Bathsheba Was Not on the Roof: And Here’s Why That Is Important

Beautiful insight…

On Sovereign Wings

A few years ago I was on the phone with an old friend. We were talking about another friend of ours, a man who was about to be incarcerated for some poor decisions he had made. As we were talking about the case, my friend drew a familiar parallel. “If she hadn’t acted like Bathsheba and seduced him,” he said speaking of the girl involved, “this never would have happened.”

Bathsheba 1
I knew very little about the circumstances surrounding our friend’s arrest, and blessedly I was not his judge. What I did know was that something about that comparison felt incredibly wrong to me. It seared my chest with pain and sank into my stomach like a weighted piece of brimstone.

His implication nagged at me for months. What was it about his analogy that felt so off? Finally, I decided to pay attention to those persistent feelings, and I sat…

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On Ministering to Church Members from the Wrong State and That One Time Someone Told Me to Kill Myself for Being a Utah Mormon

 

One of my online LDS groups recently had an energetic discussion. The original topic was a woman sharing how out of place and alone she felt in her Utah ward (she was a recent transplant to the area). The conversation grew from there, many others echoing her feelings, others becoming downright nasty regarding the Mormons of Utah, and others speaking up in defense of those Utah Mormons. I don’t think even the worst remarks put the conversation into the halls of toxic online conversations. But back in college I was told I needed to kill myself for being a Mormon from Utah and ever since then discussions of “stupid Utah Mormons” gets me admittedly seeing red.

After all, I’m a reasonably nice person. I have friends and acquaintances from a variety of backgrounds. I am friendly to strangers in public (a side effect of working five summers at Scout Camp). I welcome new people at church. I find anyone from outside my county charmingly exciting. Oh, and I’m also not from that goofy Utah County or a crazily wealthy Mormon Instagramming my perfect life like everyone there–

Wait, what?

Are there experiences out there I don’t fully understand? Am I guilty of having my own biases against people?

In this thread of conversation, most of the nastier remarks about Utah Mormons came with a qualifier of “Well, of course I’m not talking about EVERYONE…” To which I would think, what a backhanded way of maintaining your mean comments. The defenders including me would rather than acknowledging others’ experiences would leap right to that defending, probably making us look like those stupid Utah Mormons. Fortunately there were a few chime-ins of how this was a great opportunity to listen to each other.

The whole seemed appropriate in the line of my recent RS lessons on ministering. The past couple of months has had me blabbering on about finding ways of serving each other and really getting to know each other and open up and all that. And there I was whimpering about how one person hurt my feelings over a decade ago.

One definition I give ministering is attempting to serve others as Christ would. Christ wasn’t defensive. Christ didn’t make passive aggressive statements. Christ didn’t try to qualify His feelings to be manipulative.

The reality is I am a Mormon in Utah, born and raised. I may be a wonderful, delightful person. Good for me. I should keep that up. But I also don’t get to speak for others. I’m not perfect. The non-Utah transplants aren’t perfect. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes people feel lonely and unwanted. Sometimes this happens a heck of a lot more than sometimes.

Explanations in this thread came up. Culture was oft mentioned, such as the concept that outside of Utah, the Church tends to be your family while in Utah, your family is your family. I know I hang out with my family and my-inlaws a fair amount. We do stuff together. Women said that it’s not uncommon out of Big Happy Family Utah for families to be more geographically distant and the communities to become, well, community. In places where the Church is the minority, wards and branches really band together and support each other. I like to think we do that in Utah, but perhaps it blends in or perhaps more people just rely on that family we have.

Perhaps when Church members come to Utah, they’re hit with that culture shock. That awesome close-knit support of past wards fades away. Historic wards have already build their culture and just don’t let others in, out of ignorance or xenophobia. Maybe the wards are what I would deem perfectly nice, but just not up to what the ward members had in mind. Or Utah Mormons really are a bunch of horrible people. Or transplant Church members give us mixed messages of how Utah Mormons are supposed to behave.

It looked like a mess after awhile. To stick it all in black and white, most Utah Mormons were hypocritical snobs and all the other Mormons filled their children’s head with terrifying lore of the evil horned Utah Mormons.

Wow, us. Wow.

It shouldn’t be like this. Satan is attacking the Church, and this could be a manifestation of that. Could this be a reason for this fresh focus on ministering?

