We Seek After
These Things
Recently returned from serving the people of Honduras for 3 years

Monday, October 27, 2008

Message for my children . . . and anyone else who wants to listen in . . .

I have the great opportunity to attend the most wonderful Book of Mormon class every Monday. People come from near and far, and I feel so 'special' because it's right here in my own stake taught by one of my own ward members, Sister Sandy Name, who has the most marvelous insight into the Book of Mormon. I'm not always the most dependable in attending the class, but now that I teach Primary every week I really try not to miss. We always have the best discussions and I never attend that I don't come away with such gratitude in my heart for the opportunity to be there that day and increase my testimony of that great book and it's influence in our lives.

Now, I have a message that I want to share with all my children, and anyone else who would like to listen in. I think it's so timely with the uncertainty of the world today. I remember waiting with great anticipation for General Conference at the beginning of October. What would the counsel be during these times of uncertainty and negative news that we hear from the media everyday? (General Conference comments below . . .) It was a message of hope! Nothing negative but only the most positive and uplifting thoughts. It was such a wonderful conference!

Everyday we can have that same message of hope and inspiration when we study the words and teachings from the Book of Mormon. (Sorry this is so long but bear with me please . . .)

Imagine Nephi, a young man in similar economic circumstances to us, coming from prosperity and great wealth, then learning from his father, a visionary man, that Heavenly Father had a different plan in mind, and desired that they leave all their material wealth behind and journey into the wilderness and an uncertain future. In 1 Nephi 2:16 - 19 we can read the words of the Lord to Nephi at this time, an apply it to ourselves also. "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying; Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands."

From that verse, what are the two traits that we should embrace also when we go to the Lord? To seek diligently, and with faith and humility, knowing that we will receive answers as we inquire of the Lord in obedience. And what was Heavenly Father's promise to Nephi and to us? "Keep my commandments, and you shall prosper in the land". It is the #1 ongoing and repetitive theme from the Book of Mormon! We know that Heavenly Father's definition of 'prosper' may differ from the worlds definition of 'prosper'. But I have to believe that while Heavenly Father may bless us with material and financial prosperity, he will most certainly bless us with a feeling of peace and comfort and that perfect brightness of hope, where we are confident that come what may, we will always be blessed in the end through our faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. And when we have that perfect brightness of hope, that is really all that matters.

Moving forward in the Book of Mormon to 2nd Nephi, where Lehi leaves his last message and blessing upon his sons, the sons of Ishmael and Zoram; once again, the message that those who are obedient will continue to prosper in the land . . . despite that the environment all around them may be unrighteous. We can study - 2 Nephi 1:7. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever." Another example, this time speaking to Zoram in 2 Nephi 1:31 "Wherefore, because thou hast been faithful thy seed shall be blessed with his seed, that they dwell in prosperity long upon the face of this land; and nothing, save it shall be iniquity among them, shall harm or disturb their prosperity upon the face of this land forever."

These are great scriptural messages! And also important is that through our faithfulness, our seed can be blessed forever, dwelling "in prosperity long upon the face of the land" if they remain faithful always.

I also have to mention another two of my favorite Book of Mormon scriptures that appear in this chapter - I love how these verses are beautiful but also give us a reminder to repent, and at least for me conjure up visions of righteous sons and husbands in the priesthood . . . 2 Nephi 1:21 "And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity"; and 2 Nephi 1:23 "Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust."

Does that sound familiar? You might want to look back at these two excellent talks from October Conference, http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-947-19,00.html and http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-947-21,00.html both by President Eyring, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency.

Throughout the ongoing and familiar Book of Mormon "pride cycle" where prosperity leads to pride, which leads to the destruction of the people and then a humbling return to Heavenly Father and obedience . . . obedience always brings prosperity! It doesn't matter what the rest of the world is doing!

If you'll remember back to the Old Testament, and the example of Daniel - he was saved IN the Lions Den, not FROM the Lions Den. And it can be the same for us, to be saved IN the Lions den! Not that things will always be wonderful every moment, but through our obedience we can and will be blessed with prosperity from our Heavenly Father. Elder Holland shared a similiar inspiring message this past September 2008 at a CES fireside . . .(Lessons from Liberty Jail / Prison-Temple) It is so worthwhile to review, my favorite quote is that "man's extremity is God's opportunity".

Returning one more time to the Book of Mormon, Helaman 3 teaches us how we can live righteously as a church, while the contentions of the world rage all around. We can be so encouraged as we read and follow the examples in Helaman 3:35 "Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."

