I think of all the girls, you're the only one." 
I smiled knowing that feeling would go away sooner than I would want it to...

And so, on the 18th anniversary of the day he came into this world,  I am remembering that little guy who captured my heart the moment I saw him staring wide-eyed at the woman who would try with all her heart to be the mom he deserved.
I'm still trying.  

Happy Birthday Elijah-sure love you.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

From the other side...

Well hello there-
Somewhere, somehow I am returning to the land of the living...
(I don't even know what that means)
 but after an extended trip to Florida
 and then a quick drive to Texas,
 I am reentering my life.
Not sure about all of this snow but the good news is 
that January is SAYONARA
and February is 1/3 of the way done. 
Hello, spring-- which is right around the corner.
I might be getting carried away but I can't help the joy. Really.
So feel it with me--the happiness that is rebirth and renewal.
 Groundhogs RULE.