Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Greatest Blessings

 December 23rd   of 17, I found myself on a journey I shall not soon forget. 
I spent 11 days being stretched to my limit by my Heavenly Father but during that stretching period 
I came to realize that my Father was a “4th Watch God” and that my ship was “tight like a dish.” 

When I was strong enough to come home I found myself physically weak and mentally exhausted.  Knowing I had another procedure to endure my focus was on getting my body physically strong enough to handle that procedure. 
My mental state was placed on back burner because I was not able to handle little things. 
I was reduced to one day at a time one step at a time.

As the scheduled date for my procedure drew closer, I found my myself having panic attacks and was a bundle of nerves.  
I reached out to my beloved Favorite Stake President and a beloved humble Branch President who I love so very much and owe so very much.

When I heard my beloved Stake Presidents voice I was reduced to tears and all my fears came tumbling out of my mouth.  
My poor President was shocked he had never seen me in such a state. 
I had always been strong in my faith and kept pushing forward.  
A date was set for these two wonderful men to come and give me a priesthood blessing.  
Oh, how I looked forward to that day.

The day arrived and what joy filled my soul at being able to visit with these trusted friends.
The blessing administered was amazing!!  It was all about my Heavenly Fathers love for me.        
I was overcome with emotions.  
I cannot even find the words to describe the feelings that flooded over me.  
Everyone was touched.

As they were leaving my Stake President shared with me his testimony on how
he “knew as a father the great love our Father in Heaven had for us.” 
It was the most beautiful testimony.

My surgery day came, and all went well. 
I was able to voice my concerns to a department head on some critical things that were missed during my stay and how I could not trust their nursing staff.  
It was truly a day of healing for me.

Last night I was unable to sleep due to these thoughts that I am sharing with you were running through my mind and I needed to share them.

I have been overwhelmingly blessed by my Father in Heaven.  
So many blessings I can’t even begin to number them but one of my greatest blessings have been the friends that He has placed in my life to journey with me.  
I am so thankful for the worthy priesthood holders that he has placed in my life who have witnessed many miracles along our way.

I will cherish this stretching moment for the rest of my life. 
It has changed me I can feel it way down deep inside.  
It has also brought me closer to my Heavenly Father who I know loves me 
with every fiber in my being. 

This week I will return to the world; but my first stop will be the temple, so I can spend some more quality time with my Heavenly Father to prepare me for going back out and facing the world.
I hope to be a better servant, wife and friend as I continue to rely on those trusted whispers that have made me the person I am today.

When my journey first began our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith while in Liberty jail came to my mind and this thought boldly engraved in my mind “this is but a small moment.”
As my journey progressed and I found myself sinking into despair and hopelessness the Prophet Brigham Young came to my mind twice with two powerful teachings which brought a great peace to my soul.  It was as if he were whispering, “I made it thorough and so can you.”

We all have our trials that we face and our mountains which we climb but it is my hope that we will feel that peace deep within our heart which whispers “our God is a 4th Watch God, our ship is tight like a dish and our God will never forsake us.” 
Because of how precious you are to Him and because of his great love for you.  
He truly knows you and loves you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Cross I was Called to Bear

I was finishing up some Christmas shopping when I ran into a dear friend whose cross has been heavy to bear.  We visited for a little bit and then we said our good byes.
As I watched her walk away, her wounded soul struck me and and I found myself reflecting on some of the heavy burdens I had borne thinking "I so understand." 
Little did I know then my understanding was going to to be taken to a whole new level and what I was going to endure would take me to my breaking point.

The week before Christmas I had been throwing up almost nightly.  
A friend talked me into going in and getting checked out.  
The Dr arranged an ultra sound which showed I was having some gall bladder issues.  
He instructed me to get with him after the holidays and he would line me up with a surgeon.
Went to work the following day and lasted four hours when I was doubled over in pain.
I tried calling my husband but his phone kept going to voice mail.  
The Spirit whispered that his phone battery was dead. 
I then tried called our Calif. cousins who lived next door to see if they could let him know I needed him but alas they had shut their phone off.
Panic and fear began to overwhelm me.
One of my co workers offered to take me to the ER.
On the way I called my true blue friend and asked her to go find my husband and let him know I was headed to the ER.
I know our Father in Heaven has the choicest blessing for this woman.
She notified my husband and then sent me a text that he was on his way.