No one moving to Utah or Minnesota or Florida or wherever should feel shutout from her ward. No one should be rejected or even kindly tolerated for being from the wrong state. We should all be able to look past different cultures, even accept those cultures as okay, and truly love one another and serve each other.

A few Sundays’ back we had a great discussion about how to step outside of our comfort zones and to find new ways of ministering to others. So much of this was changing our thoughts from the lesson and prayer method of Visiting Teaching to finding what our sisters and neighbors needed and going all the way to becoming their friend.

I’m something of a hermit. If a transplant to Utah wanted me to hang out with them all the time because that’s what she did in her last state, I might have to put a stop on that. And she might have to accept that being me and not because I’m a snob. But we can certainly be friends! We can chat on social media and sit by each other and chat at Church. We could do a playdate every now and then or even have a game night. Heck, we could be sure each other got invited to random church and neighborhood activities even if we would up skipping out. We could become instant bosom buddies or we could slowly work on our relationship with caring and kindness over the years. But we wouldn’t leave each other out.

Don’t put up your defenses too quickly. Don’t enjoy your butthurt bias too much. Realize that the Church is still a diverse place even within a small region. Put yourself in another person’s shoes as you minister: is that woman lonely in a new church culture hoping for the same intensity and closeness as her last ward? Is she comfortable in her support system outside of the church and you’re not granting her that grace? Don’t quickly throw an assumption at any group of people.

Do what Christ would do. Get to know them. Don’t expect them to fall fully and immediately or even ever in your particular world view. Don’t feel you have to excuse or feel guilt for your own culture, but don’t be too closed off to new ideas.

Smile at them at Church and around town.

Send them a text.

Go out for lunch.

Offer to take their kids for a few hours.

Ask if they wouldn’t mind taking your kids and you would totally owe them a favor.

Bring them a treat.

Show interest in their background. Utah’s probably not that bad and New Jersey and Alaska probably aren’t that bad.

Remind them about the random Church event going on that evening.

Zion’s stakes are far beyond Utah these days. Work with it.

Switching grades and schools in teaching

A few months’ back, I did something crazy. I quit my job. When those declarations of intent came around via a Google survey or something like that, I did the bold move and said I would not be returning to teaching 2nd grade at my school. I had no other job lined up. I hadn’t even consulted with my husband. I just went ahead and did it.

Last spring, I found myself hemming and hawing about the matter. I just wasn’t liking my school. There were a lot of little things, many of them all about me, but even last year I felt the urge to move on.

This year, things were even worse. The hard reality is my school was a tough school. Certainly within the “inner-city” standards and when the school (a charter) had moved buildings some years back it attracted a very new population. Eventually 2 very distinct populations I don’t mean to decry any populations and, oh, how I loved these students and their families, but it did make things hard!

I asked for advice on my teacher message boards. Obviously I wasn’t anywhere close to the worst situation, but things were still difficult. So much of my school day was devoted to behavior management and redirection. A very worthy enterprise, of course, and something many teachers even seek out. But for me, after a few years, I was beyond burnt out. Add in craziness in school form and all those in-house thorns, and I was done.

Responding that I would not be returning was one of the most freeing things I’ve done in some time. A good friend even pointed out how stressed I had been this past school year and the weight that seemed to be gone when I officially wasn’t returning.

My husband, somewhat surprised and perhaps a little worried I just up and quit, was very supportive and never said a word against it. (Truth be told, I think he would like to find a way to afford to have me part-time or all the way at home).

I should have been terrified. After all, I had been carrying the insurance! I quit before we learned Jade has cystic fibrosis, so that was kind of a big deal. But, I never worried. I felt peace and even joy in my decision. Things would work out.

They actually did. I recently accepted a contract teaching 1st grade (the grade upon which I cut my teaching teeth) at a very different sort of school. Think middle-class small-town with even a dash of rural in the area. I’m a little worried about the different challenges this might present. I suppose we shall see.

But I am excited. A new school, a slightly different grade… this might need the break I need.

It’s important to switch it up when you need it. Heck, maybe even when you don’t need it.

I feel rejuvenated and I haven’t even set foot in my new classroom.

It’s a good feeling.

