Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Testimony Tuesday

Today I would like to share my testimony of latter-day prophets.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are blessed to be led by a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson.  We are given the same gift as the people of old, a man called of God to guide this church and a direct mouthpiece of the Lord.  I sustain him with all of my heart, along with our counselors of the first presidency and quorum of the 12 apostles.

I am so excited for this upcoming weekend of general conference, a semiannual worldwide gathering in which Church members and others meet to receive inspiration and instruction from church leaders.  The conference is recorded so everyone can watch it live on television or online.

Life doesn't have to be a one-way glass mirror window where we are being silently observed, yet feel completely alone.  Our lives are sprinkled with little glimpses into what lies behind that sheet of glass separating us from our Father in Heaven.  We are given scriptures, prayer and personal revelation, priesthood blessings, and our loving prophet and apostles to lead and guide us.

General conference is a beautiful opportunity for each of us to ponder and pray and to receive inspiration from the speakers to guide us in our personal struggles.

" I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life. In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us." —Elder Robert D. Hales

I am so grateful to live HERE, NOW, in THIS time and age where we have a prophet to follow.  I'm thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who is there watching over us, and if we observe closely, he can touch our spirits through the gifts of revelation he has hidden in our lives.

I invite EVERYONE, church member or not, to take part in this fantastic event and listen to the prophet's voice this weekend during general conference.

To watch general conference online you can click here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why Do We Fast?

Get this week's lesson here.

I have never been so HUNGRY while preparing a lesson.  All week I found myself constantly snacking whenever I would sit down to work on this...

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:35

To help the girls answer common questions about fasting I put together some Q&A puzzles.  The questions can be on the board and each person takes turns reading and matching their answer puzzle pieces.

When I printed these out I used card stock paper (P.S. Card stock paper has been my BEST FRIEND ever since I became a YW advisor.  Love, love, LOVE card stock).  I did one puzzle per page so the questions are big enough to read on the board.  Then I printed out smaller puzzles with two per page for each young women to take home and use to teach their next family home evening lesson.

Also, the other week I saw one of the girls filling out her tithing slip and wanted to make sure she was filling it out right.  To give the girls a little practice with their tithing slips and understand what it will be like paying tithing and fast offerings when they have large families, I'm bringing cards from the game of LIFE.  Each girl can have a different income and roll a die to see "how many kids they'll have" and fill out their practice slips with the different scenarios.  

SIDE NOTE: Was I the only child who always wanted to have the SUPERSTAR career when I grew up?  
Someday, Jess... Someday.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Testimony Tuesday

Sometimes I don't get it.  I look around at everything.  Every.  Single.  Thing.  And I don't understand how a person can take in the beauty of life around them without believing there is something else there and something greater than us.  Like holding a sleeping baby that nuzzles into the warm skin of your arms, or soaking in the sound of the wind slipping through the trees, or becoming lost in the glorious stars that umbrella the night sky.

My spirit gets frustrated.  And it wishes it had a giant spiritual frying pan it could whack other spirits on the head with.  Not literal here, people.  Spiritual.  I hope I don't sound like a violent person that wants to cause anyone physical pain.  I just want them to experience some major spiritual awareness.  Like, BAM!  Did you feel that one?!?  And then get a big, purple spiritual "goose egg" bulging out of their testimonies.

On Sunday we talked about dressing yourself in the spiritual armor of God: Having your loins girt about with truth, having the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, taking the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and the helmet of salvation.  Notice how this is all armor of protection to defend your spirit?  Then it mentions one more thing... The sword of the Lord's spirit which will pour out upon you and His word.  This is our only weapon of offense.  It is what we are given to strike with.  It's more than just keeping yourself safe, it's about affecting those around you.  I feel like when we bear our testimonies and share with others the truth, it is our way of wearing the whole armor of God.  If there was anything I could say to help pierce the testimonies of those who dwindle in unbelief, I hope I am able to share something that could help them in even the tiniest way to consider believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So here it is, my sword (or frying pan):

I know God lives.  I can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost in everything sacred that surrounds me.  And I can feel Heavenly Father's love for me when I glance at my mirror's reflection and see a child of God.  I know Jesus Christ once walked this earth, that he suffered for my sins and died for me that I might live again.  He made the most selfless sacrifice so each one of us can return to our Heavenly Father.  I know this!  All of it!  Its truth soaks into my heart like syrup into a hot waffle.
No article on the internet or disproving science theory can shake this testimony cemented inside of my soul.  I have witnessed TOO MANY miracles and acts of God's love in my life to ever deny this.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and through the power of God he was able to restore the gospel and organize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  When I read the Book of Mormon I can feel its truth testifying to me the words of Christ and that He lives.  I know we have a real, living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson.  I love him so much!  I can't wait for general conference next month when I can listen to him speak to his saints as a mouthpiece of the Lord.
I am so terribly flawed and constantly falling, but I feel so blessed knowing we have a Father in Heaven who loves us enough to clear a pathway where we can return to His presence.  I am so excited for the day when I can see Him again and fall into his loving arms.  I just want to be with Him!  I know He and my Heavenly Mother are watching over me here on earth.  When I think of the love I feel towards my family I catch a glimpse of what it must be like to feel their heavenly love for each one of us.

Please know that I know.  I wanted to be bold and straight with my testimony this week and slice through like the blade of a sword.  

