#LDSConf – Alma 45

CLICK HERE to read Alma 45.

When the Lord delivered the people again, they did rejoice and give thanks, even fasting and praying and worshiping in joy (verse 1).  In these ways they remembered their God, and thanked Him for what He did for them.  This kept peace in the land, and the people prospered.  But the moment they forget God, or become proud and think their success is their own, and stop acknowledging the Lord’s hand in their lives, they remove themselves from His blessings.   The rest of the book of Alma is about the consequences that happen when we do this.

Alma, Jr., knows this, and has worked to teach his sons at a personal level the same lessons the people are learning as a whole.  There are always these parallel layers, both what is happening to us as a people and what is happening to us individually.  Alma asks his son Helaman if he understands this, if he believes the records which have been kept and passed down by the prophets (verse 2).  Helaman affirms that he does believe (verse 3), so Alma then asks if Helaman believes in Jesus Christ, and that He will soon come (verse 4).  Helaman says that he does (verse 5), and Alma asks for the evidence: whether or not Helaman will keep the commandments (verse 6).   Helaman says that he will keep the commandments “with all my heart” (verse 7).

This satisfies the personal interview, and Alma blesses his son, telling him that he will be blessed spiritually and temporally for this faith and obedience (verse 8).

Alma then prophesies also, commanding Helaman not to share the prophecy publicly until it is fulfilled, but to go ahead now and add the prophecy to the records being kept and passed down (verse 9).   Alma’s prophecy is that within four hundred years of Jesus Christ manifesting himself to the Nephites, they will “dwindle in unbelief” (verse 10).   He says this will causes “wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct” (verse 11).  These will be the consequences, he says, of the people no longer believing, choosing works of darkness – even literally in the form of lascivious sins (verse 12).  The people will get so sucked into this darkness, that they and their descendants will no more be people of the covenant (verse 13).

But then he adds more!  The few who DO remain in the covenant, who are believers, will be counted among the Lamanites (verse 14).  This is huge!  At the time when Alma is talking to his son Helaman, the Lamanites are the hater-non-believers, and the Nephites are the believers.  Alma is saying this is going to switch, because the Lamanites will become believers and accept the gospel, while the Nephites will become the hater-non-believers.  Whoa!

So this was his prophecy shared with Helaman in a blessing, and then Alma also blessed his other sons (verse 15).  He also, in the role of prophet, “blessed the earth for the righteous’ sake” (verse 15), which means he also cursed the land when the people do wickedly (verse 16).  Alma then blessed the church, meaning those truly converted and remaining faithful for always (verse 16).

Then Alma left, and “was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of” (verse 18).

Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses.  But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial (verse 19).

And so Alma, Jr.’s son, Helaman, becomes the next prophet and record keeper (verse 20).  He finishes Alma’s record for the rest of this book, telling the history of the people as they make choices and reap the consequences, just as prophesied by his father.

How does it happen, when these believers have been through so much and know so much?

It happens in a very simple way: they simply forget God, both to thank Him and to choose Him.

Agency is not our ability to choose.  Agency is our ability to choose whom to follow.

And the Nephites begin to surrender their agency by forgetting to choose to follow God.

This develops dissension and disturbances that distract from their covenants (verse 21), and so Helaman and his brothers and other leaders go throughout the land “to establish the church again”, including establishing the priesthood (verse 22).

This is very similar to where we are today, with the church being established, and the priesthood being set up and spread out – with our prophets and apostles warning us because we have the authority but will not turn to God to develop the power.   It is a precarious place to be, and dangerous if we do not remember to choose God.

As the priesthood and leaders were set up, instead of developing the power of the priesthood through faithfulness and service, and establishing peace by becoming the people of holiness (establishing Zion), they would not listen to the prophets and apostles and leaders (verse 23).  They, like us, had the authority but did not do the work to develop the power.  They forgot to choose to follow God:

But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God (verse 24).

And that was the beginning of their end, just as Alma prophesied.

#LDSConf – Alma 44

CLICK HERE to read Alma 44.

After surrounding the Lamanites in battle, Moroni stops the fighting and offers the Lamanites peace (verse 1).  Moroni tells the Lamanite leader, Zerahemnah, that the Nephites are only fighting in defense of their land and homes and families and worship, and that they do not want to destroy the Lamanites, but that they know the Lamanites want to put them into bondage and “are angry with us because of our religion” (verse 2).