When we "yield our hearts unto God" we have no need to fear, we have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which will show and tell us all things that we should do. Which brings us back again to General Conference where the testimonies of the prophets contained not one ounce of fear. They were most joyful, excited, full of enthusiasm and exemplifiying a 'perfect brightness of hope'. I know that if we read and ponder the testimonies of the prophets - all things we need are within those pages - if we will but study them. I know that if each of us as individuals, families and members of the church will remember to pray, fast often, teach the word of God, serve and bless the lives of others, be united as a people and as families, be humble and obedient to the word of God, we will have no need to fear. Sure, there will be difficult times ahead and life will not always be pleasant (Nephi after all was strapped to the mast of a ship - but the Lord delivered him!), but we will continue to prosper individually, as families and as a church even during these trying and challenging times to come. This is all that matters. I love this message of hope! I know it's not an easy thing to do, and I hope that I can be valiant in my testimony of the Savior. I'm so grateful for the gospel in my life and so grateful for each of you and your influence and example in my life. You are my prosperity and I love you all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mid October already?

My goodness, where has the month gone? All in one sudden burst of speed the leaves have changed from green to yellow to red, and now with the latest breezes are falling in mass to the ground. If they would only linger on those last autumn branches for a few more weeks. I need a few more weeks to complete all the postponed summer projects before the cold temperatures arrive in earnest. Suddenly the hills of Alpine appear as patchwork quilts on the mountainside covered in yellow, reds and oranges. I was gone to Las Vegas for five days and they changed so dramatically while I was gone I just had to go on a photo shoot with my camera before all the leaves were blown away.

Just a couple thoughts to share -

This blog thing has really captured my attention. I'm discovering how much fun it is to peruse each others postings and photos and catch up on all my family members and friends scattered across the country. One could easily spend their life (and nonexistant free time) reading everyone's latest blog entries. So I hope I can keep my site on the positive side of the board and provide at least some hope and inspiration, and perhaps a little humor from time to time. Don't want you all wasting your precious time here unless you can come away with something positive.

I have really appreciate all the many fun, artistic and outright beautiful blogspots that I've visited during my quest to figure out how this all works. So I thought I'd post some links to all the spots that have been particularly helpful for me - maybe to save someone else some time in their quest for creating the perfect blogspot.

This site is infinitely helpful
Great spot for backgrounds and custom banners
General information for getting started
Also really helpful information about how blogs work
Another one of my favorites
Free and easy to install templates
My favorite-ist (is that a word?) of all, because they have fantastic Adobe Photoshop tutorials

Lots of people put much time and effort into their sites and provide many resources for free. Be sure to credit them in some way if you use their information and layouts on your blogspot. Be sure to leave comments when you visit helpful sites. Everyone loves for their work to be recognised - right!? Good luck - and happy blogspot creating!

Second thoughts - In all my discovering, I discovered my talented daughter-in-law, Cami has a really cute and outstanding blogspot entitled "Crochet Cami". I always knew she was talented, but now I get to see all the really outstanding creations she is working on. It is soooo much fun. Thought I would just point you in her direction if you really like quilting, crocheting, knitting etc. Most of all I love her because she takes such good care of her "handsome husband"!!

Last of all - couldn't resist taking a photo of my new favorite fall bowl, a gift from a good friend. You can barely see the graphics of the hot peppers on the the bowl, but it looks perfect on my kitchen counter and holds all my 'peck of not pickled peppers' fresh out of the garden. Thank you so much my friend - I love it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

another day . . . another hike

One of my favorite things that gets me up and going and out of the house every single morning is hiking the hills of Alpine with some good friends. We make an effort to get out and do some walking and hiking just about every weekday and sometimes on Saturdays! I live in such a beautiful, perfect place for walking the hills and hiking the trails, I have gorgeous views just about every day of my life, no matter what the seasons. It's something I am truly grateful for and never cease to marvel and find beauty and joy in Heavenly Father's creations that are all around me.

Over the last couple weeks one of my friends, Ilene, decided we should do some hiking over the hills and into the neighboring community of Draper where a new LDS temple is just about finished and ready for the open house and dedication. She was certain that if we planned it right we could go over our Alpine mountain and come down right behind the new Draper temple. So she and I got online (the wonders of modern internet technology) and after consulting Google Earth, maps and the many mountain bikers online sites came up with a great route for traveling over the hills of Alpine and dropping into Draper right behind the temple. We were eager to explore this option and as we didn't know how many sunny hiking days we have left before the snow falls in the mountains, decided we better get hiking!