The gospel is so real and so beautiful and has changed my life.  Anyone interested in learning more or exploring the gospel can search here at mormon.org.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Testimony Tuesday

Today I would like to share my testimony of the unshakable truth that I know our families can be together forever.  

CHURCH HISTORY (in the words of someone who partially paid attention during early-morning seminary): When the prophet, Joseph Smith, restored the gospel to the earth, he and Oliver Cowdery were visited by the prophet Elijah in the Kirkland Temple who conferred upon them the priesthood keys so we could be sealed to our families for time and all eternity.

This wonderful event that took place April 3rd, 1836 fulfilled the Lord's promise in the book of Malachi in the Old Testament, saying He would send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord to turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers.

The first presidency and council of the twelve apostles state in THE FAMILY: A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD that "the divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.  Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally."

Everything inside me knows without a doubt that this doctrine is true.  Our Heavenly Father has given us the sacred blessing of families and oh how grateful I am that He loves us enough that we can be sealed to them forever.  

I am grateful for temples.  In the House of the Lord we can perform sacred ordinances and covenants for our families.  What a wonderful, precious time in history we live in where we have the opportunity to have this knowledge and perform these blessings!  What a beautiful comfort it is to know that when our loved ones pass on we will see them again after our earthly life is over!

I was looking through old blog posts and came across this beautiful memory that I recorded years before and wanted to share...

FaMiLiEs aRe FoReVeR
Yesterday was a big, big day for my little brother.  He will be serving a full-time mission for the church in Londrina, Brazil for two years starting this fall.  Today he can officially check off "going through the temple for the first time" on his long list of things to do before leaving.

What an amazing, tear-jerking moment I was able to witness as my whole family stood in front of me inside the walls of the temple.  I wondered if my parents could have possibly imagined 29 years ago that one day they’d be standing in the celestial room with all three of their children at once. 

All three kids when we were little....
... All three kids now 
(don't worry, these are actual sizes.  
They somehow make 5'10'' look like Gimli).

Yesterday my testimony grew so much!  I wanted to be a missionary!  I wanted to shout from a mountain and tell the whole world, “THIS IS IT!  THIS IS WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT!”

FAMILY.  The temple gives you this precious gift that you never have to let go of.  You never have to truly say goodbye.  Everything is put in an eternal perspective when we realize we can be sealed to our families for time and for all eternity.  Death cannot separate us and we can always be together forever!

I love the temple!  My words can’t express how much it means to me!  My heart can’t contain the love I have pouring out of me because of what this gospel has given me!  Sorry if this is super intense, but I promised myself when I left the temple yesterday I would share exactly what I feel.  I don’t want to regret keeping something so important inside of me when there are so many people out there I could share it with.

I love my husband!  I can’t wait to have a family with him!  To be a unit and a team that can always depend on each other and always be there for one another… always.

Eternal families.  This is my testimony of them.  I love my family so much!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Testimony Tuesday

Over the summer we enjoyed the unforgettable experience of our 2014 Crockett family reunion.  I was able to catch up with relatives I hadn't seen in over five years!  My family is absolutely crazy, but I love them just the same.

A Crockett family tradition that has been around for as long as I can remember was singing around the piano while my mom played old tunes and family favorites.  It was extra emotional on this particular trip as we all sang, watching grandchildren and great-grandchildren take part in our tradition, knowing how rare it will be to have the entire family together like this anytime in the near future if ever again.

As I soaked in the words to the music dancing off the pages, my eyes filled with tears and I began to think of the pains and trials I was going through back at home.  My heart stung with sadness as I took part in a tiny personal life evaluation and was disappointed with the challenges I was struggling with.

Then I looked up.

I examined all the beautiful faces in the room with me.  The facial features of my sweet cousins had grown and reshaped since their innocent childhoods and I looked around and realized we were all grown up now.  As I studied every individual I realized that each one was dealing with their own versions of personal hardships just as difficult as mine.

Whether it was health, family relationships, anxiety, stress of being a parent, stress of expectations, careers, schooling, loneliness, depression: each person was carrying something.

I reflected back on my life and realized that I was so grateful for the life I had and that I didn't want to change a single thing or switch my hardships with anyone else in the room.  They were my heavy burdens that shaped who I was and they were beautiful.

I have a testimony that every trial we face in this mortal life is for a purpose and will build us up and shape us into something more, like the compression that shapes a lump of coal into a diamond.  I believe we all have a unseen plan, that we all have our own mortal missions that we agreed to fulfill in our premortal existence.

Recently my mom shared with me a comforting quote by Wendy Watson Nelson:
"To what did I agree in the premortal world that my Heavenly Father is honoring and is therefore not able to respond to my present request?"

She continues, "And when we are in the midst of surviving something unbelievably difficult - even hideous - when the Spirit whispers the assurance that this is part of our life mission and is on our "to do" list, everything changes.  Our perspective enlarges as our vision clears.  Our energy flows.  Our faith in the Lord and our courage and ability to endure increase."

My testimony of the atonement is always growing and strengthening with each bright, new day.  Our Savior suffered for our pains and sorrows along with our sins.  He will always be there to carry us and comfort us.  When we put our full trust and reliance in Him, He will cradle us in His arms and lighten our loads.  I know this to be true!

Just like Alma and his brethren in the Book of Mormon, I have experienced this too where my trials, although still with me, feel as though they have been lifted from my shoulders and are no longer dragging me down.

 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.


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