I stumbled into the ER with eyes staring at me.  
They immediately took me to the back and the nurse commented "I see  your in pain I'll send the Dr right in."
As I sat in that sterile room all alone I felt my fear being affirmed "I was all alone."
Tears streamed down my face as I tried to pull myself out of my deep despair.
About that time my phone dinged and I found I had a message from a beloved friend in Utah
I poured my heart and fear out to her in messenger. 
Just knowing she was there with me via my phone calmed my troubled soul.
I then heard primary songs being sung in my head and I started singing along and the pain started to ease.

My husband showed up and I remember telling him, I have to get this taken care this weekend.  
I can't go another week like this.  
Before his arrival I had the same conversation with Heavenly Father pleading with Him to get this taken care of.  
I had no idea what I would be asked to endure.

The ER doc finally came in and ran some labs.  
Once he had the lab results he stated they had a call out for the surgeon and I was whisked to surgery.
The surgery staff were eager to get started and were vocalizing their frustration at having to wait for the surgeon.
Soon this man with head high and straight back came strutting in with his designer jeans, boots and shirt.
He approached me, introduced himself and matter of factly told me what was going to happen. 
 As I was listening to him I remember thinking "this man would stand toe to toe with Alma and debate the reality of Christ."

Surgery went well or so they thought.  
Once the anesthesia wore off I found my whole right side in excoriating pain that was shooting out my Right shoulder.  I have never felt pain like that.   It took my breath away.  
I had three nurses tell me "It's a gas pain you need to walk it off."
With those three nurses I attempted to walk but the pain grew worse and I was reduced to a sobbing wreak.  Not sure what they gave me but I then found myself in a drug induced haze.
My surgeon came in and reprimanded the nurses stating "you don't walk off pancreatitis!"
He checked on me two three times a day to ensure I was ok and being taken care off.
(Yes he would stand toe to toe with Alma but he would repent and come to know Christ)

Apparently 4% of gall bladder surgeries end up with pancreatitis.  
I was one of that lucky 4%.
I also learned there is nothing the Dr's can do to heal pancreatitis it just takes time.

I found myself in a drug induced haze for 4 days.  
My GI doc would check on me each day and kept talking about my labs being out of whack and his concern. 
Three to Four days after my initial surgery they had to put me back under to place a stint in my liver due to my liver was not functioning. 
It was after that surgery they encouraged me to try and drink since I had been living on ice chips.
I was drinking and appeared to be tolerating well but then my body started retaining fluids and I swelled up and was unable to pee. 
I told my nurse something was wrong and they tried telling me I had a heart condition which I quickly denied and then their answer was "Oh you need to walk to more."
It was at that moment I knew I had to get off the drug they had been administering so I would be clear enough to visit with my doctors and let them know what was going on  inside me.
The pain was intense but I struggled thorough it I had lost all faith in the nursing staff that were in charge of my well being.  They were to engrossed in their own little bubbles.

My surgeon and GI doc arrived and I explained to them best I could what I was feeling inside and my concern with my swelling and not being able to pee.
My surgeon told me he needed to think about the pain medication but he would start me on something new and my GI doc ordered labs to be drawn.

That night when my husband showed up for our nightly walk I felt my body inside shutting down.  
It was sheer determination and girt that I placed one foot in front of the other.  
My heart was beating so hard. 
I knew something was critically wrong but I had no idea what. 
I found myself falling into the abyss of dark despair and hopelessness.
Once we returned to my room I sank into the chair and let the darkness overtake me.
I faintly heard Bob call out, "I think you have a good nurse now, she seems to know what shes doing."
I just continued to let the darkness take me.
As I was falling deeper into the darkness I heard an authoritative voice calling out to me.
I listened and remember thinking "the Prophet Brigham Young talked about this."
Then a great peace settled in my heart.

