Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2011
a word of encouragement…
by emily freemen
Last night our family gathered to participate in one last tradition.
Out of a well worn envelope we pulled a gold and white Christmas card that we have been writing on since 2003. First we read over the gift we gave to Christ last Christmas. It is something we have worked on all year.
Then we discussed the family gift we would like to give to Christ. You already know what it is…
This morning I woke up and couldn’t believe there are only seven more days until we begin.
In the past few weeks I have received so many emails. Some filled with anticipation and others with gratitude …this is just what I need right now. Some have been filled with a lot of desire mixed with a little bit of doubt. I really want to do this…I just don’t know if I can? Am I up to the challenge? Should I start if I am not sure I can finish?
That depends. What does finish mean to you? Is your goal to spend some time every day in the scriptures? Might there be some days that only allow for one verse? If you finish 65 percent of the challenge does that equal out to be 100 percent more than you would have read if you didn’t ever begin?
This is not an all or nothing journey.
This is an anything is remarkable journey.
Since it’s your journey, you decide how each day will go. Most likely every one of us will have a day here or there were seven pages won’t fit in. Maybe you will read 14 pages the next day. Or, perhaps you will visit the blog and read the verse and the thought for that day and find it was enough. Your heart will know what it needs from this journey.
Honor your heart.
President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “I have been quoted as saying, “Do the best you can.” But I want to emphasize that it be the very best. We are too prone to be satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much better. …..we must get on our knees and plead with the Lord for help and direction.
We must then stand on our feet and move forward.”
Remember, all you can do is your best. And every day you will know exactly what your best is….
Spend some time this week on your knees.
Pray for help and direction. What does your heart need from this journey?
And perhaps this will be the very best scripture reading experience we have ever had. And the very best journey we have taken in a long time. And maybe, just maybe, it will be one of the very best years we can remember.
Because we gave our best. Whatever that best may be.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
accept no one's definition of your life,
Controllers, abusers and manipulative people don't question themselves. They don't ask themselves if the problem is them. They always say the problem is someone else.
Examine what you tolerate — in relationships, with family, friendships, on the job — because what you allow is what will continue… At the end of the day, you really do control your happiness.
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 6:55 AM
It was a busy night at the inn, two thousand years ago in Bethlehem so busy, in fact, that when Mary and Joseph arrived, there was "no room for them." And so the couple was forced to seek refuge in a lowly stable. There the baby Jesus was born, attended by humble animals and simple shepherds. Surely the King of Kings should have had more comfortable surroundings. But He didn't, and perhaps there is a lesson in that for all of us.
Our lives today can often feel as busy as the crowded inn at Bethlehem, with many priorities competing for space. Ironically, this seems to be particularly true at Christmastime. It's helpful to remember that the first Christmas was a silent night, a holy night, away from the busyness of the inn.
Where can we find such a peaceful, hallowed place today? For some it may be a home where family and friends are gathered; for others, the solitude of nature or the serenity of a rising or sinking sun. Others may find it in a chapel, echoing with sacred music. Or it may not be a place at all but rather a sacred moment of prayerful soul-searching.
In truth, the spirit of Christmas comes not from our physical surroundings but from within. Thomas S. Monson has said: "The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world's busy life and become more interested in people than in things."
When the spirit of Christmas shines on our picture window, what do we see? Is our attention drawn by the flashy and superficial, or do we notice the simple and sacred? Yes, life can feel crowded, but whenever we make room for the King of Kings, somehow our hearts seem to expand, and we find ourselves welcoming into our lives more and more of those in need around us. This is, in part, the miracle of Christmas.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
I grew up poor ... very poor. My dad repaired farm machinery, and never made very much money. Add to that a family of 9 kids - and we
truly had no money at all for even some of the basics, like rent, or food, or utilities. So Christmas was not a really happy season. We
always put a tree up on the 19th. My dad said it was because that was my brother's birthday, but the real reason was the lots were giving
the oldest, driest trees away by then. I came to see Christmas as a sad reminder of our poverty - and I hated it.