But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands.  And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith….  Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith (verses 3-4).

So Moroni explains to them their covenants, which the Lamanites know and have rejected.  Moroni declares in faith the principle that the Lord will uphold those upholding him, and that they will not be conquered unless they themselves transgress and lose the support of the Lord.  So having given credit to God, and declared to the Lamanites from whence they get their power, and clarifying the reasons they fight (for their happiness, which is maintained by “the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness”) (verse 5), Moroni gives them the choice to surrender their weapons and be spared (verse 6) or to be destroyed (verse 7).

Zerahemnah responds, saying the Lamanites will surrender their weapons but will not promise to quit fighting (verse 8).  “Behold, we are not of your faith; we do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands” (verse 9).  He says the Lamanites think the Nephites have been successful because they are cunning and good at battle, not because God delivered them.

Because the Lamanites did not agree to the terms of the peace treaty, Moroni gives them their weapons back (verse 10).  The battle is back on!  Moroni will continue to fight if the Lamanites do not agree to peace (verse 11).

So Zerahemnah grabs his sword back, all angry like, and one of his soldiers tries to raise his sword against Moroni.  But one of Moroni’s bodyguard defended him, and Zerahemnah’s soldier was killed as an example to the other Lamanites refusing to agree to peace (verses 12-14).

“Now there were many, when they heard these words and saw… that were struck with fear; and many came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and entered into a covenant of peace” (verse 15).  Moroni and the Nephites let all the Lamanites escape if they agreed to peace.  This really makes Zerahemnah mad, and so he stirs up the remaining soldiers to anger (verse 16).

This stubbornness of the people made Moroni angry, and because they refused peace, the battle continued (verse 17).  The Lamanites “did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites; and they began to be swept down, even as the soldier of Moroni had prophesied” (verse 18).  When the Lamanites saw they were about to be destroyed, they cried out for peace, finally saying they would agree to the covenant never to make war against them again (verse 19).  Immediately, Moroni caused the battle to stop, accepted the weapons from the Lamanites, and declared peace and let the Lamanites go back into their wilderness (verse 20).   This was the end of the battle, and the dead were buried, and the Nephites returned safely to their homes (verses 21-24).

#LDSConf – Alma 43

CLICK HERE to read Alma 43.

Having spoken and taught each son, Alma takes them now on a family mission (verse 1).  They “preached the word, and the truth, according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation; and they preached after the holy order of God by which they were called” (the Priesthood) (verse 2).

In the meantime, the wars between the Nephites (believers) and the Lamanites (non-believers) continue (verses 3-4).  Zerahemnah was the leader of the Lamanites (verse 6), and he tried to spread his hatred of the believers amongst the people (verse 7).  He wanted to stir up the people so that he could gain power over them, so that he could bring the believers into bondage under him (verse 8).

The believers, however, only wanted to support their lands and houses and families, and to protect their “rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires” (verse 9).  They remembered the stories of their ancestors, and knew that the Lamanites would kill anyone who tried to “worship God in spirit and in truth” (verse 10).  They knew the Lamanites hated their fellow believers in the land of Ammon, and that they also would be destroyed if the Lamanites won (verses 11-13).  Their captain was Moroni (verse 16), who was only 25 years old (verse 17).

Thus far, the Lamanites (non-believers) are the descendents of Laman and Lemuel (see 1 Nephi 3) or followers of the false priesthood of the bad king Noah (see Mosiah 11) (verse 13).  There were as many of them as there were of Nephites (believers) (verse 14), and both sides prepare to meet for battle (verse 15), with the Lamanite leader, Zerahemnah, against the Nephite captain, Moroni.  The Lamanites were prepared with swords and weapons (verse 18), and the Nephites were prepared with helmets and breastplates and thick clothing (verse 19).  Since Zerahemnah and his Lamanites had nothing like that, and were nearly naked (verse 20), they were afraid of Moroni and the Nephites (verse 21).

So instead of fighting the Nephites, the Lamanites ran away from the battle, and headed towards another town (Manti) to try to take it by surprise (verse 22).   But Moroni, who knew the prophecies and followed the prophet, and believed the Lord would deliver them, asked the prophet what they should do (verse 23).  Alma prayed to get instruction for the people, and the Lord revealed to them the plans of the Lamanites trying to do a sneak attack from behind (verse 24).  Moroni believed the prophet, and headed towards Manti to prepare for battle (verses 25-28).