I then felt a hand touching mine and a voice telling me that my potassium level was at critical values and she was going to be administering potassium to stabilize me. 
It was that oncoming nurse that had impressed my husband.
She kept a close eye on me through the night and the next morning she and the cna were visiting in my room and I overheard the cna asking her "are you back tonight?" to which she responded "no, I was just here for the night."  I remember thanking my Heavenly Father for sending her to me that critical night.

True to his word my surgeon started me on a new pain medication that did not alter my mental state but controlled the pain.  My GI doc and I agreed that I was finally on the road to recovery.
Our next step was getting me to eat solid foods and try and regain the strength I had lost.
Day by Day I got a little stronger but my labs were still out of whack.
After the 11th day the spirit whispered I was strong enough to go home.
When my GI doc arrived I visited with him about possibly going home and he stated "I've been thinking about that and  I think we can continue treatment on an out patient basis." 
I was finally set free.

I'm still recovering with another surgery coming fast.  
They have to go back in and ensure everything has healed properly and remove the stint in my liver which could cause another episode of pancreatitis. 
Since returning home I have found myself taking one day at a time one step at a time due to at this time emotionally that is all I can handle.

I've had time to truly see the Lord's hand in each and every step of this journey and I am so grateful that He was always there for me.
There was not one time He had forsaken me.

Right now I'm unsure what my future holds but the one sure thing I do know is that my Heavenly Father, spouse and friends and will be right there with me.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Greatest Treasure

Image result for IMages riches and eternal life

Yesterday was my birthday and as usual I surrounded myself with one of my greatest blessings my family and friends
My day started with a class with a friend and her mom whom I affectionately call "mom."
I found the teacher very passionate and animated
but as my friends know I go to the beat of my own drum.

The teacher asked us to say a silent prayer and I found my heart singing one of my favorite songs

" Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list’ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav’n."

Our teacher then had us go and pick out stones for our creations. 
 I have dear friend who taught me a few years ago to pick those stones which
 "spoke to me."  
So, I wandered around and picked the stones that I was drawn to.
We then returned to our class room and I immediately started placing my stones.
As I was placing my stones my teacher was educating the class on what they should be doing next.
I listened and felt that I was good, so I kept moving my stones around trying to find the pattern I liked.

The teacher noticed I was doing my own thing and she started asking me questions.  
I explained that I was good and continued moving my stones.  
She then brought up "peace.'
I totally surprised her when I answered, "I'm good, I always have peace filling my soul."
She then commented "do you know how lucky you are, there are so many searching for peace."
It was at that moment I stopped and started to really look at the women who were surrounding the table with my friend and I.
My heart was broken as I looked at them and sensed their despair
as  the class closed my friend and I lingered and visited with the women.  
I found them amazing, kind and funny.
 (I hope we do another class so that I can once again sit with them)
Before we left I thanked the teacher and shared with her what a great teacher she was.

We then went to Applebees and some more friends showed up.  
There was a moment I sat back and watched as my friends visited with each other.
Love and joy filled my soul as I listened to each of their conversations.
I then found myself thinking,  "This is how my Heavenly Table will look."

Today in Relief Society the teacher shared a scripper in Luke 15: verses one and two spoke to my soul:

"Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him
And the Pharisees and scribes, murmured saying, 
This man receiveth sinners, 
and eateth with them."

In Sunday school A D&C scripper jumped out at me:

"Seek not for riches but for wisdom....Behold he that hath eternal life is rich."

Some of my friends consider themselves outcasts and have been judged harshly by many.  
In my minds eye we were in that group that, "drew unto him to hear him."  
Those of us who are "Poor in Spirit.and judged as a thing of naught."

I believe the D&C scripper jumped out at me due to the fact that I know I am a child of God and daily I feel His great love for me.  
Not only do I know Him. 
He is my best friend. 
I know He knows me.
There is no doubt in my mind that on the day I am called home He is going to be there to welcome me home.
That is what brings my soul such great peace.

