April 2011 General Conference Sunday Afternoon


Elder Scott was just funny!  And the funnier he knew he was, the funnier it got!

Good counsel to STAY within the bounds of worthiness.

He also said “Never engage in conversation with others that you wouldn’t want your spouse to overhear.”  While I do not have a spouse, I understand its potency.  Whether in my office, this is always significant symptoms and destructive.  When friends have done it, it put me in a position between them instead of supporting them, so that I was isolated from both and lost them as friends.  How interesting that he shared this specific counsel.

Express gratitude often!

I cried through his sweet stories about the notes with his wife, the painting on the fridge, and the specific ways they expressed their love and gratitude in “small and simple” things.

I loved how she had protected and preserved his kind words.  I loved that the words he used were “protected” and “preserved”. Girls can be so mean and hateful, destroy so much with only a few words… I liked having the example of someone who “protected” and “preserved” what they were creating, instead of destroying it.

When he spoke of marriage having the purpose to conquer self-centeredness, my mind went to both my professional work and my personal preparation.

When he said he weeps for the women who are lonely and unappreciated, I thought of my own self alone, but also those lonely and unappreciated within marriage, and also those lonely from grief.

His talk, one that would normally blast us with doctrine (and rightly so – that isn’t a complaint) was incredibly soft and tender and deeply human.  I loved it.  It made me love him.

Elder Christoffersen

His talk was one of three that reminded us our spiritual life is not a series of checklists or things to do, but rather something that we are – who we are, who we need to become.

He said we must be willing to SEEK and accept correction…. not just be willing to accept it, but seek it out.

He gave us three purposes for chastisement:  to persuade us to repent, to sanctify us, and to redirect our path into a way He knows but we cannot yet see.

We were told (for the second time this conference) not to resent what is good for us, including chastisement or repentance.

I loved his story of the currant bush, and “thank you for loving me enough to cut me down”.

We were told (for the third time this conference) that if we strive to do what He wants, He will give us what we need – even trials – to help us be who He knows we can be.

We should be self-correcting!

When we need to reproof others, it should be quick and sharp and direct, but followed up by an increase in love (in word and deed).

He closed with at-one-ness!  I love it!

Pratt of the Seventy

TITHING!  Again!  But this was amazing because it totally answered my earlier question about why I was getting such an emphasis on tithing when I do my tithing.  Because it is MORE than just the numbers of tithing.  His story of tithing not being related only to cash income was moving and powerful.  It made me think of one of the first things I learned from Bishop Myers, which was that I will always be indebted to the Lord.  Besides the fact that He died for me, there is also the issue that any time I obey, He IMMEDIATELY blesses me in some way.  So I can never catch up!  This reminded me of that lesson, as if we were in his office in that moment.  It made me think about what “increase” I have, and what blessings I have, that could be acknowledged in a tithes and OFFERINGS kind of way.  I do my tithes.  But I have not done OFFERINGS since my surgeries, because it seemed there was nothing left.  So I did the minimum which was required, but I know better than that.  I really got a lot out of all the tithe & offering talks both days of conference, and feel very specifically prepared to act – even with specific ways/amounts/sacrifices coming to mind for how to do… so I will do it.  And those blessings, he said, will not only come to me, but also my family.  I like that.  Not just because my family needs blessings to, but because of restitution and just love – what an easy way (really, when you get out of the way of it, it is such a simple thing) to show love to the Savior.

He also promised that paying our tithing will help us be honest with our fellow man, and later he said it will help us develop integrity in all we say and do.  Those are big blessings!

Also, he instructed that our tithes and offerings should come first, and not be delayed to the leftovers.

In his whole talk, he gave a TON of blessings (besides financial) that come to me (and to my family) if I pay my tithing:  wisdom, answered prayers, self-reliance, gratitude, charity (that answered the benevolent question, too!  See?!), submissive, humble, faith, testimony, etc.  WOW.

HEY!  That Robbins guy is the guy who came to see us!  I remember him, and I remember the words he gave me.  So neat to get more words.

AND WOW, those were some words!  It was like a CEU meeting for my work!  All about family therapy and discipline and how to do “family” (be family!) the Lord’s way.  He talked about the difference between “doing” and “being”, which I love because that is what I have studied for the last decade… so for those words to come up in General Conference really got my attention!  He gave examples of baptism and sacrament as being things we do, but faith (before baptism) and worthy (to take Sacrament) are things we are.

He gave specific parenting ideas, tasks, and examples.  This thrilled the therapist in me!  It was all so good!

He said “Never let failure progress from behavior to identity”, and “Disappointing behavior is an act, not an identity”.  This made me think, of course, of my own parents, and the differences in their perspectives.  It made me grateful for my mother who was waiting for her prodigal daughter to come home, and welcomed me home with open arms – even though we have had much healing since.  She knows who I am, even before I was, and even when I wasn’t sure, and that was a special feeling as he spoke.

There was also specific instruction to pray for the attributes of the Lord as we learn about them in Scripture!

He also really changed my frame of reference… earlier I wrote that I was overwhelmed with the idea of becoming someone the Lord could rely on, that my little faith didn’t understand yet how that was possible, even though He has brought me a long way.  Here, Robbins corrected me and said the better question is “In what ways am I dependable?” which is a much better way of looking at it, more positive about being in process, and much more hopeful in outlook.  and it taught it to me in a way so that *I* could change my perspective to the perspective the Lord has, not just someone arguing with me in disagreement with how they view me verses how I view me.  I loved this talk!  It really helped!

De Hoyos of the Seventy

He brought us back to the beginning of conference, talking about the long name of our church.  But I loved how he pointed out that in ancient times, non-believers called them “Christians” and the Christians called themselves “Saints”.  It’s much the same, that we are “Latter-day Saints”, but we are called “mormons”.  It really connected it for me historically.

OH!  Then two more on the same “Do not be afraid… move forward” piece!  He said “move forward with patience”, then he explained that the atonement is the source of strength and peace and nourishment, and then he said “let not your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid”.  Of course the answer, ultimately, is in the atonement!  So much to study here!

Grow of the Seventy

As he shared the story of his brother, who was hedonistic, left the family for a decade, then repented and was baptized and came home to his family, it sure sounded an awful lot like he was talking about me!  I am grateful I can access the atonement through repentance, and grateful for His mercy.  I am grateful for the miracle of the Atonement, even that “as we repent, the Savior removes our guilt”… and the Isaiah verses about “repent, that I may heal you”.  Yes, yes, yes.

And then the reminders to also forgive others, and to forgive yourself.


I loved that he talked about the PROCESS of General Conference.

No topics are assigned, each person fasts and prays about what to say, and then it all unfolds so beautifully.  Each conference builds on the one before, and the talks fit together so beautifully.  It’s like He is piecing together a quilt for us, and it is majestic to stand back and watch!

His speech about who the audience is (members, non-members, all ages, etc.) really felt to me like specific guidance about how to speak and who to speak to… I have the “preach nothing but repentance” scriptures on index cards typed to the computer where I type my talks I give, but then he really spoke about loving the people as well.  He had a tender, tender, tender heart.

He spoke about Nature already testifying, and how the Apostles speaking to us ARE the trumps being sounded.

Then he spoke about the challenges of President Monson’s life.  That was really good for me.  My life is easy-schmeezey compared to that, and I think I have been so caught up in my new challenges and worrying about DOING them right, that it is better to relax and just BE who I am in the place (and time) He has put me.  The part about President Monson always being cheerful, regardless of what is going on, with remarkable faith and unusual stamina – that was also a call to repentance for me.  Not that I am a prophet, but I mean those are gifts (in a tiny way) He has given me, and I feel like I have let the shock of people not wanting these gifts, the negativity and bitterness in other people, it has tried to infect me.  And I must not let it.  I must hold my ground, and be me.  Because anything not letting me be me, or trying to repress the gifts given to me is not of God.  So this example of President Monson really helped clarify that for me, and did strengthen me in a real way.

