Repost by Request: The Symphony

When I finished Christmas with my family, and they were on to other things, and there was no stalling left to do as they all went along their way, I said a precious goodbye to my baby puppies and started driving home.

Before I got very far, I received a message that my little (now grown-up and professional) friend Whitney Campbell got a an extra free ticket to the PROFESSIONAL symphony she was playing in last night!  Since I was still close to where it was anyway, I just turned my car around and met the Campbell family there for Whitney’s concert.

It was the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, a professional group in Northwest Arkansas.  This means Whitney is professional and everything!  She got paid!  She was ASKED to be in the orchestra, and was the only Bass Clarinet they had, and so she had tons of solos!  I was so proud of her! They performed in Bentonville, the ritzy cultural center of the home offices of Wal-Mart and JB Hunt and all kinds of gazabillionarie-ness-ness.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS WAS MY FIRST SYMPHONY SINCE MY COCHLEAR IMPLANT?!

It was AMAZING!  And I mean AMAZZZZZZING!

The first part included several classic Christmas pieces, including arrangements with a hand bell choir.  It was so beautiful that I wept.  I cried and cried and cried.

I cannot explain, do not know how to explain the layers of sound that I heard.  As soon as I discovered one sound, something else was already happening.  It was like flying through a rainbow while being thrown into the sea, all at once.  It was music-tastic.

The bells are still the most distinct sound I am able to hear, the most clear and crisp, like the flash of a camera.

But the other pieces of the orchestra – the sounds of a band are still blurry to me – just beyond what I can capture, but so close – but this orchestra last night, oh!  It was like voices in a conversation, different instruments talking back and forth to one another, and yet so subtle.  The voices of the orchestra were pure and soft and lingering, beyond any Jane Austen imagination, so… romantic, but sacred.

It was, by far, the most powerful experience I have had outside of the Temple.

It was, absolutely, one of the most sacred experiences of my life.

And when I closed my eyes, I could still hear it.  The sound was still there!

That is when I began to cry.

I do not understand how sound can become like the slip of silky sheets or the melting of sweet chocolate.  I do not understand how that sound up on the stage becomes as close and sweet as a kiss inside of me.  I do not understand how it got from there to here.  I mean, I understand the physics of it.  I could draw it on paper.  I have always know that.  But I have never known THIS.

I kept reaching toward my head, almost unconsciously, for because the music was so tangible to me.  I have never experienced anything like it, and before music has been accessible to me only on paper – in some silent, visual, mathematical dance behind my eyes, or through touch – with different sounds familiar to me based on where and how I felt them in my body.  But this was an entirely different dimension, and entirely different experience.  This was music that flowed into me and over me and through me, like a river that was only mist, like a vision no one else can see.  It was so TANGIBLE, and my hand, without me realizing it, kept reaching up to touch it, as if it were an object near my head that I could catch, as if it were a magic bubble I might be able to touch.

But I could not touch it, and yet it was that real.

I sat in a chair to LISTEN to music I have read and studied and known on paper, and yet it came alive as much as if a real person had stepped out of a fairytale book.  The notes I have known on paper became 3D, changing from black and white dots to the color of sound.  I was in awe, and it poured over me like waves.

This was our favorite last night, Stille Nacht, by Franz Gruber, as arranged by Davis & Custer, except instead of the voices it was a cello.  I have always loved cello because that is a sound that I can feel in the deepest parts of me, beyond my bones.  Yet to hear that sound, the depth of its haunting, it was as the voice of God.

The more lively, quick pieces were just as astounding.  Hearing specific notes, distinct pitches, noticing the spaces between notes – I could not even breathe!  I was so moved and caught up!  I have been practicing my “music program” on my processor, and listening to Christmas music as they told me to do.  So I have been proud of my progress of becoming familiar (digitally!) with Christmas songs and trying to hear and understand and learn the words of the songs… but to listen to these songs, pieces I know as one voice or one instrument holding the melody, become a 60 piece orchestra, with the melody dancing around different voices – it was like a ballet of sound!  It was as if there need be no ballet, for the melody itself was the dancer!  I cannot explain how incredible this was, and what a miracle to follow the melody around from voice to voice!

It was way better than Baa Baa Black Sheep on “Sound and Way Beyond“.

Except you know what?  Without the hours and hours everyday of listening rehab, without learning to tell the difference between Baa Baa Black Sheep and Happy Birthday, without studying each note of the scale, without studying the sounds of different instruments, without all those months of painful daily practice, I never ever would have experienced the symphony the way I did last night.

It was a miracle that totally topped snap, crackle, and pop.

The second half featured selections from “The Nutcracker”.  Excepting instead of just playing the classical pieces by Tchaikovsky, they played each selection the classical way, and then a jazz band played the Duke Ellington version!  It was incredible!  What a gift to me, to hear professionals play the same classic pieces in two different ways, so I could learn what the differences were!  It was AMAZING!

I loved it because the jazz band kept featuring different solos, which the orchestra also did, except in jazz band, it was a small band instead of a large orchestra, and when they played a solo, they stood up!  So I knew who was playing the solo!  And I could really, really watch and listen to that specific instrument!  It was incredible!  Again, it was way better than “Sound and Way Beyond”, of listening to which instrument is which.  Except without that practice, I never would have understood what was happening with the jazz band!

The band is still more “blurry” a sound to me, and they played so much so fast that I really could not listen that fast.  I tried hard!  But it was so much so fast, I just couldn’t catch it like I could the long, vibrating sounds of the orchestra.  But it was delightful, and it did make me bounce.  And it just makes me want to practice more.

I think I could hear the trumpets and the soprano sax the best, though both played so many notes I could not keep up.  But what fun it was!  What a chasing adventure it was!

Oh!  The whole evening did fill my soul and lift my spirits!  The sounds I heard are too new for me to hold – they have slipped beyond me already, for they are too fresh and too misty for me to be able to hold them in my memory.  Isn’t that a funny thing?  But oh!  I remember the experience of it!  And the experience itself is impressed upon my senses, like seeing stars after looking at the sun too long.

It was a miracle to me, a most amazing experience.

It was not about hearing.  I have studied music always, and have loved the feel and experience of all kinds of music, for always.  I really have.  But this was different than anything before, this was access like never before, this was a whole new dimension.  I was not even on planet Earth.

The symphony last night made every bit of the cochlear implant process worth it.  From the physical recovery to the HOURS of DAILY practice and listening rehab, to the private speech instructors, to wearing the stupid microphone for six months… Even the staples.  Even the staples, that’s how serious I am.

It was worth it.

And it made me want more.

It stirred passions within me, and made me hungry for more.

Selfish perhaps, yes.

Or maybe it was just the very gift I needed to be ready for surgery on Wednesday, to be ready to go through this one more time for the other ear, and then to do the work to make both sides work together into one sound.

It will be like 3D technicolor HD AMAZINGness.

It will be stereo.

Can you imagine the symphony in stereo?

Can you imagine that music pouring into your soul from both sides?

I might melt to the floor.

Next year.  Next year it’s a date with the symphony.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that
the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is
increased.”

~ Emily via Sidekick 5 LX

Lorenzo Snow

“Lorenzo had no difficulty bearing his testimony. But he did, however,
struggle with the idea of traveling without purse or scrip. He said,
“from the time I was old enough to work, the feeling that I paid my way
always seemed a necessary adjunct to self-respect, and nothing but a
positive knowledge that God required it not, as He did anciently of His
servants, the disciples of Jesus, could induce me to go forth dependent
on my fellow creatures.””

~ Emily via Sidekick 5 LX

Make Something of Me

“God is determined, if possible, to make something of us. In order to
do this, He has to try us and prove us, to manifest principles unto us.
To show us, by placing us in various positions and subjecting us to
various trials, what we are, to show us our weaknesses and follies, in
order that we may be made to lean and depend upon Him, the Lord.”

~ John Taylor

~ Emily via Sidekick 5 LX

2010: A Year of Miracles

2009 closed with me being just barely baptized and recovery from a year’s worth of heart illness.  I received my first healing blessings.  While stuck on bedrest, I dove into mormon literature, devouring all the books I could find and exploring doctrine and beginning my line-upon-line.  I was finally cleared to “go outside”, and promptly packed up and went camping, reading “Jesus the Christ” overnight.

Christmas was spent still recovering, with a little tree in my little scary apartment that had no heat and a fireplace that gave me pneumonia.  But me and Neitzsche had the gospel, and we were happy and content.

But also, cold.

I got my Patriarchal Blessing at the end of December, and I was so new that I didn’t understand much of it beyond being aware it was amazing.  However, in a paragraph about my personal study and things to memorize, it specifically listed the Family Proclamation.  So I started there, just because it was specific enough for to know something to do.  I started memorizing it while in cardiac rehab, and would read it out loud to my “family” – my first names of my family I had begun to do at the Temple every week!

 I did not see my family still last Christmas, but the Family Proclamation got me to thinking about them.  So I did, for Christmas, send my a letter each to my mother and to my father.  My mother wrote back.  Then I started writing her every week.  Then we started emailing.  That’s how I got my mother for Christmas.

The Queens came and caroled to me, which was awesome because people just don’t go Christmas caroling Deaf people!  I laughed so hard!  It was AMAZING.  I loved it!

After being so sick, and all that hospice nonsense, I was very, very happy at the sight of Spring bursting forth.  I did not think I would see Spring, and this began my understanding and the increasing of my testimony of blessings and healings and faith.  To me, Spring was a miracle.