I don't know if you've ever had your heart so full that your unable to put into words. 
I find myself there quite often.

As I was trying to find those words I came across this talk from  Rex D Pinegar
he shared his words so beautifully.

I hope his words touch your soul as they did mine.

Become Rich toward God

It is a great blessing to be here today. After briefing the office staff at our mission in Virginia, I turned to leave, and our treasurer and fleet coordinator said: “President, just tell President Lee we’re behind him.” On behalf of all the missionaries throughout the world who testify daily that Jesus is the Christ and of your prophetic calling, President Lee, we want you to know, “We are behind you.”
William Jennings Bryan wrote:
“The human measure of a human life is its income;
the divine measure of a life is its outgo, its overflow
its contribution to the welfare of all.”
(From The Prince of Peace, by William Jennings Bryan.)
In our search for happiness we may get so involved with the “human measure of life” that we fail to recognize the temporary value of such riches. Christ warned that we can become spiritually “choked” with the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” (Luke 8:14.)
The Savior also said, “… a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
“And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
“And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
“And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou has much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15–21.)
It is, then, our blessing and responsibility to become rich toward God. We are to go beyond acquiring something for ourselves. The Savior also taught us how to do this when he said, “… seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Luke 12:31), and, “… whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.” (D&C 6:3.)
This means we may gain eternal life. “Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” (D&C 11:7.)
The significance of this truth was brought to the heart of a certain man when his friend approached him with a plan to obtain the riches of this life. He wrote:
“Dear friend,
“During one of our conversations you said something which has been on my mind ever since. In fact, you might say that it has really ‘troubled’ me and has caused me to do some real ‘soul’ searching. In explaining why you felt compelled to make the sales plan known to me, you said, ‘I would feel real bad a few years from now if I knew about this, got rich from it, and did not tell my friends about it.’
“You will never know how that statement has troubled me because I have made no attempt to share something more precious than money with you. I am speaking of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Now hold on a minute. I know what is going through your mind. ‘This kook has lost his cool and gone off the deep end.’ T’ain’t so. I believe we spent enough time together in the past couple of years for you to know that I haven’t turned into a freak or something. But I am sure you have noticed a change. I no longer do many of the earthly things you probably remember of me. I have a great love for my family and mankind in general. I am truly sorry for many things in my past and will do my best to never do them again. But this isn’t the most important thing.
“The most important thing in all this world is that I know that I existed in the preexistence as a spirit child of my Heavenly Father; that I am here in mortality as part of his great plan for me in order that I may prove my worthiness to him by constantly making the proper choices between good and evil; and that if I prove myself worthy I will return to his presence.
“I further know that there is a prophet, Harold B. Lee, here upon the earth today who communicates regularly with the true and living Jesus Christ, the son of God. Through this prophet I can learn everything necessary to help me live my life and guide my family in the proper manner to return to his presence.
“Oh, there is so much more that I could tell you, but suffice it to say that there is absolutely no unanswered question in my mind concerning my reason for being here at this time, nor what reward I will earn if I obey the teachings of my Father in heaven.
“Of course, I have learned all of these things through study and prayer and the teachings of the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). It is this that I have never shared with you that has troubled my conscience so.
“Now I am going to do something about it. At the same time this letter is mailed, I am sending your name to the Church representatives in your area and asking them to contact you. They will undoubtedly send a couple of young men (or lady) missionaries to see you. These will be people who are dedicating a couple of years of their lives at their or their family’s expense to tell people like yourselves of this gospel. They have about six one-hour lessons they will want to teach you. I beg of you to listen to their message. I testify to you that it is true.”
I also testify that this is the true Church, that Harold B. Lee is a prophet of the true and living God, and that this gospel of Jesus Christ is more precious than money.
A recent Relief Society film, “Walk in the Light,” highlights the incident of a young granddaughter who desired to become the heir to her grandmother’s watch. It seemed to the grandchild a real treasure. Here are the soul-stirring words of her grandmother’s reply:
“The watch is of small value. But I do want to leave you something very precious. It is something I brought with me all the way from Scotland. I carried it with me across the plains. It is something that will be of value to you all the days of your life and into the eternities. I want to leave to you my testimony—my testimony of the gospel. I know that the gospel is true. I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ.”
It is said that many grandchildren honor the name of that grandmother and recall her testimony with joy. How great are the riches she has laid up in store in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.
I am grateful to the Lord for you members of the Church who desire to share the wealth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with your family and friends. Not only are you becoming rich toward God, but you are making other lives rich also. You are giving them the true Christian religion.
Patrick Henry, a great American patriot, said:
“I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling they would have been rich, and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.”
May we all share our wealth of testimony with others that we and they may become rich toward God, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Off Key Song