How fascinating to then watch President Monson stand there and thank (gratitude!) each group of those who serve with them… it sounded so much like my prayers each morning, for my bishopric, stake presidency, Temple presidency, and then the general leaders of the church – what an experience to in that tiny way, feel an in-sync-ness with his gratitude.  It was almost like I could sustain his gratitude, if that makes sense, because I joined him in prayer and gratitude for them.  Amazing!

I loved most his closing words, that the Savior “reclaimed us” and “taught us how to live”.   That is how I feel.

I know that my Father-in-Heaven lives, and I know that He loves me.  I know that His Son is my Redeemer and Advocate.  I know that this Spirit did correct, instruct, and guide me through this conference.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet, and that I am grateful for his example and guidance.  I know that my life is different, better, and happier than it was two years ago.  I know that me following the Savior has brought me back home to my family, whom I love.  I know that there is a reason and purpose that I am alive this day, right here, right now.

April 2011 General Conference Sunday Morning

President Uchtdorf’s message this morning about “why hesitate to qualify?” really hit home.  I waited those nine months to get baptized, and know that feeling of being right at the edge but not ‘hesitating’ to go forward.  I see that pattern in my life sometimes, and it gave me lots to think about and consider for positive change.

And what a call to repentance:  “strive to be among those the Lord can rely on” – wow!  I feel that the last two years have just barely moved me into the Lord trusting me with any task hardly at all, much less being one He can rely on – that was really a huge shift in my thinking, my perception.  It was the difference between who I was, and who He has led me to be, who He wants me to become.

He began the whole theme of today about serving others, which was yesterday, too.  Answers to our prayers coming to us while we are serving others, and answers to our prayers coming to us when we are being the answer to the prayers of others.

OH!  I did laugh sooo hard when he was talking about social media and current technology, and he made the joke about people sending text messages that he has talked for ten minutes without an airplane reference.  That was so funny because we really did it last night!  I am part of the group that was collaborating with a new experimental online effort, working with thousands of members and bloggers, using twitter and blogs to cover General Conference.  So, for example, we had an online google document that was open to anyone, so that hundreds of people took notes on it together – the same document being worked on all over the world! – we got almost the entire conference transcribed, real time, almost exactly!  It was amazing to watch it unfold – but it was exciting because it wasn’t just the transcribing, but the impressions people felt, so thousands of people were testifying and sharing in response – it was an amazing experience.  But one thing that happened last night was the jokes, in appropriate ways, of people just enjoying uniting with others instead of being alone in the experience… and one of the things our team put out on twitter yesterday was that Uchtdorff made it 9 minutes and 43 seconds before making a reference… and then how funny it was because it was a reference to a ship, not an airplane.  BUT THEN HE ANSWERED IT!  HA!  They were totally watching it all go down, and then he made a joke of it today!  That was hilarious, and so of course it was both a tender mercy for the work of our team, and also a fun moment to see what real people they are.  Oh, it was funny!

Always, the most special part to me is being reminded that Heavenly Father loves me, hears my prayers, and offers peace and comfort.  Maybe that is the most simple piece of all, but it seems to be the piece I need reminding of the most.

Johnson of the Seventy

I knew, of course, that part of why we face difficult challenges was to see if we will do all we are commanded, but I had not thought about trials consecrating us to “put on” divine attributes.  I mean, those direct words in a doctrine kind of way, I had not considered so directly (in implication).  I will have a lot to ponder on that!  Also, the discussion about how trials are very personal to us, like a laser, like what I need just for me, to be refined, purified, and remove impurities.

Also, he gave us that Orson Whitney quote again, the same one as was used yesterday!!!  About it being for our education – love it!

Another call to repentance was that “being good is not enough; we want to be like the Savior.”  That is a place I feel now, of “hesitating”, from just the cleaning up of my life since two years ago, to the unfolding since, to pressing forward not just in words and deeds, but letting that change me, letting that “become” me.  When I resist it, I do make an awful mess of things.

“The only way to see the view is to make the climb.”  Classic one-liner!  One that will stick in my brain, and be recalled at a moment’s notice.

When he said “We don’t seek out challenges, ours will come to us, and be just right for us”.  That is what I was learning at the Temple.  I don’t have to make life harder than it is because it will already contain the challenges meant for specifically for me.

Bishop Burton

“Will this buy me any bread?”  WOW.  The “temporal salvation” of people is a condition I face at work all the time.  But when he said, “as long as the church has resources…” I realized that *I* am a part of that resource.  So whether that means my work at LDS Family Services, my mission, the Temple, or the temporal service of finding a way to give a more generous fast offering, etc. – that is my personal responsibility.  And it will be possible, he promised like Eyring did yesterday, if I am living providently with economic self-discipline.  He expounded upon Eyring’s talk yesterday, giving more examples of economic self-discipline: avoiding debt, being thrifty, preparing for times of economic stress, living according to needs rather than wants, listening to our leadership…and literally taking upon us the yoke of others – and being kind while doing so.  This was deep stuff.  Such simple action, but such profound ramifications.

THEN!  Did you see President Eyring’s face when the choir was to sing “Have I Done Any Good?”, which was the song he quoted in his talk yesterday?  That was awesome!

Sister Allred declared that true discipleship comes when we are united as one by loving (serving) one another.  Again, another instruction to give more generous fast offerings in order to help by giving to the storehouse.  She said this counted as a way to “go about doing good”.

But then it was very powerful to me when she said “He will provide what we need to fulfill our calling.”

She pleaded with us to have an increase in desire and ability to reach out.

This again reminded me of the Temple presidency talk with me some weeks ago, for I cannot have the ABILITY to reach out if I am not taking care of me (in an appropriate way, not a selfish way)… so desire is not enough.  We are called to ACT!  But we do that THROUGH being self-reliant, whether that means economically or eating enough or sleeping enough.  I love how it all ties together!

Elder Bednar  (GO HOGS!  HA!)

How “plain and simple” was that teaching on light?! He described walking into a dark room and turning on the lights, and then described watching the sun slowly rise. The difference between “immediate and intense” and the “gradual and subtle”.  Personal revelation comes the same ways: sometimes it is “immediate and intense and complete” and sometimes it is “gradual and subtle, line upon line”.

This was really good for me, because I think one challenge that I have struggled with this year was how to know the “gradual and subtle” was really on the right track, when it wasn’t “immediate and intense”?  When there is that much light, you can see everything, even if for a moment, and you understand how it is going to unfold, and so you can walk boldly forward…. but this “gradual and subtle” is much more difficult to me, and again in that place where I need the “Do not be afraid… Step forward with this gift of faith…” instruction from my patriarchal blessing.  Because with gradual and subtle, I can tell enough that it isn’t as dark as it was before, but I know it isn’t as light as the Light I know.  So it is more scary to keep stepping forward, because I don’t want to go astray or lose my way… but maybe this is my time of “mists of darkness”, to just hold on and stay in the moment and have faith in what I have seen and known, even in the murky times in between…  Oh!  See, this is my “hestitating” – it is like not wanting to leave the Temple (that will get you kicked out, by the way, hahaha), or not wanting to leave my mission time, because those things create light… and give you light… but I also must learn to “walk the streets of Palestine” (Living Christ!) and “go and do”… I must learn how to not only receive and carry that light, but BECOME that Light. How can I learn to become light, if I am never in the dark to practice my own lighting-up-ness?!  See, it all makes sense now!  (to me, anyway!)

With so many references to Paul this morning, it makes me think of when Paul described the difference between milk and meat.  I am whining about losing milk, instead of being grateful to be offered meat.  So – no hesitating with the meat!  One bite at a time, line upon line!

Then, he gave me another piece about the “press forward” – he said press forward “in faith and obedience”.  So more answers – and all the basic things we know, just do them!  Faith, obedience, study scriptures.

“Cloudy days are more difficult to perceive the light, but we still know it is a new day and we still function within that day.”  That was a good way to stop the whining about milk and start chewing the meat!  Even on the “gradual and subtle” days, I know what is right and what to do and what is asked of me – do those things!

Act and not be acted upon!  It was great that he said that, for such a small phrase means so much since that talk in conference.