 

Becoming a CF Mom

This summer evening winds down May, and the morning will bring June and what I consider to be the true beginning of summer. I can’t wait. Summer has long been considered my favorite season, a time of heat and sun and the fullness of nature. Summer is the celebration of life.

This transition to June also signifies the end of a very crazy month. On the last day of April, a GI doctor suggested my daughter Jade might have cystic fibrosis. A few more rectal prolapses, some tests, and it all proved true. The past months of paleness, nearly insatiable appetite, and continuing petite “teeny bean” status culminated in this moment of sense. My daughter, who was so healthy for so much of her life, has cystic fibrosis.

I cried when I found out. I was helping prepare a shrimp boil for friends and Layne called me from the road. The sweat test Jade had been to revealed CF. I cried, called my mom, cried some more, and somehow got it together for the shrimp boil. The dinner was nice, something I needed that night.

I like to think I have been strong this month. I honestly don’t know how else to be. I have had a night, years ago, where I think I may have had something that could qualify as a panic attack. No one likes being depressed, upset, but I think I truly hate it. I want to avoid that. Perhaps not in an a sunshiney way, but if I can find a way to navigate hurdles rather than sinking into despair, that’s something I want.

So far, it has helped.

The oddity is May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month. Since the diagnosis, I have found CF families spilling right out of the woodwork. I have joined two Facebook groups and received all sorts of phone numbers of people who get there. I have been assured by all that these days things will probably go okay. I am trusting on this. I have hope things will go well, and I hope I have the faith for it all.

I have a strange quirk of researching ADHD and other such things. It’s part of being a teacher, I suppose. This inevitably leads to the mothers of special needs kids, wonderful, strong women who are friggin’ awesome anyway. I admired them.

Am I one of them now? Jade is considered surprisingly healthy in spite of this. We will be doing preventive care for her lungs, but as of the moment there are no lung problems. She has to take enzymes and will be on the Vest, but where does that leave me in the tribes of mothers out there?

I have in the recent past considered and even put into practice limiting my social media, but I suddenly have renewed gratitude for communities. I am grateful for this marvelous internet technology that widens my support network. I don’t know where I lie now as a “CF Mom” but at least I can ask stupid questions on the internet. It feels good.

I think I’m doing okay. Now that summer is upon me I can squeeze in a few temple trips and maybe even meet with the psychologist I can apparently talk to down at Primary Children’s.

Welcome, June. Help me settle down from this crazy month of May.

How I use a computer game to help me clean

I have never been a clean person. Oh, I have been in plenty of households over the years that made me realize I’m not so bad in the tidiness department, but I still have a long way to go to match most of the houses I’ve seen–the clean ones. I consider myself an artsy, right-brained sort of person, but I also have trouble just getting things finished.

Which is why I have used a computer game to help me clean, be it pick up or deep clean.

It began with the game “Skyrim”. When my husband was out for a Saturday, I’d spend the day cleaning, rewarding myself with Skyrim. As time passed, I found a way to both work and play.

Turn-based games. For me, it’s the “Civilization” line. Beautiful, turn-based strategy where I don’t have crazy monsters leaping at me from nowhere.

ComputerGame

Now, this does take a long time, depending on how much I want to get done. But it works. My best cleaning happens when I am actually playing this game between sessions. I do it when my husband is working late and the girls are asleep, the perfect time to get cleaning out of the way.

I set myself a plan. I play a set number of turns–my favorite is letting it depend on what happens in the game. Civilization games have stuff happen regularly, like learning a technology or building something. Those are my go-tos for signaling it’s time to get cleaning.

Then, I clean. My two favorites are clean for five minutes, or do a certain number of tasks before I return to my game. I prefer to cycle through the rooms together as it really gets me working to find little tasks I might otherwise ignore.

It’s not speed-cleaning, but it keeps me entertained and focused. Stuff gets done.

Relief Society Lesson: The Lord Wants us to Accept Ministering from Others

 

What is ministering? I have long heard about it from other Christian faiths, but I never had managed to associate it with our religion. Oh, we had what we had: our visiting and home teaching, our efforts for building strong faith communities. At the end of the day, what was different between the two? I certainly appreciated what we did, what these other faiths did. It all seemed to amount to about the same thing, of reaching out to each other and building up our individual faiths.