As I shared in a previous post I just returned from 9 days in Orlando Florida
I love the beauty of Florida it is such a welcome change from the dry desert I call home.

A friend shared with me a thought on seasonal depression today, since
returning home from Florida I have found myself falling into a moderate depression.
I use to love fall but since becoming an orphan it has become a depressing time for me.

Since I hurt my back I have had to depend on friends to take me to appts
One day a friend came and picked me up and as we were traveling she asked me if I had listened to President's Uchdorf's talk about the three sisters.  I told her I had and she responded, "your the sister that sings.  I hope I'm the sister that sings."
I shared with her that another friend and I had been talking about his talk and I had shared with her that I use to be the sister that sang but now I felt like the depressed and angry sister who didn't know how to sing.

As I read President Uchdorf's talk on the first sister he commented that she found herself as the "victim."
One of his counsels that jumped out to me was "...you have unique gifts that originated in your spiritual creation and that were developed during the vast span of your premortal life."
I was visiting with my old relief society president that called me to be the enrichment leader last year and as we were visiting she gave me a high five and stated "we did good last year."
I have to admit that we did do good.
I lay it all to the "Unique gifts that I have been developing" and good friends who shared their talents to help me succeed.

What I took away from his counsel about the angry sister was this "We are responsible for our own discipleship and it has little--if anything--to do with the way others treat us...our love for them is independent of their feelings towards us."
I have been trying to focus on my personal discipleship and letting go of what people think of me and no matter what I am trying to love all the way the Savior loves me. 
It has not been easy but I continue to try.

Now to the third sister,  I remember always having a song in my heart and a smile on my face but since becoming an orphan it has been harder and harder for me to keep that song in my heart and smile on my face.
I have been blessed with the most amazing friends who are my family but when the darkness starts to creep into my soul I struggle even reaching out to them. 
As one friend shared with me "we're isolaters."

I don't think my friend and I are the only ones who isolate I believe there are many when they are feeling down they isolate and let the darkness fill their soul with despair and hopelessness.

I love President Uchdorf's words where he spoke about the tree of life and the journey to get there.
He shared counsel on finding refuge in the "wonderful organizations of the church...they are a safe home, where you can feel a sense of belonging and receive encouragement from your sisters and fellow disciples."
Sadly, Relief society has not been a safe refuge for me.

For one year, last year I felt a sense of belonging because my Relief Society president offered 100% of her support and encouraged me to fly.  I knew she loved and trusted me and I thrived under her.
But she has been released and I am once again avoiding relief society.

I have been pondering Elder Bednar's new book One by One.  I so get that.
The last few years of my journey there has been the one. 
That beloved Relief society President saw me as that one and reached out to me and gave me a chance to grow.
I am eternally grateful for her and oh how I love her.

One of my adversities since injuring my back is I have had to reach out to friends for a ride to appts.
I was getting ready to text a trusted friend to see if she could give me a ride when the spirit whispered that I needed to give one of my visiting teachers a chance.
The woman that came to mind is a very kind and humble woman who always compliments me.
She is truly a remarkable woman.  I come to find that out by letting her in.
What a joy and blessing the short time we have spent together has been.
It has brought some sunshine into my soul.
She is truly my Sister.