Moroni understood that the Lamanites were out to destroy (verse 29), even though the Nephites only wanted “to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church” (verse 30).  It was not sin to defend themselves or their freedom to worship, and so he sent out spies to find out where the Lamanites were going to go next and moved his armies accordingly (verses 31-33).  He concealed his armies, and the Lamanites walked right into the trap (verses 34-35).  This time the Lamanites could not run away from battle (verse 26).

It was a “dreadful” battle, with many Lamanites being killed “almost at every stroke” (verse 37).  However, the Nephites lost few soldiers, because their bodies were so well protected (verse 38).  The Lamanites became frightened (again), and tried to run away (again) (verses 39-40), but the armies of Moroni caught them and continued the battle (verses 41-42).  Finally, the Lamanites fought hard with strength and courage (verse 43), like dragons (verse 44), but “the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church” (verse 45), and this was “the duty which they owed to their God” (verses 46-47).

“And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni (Nephites, believers) saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites (non-believers), they were about to shrink and flee from them…” (verse 48).  But they did not run away as the Lamanites had done, and instead remembered their reason for fighting: their homes, their families, their liberty, their worship, and their freedom from bondage (verse 48).   “And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage” (verse 49).   This strengthened them “to stand against the Lamanites with power”, and the Lamanites began to run away again (verses 50-51).

Once the armies of Moroni had surrounded them (verse 52), and the Lamanites were truly afraid because they knew they were surrounded (verse 53), then Moroni commanded his armies to stop fighting (verse 54).

We see in the next chapter how Moroni offers them the choices of making peace or being destroyed.

Lovely and of Good Report

I am so proud of my kids!

We went to the movies tonight because we had passes and wanted to see BFG after finishing the book.

But that movie was already gone!

No one even threw a baby fit as we had to change movies, which is a big deal for the kids in our family.

Instead of being upset, they were able to focus on the good and get excited about a 3D movie instead.

Then, when we got ready to go in to our auditorium, they said it was broken!

We could only go to the regular movie instead.

Sigh.

Again, the kids were amazing, being grateful to be at the movies instead of complaining about another change of plans.

We got in to our seats on the third try, glad for a fun family night out after so many hard weeks.

The opposition, which I will write about later, has been as intense as the book release has been wonderful.  We have endured so much additional hardship and challenges and difficulties since announcing the book! We know it is because we are sharing our testimony.

Anyway, a family night out is a rare treat for us and we are exhausted, and it was a relief to get everyone seated for a fun movie date.

Except then the movie started, and it was terrible.  What was supposed to be a children’s movie was full of inappropriate sexual references, bullying, lying, and a whole lot of violence. It was really bad.

And our kids realized it!

They knew that just because it was cute, didn’t mean there was light.

They knew that just because it was funny, didn’t mean it was good.

And so we left, and they asked for their money back.

Because, they said, the prophet told us to just leave if the movie isn’t nice or good.”

Because, they said, we want to only look for “whatever is lovely and of good report”.

And so tonight, all eight of us left a movie that didn’t feel good to us, that didn’t feel like light, that didn’t feel like it was of God.

Even if it was marketed to kids, and supposed to be funny, and designed to be cute.

We were proud of them, and took them out for ice cream at McDonald’s instead.

Except the ice cream machine was broken.

Because that’s the kind of day we have had.

But it didn’t phase us.

We decided we could just play on the indoor playground, anyway.

Except it was closed for cleaning.

So instead, we sat and at chocolate chip cookies.

Because there are always chocolate chip cookies, even on the worst days.

Except Nathan and I can’t have them, but we didn’t care by that point.

The kids, though? They were brave and good and patient today, and we are proud of them.  

#LDSConf – Alma 42

CLICK HERE to read Alma 42.

This chapter concludes Alma, Jr.’s speech to his son Corianton.

He opens by addressing Corianton’s concerns that a good God would not punish people, because that’s unfair.  Corianton has told his father that he supposes “that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery” (verse 1).  To explain, Alma goes all the way back to the garden of Eden (verse 2).  He explains that for us to truly have the ability to choose to love God or not, we must have choice.  Without choice, we cannot choose.  So we are sent to Earth for a time of testing, given the ability to choose.  Our choices demonstrate, prove, show whether or not we love God, and how much.