I began to walk again, resuming my Neitzsche walks that I loved before getting sick, which now had been a whole year ago.  I did not yet know that I qualified for cochlear implant surgery, and that there was one more year of surgeries ahead of me.

After studying the lesson manuals about the different prophets, and re-reading the Joseph Smith one that I had started in the middle of (in Relief Society, when I started going to church), I decided I wanted to learn more about that Joseph Smith place and the whole Nauvoo thing.  I googled it, researched it, and decided just to go see it for myself.  On a whim, I invited my newly re-discovered mother to go with me.  She agreed!  Three hours later, we were on our way to Nauvoo!

We raced ahead of a snow storm, literally making it to St. Louis twenty minutes before it hit!

AND, I could not just drive through St. Louis without stopping to do baptisms!

 The next day we drove through snow, staying ahead of the ice that followed, and made it all the way to Nauvoo!  We left St. Louis at 6am, and made it in time to tour Carthage Jail.  It made me cry.  It was amazing.  We were the only ones there, and so we got a special tour by the missionaries, where we got to go inside areas normally closed to tourists.  It was so special and amazing, and my mother accepted a Book of Mormon there, for the first time.

From the Carthage Jail, we headed to Nauvoo.  When I saw the river, THE RIVER, where the pioneers crossed, beginning on a day as cold and icy as that day I was there, I did weep and weep and weep.  I cannot describe how incredible the experience was, and how powerful it was to me.

Then, finally, up the road just a tiny bit,
around the corner and on the hill, was the Nauvoo Temple.  It was amazing.  While I went in for baptisms, and a personal tour (the Temple president said they were waiting on me – it was so CREEPY!  In that good, mormon kind of way!), my mother toured the little village there.  It was a very special day for both of us, I think.

 

After we saw all we could see in a single afternoon and evening, we drove all the way back to St. Louis that night!  We both only had the weekend off, so yes – we drove to Nauvoo after work on Friday, and were back in time for work Monday morning!  It was CRAZY!  But the time together in the car was precious and amazing, and so healing for us.  After this trip, we were friends indeed.

 The next exciting adventure was my first lesson in the blessings that come from tithing!  I got a house for my birthday!  No joke!  It was finished being built by my birthday, and we closed just after.  It was such a sweet experience.  To get baptized, I had to move out of my giant house the summer before… I lost a lot of furniture and fancy things, and I lost a gorgeous house.  I lost my best friend of three years, whom I thought I was going to marry.  Because I wanted to get baptized, I had to just let go of the contract and everything, just sacrifice it in obedience, my first big act of faith.  I was also paying for cardiac bills at the time, and started tithing, and lost all my equity and everything – it was a picture of financial ruin for foolishness from any other perspective, but it was an act of faith for me, part of preparing me for baptism.  So to me, this house was a miracle – a miracle of blessings for obedience, and a miracle of tithing blessings.  It was amazing.  I got a really good deal, but it was quality work from the builders… but they made several minor mistakes (nothing damaging the house) that also provided for me the free fence for my puppy, all new appliances for free, the garage door opener, etc.  It was AMAZING.  I cried every night, and drove all the way to Owasso everyday to see it.  This was my miracle house, given to me by my Heavenly Father.  And everybody knew it!  That was part of what was so amazing, because all my non-member friends were watching and seeing it all unfold, and even they knew there was no other explanation than it all being a God-thing.  It was AMAZING.

I continued becoming friends with my mother, and we continued healing.  It was very good for us.  I also continued writing to my father each week as well, but he never responded.

My mother, however, was up for another spontaneous weekend trip!  This time it was because I found family that were members!  Distant, but family!  I was doing family history work and connected to another line through my mother’s great-grandfather (the one who settled Eureka Springs), and this lady and I began to email back and forth.  She was so sweet, and turned out to be a Temple worker in Mesa.  I was so desperate for family, and so excited to have found family that was a member, that I decided to go meet her!

So, my mother drove over Thursday night, and then before dawn on Friday morning, she and I started driving west!  Just like that!  It was so fun!  Such an adventure, and again it was good time for us in the car, with nothing to do but talk and heal and chat and laugh.  Like Nauvoo, it is one of my best memories ever of my mother.  We drove all the way to Albuquerque the first night!   Of course I made it there in time to go to a baptism session at the Temple there!

We slept a few hours, and then left all our stuff in the hotel and got in the car and drove all that day to Mesa!  It was so fun, because we  had many adventures along the way… like dinosaurs!

 And my mother and I got to see the Really Grand Canyon together!

Then finally, right at rush hour, we made it to the Mesa Temple! 

I got to meet this lady, who helped me do baptisms, and while I did that my mother filled the car up with gas and got us food… so by the time I was back out again (and finished taking hundreds of pictures of the gorgeous garden grounds!), we were back on the road to Albuquerque!  We made it in the middle of the night, slept a few hours, and then drove all the way back to Tulsa the next day.  It was CRAZY!  But it was amazing!

After that adventure, it was time to say goodbye to my little river apartment:

 Because my house was finished!  Just in time for my birthday!

It was March when it closed, but I was moved in by April.  I missed my Brook Hollow friends very much, but I still got to see them at different things… such as Family Home Even
ing nights at the Masons, whom I love with all my heart.  I am so grateful to them and their teachings, from my first days as a visitor at church almost two years ago, to the friendship that has evolved since.  Mutual edification, I say.

Then I had my first Easter as a Latter-day Saint, and found out that means General Conference, WOOT!
 

Since I went to TOES to watch General Conference, and like after Stake Conference, I got to go out to eat with Brook Hollow friends afterwards.  But by now my worlds were starting to overlap, such as my terp at BH really being in my new ward at Ranch Creek, so that helped me transition into my new ward.

Then we found out, after being denied for four years, that a new procedure meant I qualified for cochlear implant surgery!  It was very exciting, a very emotional decision to make, and then it all happened very quickly.  We almost did not have time to say goodbye to my hair!

Recovery from surgery took more than two months.  It was horrific and horrible, but it was a miracle-in-the-making, no doubt.

I was supposed to get my staples removed at 14 days, but my surgeon left the country for a conference!  So I was stuck with staples in my head for another week!  I couldn’t handle it!  My body was pushing them out, so they were becoming painful and I was worried about them getting infected.  So I started taking them out myself with jewelry pliers.  HA!  Because that wasn’t the proper way to remove them, I could only do a few at a time… also, I really was trying to wait for the surgeon, so I was only taking out the painful ones.  But finally, it was so bad that my friend who is a surgery tech did use the real staple-removal-clippers to get the rest of my staples out for me.  My doctor was so mad that I had taken them out myself!  Excepting then, after he realized the time frame, and how we did it, he said I did the right thing.  So.  Whew.

Summer was spent simply, recovering from surgery.  I dropped off the planet from the social world, disappearing from friends and playtime to just be at my new house, my first time to live completely on my own, appreciating self-reliance, and celebrating each day in my little garden that I loved.  It was a beautiful, healing summer that did strengthen the fibers of my soul.

At the end of June, Sherry Campbell got assigned as my visiting teacher.  We made a newspaper dress!

Another thing I did in the summer was watch my hair grow back, so painfully slow… By July, I was clearly in the chia pet stage!  This is me at my mother’s Relay for Life, where I bought a luminary to honor my friend Brother Fish from the Oklahoma City Temple.

At the end of summer, it was time for my first missionary, Elder Max Black (from Idaho), to go home.  He was finished!  It took almost his entire mission to get me baptized and endowed! HA!  But we made it!  This picture is with him and the Hamiltons, the family that baptized me.

I recovered enough from surgery that Neitzsche and I were back to our walks!  My body felt swollen and stiff and weak after the two years of being sick, and I was glad to be outside walking again.  My vis
iting teacher began walking with us every morning, and visiting teaching grew into friendship.
 

I love her family!  They are so sweet and kind to me!  And they crack me up!  This memory is from the time Ron was out of town, and they had a leak in their backyard.  This is Riley with his invention that sucks water out of the hole… and sprays the mud on himself!  But it totally worked!  It really did get the water out!

I flew to Philadelphia for the National Association of the Deaf conference, which meant I was close enough to go see the Washington, DC temple!  My friend Jen drove me there, and I will be forever grateful to her – and so glad for far away friendships!

On the way back home, my flight had problems and so we were held over night in Houston… that gave me time enough to take a cab and see the Houston Temple, too!

The end of summer was spent swimming and playing, a freedom I had missed out thus far because of surgery.  The Campbell kids and I spent some time at the pool, and helped me as I learned to hear and speak!

Then I got called as a missionary!  How wild is that?!  It’s a MIRACLE!

I was so excited!  I thought I had missed out on being a missionary, since I am too old to go on a mission like the young people do, and not yet married or retired to go on a senior mission.  So I was honored and excited and thrilled that there was an opportunity for even me to serve a mission!

Trying to stick to my missionary budget, I had to go camping in Springfield to see the miracle-est of all!

 It was my brother!  He got baptized!  Almost exactly a year after I did!  SO AMAZING!
 

And then, by some other classic Emily adventure, my mother gave me another puppy.  And I mean PUPPY.  His name is Rilke (another philosopher-poet, like Neitzsche!).  Neitzsche (Nee-chee) is getting old, and the vet has been saying that if I want to train another deaf puppy, I need to do it now while Neitzsche still can.  He also said another puppy now will help Neitzsche live longer.  Thus came Rilke (Rill-kah).  It is so true!  Rilke is CRAZY, but he plays so well with Neitzsche, and I think we all needed it him and love him.