For now I am going to learn to love the sisters in my branch one by one as the spirit directs and hopefully one day the relief society will be a refuge and sisterhood for me.
But for now I am going to reach out to my trusted friends and keep them in the loop when I start feeling blue.  (I promised one I would so I guess I better start) and to all the other isolater's don't be afraid to reach out to that one friend who truly gets you, your Heavenly Father.
I know because He has gotten an earful from me these past few weeks and you know what He does get it and sends a little extra tender loving care.

In closing I leave you with President Uchdorf's inspired words "The song of true discipleship may sound off-key or even a little loud to some.  Since the beginning of time, this has been so.
But to our Heavenly Father and to those who love and honor Him, it is the most precious and beautiful song..."

 Three Sisters
We are responsible for our own discipleship, and it has little—if anything—to do with the way others treat us.
Dear sisters, dear friends, to begin general conference with a worldwide sisters’ session is significant and wonderful. Just imagine: sisters of all ages, backgrounds, nationalities, and languages united in faith and love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we recently met with our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, he expressed to us how much he loves the Lord. And I know that President Monson is very grateful for your love, your prayers, and your devotion to the Lord.
A long time ago in a distant land lived a family of three sisters.
The first sister was sad. Everything from her nose to her chin and from her skin to her toes seemed not quite good enough to her. When she spoke, her words sometimes came out awkwardly, and people laughed. When someone criticized her or “forgot” to invite her to something, she would blush, walk away, and find a secret spot where she would let out a sad sigh and wonder why life had turned out to be so bleak and cheerless.
The second sister was mad. She thought of herself as very smart, but there was always someone else who scored higher on tests at school. She considered herself funny, fair, fashionable, and fascinating. But always, there seemed to be someone who was funnier, fairer, more fashionable, or more fascinating.
She was never first at anything, and this she could not endure. Life was not supposed to be this way!
Sometimes she lashed out at others, and it seemed that she was always one breath away from being outraged by one thing or another.
Of course, this did not make her any more likable or popular. Sometimes she clenched her teeth, tightened her fists, and thought, “Life is so unfair!”
Then there was the third sister. Unlike her sad and mad sisters, she was—well, glad. And it wasn’t because she was smarter or more beautiful or more capable than her sisters. No, people sometimes avoided or ignored her too. They sometimes made fun of what she was wearing or the things she was saying. They sometimes said mean things about her. But she did not allow any of that to bother her too much.
This sister loved to sing. She didn’t have great pitch, and people laughed about it, but that didn’t stop her. She would say, “I am not going to let other people and their opinions stop me from singing!”
The very fact that she kept singing made her first sister sad and her second sister mad.
Many years passed, and eventually each sister reached the end of her time on earth.
The first sister, who discovered again and again that there was no shortage of disappointments in life, eventually died sad.
The second, who every day found something new to dislike, died mad.
And the third sister, who spent her life singing her song with all her might and a confident smile on her face, died glad.
Of course, life is never so simple, and people are never so one-dimensional as the three sisters in this story. But even extreme examples like these can teach us something about ourselves. If you are like most of us, you may have recognized part of yourself in one, two, or perhaps all three of these sisters. Let us take a closer look at each one.

The Victim

The first sister saw herself as a victim—as someone who was acted upon.1 It seemed like one thing after another kept happening to her that made her miserable. With this approach to life, she was giving others control over how she felt and behaved. When we do this, we are driven about by every wind of opinion—and in this day of ever-present social media, those winds blow at hurricane intensity.
Dear sisters, why should you surrender your happiness to someone, or a group of someones, who cares very little about you or your happiness?
If you find yourself worrying about what other people say about you, may I suggest this antidote: remember who you are. Remember that you are of the royal house of the kingdom of God, daughters of Heavenly Parents, who reign throughout the universe.
You have the spiritual DNA of God. You have unique gifts that originated in your spiritual creation and that were developed during the vast span of your premortal life. You are the child of our merciful and everlasting Father in Heaven, the Lord of Hosts, the One who created the universe, spread the spinning stars across the vast expanse of space, and placed the planets in their appointed orbits.
You are in His hands.
Very good hands.
Loving hands.
Caring hands.
And nothing anyone ever says about you can change that. Their words are meaningless compared to what God has said about you.
You are His precious child.
He loves you.
Even when you stumble, even when you turn away from Him, God loves you. If you are feeling lost, abandoned, or forgotten—fear not. The Good Shepherd will find you. He will lift you upon His shoulders. And He will carry you home.2
My dear sisters, please let these divine truths sink deeply into your hearts. And you will find that there are many reasons not to be sad, for you have an eternal destiny to fulfill.
The beloved Savior of the world gave His life so that you could choose to make that destiny a reality. You have taken upon you His name; you are His disciples. And because of Him, you can clothe yourselves with robes of eternal glory.