But even in our failings, we are not condemned, because our Father knew we were only His children, not yet grown to “adulthood” as He is, and so He knew we could not do it perfectly.  Rather than this being a setup where we would surely fail, He did arrange from the beginning – a part of the plan, always, ahead of time, before any of us were even born – He did arrange for the Savior’s atonement to cover us, and He provided prophets (the flaming sword) throughout time on Earth to teach us that plan and point us to the atonement, for it is the only way (verses 2-3, 5).  But to apply that atonement, for it to be used for our own sake, we must claim it through repentance.   In this way, our lives are the time to learn how to make good choices, and to repent and claim the atonement when we do not.  “And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God” (verse 4).

So we were all sent here, away from His presence, to be tested as to what choices we really would make.  Most kids are good when their parents are watching, when they can see them and know they are paying attention.   It’s usually when we know no one is looking that we are naughty.   So we were sent here, away from His presence, to be tested, for our “true colors” to show (verse 6).  On Earth, in our current mortal lives, we are cut off from the physical and spiritual presence of the Lord, and left to our own devices (verses 7-9).   However, He did not abandon us completely, as He has provided a way for us to be reunited with Him in the future (by the atonement of Christ), and a way for us to have His presence with us now (by the Holy Spirit).

But we have to be worthy of the presence of the Holy Spirit, for it is holy, and we have to do the work of claiming (submitting to) the atonement of Christ.   It is this process that cleanses us of what is not-of-God, so that we can be made more like our Father.   This process prepares us to return to His presence, making this lifetime only a “preparatory state”, a “probation” (verse 10).

Thus if it were not for the atonement of Christ (necessary also for the gift of the Holy Spirit), we would be entirely cut off from God (verse 11).  Further, this would be our own consequences for our disobedience, our poor use of the freedom to choose, and our failing to develop that skill well (verse 12).

So it is that God is not going to force us to love Him, because love is always a choice.  This is why it is not injustice to cast out those who do not choose to love Him.  If he forced people to stay with Him, it would not be a choice; if He forced people to love Him, it would not be love.  “God would cease to be God” (verse 13).

Each of us – all of us – must develop this ability to choose and choose to follow God.  Until we do, we are fallen, and still “in the grasp of justice”, which cuts us off from His presence (verse 14).  It is the atonement of Christ that paid the price of justice, so that God may show us mercy: “therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (verse 15).

So we have the choice to either claim mercy through repentance by the atonement, or to accept our consequences (verse 16).  Laws and commandments are given so that we might become more like our Father, through the atonement of Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit.   There is punishment, or consequences, because there is a law – choices – saying what is good and right, and what is not.  And having an option for what is not, means that we need a way provided for repentance or else we would be lost completely and forever (verses 17-19).  And without a way for repentance, there would be no way for mercy (verse 21).

But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God (verse 22).

But we are not left hopeless!  And God does not cease to be God!

… mercy claimeth the pentitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into His presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice (verse 23).

So the atonement meets the demands of justice, and so we find mercy.

But only those who claim the atonement can find mercy (verses 24-25).

This is how mercy was part of the plan all along, even though we were sent here to be tested according to the law.  “And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world (premortality!).  And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and mercy” (verse 26).  So we have the ability and freedom to choose to be redeemed with mercy, or to be left to our own consequences; no one is compelled (verse 27).

But we will get what we choose.  We will reap the harvest of what we have sown.  We will get the consequences we earned by what we do not, what we choose now, how we interact with each other today.

… in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds.  If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God (verses 27-28).

So we should not be troubled by not understanding, or thinking we cannot know.  We do know, and it has been explained to us.  Instead, we should focus on our own sins, and let those trouble us, so that it may “bring you down unto repentance” (verse 29).  We should not excuse ourselves “in the least point” because of our sins, but claim the atonement in every way (verse 30), and “let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering, have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility” (verse 30).

He then calls Corianton to step up and return to his mission, to preach and teach to the people, “that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them” (verse 31).  This is mercy, even by example, inviting Corianton to repent and return to what he has been asked to do, rather than condemning him or giving up on him.   Not only this, but Alma sees that his son needs more time with him, that they need to serve together so that his son can gain experience and testimony and have the example and leadership of his father.  So the following chapters are about their mission together, with Alma and his sons.

#LDSConf – Alma 41

CLICK HERE to read Alma 41.

In this chapter, Alma is still talking with his son about the resurrection (verse 1).

