Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Sandland

First of all, I need to share this crazy story. A while ago while we were driving my son exclaimed, "Look! A Dinosaur!" I looked and tried to see a dinosaur picture or statue somewhere and didn't find anything. Months went by and one day we were riding our bikes to school and I looked up and to my surprise I saw a giant dinosaur! Here it is!

Legendary Dino, can you see it?
Here we have to make do with what we have when it comes to making snowmen.  My children are always finding ways to do those winter actiivties even though we have no snow.  Japanese rice ball balloons?  Now they are a snow man. 

To continue the search for winter fun, we decided to visit Sandy Land since we were in the neighborhood.  It has become a fun tradition to go and see these great sand sculptures.

Even though we came to see the Sandy Land sculptures, the children were way more interested in the fountains.  Since it isn't cold, everyone was tempted and drawn to the fountains to dip their feet in.

The great Sandy Land tree.  Perhaps someday we will venture here at night to see it lit up!  It is still really neat during the day.

My crazy for cocoa bunch.  No worry about being frozen when you have cocoa around.

All I can say is either that little boy is "HOT" or the weather is.  I think the weather was pretty HOT!

I don't think I like sand in my ice cream, but this sculpture is pretty fun!  Almost good enough to eat.

We too a little trip under the see and swam with the fish and turtles.  We were treated royally as we too a ride in a dolphin carriage.

The children thought it would be interesting to push this boat over to the water and see how long it would float, or how long until it crumbled.

What are brothers for but to torment their sisters and eat their hands off.

Feeling the ocean spray

Blowing into the water

Mmmm, more cocoa!

Cookie children

Oh no!  Watch out, your going to get eaten!

It was fun to see the decorated boat.  Perhaps someday we will see the parade.

Monday, December 7, 2015

God loves Broken Me

This year has brought about many challenges in our family; financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  There have been many moments when we have felt broken and wonder how we can go on, and yet it is in the moments when we are brought so low that we can finally pause to ponder what is most important.

As I went to sleep last night I had this song by Kenneth Cope., that God loves Broken me and all of us.

It is when we are broken that the Lord can make something of us.  I was reading my scriptures in a section about Alma, the high priest over the Nephites, and his companion Amulek, who was a man that had a vision to help Alma and so was converted and became Alma's companion to testify to the people of Amonihah.  These people were in a serious condition of wickedness and ended up doing terrible things to all those that believed the gospel, even to the family of Amulek.

This story stands out to me right now as I ponder about being broken because Amulek was promised his life would be blessed for helping the prophet, and yet in the end he ended up losing all his worldly possessions and even his family and friends.  I have had to stop and ponder what does it mean that Amulek and his household were blessed.  Does that mean that they would live a trouble-free life?  Obviously not, since they ended up enduring terrible trials.  Does that mean they would be blessed with great worldly possessions?  They already were very wealthy and then ended up losing all of it.  So what does it mean to be blessed?  I feel the answer is deeper than anything temporal we may want, it is a spiritual matter.  Amuleks household was blessed; they received the gospel and repented.  Even if they may have lost their lives, they had been blessed to have died in righteousness and thus enabled to return to their Father in Heaven.

How this this make me feel?  Well, I don't want to suffer as Amulek did, but I don't think that will be required of me and so what is required of me is to do my best to continue to live a righteous life even in the face of trials and afflictions.

Though I may feel broken at times, I can turn to God and he will strengthen me.  My trials may not go away, just as Amulek still had to endure his trials and many other faithful disciples of Christ have suffered; but the Savior enables us to endure and to become someone stronger because of the trials we pass through.

A conceptual photograph of a large chunk of coal next to a sparkling diamond, paired with the words “You Can Handle Pressure Brilliantly.”

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.
Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven's within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.
 Master, the Tempest is Raging
 Mary Ann Baker, ca. 1831-1921
John 14:27, Jesus Christ brings peace in ways the world cannot

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Power and Authority

As I was pondering all that I have read in my scriptures this past week and reflecting what I might share, Alma the younger was brought to my mind.  In my readings he had been elected as the first Chief Judge over the Nephites AND he was also ordained by his father, Alma,  as the high priest over the church.

After Alma had served as chief judge for about nine years, he saw that he needed to devote more time to going about among the people teaching the word of God and being in the judgement seat had prevented him from fulfilling that.

Alma takes his journey and teaches the people.  Now this stood out to me that he wasn't just any man going around sharing good inspiring thoughts to the people.  In Alma 5:3 we learn that Alma was the high priest over the church and had "power and authority from God" because he was consecrated by his father who also held that power and authority.

We learn in the Articles of Faith, number 5, "that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."  Alma was called of God to watch over the saints and he did so with all the energy of his soul.

This short clip is a testimony of Elder L. Tom Perry on the priesthood keys and those who hold the keys of the priesthood:

This fills my heart with joy as I know that we have been blessed to have this authority on the earth, restored through Joseph Smith and it continues on as it is passed down through the laying on of hands.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the restored gospel, it is the same organization as existed back in the days of Jesus Christ and his apostles.  The keys that Peter held are now held by President Thomas S. Monson.
Peter the Apostle holding the Keys of the Priesthood
Carved by Bertel Thorvaldsen
Now that we have the Priest on the earth again, as it was in the days of Peter, what do we do with it.  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared a story about a Statue of Christ that was damaged during World War II, the statue was able to be fixed, except its hands.  Under the statue a sign read "You are my hands".  (link to article) Through the power and authority of the priesthood we are able to be the Lords hands and spend our times going about doing good just as the Savior did.

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Acts 10:38

I am so thankful for the examples of prophets and apostles living and those who have already passed on.  Their example helps me as I journey through this life and I know that I too can go forward and serve and be the Lords hands to all that are around me.  The power and authority of the priesthood are real; I have felt it in my life.