THEN, I got another layer of “press forward” – which is exactly even more of what I needed – “hoping and praying, even when not sure what is God’s will in our specific day to day circumstances, we can be confident even while waiting – because if we are honoring our covenants, then we can be confident our steps are in His way and our words are His words.”  That was AMAZING, and will give me lots to ponder and consider.

Also, I think He was telling me to chillax a little bit!  If I am doing the things that honor my covenants, then that IS the will of the Lord, and I will get done what I need to do and be where I need to be and accomplish what He wants me to accomplish.

We also received the promise that as we walk in Light, He will direct and protect our families.  I need that promise, and am grateful for it.

I loved President Monson’s talk about Temples, and how they are built on trial and testimony.  Also, how Temple attendance is always associated with sacrifice.

Then, to finish up the keeping covenants theme, he said that as we keep our covenants, we will find peace and be renewed and be fortified and resist temptation.

This I know to be TRUE.

The closing song was BEAUTIFUL in sign language, oh, I wish I could express it in words but it is not the same!

What a beautiful day with such life-giving an strengthening words!

Glad that He Gave Life to Someone who Loves the Gift

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”

~ Shauna Niequist


‘The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. ‘It’s the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.

‘This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. ‘I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that it’s not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God’s graciousness, not life’s cruelty.’

~ Shauna Niequist

April 2011 General Conference Saturday Afternoon Notes


I am filled and overflowing!

President Packer – really clarified about our formal name and what we call ourselves, which I found helpful as a new convert as from all the outreach pieces (“I’m a mormon”, mormon.org, etc.) – it helped to understand that it is one thing how the world relates to us (“mormons”) and how we call ourselves (Latter-day Saints).

Also, the word of wisdom talk was interesting – the last few conferences have specifically added “drugs and addictive substances” and the last two conferences have added “especially those affecting young people”. In my professional work, I know that caffeine is classified as a drug as much as any other drugs we think of, and research in just the last two years has discussed its addictive properties – as well as new substances (i.e., taurine, etc.) found in youth energy drinks. It gave me a lot to think of and consider as I work with youth, as well as continuing my own conversion.

I loved what he taught about repentance being not just for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but also for the cleansing of the effects of sin. That is something I have experienced in the process of my conversion. I especially see it in the healing of my family, and the improvement in my everyday life – which is just happier than before.

The “Leave it alone” command was really, really good. Nothing can fix it or bring it back, and anything you do will make it worse. This is important to remember in girl world, I think. Forget it, let it alone. Also, the same as what I learned about “burdens” – let it go. Good stuff for me!

Elder Nelson’s talk was great stuff I have already been studying, so it felt very personal to me. Make this world a better place. Do not let fears displace faith. Strengthen faith and teach it with conviction. Sacred purpose and potential. Keep the commandments, even when some pick and choose which to obey. Keeping commandments prevents bondage and brings blessings. Angels are on call to help you, on your left and right. When we are faithful, He and His angels will help us. Fear not, be of good cheer, your future is as bright as your faith. WHEW.

Also, the part about our prayers being before Him, even entering His ears, that made me cry, too. Also, that the Lord responded by changing perspective – that is what has been happening to me the last few weeks, and I am so glad of it as understanding unfolds.

“It will no longer be easy or popular to be LDS… persecution can crush you or motivate you to be courageous.”

And then – something I have been studying for a year now, the “bounds” of time and place – he said “you are chosen and reserved for this time and place”.

Me, Emily, for now and for here.

Maynes of the 70 – I was so glad I have studied and memorized the family proclamation! This was an expounding of that! I was glad it was in my mind and heart, so that layers and layers came to me as he spoke. I especially loved the “celestial traditions” phrase he coined. So many implications, such a connection of before and soon-to-be. I loved it, and it did feel like an “anchor” to me.

Samuelson of the 70 – his talk on testimonies was so good for me. This did strengthen me for how to hold my own testimony, regardless of circumstances or surroundings. I needed this very much. I will be excited to examine his list of 10 more closely when it comes out in the Ensign! It sounded like 10 things I really need to know!

Elder Oaks – how funny that he spoke about basic needs, when that is the very simple thing I have been studying these months?! The balance of life, but for me what I have been learning is meeting basic needs in order to sustain my physical and spiritual self. That this counts as righteousness… and how powerful to consider the idea the our most righteous desire is to be RECEIVED by the Lord. It makes me think of the Temple. This was powerful to me, and helped me understand whole new layers.

To have a vision of what (who!) we can become!

And the power that comes if our righteous desires are intense enough – wow.

And then SLAM – the single talk. It should be my desire to seek a Temple marriage, and to set priorities to obtain it – and keep that priority higher than my career on the list. This is so hard! I mean, it isn’t hard, but the experience of it is hard. It took me so long – more than a year of that kind of intense-desire praying just to get the DESIRE to want to be married… and then, of course, once that finally came (thank you, Father, seriously), then layers and layers of understanding have come… which is good, except now I grieve it, when before it didn’t bother me. I was never lonely before. I never cried in prayer because of being alone. Now I do. So he is right, that it is hard in a new way when you are in-process. But also, I understand that I am still being prepared in that way – like rebalancing of my schedule for rest and play. I am glad I have worked hard on that repentance and reconciling of my schedule to the Lord’s priorities, even if it is just in PREPARATION for it. But it is hard in a new way, because now I am alone instead of busy. That is not very fun. But maybe that helps me to keep wanting it, instead of forgetting to want it. And, truly, I understand it is good and right and for a purpose, and that I am healing and growing and preparing. So I do continue praying as I continue learning!

Elder Ballard’s talk was so great with the little flecks of gold – when people ask me how I learned so much in less than two years as a convert, that’s what I tell them. I mean, I didn’t know that story to tell them, but I tell them that all I did was study my scriptures every morning. I did seek out more, of course, but really it is that simple, the little pieces at a time. That was so good to encourage and strengthen me, to help me keep doing the little things.

And then came my answer for how to be nurturing and benevolent! love HIM, and I will love others. The more we love others, the more we think, feel, and act more like our Saviour – so it is like an upward spiral, that builds on itself… just like repentance, but the positive side of it! I love it!

He closed with the verse about praying with all energy of heart – which was the second time we were specifically given that verse, so I will be studying that.

WOW! I feel like I have been at the Temple all week!

I am grateful for General Conference. I am grateful for Heavenly Father, who lives and who knows me specifically and who planned for me to be here this day in this place. I am grateful for the atonement of my REDEEMER and ADVOCATE. I am grateful for the Spirit, and for the correction, instruction, and guidance I receive.

I am also grateful for this beautiful, beautiful day!

April 2011 Geneneral Conference Saturday Morning Notes

Here are my notes of what I learned in the Saturday morning session of General Conference!  This is not all I wrote, nor is it an effort at transcribing what was said.  This was the part of General Conference that was meant for Emily World.

President Monson – His list of thank you-ness was as much a call to repentance!  Faith, devotion to the Gospel, love and care for one another, faithfulness in tithing, generosity to other funds – and specifically, he asked us to donate money to the General Missionary Fund… that hit me strongly, since I myself was rescued by missionaries and so do want to support their efforts.

Elder Perry’s talk really felt very much in sync to me for what I have been learning this whole year about the balance of work, rest, and play.  His teachings of the principles of the Sabbath helped strengthen me in several layers. More than just not spending money on Sunday, not working on Sunday, not buying food or shopping on Sunday, more than wearing your dress clothes all day as a reminder of the Sabbath, but also the rest and worship and service for which the Sabbath is intended.  Good stuff!

His teaching on Sacrament gave me layers for HOW to be prepared, and reminders for what internal processes should be happening before I ever even get to Sacrament meeting itself, so that taking the Sacrament can mean the most and do what is intended.  He reminded us to study the New Testament teachings beyond just the Sunday School curriculum this year.  And again, prepare ourselves physically and spiritually for the Sabbath and Sacrament ahead of time.

Also – he said in closing that joy is found in following the Savior, and I mention that because Gonzalez repeated it again for us.