 

What are some experiences and thoughts you had from our legacy of Visiting Teaching?

 

What does ministering mean to you?

 

When I thought about what ministering means, what kept floating up to the top was the idea of community, the community of our religion and faith. We Mormons are practically famous for our close-knit communities and our efforts to help one another.

Elder Robert D. Hales said “The gospel plan requires giving and receiving… Individuals in difficulty often say “I’ll do it alone… I can take care of myself.”   It has been said that no one is so rich he does not need another’s help, no one so poor as to not be useful in some way to his fellow man”.

What does this statement mean to you? Why do you think Elder Hales felt inspired to mention this?

Of course we are all individuals. Of course we all have a personal journey as we work our ways back to Heavenly Father and the Savior. Of course we cannot ultimately save others. Yet our Heavenly Father never intended for us to do this alone. The Church was not set up as individualized learning programs where we are kept separate from everyone else. The Church was set up of people. It is organized as people. It is an extremely social entity and it should be this way. Even if we can’t ultimately save each other, we are most certainly meant to support one another.

There’s this old Chinese folktale that has been on my mind, and it popped back up when I was preparing this lesson. To me, it’s about serving one another and building that community. There was this lord who became aware of a man in poverty. The man didn’t have any particular skills obvious at the same and was in many ways pretty much just a charity case. Even so, the lord decided to bring this man into his household and care for him arguably far more than the man earned. Eventually, the lord needed to send someone to collect debts from this village he was over. The poor man at this time revealed he had some financial experience and could go collect the money. The lord then said to look for whatever was lacking in the household and buy it up with the collected money. So the poor man heads out to this village, figures out what everyone owes… and then proceeds to forgive all the debts in the lord’s names. He returns to the lord, explains what he did. The lord seemed to be a pretty good sort, even though he was very disappointed, and just shrugged off the situation as one of those losses. Sometime later, a new ruler came to power and decided to do some housecleaning. One of the people who was at risk of losing his title was this lord. However, the people of the village whose debts had been forgiven refused to listen to anyone else but this lord.

I bring up this story because it made me think of how our fortunes and needs can change. In this story, we had people who at different times were in need of help. This great lord who was able to give all sorts of assistance to another with scarcely even thinking about it later found himself in need and the person he had served had been able to help him. We had an entire village who rose up in support of the person who had served them.

Now this story could have easily ended with this nice wealthy and powerful lord helping this poor man. In many ways, ministering to others, helping others, is so easy. Oh, we might have to make a sacrifice here and there, but how many of us often think that is easier than being on the receiving end of ministering? I don’t want to suggest pride where it might not exist, but there’s something empowering about going out of our ways for others, in giving up something for another. I truly believe these are godly feelings and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But again, that quote, “there is no one so rich he does not need another’s help.” We need to be able to accept help from others.

Why do you think this is so important?

To me, it goes back to this idea of this church community that exists to help us all. For every time we go out of our way to help, serve, and support another person, there has to be another person receiving that support. It’s physically impossible for it to be any other way. The story I told speaks of the way people are interconnected and the same goes for the Church.

Reyna I. Aburto said “In order to reach our sublime destiny, we need each other, and we need to be unified. The Lord has commanded us, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of unity with His Father. They are one in purpose, in love, and in works, with “the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.”

 

We are meant to serve each other. It is an essential part of our religion here on this earth and in building up our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.  We must serve each other and be willing to be served. If we refused that help, that ministery, we are not unified in the intent of serving others.

What blessings can we receive from letting others minister to us?

We can receive the obvious immediate blessings. What can be better than receiving what we need shortly after we realize we need it? There’s that relief, that joy, all that comes with knowing that we have the means of getting done what we need to get done. It’s probably a simple blessing in the grand scheme of things, yet so many of these simple needs are essential to our mortal life. Sometimes I think in our desire to grow spiritually, we forget or at least underappreciate all the little day-to-day needs of life. So often we speak of letting going of the little things that we forget the still happen and still need to happen. I think that feeling may be in fact one of the things that may keep us from accepting help and ministering: these are minor, mortal things in the grand scheme of things and surely I don’t need to bother others. But again, think of how great it is to get that comparably small thing when we need it.