In December of 1976, I was in my senior year at Boise State, attending the married student branch, and full of all kinds of left over sorrow
from my youth. But I was also married, an Army veteran, with two sweet little kids, and very converted to the gospel. I went home
teaching just a few days before Christmas that year, but my "Christmas-is-sad" attitude was showing ... I guess to see if I could find
sympathy - or something.
The first family we visited in student housing was a recently married couple, experiencing their first Christmas together. The apartment
had no decorations, the heat was way down, the place was cold - and very un-Christmassy. I felt at home, and commented about the
futility of the season and how it makes a lot of people sad. The husband agreed with me a seemed to relish the cold, anti-Christmas
atmosphere. But I also saw a sadness in his wife's eyes that revealed she had grown up in a home where Christmas was warm, open and
enjoyed. I was touched by her sadness - but held my own - Christmas is not meant to be enjoyed. We left with a prayer, and stepped just
across the hall to visit the next family.
At door number 2, I expected the worst. The couple we were visiting had been married for 3 years, and desperately wanted to have
kids. Just the week before, she had miscarried - again. I was not looking forward to the sorrow they must be feeling. But the door opened
instead onto a warm, well lit, delightful room, with a huge tree, lots of home made decorations ... and music, happy Christmas music. We
stepped in and I was overcome by the warm smell of hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. I'm pretty sure I saw an angel in the corner
of the room smiling and blessing this sweet family. I sat down, and just soaked in the best Christmas atmosphere I had ever felt in my entire
life! That night, I was forever converted to the spirt and meaning and pure joy of the Christmas season.
40 years later, I still see that home in my mind, I can feel the warmth, and smell the cookies .... I can see the happy, smiling faces of
two people in love with each other and in love with Christmas. I have never let the season get me down since that day. I am a total
Christmas fan ... the tree ... the decorations .... the baking ... the gifts ... and of course, the Savior. Fortunately, I am married to a
woman that becomes an excited, little girl at Christmas. Now we have the happy home, filled with Christmas joy. And I love it.
May the Lord bless you all this season. May the Savior's birth and the wonderful celebration we enjoy bring you happiness and
warmth. And may God bless us ... every one!
The Night I Began to Love Christmas
Rich Mabe, 2nd Counselor
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 10:14 AM
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 10:11 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
The Wondrous and True Story of Christmas
Gordon B. Hinckley
What a glorious season is this time of Christmas. Hearts are softened. Voices are raised in worship. Kindness and mercy are reenthroned as elements in our lives. There is an accelerated reaching out to those in distress. There is an aura of peace that comes into our homes. There is a measure of love that is not felt to the same extent at any other time of the year.
With you, I have sung, as others have sung for almost three centuries, the words of Isaac Watts set to the music of George Frideric Handel:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room,
And Saints and angels sing.
Rejoice! Rejoice in the Most High,
While Israel spreads abroad
Like stars that glitter in the sky,
And ever worship God.
My heart is subdued when I think of the great love of my Heavenly Father. How grateful I am to know that God loves us. The incomprehensible depth of that love found expression in the gift of His Only Begotten Son to come into the world to bring hope into our hearts, to bring kindness and courtesy into our relationships, and above all to save us from our sins and guide us on the way that leads to eternal life.
Marvelous is the chronicle that began with the singing of angels at Bethlehem and ended on Golgotha’s cruel cross. There is no other life to compare with His life. He was the one perfect man to walk the earth, the paragon of excellence, the singular example of perfection.
I sense in a measure the meaning of His Atonement. I cannot comprehend it all. It is so vast in its reach and yet so intimate in its effect that it defies comprehension.
“Oh, eloquent, grand, and mighty death!” said Sir Walter Raleigh as he was about to die in the Tower of London.
I remember speaking at a funeral service of a good man, a friend whose goodness caused me to reach a little higher. Through the years I had known his smiles, his kind words, the play of his brilliant intellect, the great breadth of his service to others. And then he who had been so bright and good suddenly died. I looked upon his lifeless form.
There was neither recognition nor motion nor word of any kind. With such stern finality the mantle of the reaper had quickly enfolded him and made him so different.