Sister Stevens – The interesting thing to me about her talk… it was mostly about becoming like a child and in that way following the example of our Savior… but it opened with a talk about tithing.  Both President Monson and President Eyring spoke about tithing.  Two speakers talked about women being in tune and receiving revelation to help the priesthood, and the one woman speaker talked about the same topic as both presidents mentioned.  That was interesting to me!  It was like a demonstration of it, a testimony of it playing out in how the talks unfolded, beyond just the words that were sad.  I loved that!

Something in her talk that was very powerful to me was when she told the story about the little boy who couldn’t see his father but could hear his voice… she said “We cannot see our Heavenly Father, but we can listen for His voice”.  This made me cry and cry and cry, for because I so needed that.  This year has been so hard, and I am very alone – except not, and so that was very good for me.  Really good for me.  Then when she talked about the Nephite children being blessed one by one, it reminded me of cleaning the crystals on the lights at the Temple, and how we had to clean one at a time, and how that reminded us of taking names through the Temple one at a time.

Gonzalez – three times talked about making and keeping covenants.  He warned of upcoming difficulties, which was a good reminder that life isn’t always easy nor should we expect it to be.  Also, I had never thought of making covenants “as an expression of love”.  It makes sense, but I had never thought of it in those words, so I will be thinking about that more.

He stated that the way we treat others shows how we love the savior, and that was a call to repentance again.  He repeated Elder Perry’s statement about how we are happier when we follow the example of Jesus Christ, so we got told that twice already.

Richards – He compared physical recovery from surgery to soul recovery from repentance.  THAT is something I can understand!  I cried through his whole talk about pain, and I loved Orson Whitney’s quote about “no pain or trial is wasted”, and about it being for our education – part of the purpose of our education which we came here to receive.

I loved when he said the scripture about how we are to “come boldly” to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy.  I need me some mercy, but we do have to accept it.  DOH!

Also, when studying principles and promises, ask the question “What is required to qualify?”

Elder Cook opened with “Women are incredible!”  Everyone laughed because we know it is true!  I was glad of it, as I have not “felt” very incredible lately.  But it was good to be reminded of what is truth, beyond other people’s choices or the distractions and illusions of the world – that within me are “divine qualities” – love, charity, and willingness to sacrifice.

He talked about how we should be nurturing – this, for me, was the same call to repentance as the YW broadcast about “benevolence”.

OH! OH! OH!  THEN, he was telling the story about a woman, and he said that she said “the Lord promised to be my husband” – and I KNEW IT WAS ISAIAH 54!  That has been the verses I have clung to, that for me were like the “graduate school” of 2 Nephi 4:16-21… Isaiah 54 says (in part, though it is a short chapter):

4 -Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be though confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
5 – For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6 – For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
7 – For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 – In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everylasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
9 – For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

He closed his talk with the “angel’s errand” that we women are supposed to be on and doing, and I felt that maybe that’s why we were first told to be benevolent and nurturing!  I cannot love well enough to do the work of angels if I am not first benevolent and nurturing.  Good stuff!

President Eyring – What I loved about his talk was that he showed HOW we can do something.  The Lord hears their cries, and feels my compassion, he said.  I love how he connected the Law of Consecration to the United Order and to the Welfare Program, so that we can know that isn’t just old discourse-talk.  I like that there are specific ways I can do something to help, and I like that working together to help others brings us unity.

The being “willing to share” was a call to repentance like “benevolence” and “nurturing”.  I have a lot to learn before I make it to angel-ness!

Then he gave very specific and practical counsel about how to provide for ourselves so that we can use the surplus to help others.  After a year of buying a house and two brain surgeries, I appreciated the helpful advice!  I know that my house was absolutely a miracle of tithing, as was paying off my hospital bills from last year.  So now to be recovering from those big things while on my mission, it has been a challenge – but always I am provided for, and always there is enough.  I know that if I keep working hard, being frugal, and giving my tithing, He will continue to provide, and if I also have faith in President Eyrings promise, then not only will I have enough, but I will have a surplus I will be able to share.  I am excited to be trying this out, Alma-style!  Experimenting in faith to see what the Lord can do!

There were, of course, many more things I wrote down… but oh! It was so good!  I did need to be fed, nourished, and filled!  And what peace and strength I feel, what cleansing and hope (funny how they go together).  I am glad of it, so glad of it.  I do thank my Father for a prophet!

1 Nephi 2: mikveh

CLICK HERE to read 1 Nephi 2.

So there is Lehi, having his dream-visions about what is going to happen to Jerusalem.  The people are mad at him for preaching to them, and they try to stone him like they have tried to kill the other Old Testament prophets.  So Lehi is ready to take his family and leave Jerusalem, because he knows Jerusalem is about to be destroyed (which did happen, just as he and Isaiah and the other prophets prophesied it would).  Only when they leave Jerusalem, they leave everything behind.  Lehi was a wealthy dude, with a good business and a nice house and a good life.  But he left it because the Lord told him to go.  So he went.

This is another Old Testament pattern:  when you leave your home, you go wander in the wilderness.

Think Moses leading the tribes of Israel.

I think of my life, and the wilderness of the last decade.

This “wandering” (searching for truth) in the wilderness (living my own way, how I want to live it – instead of living my life the way God has asked me to live, and so in that way being disobedient) is a type of bondage.  More so than bondage, it is a time of testing and proving. The Lord leads the people through the wilderness, to give the people an opportunity to do what He says, to go where He says, to be obedient.  The Lord LEADS them to give the people an opportunity to FOLLOW.  He always does it the same way because He is the same God as always; He doesn’t change.  So in the Old Testament, the Lord led Moses who acted as a prophet (leading the people); now the Lord leads Lehi, who acts as a prophet leading his family.

So this is Lehi, being obedient, because he is FOLLOWING.

Verse 3:  “And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.”

So Lehi leads his family into the wilderness, leaving behind his land and his money and “stuff”.

He only took his family, provisions (food, etc.), and tents (tabernacle-ness! points to the Temple!).

Verse 5 talks about the family traveling near the Red Sea.  This is fun because the Red Sea is famous in scriptures.  The Israelites crossed the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians, right?  But think of it conceptually, not just historically… in Hebrew, the word for the water is “mikveh”.  It’s more than just water, but a hope of cleansing (Ezra 10:2, the people returning to the covenant).  It is a restoring of holiness and sanctification.  Mikveh means something purifying is taking place, a being made holy (a separation, a setting apart).  Mikveh was for Gentiles who wanted to become Jews: they had to be baptized by immersion, have the name of God pronounced over them (proper authority), and they came out washed and sanctified, even holy.  They were considered then to be clean and pure, absolved of all sin, and clean from all influence of the world (that sins of that generation), their non-Jewish birth (the blood of that generation), and any contamination of evil.

So when the “mikveh” is used for Moses leading the people across the Red Sea at the River Jordan, it isn’t just a crossing through the water on dry land… it is their baptism.

This is amazing, and one of the things right in front of me my whole life in Scripture, but I never caught it until later, until the Hebrew, until having the full story.

But here is what is even more amazing: this is where Jesus was baptized, in that same place!  The place where Jesus was baptized was the same place as where the Israelites crossed over!

So not only was the crossing of the Red Sea the baptism (mikveh) of the Israelites, but it was also foreshadowing the atonement.

To me, that is amazing.  Beyond poetic, beyond pure beauty, beyond profound.

So the Red Sea wasn’t just a miracle of parting waters… it was also an ordinance.  It was the people returning to the covenant.  It was their “setting apart”, their being made “holy”.

So there is Lehi, near the shore of the Red Sea, traveling through the wilderness with his family – much like the Israelites did.

Lehi understands all this, and after three days in the wilderness (symbolism also pointing to the atonement, with three days in the tomb),  Lehi stopped and pitched his tent.

His tent, of course, is now his home since they left Jerusalem.

But the “pitching his tent” is also a Hebrew phrase that refers to focusing on, literally pointing to, or participating in the Temple.  Anytime scriptures talk about pitching tents, it has both literal and symbolic meaning.  I “pitch my tent” in my house, and I “pitch my tent” when I get up each morning and read my scriptures and say my morning prayers.  It means literally setting up their tents, but it also means motivation and intent and the action of their faith – which always points toward the Temple.