It turned out to be much simpler than we ever thought, although we did have some fun adventures along the way. We left home just before 9:00 am and parked our car on the west side of Alpine, just below the old Hog Hollow dirt road that leads up the canyon to the saddle at the top, just below Lone Peak. It was a beautiful sunny day and not too hot. I brought Cleo and Conan along, our two large salt and pepper labradors, who were raring to go for a grand outdoor mountain adventure. Because of the short notice, only a few of us were available to go - so it was myself, Ilene, and Shea who made the trip up the mountain and down the other side.

We made very good time and arrived at the top, so to speak, where the dirt road opens up just East of the new Suncrest neighborhood, about 10:30 am. There is a big open space where many dirt roads and trails of all shapes and sizes seem to merge and diverge off into every direction imaginable. Some off to the top of Lone Peak, others to the East and into Draper, some to the East and down into the Fork Canyon area. Hmmmm . . . . which road to take, there were so many to choose from. We meandered along the saddle for about an hour taking in the views from the tops of various hilltops and speculating on which way might lead back down to Alpine by perhaps a different route. Finally, we realized we needed to get back down the hill into Draper to meet up with our carpool ride back around the mountain to Alpine.

We decided on one trail that took us down a dangerously steep and slippery slope thinking we knew where we were going, but in reality ended up in a dead end which required that we hike back up the same hill. Our next option was a well made mountain bike trail called Clark's Trail. We saw a few hikers come up the trail and a couple bikers also. After our first wrong turn we decided it was probably our safest route to take. It turned out to be a gorgeous trail, certainly well worth the hike over the mountain to get to the top of the trailhead in the Corner Canyon area. The trail begins at the east side of the open area where all the trails merge, and goes off to the left down into the wooded canyon. On Draper's trail map it is noted as the Corner Canyon Walking Trail.

It took us only about 20 minutes to get down the hill. Just as we were wondering how close we would end up to the temple, we came around a corner and there it was right in front of us. Success! We made it just like we hoped and had a great adventure along the way, lots of time for good female conversation and catching up on homes, families, and kids! We already have our next adventure all planned out. This time up to the top and back down again into the Fort Canyon area . . . hmmm . . . . hopefully Google earth can help us figure that one out also!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reflections on General Conference

Hmmmmm . . . where to begin . . . . loved it . . . every session! As every speaker was announced my heart gave a little 'jump for joy', my favorite, another of my favorites, how did they know who all my very favorite and most inspiring speakers are?! Each one shared such an inspiring testimony and message of hope, which I think we were all ready to hear after the 'doom & gloom' that pervades the media and much of our thoughts this last month.

A temple in Rome - now that's exciting! I guess from the audience reaction in the conference center that many others echoed my sentiment! It's one of my favorite cities ever (despite the fact I once lost half my children there for a period of time, but that's another blogspot). I think I'm starting to make travel plans . . . but back to conference - I loved how right at the very beginning President Monson who is always so positive and uplifting reminded us "that our Heavenly Father is mindful of each one of us and our needs".

Following President Monson's opening remarks came another member of the First Presidency - President Deiter F. Uchdorf, someone whom I believe is quickly becoming a great souce of inspiration for many in the church, both here in the United States and in other countries as well as the first member of the First Presidency who comes originally from outside the United States. He has become most endearing during his apostleship and I was eagar to hear his message, which significantly enough was concerning hope. He likened hope, along with faith and charity to a three-legged stool that stabilizes our life despite uneven or rough surfaces and challenging times. I loved this quote "Hope is not knowledge but rather an abiding trust that Heavenly Father will fulfill his promises . . . it is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered" - just beautiful!

I loved that Dallin H. Oakes made reference to texting as he spoke about holiness and need for preparation in taking the sacrament. Can't say we haven't heard it from the pulpit now. Okay everyone put those cell phones away. I loved the sweet and powerful testimony of Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitus (and you have to love his overwhelming spirit that comes straight from the heart with his wonderful accent!) He is from Brazil but mentioned that his ancestors came from Lithuania, and shared such a sweet tribute to his father. Loved Sister Allred's talk on missionaries - we're big fans of and love to hear about missionaries in our home!

I think my very favorite General Conference moment ever is Elder Wirthlins story about the blind date. We were delighted to see him so healthy for this conference, and we're still chuckling days later about the mix up of the two sisters, the blind date and the baby sitting dad! Then Elder Hollands message on angels - again, I know I'm being repetitive but each speaker was just so amazing! Some of my favorites, "I testify that angels are still sent to help us", "search diligently, pray always and be believing", "not all angels are from the other side of the veil" - another amazing source of inspiration and hope.