I looked up at his weeping widow and children. They knew, as I knew, that never again in mortality would they hear his voice. But a tender sweetness, indescribable in nature, brought peace and reassurance. It seemed to say,
“Be still, and know that I am God”
It seemed further to say, “Don’t worry. All of this is part of my plan. None can escape death. Even my Beloved Son died upon the cross. But through so doing He became the glorious firstfruits of the Resurrection. He took from death its sting and from the grave its victory.”
I could hear in my mind the Lord speaking to the sorrowing Martha: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”.
When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, nothing is so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, the Prince of His Father’s royal household, He who had once spoken as Jehovah, He who had condescended to come to earth as a babe born in Bethlehem, gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally. He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves.
I have a simple story I would like to recount. It is something of a parable. I do not have the name of the author. Perhaps it will have special interest for our children. I hope it will be a reminder for all. “Years ago there was a little one-room schoolhouse in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough that no teacher had been able to handle them.
“A young, inexperienced teacher applied, and the old director scanned him and asked: ‘Young fellow, do you know that you are asking for an awful beating? Every teacher that we have had here for years has had to take one.’“‘I will risk it,’ he replied.“The first day of school came, and the teacher appeared for duty. One big fellow named Tom whispered: ‘I won’t need any help with this one. I can lick him myself.’“The teacher said, ‘Good morning, boys, we have come to conduct school.’ They yelled and made fun at the top of their voices. ‘Now, I want a good school, but I confess that I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me, and I will write them on the blackboard.’
“One fellow yelled, ‘No stealing!’ Another yelled, ‘On time.’ Finally, ten rules appeared on the blackboard.“‘Now,’ said the teacher, ‘a law is not good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?’
“‘Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,’ came the response from the class.“‘That is pretty severe, boys. Are you sure that you are ready to stand by it?’ Another yelled, ‘I second the motion,’ and the teacher said, ‘All right, we will live by them! Class, come to order!’“In a day or so, ‘Big Tom’ found that his lunch had been stolen. The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old. ‘We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your ruleten stripes across the back. Jim, come up here!’ the teacher said.
“The little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to his neck and pleaded, ‘Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please, don’t take my coat off!’ “‘Take your coat off,’ the teacher said. ‘You helped make the rules!’
“‘Oh, teacher, don’t make me!’ He began to unbutton, and what did the teacher see? The boy had no shirt on, and revealed a bony little crippled body.“‘How can I whip this child?’ he thought. ‘But I must, I must do something if I am to keep this school.’ Everything was quiet as death.
“‘How come you aren’t wearing a shirt, Jim?’
“He replied, ‘My father died and my mother is very poor. I have only one shirt and she is washing it today, and I wore my brother’s big coat to keep me warm.’“The teacher, with rod in hand, hesitated. Just then ‘Big Tom’ jumped to his feet and said,
‘Teacher, if you don’t object, I will take Jim’s licking for him.’“‘Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?’“Off came Tom’s coat, and after five strokes the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands and thought, ‘How can I finish this awful task?’ Then he heard the class sobbing, and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. ‘Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!’”
To lift a phrase from this simple story, Jesus, my Redeemer, has taken “my licking for me” and yours for you.
Declared the prophet Isaiah:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …
“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”
This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is preface. The three-year ministry of the Master is prologue. The magnificent substance of the story is His sacrifice, the totally selfless act of dying in pain on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all of us.
The epilogue is the miracle of the Resurrection, bringing the assurance that
“as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”
There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”
For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which
He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself these are of the true essence of Christmas.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
When things go bad, can we really start over? When life takes a turn for the worse, can we actually begin again with hope that things will get better? After losing much of his life savings due to someone else's mismanagement, one man said, "Starting over was tough, but if we didn't try, we would have been hurt twice once by our loss and once by our own giving up."
Each of us is bound to lose now and then, and once in a while we may want to quit. But even the worst setbacks can be opportunities to make a new beginning.
A small boy, playing a rough-and-tumble schoolyard game, was frequently knocked to the ground. Each time, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and rejoined the game. When asked why he didn't just quit, he declared, "Quit? I'm here to play the game!"
The New Year is a perfect time for starting over. This is a special time when we can decide to get back up when we've been knocked down. We can find renewed courage to keep going. We may need to forgive someone who has offended us or forgive ourselves for mistakes we've made. Perhaps we need help learning to do things differently so we aren't knocked down again but we can always move forward.