We know this from the Israelite camp as they traveled through the wilderness.  The tabernacle (Temple) was in the middle of the camp, and each tribe surrounded it in a giant circle.  Each tribe “pitched their tents” toward the tabernacle.  We see it also in Mosiah 2:6:  “And they pitched their tents round about the temple (in the same manner as the Israelites did), every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them”.

We see Lehi follow the same pattern, as immediately after pitching his tents, we read in verse seven: “And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.”

He worshipped in that Temple-like space.

In verse 9 we read about Lehi naming one of the rivers after his son Laman, which is a sweet act of love.  But it is also more foreshadowing.  When you think of the water as being like the mikveh, then you realize he is not just honoring his son and hoping for the best.  He is saying that Laman needs the mikveh.  Laman needs to be purified by the mikveh (cleansed by the atonement) to become righteous.

In the same way, in verse 10, Lehi compares his son Lemuel to the valley, in hopes that he will be “firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord”.  So again, it is a call to repentance, a call to the mikveh, a call to obedience.

So we have poetic parallelism happening, because now we have the pattern over and over again and again.

The Israelites experienced the mikveh, and Jesus was baptized in the same place.

Through the mikveh, the Israelites returned to God, made their first covenants with God as a reclaimed people.

The Lord delivered the Israelites from bondage, and their submitting to mikveh was their act of obedience, their act of faith.

It reminds me of my own baptism.  I had been baptized when I was little, but not by the same authority.  And what I needed more than anything two years ago, was to be delivered from bondage.  I needed cleansing.  I needed to be “set apart”.  I needed mikveh.  Getting baptized was my first act of faith, my first act of obedience.  It was what began the process of cleaning up my life, of restoring me to who I was created to be.

So for the Israelites, it was what demonstrated to the Lord that they were willing to follow Him, to let Him lead them.

Now Lehi is calling Laman and Lemuel to obedience, to faith.

It’s our first signal that Laman and Lemuel are NOT being obedient and NOT acting in faith.

Lehi’s tender urging towards righteousness is our first sign that Laman and Lemuel are not willing to follow the Lord (or their father).

But, like the Lord, Lehi continues to offer invitations out of bondage.  He is saying “this is your way out, this is your way out”.

Verse 11 confirms the theory, saying that Lehi said what he did because of the “stiffneckedness” of Laman and Lemuel.  I love the “stiffneckedness” term!  It’s classic King James English, and so fun to say!  The word comes from literal stiff necks that would not bow (submit) to royalty.  So in this way, not submitting to the Lord (not being obedient, not being willing to follow) does mean they have “stiff necks”.

We can understand where they are coming for, as verse 11 continues to explain that Laman and Lemuel are upset because they had to leave everything.  Who wants to abandon their comfy, cozy, wealthy home (and implied local popularity) to go wander in the wilderness?  They have every reason to be upset!

Except that Lehi isn’t just crazy or weird or being foolish.

The Lord commanded Him to leave Jerusalem for their own safety.  It’s like Abraham getting Lot out of Sodom.

Maybe the impending wars have been around Laman and Lemuel all their lives, so they are just used to it.  Maybe they watched too much CNN, or lived too close to the sniper zone.  Regardless, Laman and Lemuel are now to the point where they think they can go back to their mansion-in-the-war-zone and remain un-injured.  They think everything is fine, just fine.  They are so whimpy about the wilderness that they think they would be safer back home with war coming at them.  Silly boys.

But more seriously, the problem is their “stiff necks”.  The problem is their lack of belief.  The problem is their un-willing-ness to submit to the tiniest bit of obedience to just do what the Lord has commanded, and to do it His way.

Because they did not want to be wrong, they blamed Lehi and called him crazy.  That’s worse than disrespectful.

So thus began the murmuring.

Murmuring is the fastest way to kill a relationship, to lose any change of understanding, to shut your mind and heart to learning new things.  Negativity is one of the most dangerous things in life, and the only poison more dangerous is straight up bitterness.  It leaves a person cold, unfeeling, and lost.  It moves them to destruction, separating them from loved ones or even their own identities.  It turns things inside out, so that people think they are bored, or stuck, or frozen, until they become so lost that they are blind to the brilliant opportunities around them… and not only that, but it is everyone else’s fault instead of their own.

People like this either do not know who they are, or they have forgotten.

You cannot know who you are and get lost in that space.

Verse 12 says “And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.”

They also didn’t believe the prophets (like Isaiah).

This escalated so much that they wanted to kill their own father!

But Lehi is filled with the Spirit of the Lord, confronts them, teaches them, and reprimands them.  They denied the tender parent moment earlier, with the naming of the river and valley, and so now it is direct chastisement.

Remember the first chapter yesterday?  How you get a warning before you are sent into bondage?  The naming of the river and valley was their warning.  Now they are busted big time.

Then in verse 15, we see one of the shortest verses in the Book of Mormon:  “And my father dwelt in a tent”.  I love this verse!   There are lots of layers to this, but the fun layer on the surface is just the follow-up to verse 14.  In verse 14, Lehi SLAMS his sons who had earned the bawling out.  Verse 15 is the “boo-yah, SNAP”.  It’s the “So there.”

Verse 14, the sons are saying “you can’t do this, dad.  You’re crazy, dad.  This is wrong, dad.  It’s impossible, dad.  We want to go back to our mansion…” whine whine whine.

Verse 15 is like BAM, not only could Lehi do it, but he did do it.  Just like that.

If this were written in Hebrew, it would be a play on words, and it is almost like a joke.  It’s a classic Hebrew understatement.   If I were the boss of translating this from the original language (which I am not), it would read more like “In your face, yo!”.   That’s what that little verse means.  It’s awesome and hilarious.

And that’s our introduction to Laman and Lemuel, the “bad sons” of Lehi (as compared to the good son, Nephi).

But then we get serious again in verse 16.  We get the “I, Nephi” again, which tells us to pay attention because we are about to get a Temple testimony.  He talks about his age, which I think is very interesting.  He says he is young, but large in stature… meaning that he is not adult (which would be age 30 in ancient Hebrew culture), but old enough (large in stature – grown – 18ish or more).

Nephi then says he has  – or really, for true literary analysis, he said “is having” – there is a present progressive verb tense going on that indicates he still feels this way even later in the present moment as he is writing this story.  I think that is significant.

Anyway, he has a desire “to know the mysteries of God”.  The word “mysteries” means “ordinances”, and that is not only ancient Hebrew use, or ancient Greek texts, but common through most all religions.  Nephi is wanting to know the “mysteries” (ordinances) of God (points to the Temple).

Because he wants to know (participate in!), he prays to the Lord.

The Lord responds – and we get more parallel-ness going on, this time comparing to the stiff-necked brothers.  Here the Lord comes to visit Nephi, and softens his heart.

That’s why it took me nine months to get baptized, from the time of meeting the first missionaries to my actual baptism.  It took nine months to “soften my heart”.  My neck was THAT stiff.

But Nephi continues his testimony, giving us a definition of “soft heart”: “that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father”.

For Nephi, or anyone else in his family, or for the Israelites being led by Moses, or for us today, it could read “that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by (whoever shared the words of the Lord with you)”, or “that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by the Prophet”.

And now, because he believed (act of faith) and because his heart was soft (participated in ordinances of the Temple, even), then he knew.  He KNEW.  This was his testimony.

And because he had testimony, he was obedient.  “wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers”.

So now that he had his testimony, he had to TESTIFY!

This makes me think of one of my most favorite songs ever (even though it’s from when I was in undergrad):

So Nephi starts testify, or sharing what he knows to be true about what the Lord has done for him.  His brother Sam believes him, but Laman and Lemuel are back to not listening and not believing.

This grieves Nephi, because he is concerned for them (because it is his business), and he prays for them.

Nephi can’t make them believe, but he can teach them and he can pray for them.

The Lord responds to Nephi’s prayer, acknowledging his faith and acknowledging his diligent seeking of the Lord.