This also leads to the situation of the not-so-little things. Sometimes, big and bad things happen to us. These might be the times we are far more inclined to ask for help and that’s great, I’m sure so many are willing to help at these times. But I also love the idea of a community that doesn’t necessarily rank or categorize other’s problems. It seems to me that if we are comfortable accepting help for small things, how much more likely are we to be comfortable accepting help in big things! If we are truly unified in helping and serving each other, I think the discomfort we might feel in asking or even just accepting help, no matter the problem, will diminish.

We are also humbled when we allow others to minister to us. This is something else we tend to admire in those we serve. We appreciate the gratitude and humility we see in others, yet sometimes we are scared to let that show in ourselves. Yet so many blessings and growth opportunities come when we are humbled. We are able to appreciate the service given to us. We are able to look at where we can grow and where we are strong. We may even get a nice practical shake-up in our pride.

We get to see the insight and experience to others. Like sharing a testimony, we have the opportunity learn from those who serve us. What have they been through? What have they learned?

We can also help build our community. I think women in general tend to be quite social and this is good. I also have this personal belief of mine that Satan is not only trying to break up the family but communities in general. So often, in so many ways, it seems we are supposed to distrust each other, compare ourselves to each other.

Bonnie L. Oscarson said “We… acknowledge that we are all daughters of the same Heavenly Father, which makes us sisters. We are unified in building the kingdom of God and in the covenants which we have made, no matter what our circumstances. To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. The Lord has said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”2

The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another. He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another.”

Serving each other gives the opportunity to see each other in a different, more Christ-like light, and puts us to work for each other. We see each other through the eyes of service and charity, whether we are receiving or giving it. When we accept ministering, we are part of a sisterhood of taking care of each other and comforting each other.

I feel that we can serve and accept service from others, we break down barriers between one another. We allow others into our lives. We open up our hearts to each other. We become less afraid of others seeing our imperfections and our trials. So much pride goes away, and we really do begin to see each other as Christ might. We may become less defensive, more open to growth and change. We might see that we are not alone but rather far from it in our trials. I’m not saying we need to become busybodies or oversharers, but we can let down walls and reach other to each other. We are allowing others to see what we need and by doing so receive the help we need. We put ourselves and our community of faith in the position to help each other so much further. This builds us up, strengthens us, and further puts us in the position to grow together.

 

Further questions:

  • What things us might prevent us for asking for help?
  • What can we do to encourage ourselves and each other to ask for help?
  • What’s the difference between asking for help and taking advantage?
  • How does receiving help improve our ability to help others?
  • How does serving and being served bring us closer to Christ?
  • Why might you be hesitant in letting others into your life?

Strengthening Our Relationship with our Father in Heaven

 

When my priesthood leader asked if I would be up for giving a talk today, he did not ask me through the time-honored ways of walking up to me at church or in the neighborhood or even by calling me on the phone. He sent me an e-mail, and after I replied in the affirmative he followed up with another email with an attachment of the speaking assignment which I then uploaded to my Google drive via my phone, which was handy for downloading later on my laptop when I couldn’t find my phone. My point is, life seems to becoming more and more complex. I consider this to be a good thing in countless ways. We live in an amazing world where we are blessed with all sorts of technology and advancements that can so often be used for our good. We have the ability to communicate with others around the world, to stay in touch others, to share ideas with the world. I really don’t want my talk to be about all the downfalls of this complex world because I do believe these advancements are intended to be a blessing if we use them correctly.

 

What I do wish to speak of is what we might forget about in this complex world. With our ability to do more see, see more, accomplish more, we have the potential to wind up with a lot of mores. While many of these are good, there are those who have lost sight of the basics of our gospel and our world. Some of us find our relationship with our Father in Heaven being placed on the backburner. In some ways this can be almost laughable. Our Heavenly Father who is the source of all blessings give us what we need, opens doors of opportunity, all the amazing complexities I mentioned, all things that can be used to grow spiritually and even just get through our day-to-day lives, ways to build up His kingdom, and yet sometimes He is the one who is forgotten.

 

I imagine all of us have been in dark places in our lives. Perhaps we have found ourselves crying out to our Father in Heaven. Perhaps we have been at the other end of the spectrum, feeling completely abandoned and alone. I am not in a position to speak for how others have felt and what they have experienced in such times, but I do deeply believe that our Father in Heaven does want us in the camp of the former, seeking Him.