The Hater

The second sister was angry at the world. Like her sad sister, she felt that the problems in her life were all caused by someone else. She blamed her family, her friends, her boss and coworkers, the police, the neighbors, Church leaders, current fashion trends, even the intensity of solar flares, and plain bad luck. And she lashed out at all of them.
She didn’t think of herself as a mean person. To the contrary, she felt that she was only sticking up for herself. Everyone else, she believed, was motivated by selfishness, pettiness, and hate. She, on the other hand, was motivated by good intentions—justice, integrity, and love.
Unfortunately, the mad sister’s line of thinking is all too common. This was noted in a recent study that explored conflict between rival groups. As part of the study, researchers interviewed Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East, and Republicans and Democrats in the United States. They discovered that “each side felt their own group [was] motivated by love more than hate, but when asked why their rival group [was] involved in the conflict, [they] pointed to hate as [the other] group’s motivating factor.”3
In other words, each group thought of themselves as the “good guys”—fair, kind, and truthful. By contrast, they saw their rivals as the “bad guys”—uninformed, dishonest, even evil.
In the year I was born, the world was immersed in a terrible war that brought agonizing grief and consuming sorrow to the world. This war was caused by my own nation—by a group of people who identified certain other groups as evil and encouraged hatred toward them.
They silenced those they did not like. They shamed and demonized them. They considered them inferior—even less than human. Once you degrade a group of people, you are more likely to justify words and acts of violence against them.
I shudder when I think about what happened in 20th-century Germany.
When someone opposes or disagrees with us, it’s tempting to assume that there must be something wrong with them. And from there it’s a small step to attach the worst of motives to their words and actions.
Of course, we must always stand for what is right, and there are times when we must raise our voices for that cause. However, when we do so with anger or hate in our hearts—when we lash out at others to hurt, shame, or silence them—chances are we are not doing so in righteousness.
What did the Savior teach?
“I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”4
This is the Savior’s way. It is the first step in breaking down the barriers that create so much anger, hatred, division, and violence in the world.
“Yes,” you might say, “I would be willing to love my enemies—if only they were willing to do the same.”
But that doesn’t really matter, does it? We are responsible for our own discipleship, and it has little—if anything—to do with the way others treat us. We obviously hope that they will be understanding and charitable in return, but our love for them is independent of their feelings toward us.
Perhaps our effort to love our enemies will soften their hearts and influence them for good. Perhaps it will not. But that does not change our commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
So, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we will love our enemies.
We will overcome anger or hate.
We will fill our hearts with love for all of God’s children.
We will reach out to bless others and minister to them—even those who might “despitefully use [us] and persecute [us].”5