Really, truly praying is hard work.  Remember to pray every morning and every night is hard work.  Remembering to do my scripture study, and then to spend that time really studying (and not just checking it off my to-do list for the day) is hard work.  There is an above-and-beyond in effort, time, and energy that creates a deeper sincerity, a more real intent, and develops a higher quality of relationship that is more in tune with God.  That’s spiritual diligence.

The Lord also notices that Nephi is humble, that Nephi has demonstrated (by actions! his behavior has shown it!) that he understands he can do nothing without the Lord.  He is concerned for his brothers not because they won’t listen to him, but because he wants for them what he has.

Then, in verse 20, we get a very powerful verse.  It’s PACKED.

He acknowledges that Nephi is obedient (notice that this comes after being diligent and humble, and after those traits are demonstrated long enough to be able to be considered “faithful”), and because of his obedience the Lord gives him a blessing.

This is a covenant: if we are obedient, He will bless us.

We get Old Testament language here, with Nephi being told he will be led into “a land of promise”.  This of course is comfort (that his brothers didn’t wait around long enough for) that the family really would get to where they are going.  They won’t wander forever.

But it also points to celestial-ness.  It is our hope, too.  It is our promise, too.

If we are obedient, we will get home again.  We will be able to return to our Heavenly Father.

So not only is it possible, but He wants us to succeed!  And He shows us the way by providing rules and guidelines, things to do, activities to try, skills to develop and practice… all these things for us to be obedient to or within help us prepare to return to His presence.  He wants us to come home!

In the next verse, we get confirmation of this higher level (besides just the physical arrival at the end of their journey) of interpreting this as also returning to His presence at the end of this life journey.  It gives us a poetic opposite for those who do not obey, for those who rebel against the Lord’s way.

So we are back to the same pattern as the last chapter:

When we obey, we are “gathered”.

When we do not obey, we are “scattered”.

When we obey, we are “blessed”.

When we do not obey, we are sent into “bondage”.

But following the poetic pattern, the next verse goes back to the good but this time defining it.

All this “prepared for you” reminds me of John 14:2, where Jesus said “In my Father’s house are many mansions/rooms…”

The Greek for that verse directly means “In my Father’s presence…”

The Greek for the many mansions/rooms goes back to 1 Corinthians 15:40.

It means there is enough room for everyone.

It means everyone will be comfortable in, and agree with, where they are when we all return to our Heavenly Father.

This chapter of 1 Nephi 2 closes with that, the reminder that obedience brings blessings and that bondage stirs us up to remembering the Lord, remembering who we are.  The point of all of it is that He wants to bring us home, and has made a way.

These are the lessons of the Temple.

1 Nephi 1

CLICK HERE to read 1 Nephi 1.

One of the reasons I love the Book of Mormon is because I am a therapist.  It’s what I do.  The whole Book of Mormon is one giant story, a record, of one family through the years.  In that way, it appeals to the genealogy-ness in me as well.  It’s just good reading, even from those perspectives.  We make it complicated, but it isn’t:  one father of several sons moves the family, the family spreads out over time, and we read what happens to them in the process.  The principles we learn are also simple:  when we are good and kind and obedient and loving, we (as a people) are “gathered”; when we are not, then we (as a people, as individuals) are “scattered”.

It’s very Old Testament-ey.  But of course it is, because it’s all happening at the same time.  So it’s the same culture, the same people, the same God.

The father in the story is named Lehi.  I remember when I first learned about WHEN the family of Lehi left Jerusalem and started traveling west. That had not connected in me, but I loved the story of it.  When Lehi left, with copies of the sacred texts thus far, Judah was already at war.  Verse four says it was the “first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah”.  You can read about King Zedekiah in 1 Kings 22.  We know he was a good king, because his name ends with the “iah”, which means “one who seeks after Jehovah”.  So a good king, who inherited a crisis of people turning away from God, and so watching his country disappear in war.  Everything was in upheaval.  Isaiah was the prophet at the time, and Lehi paid attention.  Lehi is paying such close attention, in fact, that he knows for himself what is going on and that the family must leave because Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.

You can’t even get through verse one without hitting the Temple pattern.  There is creation (born of goodly parents), teaching (all the learning of my father), a type of fall (afflictions different than the peace and joy of before), an expression of at-one (favored of the Lord), given knowledge (of the goodness) and ordinances (mysteries).  Verse one is Nephi’s testimony of it, his “record”.  It is just as we are instructed to study and learn and experience, and then to “explain, share, testify”.  Nephi did explain, share, and testify!

The comments in verse three, which could almost be overlooked if you were not paying attention, about this record being true and made in his own hand, are actually very important.  Poetically, they are parallels to the “I, Nephi” in the first verse.  This is the red flag to pay attention.  The “what” to pay attention to is given in the second verse (between the parallels), when he talks about writing in the language or way of the Hebrews and the Egyptians.  That is significant historically, and confirms the point of this being a Temple text.  It tells us to watch out, because these chapters will be packed full of verses pointing towards the Temple.

So there is Nephi, telling us the story of his father, Lehi, who knows Jerusalem is going down.  Lehi is praying for the people, and prophesying to him like many of the major and minor prophets we read in the Old Testament.  This is important because we know from the Old Testament that there is a pattern to repentance and bondage:

We know bondage happens because of disobedience.

We also know the Lord has promised, since the beginning of time, that He will never send a people into bondage without first sending them a prophet to warn them.  This is that time when the mighty-powerful-just Old Testament God is balanced out by the side of his mercy that we often forget.

If the people listen to the Prophet, and repent, and turn their hearts to the Lord, then they do not have to go to bondage.

If the people do not listen to the Prophet, and do not repent, then they do have to go to bondage.  But still, he will help them get out of bondage if they will repent.

If the people still will not repent, then the cannot get out of bondage (because they have chosen it), but the Lord can lighten the load of their bondage and make it easier for them – if they will repent.

If the people still will not repent, then their load in bondage will not get easier, but He can deliver them in such a way that everyone will know it is only God who could have delivered them.

That’s what happened when Moses delivered the Israelites.

That’s what happened when I was “delivered” from my “bondage” of the last decade.

For serious.

So Lehi knows this pattern from the Old Testament, and for him it was a more recent history.  So he is praying for the people that they will repent.  Already by now Isaiah has said bondage WILL HAPPEN.  But still, the Lord can lighten their load and help them if the people will repent.  This is why Lehi is praying for the people.

We read in verse 7:  “And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.”

What parent of a wayward child does not know this feeling?  To know the destruction about to come, to know the consequences lying ahead, to see a way out but watch the child not choose it?  Or what spouse, watching their partner choose the very things that are destroying the marriage, or NOT do the very things that will save it? Or what teenager throws themselves on the bed (after perhaps slamming the door) because they don’t like the punishment just given? What one of us has not collapsed in grief, exhausted from mourning?

This is the kind of feeling Lehi has.

We know that feeling of being so exhausted, and so desperate, and crying out to the Lord with all our being, until there is nothing left to do but fall onto the bed and collapse into His presence.

We know that feeling, of knowing nothing but God can save us… or heal us.

Verse 8:  “And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.”

In his vision of seeing God, he sees the disciples and also angels.  The angels come and give him a book, and as he reads it he is filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

An example to us, that even in our most desperate circumstances, our hardest days, in every moment, it is to His book – to His scriptures – that we should turn for answers.  And that by doing so, we will be filled by His Spirit, and thus find peace and comfort and solutions and answers.  He will give us correction, instruction, and guidance.

When Lehi got his guidance, he did explain-share-testify!  He explained to his family what he saw, shared what it meant, and testified that it was of God, that it was an answer for him, that it was guidance for his family, and that he would be obedient to it.

Wanting to help, they shared with their friends as well.  But their friends made fun of them, didn’t want to listen, didn’t admit how bad things were, and didn’t think they needed saving from anything.  Not only that, but then they got mad.  Ang-gry.

Those who had stoned the Old Testament prophets then tried to go after Lehi and his family.