Each New Year represents a new beginning. And hope for a brighter future can dawn with each new day. So even when life hits us hard, we can get up, dust ourselves off, and get back in the game.
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 10:24 PM
Monday, December 19, 2016
As its name suggests, Charles Dickens's classic tale A Christmas Carol was written primarily for the Christmas season. However, its timeless message is fitting for any season of the year.
In the story, miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge, through a series of ghostly visitations, comes to realize how selfish he has been, and miraculously, his heart begins to soften and change. He is transformed into a generous, cheerful soul. The heartwarming story of Scrooge resonates so powerfully because it reminds us of the truth that anyone can change for the better.
But when we hear the word scrooge, what do we think of? We probably think of a "miserly person" We probably don't think of "a person who was once miserly but who, when given a second chance, chose to reform his life and share his wealth with those less fortunate." Everyone knows how wonderfully Scrooge's story ends, but his name has forever entered our consciousness as the embodiment of what he once was not what he ultimately became.
It's a question worth considering: Do we sometimes define people in terms of who they have been rather than who they are or who they can become? Do we let people begin again and change over time, or do we lock people into their past? The past must never be allowed to hold the future hostage. Just as Scrooge changed, we too must celebrate every effort including our own to start anew and change for the better.
In the musical that bears his name, Scrooge sings of the opportunity for a second chance:
I will start anew, I will make amends,
And I will make quite certain. That the story ends
On a note of hope.
Let us always remember that everyone's life story no matter how it began or how it's going right now has the potential to end on a note of hope.
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 11:09 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2016
There's something undeniably special about Christmastime. It's a season of beloved songs and stories, of treasured memories and traditions. People of all faiths and cultures can sense that something changes for the better at this time of year. In the most personal and intimate ways, Christmas brings people together.
And yet, for this very reason, Christmas can also be a time of profound loneliness for some. What brings joy and cheer to some families reminds others of what they lack. So many are in need, so many could use some cheer, so many wait for a visit, an invitation, a phone call—especially during this season. After all, noticing the needs of others and reaching out to them in love is really what makes Christmas so special.
No matter our circumstances, we can reach out in love to others—especially those who may be forgotten or lonely. Buying a present for someone is easy. But being present for someone is almost always more meaningful. More than a gift or a card, they need you—your loving concern, your kindhearted inclusion, your time. These are the greatest, most meaningful gifts of Christmas.
Lloyd D. Newell
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 9:27 AM
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Every time the sun sets, it rises in the morning and sheds new light on yesterday's shadows. Whether a new century or a new day, life presents countless opportunities to begin anew. No matter our age or circumstance, today is a new day, and so is tomorrow. Think how wonderful that is!
While yesterday—and all of history—are valuable for the lessons learned, the experience gained, the memories made, each new day contains the promise of a fresh start. We take hold of this promise by learning from the past and living in the present—with bright hope for the future.
A young woman devotes many hours to researching family history, because she believes that only by understanding the past can we really improve upon it. She gains appreciation and is better able to face the problems of the present by taking time to look back. Such reflection gives her the courage and insight to set goals and persist in achieving them.
If we are to begin anew, we can neither ignore the past nor abide in it. We move forward by remembering yesterday with its triumphs and tragedies, and by living today to the fullest. Richard L. Evans offered some timely advice: "Go ahead with your life, your plans, your preparation, as fully as you can. Don't waste time stopping before the interruptions have started. Keep going forward, and keep your heart comforted, with courage and faith in the future. The wise keep learning, keep preparing for life, and don't let uncertainties dissuade them from moving forward."
Life gives us abundant opportunities for a fresh start. In a sense, each beginning is no different from any other. A new school year, a new job, a new city, friendship, or phase of life—all take some getting used to. But when we embrace the change and welcome the opportunity for growth, we live more fully and discover interests and talents that might otherwise have gone undeveloped.
Yesterday's stumbling blocks can become today's stepping-stones. And little by little, as we go forward with purpose and hope, our new beginning will become a new way of life.
Compiled by Inspirational Powers at 10:52 PM