I do love my baby puppies!

Then, one of the most powerful and amazing days of my whole entire life, seriously.

The PRIESTHOOD was restored to MY family!  My brother got the priesthood!

Esther Zonts started joining me and Sherrolyn and others on our monthly Girls Night Temple trips, and so I began to get to know her family a little.  Adding the Zonts and the King families to one dinner table means A LOT OF CHILDREN!

In October, my dream came true!  I got to go to SALT LAKE CITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was such an amazing experience!  I got to meet my mission team at Church Headquarters:

And I got to go to FIVE temples in TWO DAYS!

It was amazing.  Just amazing.  I mean AMAZING.

By the time I got home, Autumn was officially in Oklahoma!

Riley and Haleigh taught me how to play “Charades”.  I have never laughed so hard!
 

Neitzsche started teaching Rilke how to go on walks:

I gave my first talk at my ward, a 5th Sunday 3rd Hour lesson (only a mormon can understand that!) about marriage.  It was intense, and everyone was very gracious.

 THEN THEN THENNNNN, the Campbell kids introduced me to McDonald LAND!

 

It was THE MOST FUN ever, and I did love it. 

By December, I knew the second cochlear implant surgery was happening for sure.  It was so horrific the first time, that I was not sure I would be able to endure it again.  Also, my body was just worn out from two years of surgeries.  But then, then I went to the SYMPHONY, and it was AMAZING.  I knew the second cochlear implant was worth it, and it gave me the strength to be ready for it.

Part of getting ready meant decorating my new house for the first time!

Also, I was accidentally in my first ever Christmas parade!

All adventures came to a screeching halt last week, when I received my second cochlear implant – this time on the right side of my head.  Again, it was horrific and awful.  Except this time I knew it would be worth it.

A week of blessings and good care from many friends, and much help from many Relief Society sisters, and I was back up and ready for new adventures.

There are always adventures to be had in Emily World, even when Emily is baptized shiny clean, and the days are marked by Temple trips and mission hours.

And 2010 had PLENTY of adventures.

The biggest being like the great Heart Healing of 2009, which did give me LIFE to live, with the responsibility and obligation to live it well, so was this year the great “Ear” Healing of 2010… in which I am allowed to hear, and now responsible and obligated to obey.

2010 was a year of MIRACLES, absolutely.

So now, 2010 closes with 3 Nephi 7:22…

And as many as …. were healed of their sicknesses and their infirmities, did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed…”

I can’t WAIT to see what happens next year!

Tleilaxu’s Eyes

Our brains have an auditory cortex on each side.

I hope that made you as dizzy as I feel.  Because I am mean that way.  HA!

But really, the pathways between your ears (or my cochlear implants) and the auditory cortex on each side of the brain make things a little more complicated:

But let’s simplify a bit:

There is more to hearing than just sound going in your ears.  There is how the sound gets to your brain, and then what your brain does with it.  But there is also a part of your brain that has to remember sounds, and there are different parts of your brain for sounds and speech.  So that’s why it gets complicated.

But for this, we are focused on these pathways of how sound gets from outside my head to into my brain to be understood – and how bilateral (two, one on each side) cochlear implants makes a difference.

The important thing to understand here is that it is not like the one implant only affects one part of my brain.

It does, actually, have the potential to affect both sides of the brain.

It has the potential to affect both sides, in some way, because there are pathways that cross across.  Here’s the simple version of that “complicated” picture above:

To keep things simple, what this shows is how sound from the cochlea can go to that auditory cortex, but it can also go to the other one on the other side!

Here is the graphic from yesterday, from the email I got from Cochlear Community, which talked about bilateral cochlear implants:

You can see from the blue and red arrows at the bottom, how the sound can cross to the other side.

But here is the thing about that cross-over, where the red and blue arrows cross – no one knows until the second implant is activated – whether the cross-over ENHANCES sound or CANCELS sound.  They have no way to test that yet on individuals, and so this is why I was cautioned that I may lose sound after the second implant or when the second processor is added on January 19th.

Michael Chorost, who wrote REBUILT, said it this way (talking about the complicated diagram at the top of this blog, and my cochlear implants being years of upgrades since what he experienced and wrote about):

“It’s well-known that the right ear sends most of its signal to the left hemisphere for high-level processing, and that the hemispheres have only partial access to what each other knows. But there is significant crossover as the signal ascends neural pathways to the auditory cortex. A quick glance at a diagram from Yost’s Fundamentals of Hearing makes that clear.”

(In the 4th edition of Yost, from 2000, it is page 228.)

So what this means is that having one cochlear implant has the possibility to affect both sides of the brain.

Getting a second cochlear implant, with the training will do the same thing, and then teach both sides to also enhance the other.

That feels automatic.

Except there is also the possibility that the cross-over cancels each other out, make it a starting-over kind of thing.

We didn’t know which way I would go.

Would I lose everything, and have to re-learn from scratch?

We knew not EVERYTHING, because at least this time I would know WHAT to listen FOR – even crossover signals that cancelled each other out would not wipe out the sound-memory that has been developed.  I would remember sound this time, know it in a way that I did not know with the first surgery.  So even if I had to start over, at least I would know where I was going this time.

Or, would adding the second implant just give me MORE sound (from the other side of my head) and give me direction (to be able to know where sound comes from)?

Or, would the second processor activate crossover in such a way that sound was actually enhanced?  Greater clarity, more discrimination between sounds, increased speech recognition – even in noisy environments?  More pitch perception, more tone discernment, more ability to understand even music?

We would not know until the second implant is activated, they said.

It is a hard thing to wait the four weeks between surgery and activation.  There has to be a waiting period because brain swelling has to go down enough that it is safe to activate the new 32 (for a total of 64) electrodes in my brain without causing any further damage.  Activation Day, or A-Day as it is known in the cochlear implant community, cannot come soon enough.  It isn’t until then that you know whether or not surgery was successful, and not until the subsequent mappings that you know HOW successful.

And so I wait, urging January 19th to arrive, so that I can find out whether or not this second surgery was successful.  And as I wait, I sit and wonder whether my crossover will cancel or enhance my hearing.

Until last night.

Last night, I was eating chips and realized for the first time that I could hear myself eating chips.  It was the weirdest thing!  I have not heard before this digital sound of your own chip crunching.

And that made me think and ponder, even about my earlier in the week observations that I could hear my own voice better than I could before surgery.  It was significant then, because there was the chance that after surgery the static-sound (the electrodes picking up the sound of brain noise inside my head) would be so much I would not be able to hear with my “old” processor (the first one, on the left), and that I may lose my hearing and my speech while my brain heals.

All of that was possible, even though I do not yet have the processor on the right, so I can hear no NEW sounds from the OUTSIDE of my head
until Activation Day.

So no NEW sound is coming IN to me, but already my brain is processing sound DIFFERENTLY!

This was confirmed when I was thinking about that the awful beeping sound I hate, the one that could drive me crazy because it sounds like an alarm clock going off in your head, or like the heart monitor at the hospital, except it is in my head and no one can turn it off… I just have to wait for the brain swelling to go down, and my adjustment to the new brain noise.  So the static is horrible, and it is frightening.  I can’t stand it!  That static sound is what makes cochlear patients go crazy (literally), and what makes them quit wearing their processors and give up on the Cochlear Implant before ever getting to the point of discovering how to understand sound.

(If you want to hear what it is like to learn how to hear with cochlear implants, going from the static sound to learning to hear digitally, CLICK HERE for a sentence example, HERE for a song example, and HERE for a music example.)

Except what I realized as I thought about that awful static sound is that the ONLY thing that relieves it at all is leaving the processor ON on my left side.  Any time I remove my left processor, that alarm goes off on the right, and it is horrible. So much that my greatest recovery challenge is being able to fall asleep with the alarm going off in my head.  It’s awful.

BUT, look what that means!

If my left processor is affecting the other side, then it means my crossover is GOOD!

And if already I can now hear my own voice, and hear myself crunching chips, then it means the crossover is not just good, but it is the ENHANCING sort!

This is the best news!  It is very exciting to me, and of a great comfort to me.  I do not have to wait four weeks (three more now) until January 19th to find out if it surgery was successful, because now I know it was!  I do not have to wait to find out if my crossover will cancel or enhance, because now I know it is enhancing already!

I will still have to work.  I will still have to remove my left processor and do my listening rehab with the right processor, to teach that side of my brain what it needs to know.

But it was learning all along!

It’s so amazing!

I think it will need it’s own listening rehab, of course, but I do not think I will be starting from scratch.

I think having sound coming at me – into me – from both sides will be some difficult, and sometimes emotional, adjustments and adapting-ness.

But it’s going to be okay.

And so here I am, one week since surgery, ready to get the 20 staples in my head taken out tomorrow morning, and already knowing that my crossover ENHANCES instead of cancels.

I am so relieved, and so excited!  It’s an amazing thing!

It’s a miracle, truly!

I am so grateful for being led to this insight, and for the peace and confidence understanding it brings me.

I am grateful for the people who have been caring for me and helping me.

I am grateful for the blessings I received before and after surgery, all of which promised a quick recovery.

I am grateful for a covenant God who keeps His promises.

After my first cochlear implant, I was not even awake yet after a week.

Today, not only am I awake, but I am more and more alert each time I wake up after sleeping, and I am feeding myself, regaining motor skill function, walking without my walker, folding my own laundry, able to still hear, able to still speak, and healing very well.