Other favorites - Elder Bednars thoughts on prayer, as the spiritual "creation" of the day and then the cycle of returning in the evening to report. From Elder Corbridge, "life is hard, but life is simple, get on the path and never, ever give up". I really like President Monson's, "find joy in the journey - now!" and "say I love you more", "express thanks" - all great reminders.

I appreciated how Sister Dalton looked right into the eyes of the youth through the camera and spoke of temples, virtue, keeping high moral standards, and told them, "you must never underestimate the power of your righteous influence". She is a beautiful wife and mother and such a great example to women and our young women everywhere. Then from Elder Russell M. Nelson on celestial marriage, "it requires one to be married to the RIGHT person, in the RIGHT place, and by the RIGHT authority", and also "harmony in marriage comes only when one esteems the welfare of his or her spouse among their highest of priorities". Whew, big breath - almost done!

Elder Cook's message on the Atonement and sharing his experience with President Monson's birthday wish that everyone "find someone who is having a hard time . . . and do something for them". Well - it was a conference filled with many good things, and these are just a few of my observations and favorites.

Now comes the hard part - taking all these teachings to heart and implementing them in our homes with our loved ones and family members.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It all started with Timpooneke

Yesterday was a perfect day for a hike to the top of Timpanogos. I listened to the weather report and noted that skies were suppose to be clear with high's in the mid-80's. It doesn't get better than that when you are hiking to the top of a very tall mountain. In Utah, Timpanogos is pretty famous as 'THE' place to hike. It promises to be gorgeous no matter what time of year you make the trip. (Winter although would be totally impractical due to the large accumulations of snow - but I'm sure it's still gorgeous). We were looking forward to beautiful autumn vistas - and we certainly did see them.

Karianne and I started up the trail head (elev. 7370) from the Timpooneke campground, which is a trail leading to the summit about 7.5 miles in length, at about 6:50 am. We were the lone car in the parking lot when we arrived and we thought we'd be hiking the trail all by ourselves. But just as we were leaving another couple cars arrived with a few more people. Usually during the summer the parking lot is jam packed with hikers. An alternative trail is the Aspen Grove trail in Provo Canyon which is a little longer and a little steeper.

You can't beat the weather for hiking at the end of September. Even with the sun shining once we arrived in the lower basin, we still needed our hoodies to keep us from getting chilled. The autumn colors were gorgeous, lots of yellows on the Aspens and red and golds scattered in splashes of color across the mountainside. We kept an eye out for moose, usually we always see moose on the trail but no moose sightings on this adventure. We did have one scary experience as we were hiking through a wooded area. Suddenly we heard a startled growly sound and the noisy crashing of something making it's way through the underbrush. We took off on a dead run until we decided we didn't really know where to run too or what manner of animal was behind us. We didn't dare go back to look . . .

While the leaves and foliage on the mountainside were beautiful we missed the gorgeous wildflowers of summer. We climbed up to the saddle (just under the 11,749 elev of the summit) in exactly four hours. While we ate our peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars and gator aid for lunch we contemplated continuing on to the summit. I never feel comfortable heading up that trail just looking at the steep drop away on the right. We did see a very woolly family of mountain goats nimbly ambling along the cliff side trails, occasionally pausing to jump from ledge to ledge or sun themselves on the rocky outcroppings. From far away down in the basin, even though our binoculars they resembled "Utah Polar Bears". They were not very frightened of us and even came quite close to us while we were eating. The views from the saddle are spectacular! All of the Heber valley lies beneath you on one side of the mountain, and all of Utah county is below you on the other side of the mountain with a view of the entire Utah Lake. There was no water at all in Emerald Lake, and we could see a few more hikers making there way to the top from the Aspen Grove Trail.

After sitting in the sunshine on the top of the mountain and enjoying our lunch, we decided it was about time to head back down the mountain. Going down always seems to be much easier than the hiking up. I was a little worried about whether my knees would take me all the way to the bottom without becoming too uncomfortable. My knees don't seem to hold up as well as they used to, but we made it all the way down without any difficulties. We had some great conversations on the trail, and decided we already must plan our next summer hike to be sure it is reserved with a firm date on our calendars. We made it back to the parking lot in 2.5 hours from the saddle for a total of approximately 14 miles in 6.5 hours, while climbing approximately 4000 feet in elevation. Not a bad days work - I think I'm going to just enjoy my dinner tonight and maybe even have some ice cream for dessert!
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