He says something interesting: “it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works” (verse 2).  God cannot be holy if there is not also the opposite, that which is un-holy.  It is His being separate from that which is not holy that does make Him holy. Opposites are required.   Since He is the God of Holy, or the Man of Holiness (Moses 7:35, see 1 Nephi 15), then his kingdom is made up of only that which is holy.  This is the justice, that what is not-holy cannot enter.

What that means for us, is that we get what we choose.  The atonement of Christ meets the demands of justice, and so God, the Man of Holiness, is able to grant us mercy – to let us in, even though we do not deserve it.  But we must choose and apply the atonement, and the evidence of our doing so shows in our life through our choices.  Are we choosing holiness?  Or not?  If so, there should be evidence to prove it.  If our choices are good, then our actions will be good.  And if our actions are good, then it means our hearts are also good, and so we will be restored to what we have chosen: goodness (verse 3).

But if we choose evil, even now, then we would not be comfortable later in a holy place because we have not yet been transformed to be the people of holiness.  “Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame” (verse 4).   Those who desire happiness and work toward it now, will receive it; those who have “desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh” (verse 5).

But we are not perfect yet, of course.  So those who repent, and desire righteousness, they will be blessed with the righteousness they seek (verse 6).  “These are they that are redeemed of the Lord…” (verse 7).  This is how His plan works (verse 8), so, Alma tells his son, “do not risk one more offense against your God” (verse 9).

This was always the plan, and we are a part of it whether or not we agree.  Those who choose wickedness will reap those consequences; those who choose righteousness will be changed into the people of holiness.  But righteousness – the evidence of good choices – is required, is a pre-requisite, because that is what leads to holiness, which is what leads to happiness, while “wickedness never was happiness” (verse 10).

For now, without God, we are in a our natural state, bound to bitterness and iniquity (verse 11).  We will not be placed where we are not comfortable or be placed in opposition to my nature (verse 12).  Instead,  any restoration “is to bring back again” to the state in which it was before (verse 13).  This is the principle that teaches that we get “evil for evil and good for good” (verse 13).

Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren, deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things, then shall ye have your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again… for that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored”  (verses 14-15).

Pride, Oppression, and Kindness

This is our new crazy world, full of children and up to our ears in books.

We waited all day for the hardback copies that requested autographs, and they are still not here!  Maybe tomorrow.  We are dying with excitement, though the children were glad to have a day off from writing their names.

The older children went to TSHA’s Deaf camp today, and had an amazing time.  Such a blast!  They squealed with excitement to tell me all about it!  I was so thrilled for them, and so happy they had so much fun!

But then, unexpectedly, Mary pulled a fast one and threw herself into bullying the others because she was “real Deaf” and they are “only hearing”.  I put a quick stop to that, and actually even sent her to her bed.  Once I had the other children settled and busy, I went back to her and we talked for a very long time about what it means to be a bully, and what it means to have pride.  We talked about the difference between pride and oppression, and we talked about what it means to be black, and deaf, and mormon, and cochlear implant-ish.  We talked about all the reasons one group can hate another group, and how we are not going to be a family of hate or ugliness.

She felt terrible, of course, but it was an important lesson.  She will miss camp tomorrow, while we process some more and do some research about the pieces of her identity and culture that have endured so much hate and bullying, so that we can explore how to have the good kind of pride while still being humble and compassionate and safe for herself and for others.  There is much to learn, and I cannot imagine the intensity of those lessons for such a little one.

But her life matters.

And they are necessary lessons.

And so we discuss them as they come up, and we study them, and we explore them, and we learn together.

There is so much to learn, both of us.

But advocacy and bullying are not the same, and it’s a serious problem in our community, and it’s important for her to discern this now if she is going to grow up healthy and strong and whole and kind.

Meekness is strength under control, is advocacy with compassion, is a strong self-identity while still being kind to others.

That’s the real Mary, who is sweet as anything, and that’s who I want to remind her to be, even as we begin the battles of pre-adolescence.

She was angry at me, mostly because she got caught being mean, and shouted at me that she didn’t want to be in our family anymore, that she wanted to go back to her other family, and that she never did really like me.

She’s not the first foster child to scream that in my face while spitting.

I am sure it will not be the last time I hear those words that sting my heart.