It leaves me in awe.

This morning my chapter to read was Helaman 3, and it made me want to claim an “unconquerable spirit”.

I knew, with Lachoneus, that the only way to be delivered is to cry unto the Lord for strength.

I have experienced, like Gidgiddoni, that when you do pray unto the Lord, He will tell you where to go and what to do.  He will show the way.

Even if it is just the pathway from your ears to your brain, from sound to understanding.

It is a miracle, I say.

My cochlea is the size of a pea.

What technology it is that can implant a device into my brain, and connect it to that pea-sized space so that I can HEAR sound, and not just see it.

Rhapsody in Hue: a Deaf Symphony by Cole Holland (the son of the real life Mr. Holland’s Opus)

From Static to Angel Songs

I want to blog because I did not yesterday, and now I remember none of it.  DOH!

This morning I played thinking games, working old formulas and playing in math books to wake my brain up.  I took a good nap, and felt very alert when I woke up.  So I think that was all very good.

The downside of becoming more alert is that you become more aware of how much you cannot do, and that leaves me frustrated and impatient.

I did step out into the sunshine, and feeling the sun on my skin did make everything better.  What a miraculous feeling we take for granted, what a gift of life in such a simple moment.

I am walking better and my motor skills are better today, but the biggest breakthrough is that I am finally starting to make friends with the horrific noise in my head since surgery.  It is an awful static, and it reminds me why some people go crazy after this surgery, and why so many people quit on their cochlear implants before ever getting to the phase of learning sound.  It is horrible.

It is a loud static, screaming at you, roaring at you, and you cannot turn it off or run away from it.

As I was laying there, I was thinking about what the doctor said about it being the sound of “brain noise”, which hearing people learn to tune out when they are babies.  I am hearing it now because of the electrodes in my head, and the brain swelling is making it worse.

But I realized that if it was a natural sound, and not the mechanical monster it seemed, then it must have meaning to it.

And so for the last three days, I have tried hard to tune into it instead of wanting to claw my way out of my own skull.  I wondered if I could tune in well enough, what sound – like learning to hear with my processor – what MEANING could I find in that awful static, how could I de-code it, so that the sound could be ignored or tuned out or familiar – even comforting.

So I began to listen.

And finally, the breakthrough was that I realized part of what I could hear in the static was my own heartbeat.

This was good and bad – at first it was hard because then the static had a rhythm, and that was almost more torturous than the constant static.  But then as I let myself breathe to the rhythm of my own heart beat, I found that my pain lessened and I slept better and I was able to focus more.

But still there was a painful sound in the static I could not identify – not until I realized it was like one of the beeps at the audiologist office, when I get the electrodes tested or a new mapping done.  So I knew it had to be related to my implant, and not one of my body sounds exactly, but somehow connected to an electrode issue.  So I kept listening, and I realized it was the same sound I hear in my left implant (still) when I am too tired or do too much – it is the beeping of one electrode or another (meaning different tones, high or low), but to the beat of my own pulse… faster if I am upset or doing too much, or a slow alert beep if I am too tired or exhausted.  I realized then the reason I did not like this beep was because it was too connected to my pain level.  So when I hurt more, that beep was louder and more persistent, beating out the pulse of my pain.

And so it irritated me, and it annoyed me, and it was like poking a stick at me where I already hurt. 

It was just uncomfortable.

But that was two sounds within the static that I had found – my heartbeat, and my pulse. Related, but not the same, and completely different sounds within the static.  The heartbeat sound is like the inside heartbeat sound, like on an ultrasound.  The pulse is the mechanical beep of the electrode.

Still behind it was static.

And so I kept listening.

Then I began to cry, for because in my pain and my just-this-side-of-a-fever, I had an experience where the static seemed to turn to song.  It was as if the pulse beep became the tick of a metronome, and the heartbeat sound became the rhythm and strings section of an orchestra.

This is what happens when you go to the symphony just before brain surgery.

But it was amazing, and beautiful, and made me cry – not weep, because weeping would have hurt.

But then, it got better – it was as if this simple march-rhythm, the constant, steady beat of the pulse and the heartbeat sound – it led me to realize that the static was a song indeed, and this is what I heard:

It was as if a choir of angels were singing to me through the static, specifically mens voices and then female voices, and then all of them together – and it was if it was this very song, except all the words were changed, as if it were a prayer to me.

I mean, not a prayer TO me, but like a blessing, where it was sung to me and the words were for me.

It was very sacred and special and words not for blogging.  But it was the most amazing experience, even if it was some combination of spiritual-ness-meets-brain-surgery-meets-symphony-ness.  Except I think it was more, of course, but it was amazing.

And since then, the static sound has not haunted me.

I still do not like the beeps when they come, but the heartbeat reminds me I am alive, and it is comforting.  It lulls me to sleep in my womb of blankets, and it comforts me when the pain is especially difficult.

But the static?  I now know the static is song, and so I wait for the words to come.

It makes me less afraid to take off my processor at naptime or bedtime.

It makes me calm and comforted instead of panic-ed or afraid or dreading the moment I have to remove it.

It makes the loud world in my head become a soft place of prayer again, as it was before the first surgery.

It is relief.

And yet, when I add the other processor on – the first one, on the left – when I put it back on, the static noise dies away.  It as is if when the world invades or distracts, then it is too impossible to hear the songs of angels.  And yet, the angels are not far, and still meaning comes to me when my processor hears sounds.

“They” thought I might lose my progress on the left side when I had surgery on the right.  They thought I might lose my ability to process sound, and my ability to speak.  They thought I might have to start all over after surgery.

I still might, after they add the second processor on the right.  We will see.

But for now, on this day, I have lost nothing.  I still can speak.  In fact, I actually can hear myself speak better than I could before, and I don’t know yet why that is or how to explain it.  Also, I can still hear fairly well when I listen with my processor, though some soft sounds are hard to pick up because of the static.  But mostly, mostly it is fine.

I have not really watched tv or listened to music much since surgery.  I tried a couple of times, and a couple of times friends were here who did.  But the static had been my enemy then, like pre-baptism, when I thought it static instead of angel choirs, and so nothing made sense.  I thought maybe I could still understand voices but had lost music.

Not so.

Today, since my static breakthrough, I was able to go to my car (my car is where I can hear best, just because I get to sit in a stereo system), and I was able to listen.

Again, I would have wept if it had not been too painful to do so.

We listened to the entire performance of Mozart’s Piano Concert No 24 in C Minor, and it was amazing.

Here is a clip from the 2nd movement:

It was powerful to me, and it moved me.  It felt as warm as the sunshine did on my face.

I was glad I to be alive.

And I could hear.

I really could!  I could hear the swell of the notes, the individual notes, some cords, the piano pieces specifically – which did make the pulse-beeps on th
e right go away, and sometimes some other instruments even though I could not yet tell which was what or which.  But it was lovely.

I especially love being able to hear each note – each note is such a miracle to me, and each one has its own color and life to it, as if I could sit in my car and listen, and without my body leaving that space, my spirit could waltz past a thousand individual flowers, each that smell uniquely and have their own shape and texture, yet all together reaching high to wave at the clouds passing by.

It was amazing.

This is the miracle of sound, and this is why I am fighting through one more surgery.

Because it is worth it.

The static-song in my head has changed from “O Come All Ye Faithful” to “Joyful, Joyful”, but again with its own Emily words, and I sit and listen and ponder in my dreams which words are poems I write, and which are angel blessings sung to me so that I might breathe another day.

My First Symphony with my Cochlear Implant

When I finished Christmas with my family, and they were on to other things, and there was no stalling left to do as they all went along their way, I said a precious goodbye to my baby puppies and started driving home.

Before I got very far, I received a message that my little (now grown-up and professional) friend Whitney Campbell got a an extra free ticket to the PROFESSIONAL symphony she was playing in last night!  Since I was still close to where it was anyway, I just turned my car around and met the Campbell family there for Whitney’s concert.

It was the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, a professional group in Northwest Arkansas.  This means Whitney is professional and everything!  She got paid!  She was ASKED to be in the orchestra, and was the only Bass Clarinet they had, and so she had tons of solos!  I was so proud of her! They performed in Bentonville, the ritzy cultural center of the home offices of Wal-Mart and JB Hunt and all kinds of gazabillionarie-ness-ness.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS WAS MY FIRST SYMPHONY SINCE MY COCHLEAR IMPLANT?!

It was AMAZING!  And I mean AMAZZZZZZING!

The first part included several classic Christmas pieces, including arrangements with a hand bell choir.  It was so beautiful that I wept.  I cried and cried and cried.

I cannot explain, do not know how to explain the layers of sound that I heard.  As soon as I discovered one sound, something else was already happening.  It was like flying through a rainbow while being thrown into the sea, all at once.  It was music-tastic.

The bells are still the most distinct sound I am able to hear, the most clear and crisp, like the flash of a camera.

But the other pieces of the orchestra – the sounds of a band are still blurry to me – just beyond what I can capture, but so close – but this orchestra last night, oh!  It was like voices in a conversation, different instruments talking back and forth to one another, and yet so subtle.  The voices of the orchestra were pure and soft and lingering, beyond any Jane Austen imagination, so… romantic, but sacred.

It was, by far, the most powerful experience I have had outside of the Temple.

It was, absolutely, one of the most sacred experiences of my life.

And when I closed my eyes, I could still hear it.  The sound was still there!

That is when I began to cry.