 

In this talk “Of Things that Matter Most”, Elder Uchtdorf advises us to slow down and focus on the basics. He tells a story of turbulence in an airplane: Have you ever been in an airplane and experienced turbulence? The most common cause of turbulence is a sudden change in air movement causing the aircraft to pitch, yaw, and roll. While planes are built to withstand far greater turbulence than anything you would encounter on a regular flight, it still may be disconcerting to passengers.

What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.

 

On my kitchen wall I have this little wallhanging that says “In the Happy Moments Praise God. In the Difficult Moments Seek God. In the quiet moments Trust God.” I probably don’t look at this enough or ponder it enough, but it does serve as a reminder that Heavenly Father truly is mindful of us and our lives. I feel this goes beyond both just the hard times, or just the good times. If we are giving up when things get hard, or instead only looing to Heavenly Father when things are hard, is our relationship with Him where it truly could be? Are we do wrapped up in the rush of modern life we only have time for God at certain times and certain events?

So, how can we build our relationship with Heavenly Father?

One that occurred to me was to simply slow down, whatever that might mean for each of us. In the same talk, Elder Uchtdorf says the following One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.

Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.

It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.

I imagine everyone’s mileage may vary on what it means to be too busy, but I would daresay that one could tell if they were too busy if they were unable to focus on the most important parts of the gospel, the very things that would allow us to build up that relationship with Heavenly Father. In our mortal world of finite time, are we making the time we need?

After we make the time, what exactly do we do with this time? I imagine this is where the classic Primary answers come into play. We have been told what we need to do… are we getting it done?

In 1 John 17  we read 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

 

Think of the words of Jesus Christ “Come follow me.” Three words and so simple and direct an instruction. We need to do what He would have us do. Are we living as Christ exemplified? Are we treating others as we have been taught? Are we being honest in our lives?

These things are great basics that work always in our busy lives. No matter what we are doing, we can still be honest, kind, and Christ-like.

As wonderful as these things are and as important as they are for us to do to grow closer to our Heavenly Father, we also ought to go one step further. We need to have personal time to build our relationship. This might come in the form of personal prayer, in the form of scripture study, and in the form of simply considering the blessings and commandments we have been given. We ought to take the time for consideration and reflection, a time to pray to our Heavenly Father and to actively listen and think. James E. Faust said What is the quality of our secret prayers when only He listens? As we study and pray, we should do with the intent of truly speaking to our Heavenly Father.

Part of this time of prayer and study is truly believing in the divinity and truth of our Father in Heaven. Do we believe He is truly there and loves us? Do we take the time to be in awe of that fact?

President Kimball has said: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures, the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”

I think this is one of the big reasons we are reminded to pray and to study the scriptures. These are ways of growing close to our Father, ways of speaking to him and reading directly the gospel He has given us. These are proof He exists and cares for us.

Next, we should consider how worthy we are of our Heavenly Father. In no way do I want to negate the love and grace He has shown us in our imperfect mortal state, but His love is one of encouraging us to return to Him one day. Are we working on our imperfections? Are we striving to be worthy of a temple recommend? Are we making use of the Atonement in our lives?

I do believe these things works for each other. If we are doing all that we can to become closer to Heavenly Father, they will become easier. It may be impossible to do these things and not finding our hearts and minds turning toward Him. I know He wants a relationship with us.

We really do live in an amazing time. We have so many blessings in this world, and as fast-paced as they make it be I think the importance of maintaining a relationship with our Father even more important. We need to pray regularly, study the scriptures, and take the time to think about our Heavenly Father and our Savior. They need to become every so real to us. We need to live as the gospel has taught us, to serve others and be examples of that gospel. We need to do these things with the intent of growing closer to our Heavenly Father.

If we do this, we will be blessed. Perhaps our trials won’t disappear. Perhaps our good times won’t be exponentially expanded. But we will be blessed. We will have the support we need. We will be given strength through our hard times. We will better appreciate and rejoice in our blessings. We will have the Spirit with us and that incomprehensible comfort that comes with being close to our Heavenly Father.

I pray and hope that we can take the time to remember just how infinitely important God is to us and to take the time to grow closer to Him.