Except she is adopted, and sealed, as if born to us in the covenant, so I did not respond or argue with her, or fight with her… they all want so badly to fight because of the domestic violence that is in their blood, that is itching to be processed out of them viscerally, that is their first learned response no matter how calm and cooperative they seem the rest of the time.

I did not fight with her or argue with her.

I sent her to her bed, and let her calm down.

When she was calm, and I could hear her singing, I wrote her a letter in her journal.

I suggested she consider oppression and pride and natural consequences of both, and gave her journal prompts.  I reminded her that the choices of her biological family are not my fault, but also that she has every reason in the world to be angry and sad about all they have done and all she has endured and the ongoing grief of being separated from her family – but that she should put this into words and express them directly, rather than just screaming at me when she is mad about something else.  I gave her journal prompts for those feelings, too, and then reminded her that I love her and that Nathan loves her and that her siblings love her and that Nathan’s parents love her.

She came to kiss me good night before bed, and I told her we would talk about it more tomorrow.

And we will.

We will find a way for her to express these things, as much as an eight year old can, because they will be her experiences and her identity and her culture and her waters to navigate.

I cannot keep her from enduring these hard pieces, but I can give her information and model expression and help her find words for all she wants to say – so that she can say it well and effectively, wherever she lands on any of the issues.

In the meantime, back in the home-work world, we also will be talking soon: I have my first book appearance tomorrow, and Thursday we send out the press releases, and this afternoon we got our first invitation to speak at a conference about our story and the book and bring books to sell there while speaking.  It’s really happening!

Even though the hardbacks for autographing are not here yet, so many copies of the book have been ordered they are already having to do a second printing!  We made a mortgage payment today and paid off the smallest medical bill.  I could cry for relief, even if it is only provision today, because that is sufficient for our needs.  We are grateful for the support, and hope sharing our story helps others.

We continue to wrestle with real life as a family, facing real issues, and struggling with normal developmental stuff.  There is always mother-daughter drama.  My brown daughter needs to know why black lives matter, and rules about being safe with the police (because she is brown and because she is deaf), and that police are not bad just because they took her away from her mother.  Emotional explosions are supposed to happen with pre-tween-agers, tired mothers, and jealous siblings.  This is mortality, and sometimes its ugly, but always it is our life together – that’s what being sealed means – and together we keep trying.

#LDSConf – Alma 40

CLICK HERE to read Alma 40.

This chapter continues Alma (Jr.)’s speech to his son Corianton, because Alma knows Corianton is worried about the resurrection of the dead (verse 1).  Alma reassured him that it had not happened yet, because it won’t happen until Christ comes (verse 2).  This is still 75 years before the birth of Christ, and death was not conquered until Christ resurrected himself (verse 3).  Then resurrection will be possible, though the great resurrection of all of us will not happen until Christ returns again (verse 4).  No one knows exactly how it will work, but we know that God knows, and that is enough.  We know that in His Order, according to His plan, “there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead” (verse 5).

So what of this space in “time”, between death and the resurrection? (verse 6)

What happens to souls during this window of time? (verse 7)

Alma teaches that “time” is only an illusion, measured for us here and now physically based on our experience on this planet, and so “time only is measured unto men” (verse 8).  So time for us is really only an illusion, other than there being specific Order to things – and there will be a specific time when we will be called forth in the resurrection (verse 9), and God knows when that time is (verse 10).

But what of that space between our experience of death, and our experience of resurrection?

Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection – Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life (verse 11).

The “spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise” (verse 12), and the “spirits of the wicked” (those who do “evil works rather than good”) “shall be cast out into outer darkness” (verse 13).  This is where the spirits remain until the resurrection (verse 14).   In this way, spirits are assigned to the places (“happiness or misery”) they have chosen (verse 15), and this will happen for everyone (verse 16).

However, the resurrection itself means the “the reuniting of the soul with the body” (verses 17-20).

After the resurrection, in our resurrected bodies, we will “be brought to stand before God”, and be judged according to our works (verse 21).  What Christ has done makes our resurrection possible, and everyone will receive that gift of immortality.  But the quality of that immortality – the kind of life it will be – depends on the choices we make now.

But in the resurrection, everything will be “restored to their proper and perfect frame” (verses 23-24).

The righteous will “shine forth in the kingdom of God” (verse 25), for “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 26).

This is why we are grateful for the atonement, which makes entering the kingdom of God even possible, and for the Holy Spirit that does sanctify us so that we may be clean enough to do so.