I do not understand how sound can become like the slip of silky sheets or the melting of sweet chocolate.  I do not understand how that sound up on the stage becomes as close and sweet as a kiss inside of me.  I do not understand how it got from there to here.  I mean, I understand the physics of it.  I could draw it on paper.  I have always know that.  But I have never known THIS.

I kept reaching toward my head, almost unconsciously, for because the music was so tangible to me.  I have never experienced anything like it, and before music has been accessible to me only on paper – in some silent, visual, mathematical dance behind my eyes, or through touch – with different sounds familiar to me based on where and how I felt them in my body.  But this was an entirely different dimension, and entirely different experience.  This was music that flowed into me and over me and through me, like a river that was only mist, like a vision no one else can see.  It was so TANGIBLE, and my hand, without me realizing it, kept reaching up to touch it, as if it were an object near my head that I could catch, as if it were a magic bubble I might be able to touch.

But I could not touch it, and yet it was that real.

I sat in a chair to LISTEN to music I have read and studied and known on paper, and yet it came alive as much as if a real person had stepped out of a fairytale book.  The notes I have known on paper became 3D, changing from black and white dots to the color of sound.  I was in awe, and it poured over me like waves.

This was our favorite last night, Stille Nacht, by Franz Gruber, as arranged by Davis & Custer, except instead of the voices it was a cello.  I have always loved cello because that is a sound that I can feel in the deepest parts of me, beyond my bones.  Yet to hear that sound, the depth of its haunting, it was as the voice of God.

Here is that song, though nothing will ever compare to the version we heard last night, with the cello doing the voice part you will hear:

I found on YouTube a couple of videos of the cello version, but they were all high school kids and the recordings did not do last night justice.  What miracle is it when my cochlear implant can pick up sound better than a YouTube video?!  But if you want a taste, this one was the best, though the sound is still distorted and it does not do justice to last night’s performance:

The more lively, quick pieces were just as astounding.  Hearing specific notes, distinct pitches, noticing the spaces between notes – I could not even breathe!  I was so moved and caught up!  I have been practicing my “music program” on my processor, and listening to Christmas music as they told me to do.  So I have been proud of my progress of becoming familiar (digitally!) with Christmas songs and trying to hear and understand and learn the words of the songs… but to listen to these songs, pieces I know as one voice or one instrument holding the melody, become a 60 piece orchestra, with the melody dancing around different voices – it was like a ballet of sound!  It was as if there need be no ballet, for the melody itself was the dancer!  I cannot explain how incredible this was, and what a miracle to follow the melody around from voice to voice!

It was way better than Baa Baa Black Sheep on “Sound and Way Beyond“.

Except you know what?  Without the hours and hours everyday of listening rehab, without learning to tell the difference between Baa Baa Black Sheep and Happy Birthday, without studying each note of the scale, without studying the sounds of different instruments, without all those months of painful daily practice, I never ever would have experienced the symphony the way I did last night.

It was a miracle that totally topped snap, crackle, and pop.

The second half featured selections from “The Nutcracker”.  Excepting instead of just playing the classical pieces by Tchaikovsky, they played each selection the classical way, and then a jazz band played the Duke Ellington version!  It was incredible!  What a gift to me, to hear professionals play the same classic pieces in two different ways, so I could learn what the differences were!  It was AMAZING!

I loved it because the jazz band kept featuring different solos, which the orchestra also did, except in jazz band, it was a small band instead of a large orchestra, and when they played a solo, they stood up!  So I knew who was playing the solo!  And I could really, really watch and listen to that specific instrument!  It was incredible!  Again, it was way better than “Sound and Way Beyond”, of listening to which instrument is which.  Except without that practice, I never would have understood what was happening with the jazz band!

The band is still more “blurry” a sound to me, and they played so much so fast that I really could not listen that fast.  I tried hard!  But it was so much so fast, I just couldn’t catch it like I could the long, vibrating sounds of the orchestra.  But it was delightful, and it did make me bounce.  And it just makes me want to practice more.

I think I could hear the trumpets and the soprano sax the best, though both played so many notes I could not keep up.  But what fun it was!  What a chasing adventure it was!

Oh!  The whole evening did fill my soul and lift my spirits!  The sounds I heard are too new for me to hold – they have slipped beyond m
e already, for they are too fresh and too misty for me to be able to hold them in my memory.  Isn’t that a funny thing?  But oh!  I remember the experience of it!  And the experience itself is impressed upon my senses, like seeing stars after looking at the sun too long.

It was a miracle to me, a most amazing experience.

It was not about hearing.  I have studied music always, and have loved the feel and experience of all kinds of music, for always.  I really have.  But this was different than anything before, this was access like never before, this was a whole new dimension.  I was not even on planet Earth.

The symphony last night made every bit of the cochlear implant process worth it.  From the physical recovery to the HOURS of DAILY practice and listening rehab, to the private speech instructors, to wearing the stupid microphone for six months… Even the staples.  Even the staples, that’s how serious I am.

It was worth it.

And it made me want more.

It stirred passions within me, and made me hungry for more.

Selfish perhaps, yes.

Or maybe it was just the very gift I needed to be ready for surgery on Wednesday, to be ready to go through this one more time for the other ear, and then to do the work to make both sides work together into one sound.

It will be like 3D technicolor HD AMAZINGness.

It will be stereo.

Can you imagine the symphony in stereo?

Can you imagine that music pouring into your soul from both sides?

I might melt to the floor.

Next year.  Next year it’s a date with the symphony.

Sunday Night Talk

Okay, my talk was hilarious.

What I mean to say, is that my talk was actually very dry and serious – which, my BFFVT pointed out, is more ME than most people realize.  But it was not an “entertaining” talk.  This was different than my teaching talks, or lessons I have done, because there was no silliness mixed in to hold people’s attention.  It was just testimony-doctrine, straight up, no apologies, no softening, or cushioning.

What was funny though, was that we had extra time because the people who were supposed to do the music were sick and cancelled… and then on top of that, my email inviting me to speak said 15-20 minutes, when really I had 45 minutes to an hour and a half!  So there was some confusion, and I did not know until I sat down that I had more time.  I thought someone was speaking after me.  But no, it was just me.

However, I would have spoken just as quickly in 45 minutes as I did in 15 – just said more!  Slowing down is hard, when I waited so long with so much to say!  Do you know how much I could have said in an hour and a half?!  Too funny.

But alas!  Due to recent teasings from my Institute teacher about my lack of brevity, I was determined to stick to my fifteen minute time limit!  So, I spoke way too fast, determined to stick to my fifteen minute time limit.

Someone asked if I was nervous, and I really wasn’t.  I was just trying to say everything in fifteen minutes.  My Institute teacher said that saying it all that fast does NOT count as brevity.  HA!

So, while I was determined to stick to my fifteen minute time limit, what I did not know was that the whole 45 minutes was mine to speak. Which meant our meeting was thirty minutes short of time!  DOH!  But I really did not realize until the end that I was the only speaker and had more time – except I really felt I had said what needed to be said.  So I had to trust that, and so I sat down.

Some expected me to share more of my personal conversion story, but I was given a very specific topic and I tried to stick only to that.  So this was not the time to share that story.  A time will come for me to share that story, but this was not that night.

That is my explanation of the talk, for why it was so serious, and for why it was so short, because it is a funny story to know that I did not realize I would be allowed the whole time to speak!

My apology is not for topic or presentation, for I presented what was asked of me, but my apology is for the confusion of time, for I know many people drove a bit of distance to come hear the talk.

So, for those who could not listen as quickly as I could speak, here is the talk I gave tonight:

What have you learned about the Savior since you became a member?
How has it changed your life?
What have you become since being baptized?
I have learned that before the world was made, our Savior was our oldest brother and His name was “Jehovah”.   When our Heavenly Father presented His plan for us to receive bodies and have the opportunity to learn how to make good choices, Jehovah was the one who volunteered to help accomplish this plan the way Heavenly Father had designed it.  Jehovah created Earth by the will and power of Heavenly Father. 
          When our Savior was born on Earth through His parents, Mary and our Heavenly Father, He was born in Bethlehem, and primarily raised in Nazareth.  He began His physical, earthly ministry at age 30.  Three years later, He was betrayed and crucified on the cross and buried in a tomb.  I quote “The Living Christ”: 
He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered
among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