His family, of course, escaped Jerusalem, and the Book of Mormon is their story of their escape and journey and settling in the new land and their descendants after them.

Of this written record that he worked so hard on, Nephi says (in verse 20), “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

The “I, Nephi” in closing does parallel the “I, Nephi” in the beginning.  It makes this a sacred text in a special way, but that’s for another blog.  But the exciting piece is that it confirms that the following chapters are not just a historical journey, but also documenting Temple-ness in a special way.  It will be very exciting to discover.

But you have to keep reading to find it!

Blogs Unfolding

love the setup of my blog since moving it to wordpress.  I love that people can comment and see comments.  I love that people can subscribe, and I think it is crazy fun that so many people get my blogs in their emails (shout out to subscribers, thank you!).  I love that those subscribers who don’t want to share their comments publicly can just email me back, and that they share so much.  Showin’ some bloggin’ love!

One of the things people have been talking about a lot is how my blog has changed.  I have maintained since starting to blog in 2003 (before it was called “blogging”), that I would be candidly open even with my struggles.  This disclosure was important to me, not because of bad boundaries but because I was living and working in a community and environment where people did not know the difference between healthy and not, how to grow, or how to become.  They needed to see how to recover from mistakes, and I had plenty of mistakes from which to recover.  It was a teaching tool, and I was the guinea pig – whose mistakes were all very public.

The difficulty I did not foresee in this process was the needing to change blog addresses – because of hackers and because of evolving (moving from LiveJournal to MySpace, leaving the drama of MySpace for Blogspot, upgrading to the for-realz on WordPress).  This was a difficulty in that it was a hassle, but also surprisingly each move was an existential crisis of review.  What color am I now?  How do I define me now?  Which picture is the me I see?

The last year was the culmination of the Emily World years since 1994.

Yes, I am that old.

I am not done.  I am still becoming.

But cochlear implants and getting baptized were THAT BIG.

They changed me.  I am still me, though.  More me, even.  But I am not the same.

This is as it should be.  I am glad I am not the same as I was in 1994.  Yikes.

For my writing, what changed was not only better boundaries, but other practical pieces.  I had to learn I could not blog where I would be later that day or too many people showed up.  I had to learn not to blog my address, or license tag, or other safety issues.  Other changes came as the rules for Emily World changed: my language used to be filthy awful, but then I got baptized and learned to express myself – and all ranges of feelings – without using cheap words that were way more offensive than I knew.  Other changes came because my pattern of behavior changed:  I still go to events, attend festivals, and enjoy a good celebration… but I enjoy them sober, and more often with real friends and not just as a presence to document an event.

I have become 3D, I think.  More real.  More me.

After I got baptized, I wrote a lot about my faith as I discovered it.  I was not trying to be pushy, but it was the exciting thing in my life.  Some friends stuck around, celebrating with me just because I was getting healthy and strong; others didn’t want to hear it no matter what.  Some friends worked hard to understand, even though it was not their choice, just so that they could understand me.  But then, as I wrote what I learned, my diving into sacred texts became deep – where the waters are dark and the stars are bright, and the journey became much more personal and sacred than what I could share.  On the other hand, sometimes I blogged quotes just because I loved them so much I didn’t want to lose them.  Some friends thought that was funny, because they knew me and my nerdy self, but it didn’t make for entertaining blogs.

All that to say that now as I settle into this baptized-implanted-space, I will be sharing some of what I learn as well as the writing I love to do.  This is a good balance for me, for being able to share what I am thinking about and learning, play for the fun writing, and all coming together for the professional writing.  It’s just me, just Emily.

I worked a long time to be just me.

And I am glad of it.

And I am glad for readers who give me such feedback, who do such sharing, who do the hard work of unfolding as we “become” together.

Also, your emails (from subscribers) are hilarious.  Thank you for making me smile.

For realz.

Positive Ions

Sometimes it’s fancy cooking I enjoy; sometimes it’s chicken pot pies and applesauce.

Sometimes I love my acoustic music that expresses my feelings in words I can understand; sometimes my very own Pandora station is just whiny.

Sometimes I do good of eating by texture; sometimes white chocolate is all I can taste.

Sometimes I am full of joy and energy, taking delight in the experience of life; sometimes, when I am too invisible, I just want to hit the delete button.

It never works.

After a weekend with the family, including six kiddos, all I needed after a long day of driving and a late night arrive home was some time to curl up in my favorite chair with a favorite book… with no processors on my head and the unconditional love of puppies keeping me warm.

I dove into Rilke (the poet, not the dog), which my blog stalkers know by the quote-ey emails that hit their inboxes so late.

I <3 Rilke, and always have.

But the quote that really punched me in the gut last night was this one, which I did not share but spent the day pondering:

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

This was so good for me to read!  I needed these words!

These Rilke words are familiar friends, but today I wrestled them to the ground, devouring them like I had never known them before.  It was a passionate battle, but sometimes a thunderstorm is needed to clear the air… and positive ions are restorative.

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you.

This has been a big part of my change.  The slowing down, the spending time at home, the being alone, the staying single long enough to meet me.  I know there are moments of my days, in this life of solitude, that many wives and mothers would give most anything to experience.  I truly treasure my times of study and pondering and meditation that I have access to as a woman without spouse or children in the home, and I know that I am accountable for this time and space and the wise stewardship of it.

But it is also very difficult, and it does also cause pain. Lonely is lonely, no mater how noble you are about it.  Self-reliance and self-sufficiency take on a whole new meaning and a whole new urgency.  The temptation to hide and isolate because you can, which is not the same as resting or home-ing, easily overpowers the choice to go out and give time and energy to others.

It is an illusion of an island, reinforced by closed blinds and locked doors that become prison walls without visitors, laughter, or fresh air.

Like the repentance work of the soul, it is a constant effort to fight those clouds.  Energy and will must be focused into forcing out the cobwebs of mood,  and it requires extensive motivation to breathe life into this space rather than letting it drain away.  It is hard work to keep out the distractions of noise, work, and entertainment in order to protect the peace and light of the Temple brought home here to me.

For those who are near you are far away…

This makes me think of the CS Lewis comment:

“creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

This is how “holy” means “set apart”.  Something, or someone, is holy because it is very, ripe.  It is so shiny that it is different than those to which you could compare.  Holy is not just different than “evil”; it is also somehow more than just mere “good”.

There is a difference between a licensed therapist, and someone who has never had any training.  But there is also a different between licensed therapists and really good (skilled) licensed therapists.

It is also the distance you feel when you make progress in an area that your loved ones have not, or, conversely, when your loved ones have made progress without you.  Either way it is the gap of canyons, and one can either fall into the pit or do the work to learn.  I think it is ultimately designed to push us forward, but in the first moment of recognition it feels like teetering on the edge.

and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast….

This is as it should be, though there is a level of grief anytime things change from what they were into something new.  But as we grow, improve, progress in life, we do take up more space.  There is more of us than there was before.

There is a degree of solitude required for growing internally, for depth-ness being created.  And solitude requires space, so a specific and purposeful solitude requires a great deal of space and time “set apart” from the world around us.

be happy about your growth,

Do not get stuck in the teetering-on-the-edge.  The cavern is vast, but it is only a result of the moving of mountains; it is not for you to fall in.

This is the not-looking-back as Lot’s wife did; it is the metaphor of the little bird hatching from its egg.  The womb is always safe and nourishing, but you must at some point grow enough to move beyond it.

I learned this even when I was kicked out of the Temple.  I wasn’t actually kicked out of the Temple, but I mean to say that I have a full-time job, and part-time work, and my mission, and my newly-healing-family.  I cannot do all of those things, much less do them well, if I am at the Temple every single time it is open.  Going to the Temple is an important part of my life, of course, but it is only a piece. And part of going to the Temple is then leaving, and taking that Light with me.

I learned from President Kimball that I cannot “return and report” if I do not “go and do”.

I would never have become a therapist if only stayed in the classroom.

in which of course you can’t take anyone with you,

This one is maybe the hardest for me.

I want people to see the things I see.

I want people to know the things I know.