The Authentic Disciple

The third sister represents the authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. She did something that can be extremely hard to do: she trusted God even in the face of ridicule and hardship. Somehow she maintained her faith and hope, despite the scorn and cynicism around her. She lived joyfully not because her circumstances were joyful but because she was joyful.
None of us makes it through life’s journey unopposed. With so many forces trying to draw us away, how do we keep our vision fixed on the glorious happiness promised to the faithful?
I believe the answer can be found in a dream that a prophet had thousands of years ago. The prophet’s name is Lehi, and his dream is recorded in the precious and wonderful Book of Mormon.
In his dream, Lehi saw a vast field, and in it was a wondrous tree, beautiful beyond description. He also saw large groups of people making their way toward the tree. They wanted to taste its glorious fruit. They felt and trusted that it would give them great happiness and abiding peace.
There was a narrow path that led to the tree, and alongside was an iron rod that helped them stay on the path. But there was also a mist of darkness that obscured their vision of both the path and the tree. And perhaps even more dangerous was the sound of loud laughter and ridicule coming from a large and spacious building nearby. Shockingly, the mocking even convinced some people who had reached the tree and tasted the wondrous fruit to begin to feel ashamed and wander away.6
Perhaps they began to doubt that the tree was really as beautiful as they had once thought. Perhaps they began to question the reality of what they had experienced.
Maybe they thought if they turned away from the tree, life would be easier. Maybe they would not be ridiculed or laughed at anymore.
And actually, the people who were scoffing at them looked like people who were quite happy and having a good time. So perhaps if they abandoned the tree, they would be welcomed into the congregation of the great and spacious building and be applauded for their judgment, intelligence, and sophistication.

Stay on the Path

Dear sisters, dear friends, if you find it difficult to hold fast to the iron rod and walk steadfastly toward salvation; if the laughter and ridicule of others who seem so confident cause you to waver; if you are troubled by unanswered questions or doctrines you don’t understand yet; if you feel saddened because of disappointments, I urge you to remember Lehi’s dream.
Stay on the path!
Never let go of the rod of iron—the word of God!
And when anyone tries to make you ashamed for partaking of the love of God, ignore them.
Never forget you are a child of God; rich blessings are in store; if you can learn to do His will, you’ll live with Him once more!7
The promises of praise and acceptance by the world are unreliable, untrue, and unsatisfying. God’s promises are sure, true, and joyful—now and forever.
I invite you to consider religion and faith from a higher perspective. Nothing offered in the great and spacious building can compare with the fruit of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”8
I have learned for myself that the path of discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to joy. It is the way to safety and peace. It is the way to truth.
I testify that by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, you can learn this for yourself.
In the meantime, if the path becomes difficult for you, I hope you will find refuge and strength in our wonderful organizations of the Church: Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society. They are like waypoints on the path, where you can renew your confidence and faith for the journey ahead. They are a safe home, where you can feel a sense of belonging and receive encouragement from your sisters and fellow disciples.
The things you learn in Primary prepare you for the additional truths you learn as young women. The path of discipleship you walk in your Young Women classes leads to the fellowship and sisterhood of Relief Society. With each step along the way, you are given additional opportunities to demonstrate your love for others through acts of faith, compassion, charity, virtue, and service.
Choosing this path of discipleship will lead to untold happiness and fulfillment of your divine nature.
It will not be easy. It will require the very best that you have—all your intelligence, creativity, faith, integrity, strength, determination, and love. But one day you will look back upon your efforts, and oh, how grateful you will be that you remained strong, that you believed, and that you did not depart from the path.

Press On

There may be many things about life that are beyond your control. But in the end, you have the power to choose both your destination and many of your experiences along the way. It is not so much your abilities but your choices that make the difference in life.9
You cannot allow circumstances to make you sad.
You cannot allow them to make you mad.
You can rejoice that you are a daughter of God. You can find joy and happiness in the grace of God and in the love of Jesus Christ.
You can be glad.
I urge you to fill your hearts with gratitude for the abundant and limitless goodness of God. My beloved sisters, you can do this! I pray with all the affection of my soul that you will make the choice to press on toward the tree of life. I pray that you will choose to lift up your voice and make your life a glorious symphony of praise, rejoicing in what the love of God, the wonders of His Church, and the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring to the world.
The song of true discipleship may sound off-key or even a little loud to some. Since the beginning of time, this has been so.
But to our Heavenly Father and to those who love and honor Him, it is a most precious and beautiful song—the sublime and sanctifying song of redeeming love and service to God and fellowmen.10
I leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord that you will find the strength and courage to joyfully thrive as a daughter of God while gladly walking each day on the glorious path of discipleship. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.