ENDQUOTE
I know that He will return again to Earth, and reign as King for a thousand years.  I know that it is by His atonement it is possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence, if we also follow His physical and spiritual example through obedience, faithfulness, and service.  We must submit to Heavenly Father’s will and wholly consecrate our lives to Him just as our Savior did.
          I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, and that it was long ago – even in premortality – when I chose to follow our Savior.  I know that I accepted my “allotment” in life, these bounds of time and place in which I live, and that I did this knowing that Heavenly Father knew what would best teach me and prepare me for returning home with Him.  I know that I was prepared and trained for this life before I was ever born.  I know that my early life here was difficult, and that even though I thought, as in Jacob 5:22, that I was “planted in a poor spot of ground”, Heavenly Father and the Savior “nourished me this long time”. 
I know that before my baptism, I broke nearly every commandment there was.  I know that my greatest and best efforts at making something of my life left only a trail of destruction behind me.  I know that I was in no state to be returning to my Heavenly Father, and that I could not succeed this mortal life alone.  I know that the Savior died for my sins, for my failings, for my transgressions.  I know that when He resurrected, it brought me immortality so that I might never cease to be.  I know that His atonement and the Spirit that works to sanctify me is what make eternal life (celestial-ness) possible.  I know that the Savior lives, and that He loves me.  I know that as I do my best at keeping my covenants, He does provide and protect and bless me.  I know that when I fail, He does chastise me and urge me toward repentance so that I might be in that shiny place again.  I know that even in my little corner of the world, the Savior has work for even me to do.  I know that I can visit His house, our Temple in Oklahoma City, and feel even closer to His presence and experience things too sacred to discuss outside of that place. 
I know that through His Spirit during prayer and Scripture s
tudy and through priesthood leaders, and through our Prophet, He tells me what to do and what is next and what to understand.  He shows me things and teaches me things and unfolds His story before me.  I know that He does not forget me.  I know that He means business, but He is also gentle and kind and nurturing and good.  I know that He forgives.  I know that He makes all things possible, even returning home to my Heavenly Father.
What and How has it changed your life?
          Understanding who the Savior is has changed my life because, for the first time, regardless of circumstances, I am not alone.  I have a Heavenly Father who knows me and loves me.  For the first time, I am not lost or abandoned or rejected.  I know His plan teaches me who I am and what I am to do with my life.  For the first time, I am not overwhelmed by trying to survive impossible circumstances; I know the atonement makes it possible and the Spirit teaches me how to do so.  For the first time, I am not stuck thinking I cannot make something of my life; my baptism cleaned me up and qualified me for the learning, and my endowment empowered me to begin practicing.  For the first time, I am not hopeless for thinking I am not good enough; as 1 Corinthians 6:11 teaches me that the atonement has justified me and the Spirit does continue to sanctify me .
          I do not know these things myself, but I know them because the Spirit has taught me.
          This is what Alma says in chapter 36.  He is giving his first father-son chat, the one to Helaman, and then he tells of his conversion, of which I share a part starting in verse 12: 
  12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
  13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
  14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
  15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
  16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
  17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
  18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
  19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
I know that I am not worthy, because I rebelled against God.  I did not keep his commandments.  I did almost everything wrong, and one thing I did right – stay in school – even that, I did in the wrong order (instead of getting married first).  I know that I proved very well that I am nothing without Him.
I know that two years ago, my literal physical heart was dying because my spiritual heart was rotting.  Ezekiel 36: 25 says Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
     The Lord gently brought me to the Gospel, and I learned – remembered – His plan, and that plan included the tender mercy of the atonement.  This is how I learned about repentance.  I had to be scrubbed clean from so much, and then had to learn what to do with myself once I was shiny-ed up.  And so it was, that in my year between my baptism last year and my endowment two months ago, I learned that getting rid of the bad stuff was not enough.  Following the rules was not enough.  It is more than just following the rules.  I had to be so completely changed so that I was not just NOT-DOING bad things, but also producing good things.   I needed to be changed in who I was, not just what I did.  I needed to become something MORE.
My testimony is 2 Nephi 4:
 16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually
upon the things which I have seen and heard.
  17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
  18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
  19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
  20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
  21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
  22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
  23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
  24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
  25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. …………………
  28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
As I prepared for baptism and since my baptism, through repentance and by the atonement of the Savior, and through His work accomplished by the Spirit, my life began to change.  Isaiah 55:6-7:  Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:      UAdd a Note Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Every piece of me has not only been redeemed, but is also being restored.  This is me, no longer condemned, but rather a work in progress.  Every piece of me, to the smallest of details, is being healed.  This is how complete and precise is the atonement of our Savior.  This was my experience of 3 Nephi 9:13 when it asks, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”
When I began to soften my spiritual heart, my physical heart was healed.  As I began to be obedient, I began to learn to HEAR.  As I began to demonstrate my love for the Lord by being obedient, He began to demonstrate His love to me by pouring upon me blessings of provision and protection.  When I began to be diligent in prayer and Scripture study, He began to pour His Spirit into me so that I knew, so that I understood, so that I saw. 
 
What have you become since being baptized?
I do not ha
ve words in English to describe what I have become since being baptized.  I have become new.  I have become created.  I have become a spirit daughter of God.  These things I already was, technically, but they were rights-of-Being that I had not yet claimed.  I held within me, by design, those things, that divine nature, that origin – but I had not yet chosen to become those things or to begin the journey of fulfilling that potential.
Through repentance, and by the tutoring of the Spirit, I have begun the process of trying to become more like my Savior simply by doing what He says.  It is an effort of emulation, not just adoration.   D&C 35:21 promises that “they shall be purified, even as I am pure.”   
Ezekiel 33:14-16 explains:  “Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;     UAdd a Note  If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.     UAdd a Note  None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.” 
D&C 1:32 says, “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”
It is the process of becoming aware of what I have done wrong, or what good I have failed to do, and seeing clearly how this affects myself, those I love, and my Savior.
It is the tears cried out from my soul, while stretched out on my bedroom floor as physically humble as I can be, covered with the comforter pulled from my bed – for feeling I am not even worthy enough to pray (though President Packer says I am, that we can always pray).
 It is the mercy that comes then, the peace that I am still His child, and the grace of added correction and instruction and guidance from my Father.  It is the saying these things out loud to my Heavenly Father and my priesthood leaders.  It is the exercise of my agency to choose to stop doing what is wrong, and to start doing what is right. It is the effort put into restitution
, no matter the cost, no matter in what form it comes, no matter how long it lasts, because I know the cost paid for me was infinite and in most horrific form.
 Then it is the still, small voice that comes – during my own prayers, at the Temple, during a talk, or from a priesthood leader – it is the still, small voice that says “it is settled”, that says “It is finished”. 
Though it may be days or weeks or months since beginning to wrestle with that layer or issue or incident, it is after that voice has confirmed to me that repentance has been completed, it is then that Sacrament is sweetest to me.  I am washed clean once more, and I am covered, and I am forgiven. 
But still even then, the process of progress has not finished or stopped, for the evidence of all of it comes when I am next presented with that same choice – the opportunity to sin in that way again, and yet am able and have the power not to do so. When I have the opportunity to sin, and yet do not, then I know not only is the past sin settled, but that my repentance is complete and that sin has no power over me.  And when I demonstrate obedience, then my Lord knows it, too.
In President Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness book, he says (p. 362), “There is a glorious miracle awaiting every soul who is prepared to change.  Repentance and forgiveness make a brilliant day of the darkest night.  When souls are reborn, when lives are changed – then comes the great miracle to beautify and warm and lift.  When spiritual death has threatened and now instead there is resuscitation, when life pushes out death – when this happens it is the miracle of miracles. And such great miracles will never cease so long as there is one person who applies the redeeming power of the Savior and his own good works to bring about his rebirth.”   ENDQUOTE.
This I have wrestled with for the last year.  I know, as Alma says, that I am nothing, and yet I am called to be something, someone.  I could not figure out how to reconcile this in my mind, and struggled with it for more than a year.  In D&C 43, both in verse 11 and verse 16, it tells us to “sanctify ourselves”.  I wondered how in the world I am supposed to do that, when I am the one who needs sanctifying?  And I am just a girl, with no keys to anything?  What authority do I have to be sanctifying my own self?
I found the answers in that same chapter, in those same verses.  When it says to sanctify myself in verse 11, it also says to purge out iniquity.  That is my job; my responsibility; my repentance process; my line-upon-line as I grow in the Gospel.  In verse 16, it says that as I sanctify myself , I will be endowed with power from on high.  This connected me back to verse 9 in the same chapter, where it there – finally! – outright defines what it means to “sanctify myself”.  Sanctifying myself is ACTING IN HOLINESS.
I have been given agency so that I might choose to return to my Heavenly Father, but that means I must choose to become like Him.  I will not be changed if I do not choose.  My choosing is an act of faith.  As I act in holiness, the Lord does make me holy.  As I bring that holiness to the Lord, even my very self, He does bring me into His house and make me one of His children.
Everything follows the pattern of the physical and the spiritual, the Aaronic and the Melchezedek priesthood.  The Aaronic priesthood has always cared for the physical things, and the Melchezedek works the spiritual things.  So even at the Temple, when I see it say “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord”, I know it has both a physical and a spiritual meaning.  The Temple is a physical place that is set apart and consecrated as the Lord’s house, where we can go and meet with Him there and be in His presence.  But it also has a spiritual meaning of going there to become His children. 
When we study the different royal families of Europe, we call them Houses.  Each family is a “house”, such as England’s current House of Windsor (name change!).  We are descendents of the twelve tribes of Israel.  We are of the House of Israel.  All of us, in all the worlds the Lord has created, are of the House of the Lord.  We go to His house, the Temple, to become of His house, his family.
But we must do this by acting in holiness.
Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.
This is why we seek after righteousness.
 I have become confident in the Spirit teaching me righteousness by teaching me how to act, one choice at a time.  It is possible, Elder Christofferson said at our most recent conference, “ because those who come unto Him have claim on His grace!”  The atonement has released me from the bondage of my past, and yet reconnected me to my real past – that divine spark that is within me, and has always been there, as a spirit daughter of heavenly parents, and that spark does grow within me each time I act in faith or obedience.  This “growing larger” makes more of me than there was before, as His Spirit leads me higher, line upon line, climbing Jacob’s ladder one rung at a time… except the ladder is twisted, for I am always repenting, and so it becomes the spiral staircase designed within me, even my very DNA.  I am ever led forward and upward by His presence.  The same pillar of cloud by day, the same pillar of fire by night, that very same light, the Hebrew sheckinah itself that led the Israelites through the wilderness has led me through my own wilderness, released me from bondage, and set me free.  D&C 58:42 says “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord,
remember them no more. 
    UAdd a Note   By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”
 It is my Saviour who does make me Holy.  D&C 60:7 says, “And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.
To be holy is to be set apart; it means to forsake the world, and to leave the past behind.  It means not being afraid to move forward, and to seek after righteousness with all my being.  The atonement makes this possible, and at my baptism I said I was willing to take upon me the name of Christ, but it is at the Temple that I do so.  To become holy is to become at-one with my Father, through the embrace of the Prodigal Son and His Father.  Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.
Recently, Elder Bednar taught us in an interview, saying that “through the atonement we are not only cleansed from sin, but we also receive strength to accomplish His work, no matter how ordinary we are… Every member has a testimony and knows what is true, but not every member is converted.  Being converted is more than just having a testimony of what is true.  The more you are converted, the more you become consistent and true to what you know.  It is one thing to know what is true, but another thing to be consistently true to what you know.  When you are converted, you will produce spiritual fruit that will be evident to others.”
What I have become since getting baptized is a divine spirit daughter with the potential to become like her heavenly parents.
“I have learned,” to quote Brigham Young, “that of myself I have no power, but my system is organized to increase in wisdom, knowledge, and power, getting a litter here and a little there.  But when I am left to myself, I have no power, and my wisdom is foolishness; then I cling close to the Lord and I have power in his name.  I think I have learned the Gospel so as to know, that in and of myself I am nothing.”
I testify that our Savior lives.  He died innocent in place of our guilt, and now He is resurrected, and He lives.  He is the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten of the Flesh, and He is my Redeemer.
I testify that He has set prophets as the flaming sword that guards the path to the Tree of Life, and that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today.
I testify that as we study the teachings of the prophets, ancient and modern, we will be led along that path, and that we will find life – if only we will HEAR. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Institute Lesson