I am hungry to know and see, and I want people to be as hungry as me.

Many times, they are not.

Maybe because they are already ahead of me, or maybe because they are just starting.  We are in different places, or on different paths.  But I cannot drag people along with me.

The real reason, of course, is because each journey is an individual one, unique to each person.  Your life is designed especially for you, to help you learn what you are here to learn, to discover what you are here to discover, to do what you are here to do.  This life, your bounds of time and space (being alive, now, and here), has a purpose just especially for you.

As does my life for me.

So I can’t make my life lessons the same life lessons for someone else.  I can’t drag them kicking and screaming along my path, because it is not their path.

Not only is my path not their path, but living life is an individual responsibility.  I cannot live life for someone else no more than someone else can live life for me.  This is my life to live, and yours is your life to live.  It just is.

There may be many I can meet there, but I can take no one with me along the way.  There may be many whose path lie very near mine, but I still must walk my own path and they must walk theirs.

and be gentle with those who stay behind;

This makes me think of President Uchtdorf at the last General Conference (October 2010), in his “You are my Hands” talk when he said, “we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion.”

Because I can only walk my own journey, I have no right to condemn the journey of another.  I do have the responsibility to help point the way toward the destination of love and peace which we share.  But I must be gentle with those at their own pace, in their own process, making their own effort… just as so many have been patient and gentle with me along the way.

be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts

Sometimes, I am my own mess.

Sometimes, I talk myself in circles.

Sometimes, I have thrown my own self for a loop that takes some untangling.

I don’t need to dump my mess on those overwhelmed with their own stuff.

and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

This makes me think of when I was little, and I would try to cheer up my brother by singing songs to him.  When he was little, that worked.  When he was a teenager, that was no longer helpful.  He just needed to feel what he was feeling, and did not need distraction from it.  He was old enough, grown enough, to deal with life even when it was hard.  He had a different life skill set than I had.  And that was okay.

However, this made my meager attempts at cheer more annoying that helpful.

And that’s why we poke holes in a chicken pot pie before heating it up.

Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them,

This is the true meaning of tolerance.

Tolerance does not mean approving of the behaviors of others, nor does it mean putting up with behaviors with which you do not agree.  Tolerance is not a permissive attitude, or not being permitted to suggest positive change.

Tolerance is meeting someone on common ground to develop mutual understanding and love.

We are all human, and our experience on planet earth unites us.  We all have different eyes through which we see, but we do see the same sun and the same grass.  We can stand together on that grass to share how warm the sun feels in a summer breeze.

which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again;

This is good boundaries.

I am uniquely Emily, and my role in life is just being me.

Part of being me is caring for myself, including protecting who I am.

Even as I grow and change, I learn what is good for me and what is not, what is life-giving and strengthening and what is destructive.  Letting the good things in while keeping the bad out is good boundaries.

Good boundaries don’t change as I grow; rather, good boundaries help provide the structure and framework in which I am able to grow.

when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own

I don’t know anything about fashion shows, but when my friend’s dress shop provided the dresses for a local high school event… I loved life in a way not my own by learning really quickly how to pin dresses, bag dresses, and hang dresses.

I don’t have cable or watch TV at my house, but when my young friend had Spring Break, I loved life in a way not my own by having a Star Wars marathon with him.

There are no children at my house, but when I visit my brother I love life in a way not my own by enjoying the flexibility, spontaneity, and chaos that comes from six kids in a family.

All of it was a good time!  But it was loving life in a way that is not my own.  In the same way, I have friends who meet me where I am and love life in a way not their own.  Maybe they endure long blogs, sporadic postings, crazy working hours, or rambling speeches!

and be indulgent toward those who are growing old,

One of the things I love most about our church is that it has a specific plan and purpose for those who are growing old.  Not just a plan that takes care of them or provides for them, but also that gives them function and purpose and meaning as a very cherished and honored role in our community.  It seems this is often lost in western society, and I love that we are trying to protect it and continue it.

However, being “indulgent” toward those who are growing old requires more benevolence than just honoring their place in our lives.  It is more than just being grateful to them for our own existence.  It is more than being respectful of the place they hold, for the roles they played in our lives.

To be indulgent is to spoil them, cherish them, fill them to overflowing with love and service.  Being indulgent is to make sure they have what they want, not just what they need.  Being indulgent is providing more than what is required for comfort.  It is a letting them do things their way, at their pace, when they are good and ready.

To indulge those growing old takes far more compassion and effort than just respecting the elderly.

who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust….

Let other people feel what they feel; let them be in the space they are in.  If they are willing, you can enter that space.  If they let you, you can light a candle.  But not everyone has developed the same strengths and skills as you, just as you have not developed the same strengths and skills as they have.

and don’t expect any understanding;

This is a soul-depth kind of understanding.

Other people cannot understand exactly your journey because it is your own.

but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance,

This is so Old Testament!  I love it!  Inheritances do not move from tribe to tribe, but are passed down within the tribe.  It was not enough to be born within the covenant of Abraham, but the children of Israel also had to live in such a way as to demonstrate they were  Abraham’s children.  Birthright is more than genetics.

In the same way, good boundaries mean living in a way true to who you are, while still interacting with the world in which you live.  We are at times called to solitude; we are not called to isolated monasticism.  We are called to love and serve those on planet Earth alongside us, in our lives every day, in our paths for moments or on parallel paths next to us.

Above all, there is love.  Love is bigger than everything.

Yet, even while being bigger than everything, Love still has a context, a structure, and a purpose.  That’s what helps it flow from noun to verb.  The pre-Frank Sinatra song said this:

Love is a many-splendored thing,
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring,
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.

Love is more than a feeling, and more than a motivation.  “Love” perverted can be one of the most dark and dangerous forces experienced, and Love cherished can be one of the most powerful and cleansing forces there is.

Sometimes love is hard work, because it must be demonstrated more than declared.

The purest love will honor the bounds in which it thrives, rather than selfishly seeking to obtain.  Love is not a possession; it is not ownership.

Love is life-giving and strengthening.  Love is creating.  Love is healing. Love is becoming.

and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

This made me cry when I read it the other night.

It resonates in our child-hearts, a love so pure and strong and blessing-ish as to be “enough” that we can exist without having to step outside of it.

Little toddlers wander off, and then back to their mothers.  Wander, back, wander, back.  They are like little ping-pong balls, and this is what they do because they are learning that they exist as a separate and distinct entity.  They can leave their mothers, and still exist as a person.

This lesson is so hard, though we overlook it and pretend we are tough, but mother-self relationships are so hard that there is not one country in the world with a fairytale that includes a mother.  Go ahead, try and find one.  There isn’t one.  Always, the mother has died or dies, has gone away, or there is a step-mother.   There is never a mother.

Because mother-relationships are that hard, for everybody.

This is not because mothers have failed, but because they are learning, too.  And just as they learn how best to care for us, we are learning how best to survive without them.  So it’s a conflict by design, and requires a becoming that is enough growth to demand a vast space around you.   If both mother and child do this, then they can co-exist together without being written out of the story.

This is the embrace of the prodigal son and his father.  The prodigal son (or daughter, in my case) has to do the work of coming home again.  But the parent – the parent was there waiting all along.  The father did not just welcome the son home, he saw him from a long way off!  He was already expecting, preparing for, waiting, hoping, and ready for the son to return home.

This is the embrace of the atonement, the at-one-ment, that welcomes us back into the presence of our heavenly parents… or earthly parents, if we need the practice.

But it is very hard work.

It’s the kind of work that prepares a person for marriage.

And like a marriage, it depends on both people doing that work.

But to think for a moment, that there is a love greater even than a mother’s love, or a higher kind of parent-love, so much that not only is it “enough” – enough to provide and protect as parents do – but I cannot go outside of it.

I can fight against it like a screaming toddler.  I can rebel against it like an adolescent.  I can ignore it like a passive-aggressive adult.

But that Love is still there, waiting, watching, expecting.

I still have to deal with my own consequences, still have to go through the process of learning, still have to make that long walk home.

But that Love is there, waiting, watching, expecting.