On Tuesday of this week, I subbed for my dear friend Cheryl Mason and taught her Institute class.

The lesson was on D&C 46, 49, 50, 52-56.

That’s a lot.

But that’s how Institute rolls.

Here is my lesson-ness:

Chapter 46:

We are to ASK and SEEK the gifts of the Spirit!

Verse 7: 

 7But ye are commanded in all things to aask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all bholiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, cconsideringdthanksgiving, that ye may not be eseduced by evil fspirits, or doctrines of devils, or the gcommandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

Holiness of heart
Walking Uprightly
Considering the End of Your Salvation
Prayer and Thanksgiving – not seduced by evil spirits, doctrines of devils, or commandments of men

Verse 8-9:
8Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived aseek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
9For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a asign that they may bconsume it upon their lusts.

Seek the gifts so you are not deceived (implies knowing Truth, UNDERSTANDING)
Gifts are for knowing AND doing
Gifts are given for our benefit (to love Him, to keep His commandments)
Gifts are given for OTHERS (not to be consumed for ourselves, but for the church (verse 10))

Verse 11 – everyone is given a gift
Verse 12 – everyone may have different gifts

Verses 13-25 – examples of gifts – NOT an inclusive list!

Verse 26 – ALL gifts are from God, ALL are for the benefit of others

Verse 31 – done in the name of Christ
Verse 32 – thank God for it
Verse 33 – HOLINESS CONTINUALLY

– Holiness required to ACCESS the gifts
– Holiness required to DEVELOP the gifts
– Holiness required for the gifts to TRANSFORM us
– Holiness required for the gifts to effective TRANSFORM others

Chapter 49:

Verse 2:

2Behold, I say unto you, that they desire to know the truth in part, but not all, for they are not aright before me and must needs repent.

MUST repent – required for HOLINESS
MUST desire to know the whole truth – required for UNDERSTANDING

* QUESTION:  What spiritual gift is needed for “desiring the whole truth”?

Verse 8:

 8Wherefore, I will that all men shall repent, for all are under asin, except those which I have breserved unto myself, choly men that ye know not of.

MUST repent – required for HOLINESS

* QUESTION:  What spiritual gift is needed for “repenting” or “desire for holiness”?

Verse 11:

11Wherefore, I give unto you a commandment that ye ago among this people, and say unto them, like unto mine apostle of old, whose name was bPeter:

Missionaries interviewed – even monitored – for HOLINESS – required to do their work

Verses 12-14 = PLAN OF SALVATION     (Temple!)

* QUESTION:  What spiritual gift is needed to go on a mission?  To share the plan of salvation?  To understand the plan of salvation?  To teach it?  To live it?

Verse 23 –

* QUESTION:  What spiritual gift is needed to “continue in steadfastness”?

* QUESTION:  Which gift is it to “look for the heavens to be shaken”?

Chapter 50:

(Read verse 2) – false spirits on the earth
(Read verse 3) – Satan trying to deceive you, to overthrow you

Back to 46:8,9 !  – deception means misunderstanding, not understanding

Verse 5:

5But blessed are they who are faithful and aendure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life.

Faith, Endurance – listed/described as Spiritual gifts – SEEK after them!

(Read verse 7) – hypocrites compared to false spirits – deceptive, not LIVING the truth, not UNDERSTANDING the truth, not walking uprightly, not living in HOLINESS CONTINUALLY

Verse 9:

9Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me.

Be aware!  SEEK after AWARENESS.

Be aware –
  – or else will NOT do what is truth and righteousness
  – or else will NOT be HOLY

Back to 46:& – spiritual gifts REQUIRE HOLINESS!!!!

We must be aware of being holy (evidence of the gifts, evidence of progress), or we will not be aware we are NOT holy.

NOTE:  compare to frequent use of “OBSERVE” to keep the commandments – not just “keep the commandments”, but we are commanded to OBSERVE that we keep the commandments.

Verse 12 – Our theory confirmed!  Line upon line, precept upon precept, revelation upon revelation – here we get CONFIRMATION of our UNDERSTANDING, which gives us MORE, the next “line” to study and ponder and pray and SEEK confirmation…

 12Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may aunderstand.

The Lord teaches us so we understand.

We are to SEEK the Lord!

We are to SEEK UNDERSTANDING!

Verse 15 continues this “line”:

 15And then received ye aspirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?
–  spirits NOT of God do not LEAD anywhere – there is no line-upon-line

– God’s Spirit leads us line-upon-line, always progressing forward and upward

– doesn’t mean that if “of God” that it will be easy, or that it will not be hard work to UNDERSTAND

(Endowment Prep – one question from Psalms, for a whole year, always more)

– we must ASK for UNDERSTANDING, then SEEK to UNDERSTAND

Verse 16 – being made strong where we are weak is connected to our UNDERSTANDING

Verse 17 – the BOUNDS

– must preach (or use whatever GIFT is yours) God’s way, by the Spirit
– not our way

Verse 18 – by another way, even my way, is NOT of God

Verse 22 – when preaching (or using any GIFT), others MUST be edified

– compare EDIFIED to UNDERSTANDING
– if edified, it is of God
– if not, it is of darkness

Verse 24

24That which is of God is alight; and he that breceiveth clight, and dcontinueth in God, receiveth more elight; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
Light = UNDERSTANDING

More and More = Line-Upon-Line

Until Made Perfect – perfect = whole/complete/arrived

SHECKINAH – the Light of His Presence… lead the Israelites through the wilderness to the “Promised Land”

(Temple)

Arrived – PRODIGAL SON

(Temple)

Verse 25 – again, CONFIRMATION of our theory, of our UNDERSTANDING, with more ADDED UPON, that line-upon-line

25And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the atruth, that you may chase darkness from among you;

Truth chases darkness

Truth = understanding

Darkness = deception

Back to 46:7,9; 50:3

Truth = Understanding = LIGHT

Verse 28:

 28But no man is possessor of aall things except he be bpurified and ccleansed from all sin.
Perfection – wholeness and completion – ARRIVING (Prodigal Son)

Restating 46:7 in the negative – same principle

No man except he be PURIFIED and CLEANSED from all sin

Cannot arrive, cannot be made whole and “complete” – without HOLINESS

HOLINESS is REQUIRED to ARRIVE

“Holiness to the Lord” – Temple

Verse 29:

29And if ye are apurified and cleansed from all bsin, ye shall cask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.

if purified and cleansed of all sin – IF HOLY then you can ASK

Back to 46:7 again – ASK in HOLINESS of heart

Verse 30 – if you ask (in holiness of heart!) – it will be given

Verse 34 – “to whom much is given, much is required”

– He that receives, must make account of it to God – is held ACCOUNTABLE to God
– The gifts are not MINE
– The gifts are FOR OTHERS
– The gifts are to be used for the church

(Consecration)

Back to 46:9,10

Verse 36 – AGAIN, CONFIRMATION of our theory, again lead Line-upon-line to the next “line”

36And behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are aforgiven you.

Hearing HIS words = UNDERSTANDING

“Perfect” = whole/complete

COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING = made PERFECT (complete/whole!)

Perfect = Sins Forgiven = AT-ONE

Back to 50:24 again – Sheckinah – Light – Prodigal Son – AT-ONE!

Verse 37-39 – examples of people doing it

Verse 40 – Again, confirms our UNDERSTANDING and gives us a new “LINE”

40Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot abear all things now; ye must bgrow in cgrace and in the knowledge of the truth.
We cannot bear all things now = We cannot UNDERSTAND all things now

We must grow in grace and knowledge = LINE UPON LINE

Line upon line, precept upon precept, revelation upon revelation – ASKing, SEEKing, ACTing

Prepares us, transforms us, sanctifies us – so that we can ASK for and SEEK out MORE
 
Cannot have MORE until we are ACCOUNTABLE (faithful, good stewards) for what we have already been given – must be worthy NOT ONLY to keep and use what we have, but must be worthy for MORE

worthy = HOLINESS

We must be as little children, we must return to our Father, we must be like the Prodigal Son and return to the embrace of our Father – we must be HIS

Verse 41:

41aFear not, little bchildren, for you are mine, and I have covercome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath dgiven me;
Yes!  We *ARE*  HIS!

We are forgiven!

If we ACT in HOLINESS, we will UNDERSTAND

We will UNDERSTAND that we are forgiven, that we are AT-ONE!

Verse 43 – again, it is CONFIRMED to us, and the next LINE given

 43And the Father and I are aone. I am bin the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.
Heavenly Father + the Savior = ONE (united in purpose, Prodigal Son returned – one FAMILY)

the Savior + Heavenly Father = ONE

IF THEN,

If I receive the Savior, then I am ALSO at-one!

I am the Prodigal Son, returned home and embraced by my father.

Back to 50:24 – I am made “perfect” – whole, complete!  AT-ONE.

Back to verse 36 – my sins are forgiven!  I am, indeed AT-ONE.

The Temple is a “House of Learning”

– we are promised UNDERSTANDING
– we are promised LIGHT
– we are promised AT-ONE-ment

Chapter 52:

Verse 4:

 4And inasmuch as they are faithful unto me, it shall be made known unto them what they shall do;
As much as – TO THE DEGREE – you are faithful, you will KNOW what to do

KNOW = UNDERSTANDING

Back to chapter 46!

If you LIVE IN HOLINESS, you will UNDERSTAND!

If you LIVE IN HOLINESS, you will KNOW!

Back to 50:24, 36

If you LIVE IN HOLINESS, you will become AT-ONE!

Verse 16 – if it is meek and edifies, it is of God (back to 50:22)

Verse 17 –

17And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made astrong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and bwisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you.

– those enlightened by the Spirit bring forth FRUITS

FRUITS = EVIDENCE, RESULTS

      – Praise for Heavenly Father
      – Wisdom for Self and Others

Verse 18 – if there is no fruit (evidence), it is NOT of God

Verse 19:


9Wherefore, by this pattern ye shall aknow the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens.
That’s how to know all spirits in all cases – what evidence do they give of whose they are?

Back to 50:15 – if not of God, it does not lead anywhere

It is of God if it ADDS UPON, if there is the line-upon-line pattern that gives you wisdom and edifies others (and brings praise to Heavenly Father from both you and others)

Verse 34:

34He that is faithful, the same shall be kept and blessed with much afruit.
Same principle again, different words.

If we are faithful, there will be FRUIT

If we are
faithful, there will be EVIDENCE

If we are HOLY CONTINUALLY, there will be EVIDENCE

* WRITE:  WHAT EVIDENCE CAN YOU GIVE OF WHOSE YOU ARE?
 (not word-evidence, what is SHOWING, what can people SEE, what can people KNOW)

* TESTIFY

Chapter 53:

Verse 2:

2Behold, I, the Lord, who was acrucified for the sins of the world, give unto you a commandment that you shall bforsake the world.

the Lord was crucified for the sins of the world
EVEN MINE

He has TAUGHT me so that I might UNDERSTAND

Understanding His sacrifice makes me whole – complete – made perfect – “AT-ONE

The world is not of Him!

It takes us back to 50:24, 36, 43:

Heavenly Father + the Savior = ONE (united in purpose, Prodigal Son returned – one FAMILY)


the Savior + Heavenly Father = ONE


IF THEN,

If I receive the Savior, then I am ALSO at-one!

I am the Prodigal Son, returned home and embraced by my father.
If I am AT-ONE with my Father, and the world is not of Him, then I cannot be a part of the world.

I have to be APART from the world if I am AT-ONE with my Heavenly Father.

HOLY means SET APART.

I am SET APART from the world, made HOLY, so that I can be AT-ONE with my Heavenly Father.

Verse 3:

 3Take upon you mine ordination, even that of an elder, to preach faith and repentance and aremission of sins, according to my word, and the reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of bhands;

 4And also to be an aagent unto this church in the place which shall be appointed by the bishop, according to commandments which shall be given hereafter.

 Tulsa East Stake Confrence –

Baptism = WILLING to take upon the name

Temple = REALLY doing it – taking upon His name, become AT-ONE

But always, we have to leave the Temple
go back to the real world
to SHARE our UNDERSTANDING

To GIVE some LIGHT

It is for the benefit of others!

We have the ATONEMENT, and are asked to let others know about it!

Not just missionary work –
also LIVING IN HOLINESS,
walking in HOLINESS CONTINUALLY

If we are AT-ONE, and acting HOLINESS,
then we will see others as Heavenly Father sees them
and we will treat them with the pure love and service that Heavenly Father would want to do for them

We get CONFIRMATION of this LINE-upon-line in 1 Kings 19:19!!!!

Elijah cast his mantle on Elisha

We “take upon His ordination”

The Savior casts His mantle on us

We know WHOSE we are

We are His

Elijah left this world, and so Elisha had to physically continue Elijah’s ministry, his work

The Savior has left this world (other than visits!), and we are to physically continue His ministry, His work!

CONFERENCE TALK – Statue – HIS HANDS

Chapter 54:

 4And as the covenant which they made unto me has been abroken, even so it has become bvoid and of none effect.

Same thing, in the positive:

 6But blessed are they who have kept the acovenant and observed the bcommandment, for they shall obtain cmercy.
kept the covenant
OBSERVED the commandment

Those who are LIVING IN HOLINESS obtain mercy!

– understanding
– forgiveness
– Light (PRESENCE)

Now we know HOW – we UNDERSTAND the process by which

LIVING HOLY

brings UNDERSTANDING
which makes us PERFECT (whole/complete!) in Him,
AT-ONE with Him,
and we become LIGHT.

Chapter 55:

Verse 4:

1Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant William, yea, even the Lord of the whole aearth, thou art called and chosen; and after thou hast been bbaptized by water, which if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of chands;
There it is again!

REMISSION of SINS!

Forgiven!

AT-ONE!

But look more closely, once again – this time in different words – it is still conditional upon us

which if you do with an eye single to my glory
We must WALK IN HOLINESS CONTINUALLY to be AT-ONE

Walking in HOLINESS *requires* being set apart from the world

We must be set apart from the world to be AT-ONE with our Heavenly Father

If we are the prodigal son, reaching to our father, we must let go of the world, leave it behind, let go of anything that prevents that homecoming hug.

Nothing can distract us.

Nothing can deceive us.

There are many distractions, and we too easily are deceived.  This is why we must be repenting, why climbing Jacob’s ladder requires the curve in the staircase.  Ongoing repentance is the only thing that moves us forward, the only thing that moves us upward as we learn line-upon-line.

We must SEEK to UNDERSTAND
so that we can WALK in HOLINESS CONTINUALLY,
including being SET APART from the world,
so that we can become AT-ONE with our Heavenly Father.

Verse 2 – goes back to 46:9 – even this gift of AT-ONE-MENT is for others, not just ourselves

We must “preach” repentance and remission of sins

We must use the gift we have received to help others, love others, serve others.

Chapter 56:

So in case we were not paying attention, this chapter repeats EVERYTHING we talked about tonight

It says it all over again!

Except this time it repeats it in the negative

Verse 2:

2And he that will not take up his across and bfollow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved.

Same principle, opposite consequences (for NOT following the principle):

– if you do NOT take up your cross
– if you do NOT follow Him
– if you do NOT keep the commandments

You will not be saved!

Yes, the resurrection secures your physical resurrection, your immortality.

But the QUALITY of that immortality depends on you.

It depends on you because even that is still line upon line,
and we will receive what we are prepared for.

We will get as much LIGHT
as we are prepared to receive – as much as we are able to stand (“bear”) – back to 50:40

We will be saved through the process –

We must choose it, and we choose it by ASKing and SEEKing,
the process of UNDERSTANDING.

Verse 13 echoes the Old Testament, when the Israelites were finally settling in the Promised Land after their years in the wilderness (celestial-ness after mortality!):

13For according to that which they do they shall receive, even in lands for their inheritance.
We receive
according to what we do
We will be given
what we give to others
Our quality of life in eternity
will match what we earn (prepare for) now.

If we choose not to be separated from the world now, then it is that world we will receive later.
If we choose to sacrifice all things for His kingdom now, then it is His kingdom we will receive later.

We CHOOSE to be AT-ONE by walking in HOLINESS CONTINUALLY.

To walk in HOLINESS, we must be SET APART from the world.

This set-apart-ness is EVIDENCE of HOLINESS.

GIFTS are also EVIDENCE of HOLINESS.

We must ASK for and SEEK them.
Being HOLY gives us access to these gifts and strengthens these gifts.
We are commanded to use these for the benefit of others.

As we do these things, we are taught line upon line,
which does bring us UNDERSTANDING,
which does help make us PERFECT (whole/complete),
which does bring us to AT-ONE-MENT with our Heavenly Father,
for which we have are charged to bring others also to that place.

(Testimony)

HOLINESS TO THE LORD – on the Temple itself

I am a “Temple”

I should also have the shine of a light that is EVIDENCE of 

HOLINESS TO THE LORD.