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The Rules of Life

Good afternoon!

I decided to open this blog to hopefully try to understand myself and my position in this strange world. At  the moment my rose glasses are being taken away and it hurts a lot. I am actually 30 years old and this is already too late to start growing up and changing my romantic, baby-blue dreams into something else, more realistic and serious. It is hard on me though. I live in the Netherlands but thinking of maybe returning back to my home country or going somewhere else.

At the moment I am going through a divorce with my husband. After the divorce I might set off somewhere. It is so weird when your dreams and hopes crush, when all this rosy lovey-dovey thing becomes a piece of an unrealistic fluff which has no value anymore. This makes me feel so sick and devastated. Thinking of forever family and endless love makes you believe that this world is for you alone and this happiness is so big and abundant that it makes you feel too small to be able to accept this all.

I have been married for about 5 years. All this time I wanted to give birth of a child but it would not happen. At first my husband did not want children, saying that we did not have enough money to raise them, and then, when I eventually convinced him of it and got pregnant, I miscarried. For a long while I was not ready to get pregnant again. It was so hard on me. But then I decided to try again only my husband was not ready to do that. However I did convince him and I got pregnant. My pregnancy lasted through all the 3 dangerous months and I got so happy when I passed that 12 weeks period!!! However 2.5 weeks after I miscarried again.

Only now I understand what a blessing this was! My current bishop calls it a real blessing, well everybody does. My mother, my close friend and even me. Can you imagine calling something like this a blessing? Rediculous, ha? But believe me in this life even this can happen. At first I was furious, bitter and sad. Why? What would I have done now if I had a little child being in a foreign country, trying to get divorced with a man who does not stop making debts, flirts with my girl friends, and basically makes everything possible to make my life complicated? I moved out of  "our" apartment  about 4 months ago, but I do miss my husband still. What do I miss? "What is there to miss?" - people keep saying to me. 

Now, I have decided to move forward with my life, and now trying to do what is right, becoming more independent. Well... I have a job. I have always had one.  I am a freelancer and earn enough to support myself. That is not what I mean saying "independent" though.  I mean the emotional state of being and feelings I still have inside.

I don't know why I opened this blog. Probably I am trying to anonymously pour out my soul in a glimpse of hope to understand life and men. Do I want to get married again? Do I want children? Sometimes things happen to them and they die and then you are confronted with an unbearable grief and misery. My neighbor just lost her two-year-old grand-daughter. It is so sad. What a dark Christmas for her! I know all about letting spirits come to earth to get their bodies and experiences but it does not seem so easy at all. It feels scary. Then you worry about them for the rest of your life and it never leaves you untill you die.

I know my mother, who still takes a complete care of me when I need her support or help. Moreover I won't get a baby without a husband, but at the moment I don't have one or almost don't have one. Do I want another one? I am not sure at all. If most of the men are weird cold-hearted creatures, then I don't have a desire to be involved with them again.

Anyway, time to stop complaining. Next time  I will write something more positive.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Your rosy Dreamer,

An Enemy to God

The last month or so has been ungood. I wouldn't go so far as to say bad, but something has been, at the very least, a little off. Being the stubborn man that I am, I kept trying to ignore it. Brush it off as just being tired, or normal after a long a day. I am constantly frustrated by how easy it is to justify all of my shortcomings.

However, justification can only take you so far. Not long ago I finally sat down and took a good look at who I was becoming. It turns out that I should evaluate myself more frequently. What I discovered shocked me. Changes were in order.

I recommitted myself to pray more often, and read my scriptures more consistently. You know, the "easy" things.

Over the past week I have made an interesting observation. It seems that in every section that I read I come across a verse that leads me to Mosiah 3:19*. Not very subtle. Sometimes a smack to the forehead is best way to teach. Over time it becomes easy to rely on the natural man, good habits are far too easy to break. Constant vigilance is a must. We need to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" always.

I can accept that I will never be perfect in this life. However, just because it is in my nature to be "an enemy to God" doesn't mean I should stop trying.
The atonement makes it possible. The battle isn't lost.


* For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Focus on the Goal

This past weekend I did a triathlon.  The triathlon consisted of a 1 mile swim, a 25 mile bike and a 6 mile run.  The swim portion of the race was in open water.  If you've never had the experience of swimming in open water, it's much different than swimming in a pool.  In a pool you have lines and lanes and it's easy to tell where you are going.  When you swim in the open water, you do not have the lines or lanes and therefore you have to continually look up and focus on your goal.  If you don't look up, you can very easily and very quickly get off course.  As I was swimming in the race this past weekend I had a time that I was focused only on swimming and not on my goal.  After only maybe 8 or 10 strokes I looked up and realized I was starting to go in the wrong direction.  It didn't take long.  It made me think about the gospel and how easy it can be to get off course if we're not focused on our goal.  We hear over and over again that we need to do the little things like pray, read the scriptures, etc. to stay on course.  It's amazing that when we're not doing these little things how easy our life can get off course.  It doesn't take much to get off course.  But if we stay focused on our goal, we will always stay the course.

Peace in the Temple

In a world longing for peace, there doesn't seem to be much of it.  Wars, natural disasters, professional demands, crime, economic troubles, not to mention personal and family challenges, all erode our peace and leave only stress and worry in their wake.  The only source of personal peace is the Lord, Jesus Christ who said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)  I do find peace in the gospel, and nowhere is it more abundant than in the Lord's house: the temple. How blessed we are as members of His church to be invited regularly to visit His house and partake of the beautiful, tranquil feelings which thrive therein. 

I love attending the temple because of the peace I find there.  Recently, I was sitting in a preparation meeting at the Jordan River Temple.  Some of my everyday worries and troubles had followed me there and my mind was distracted as I sat during the opening hymn.  Finally, my attention was caught by the words that we were singing.  It was a familiar hymn, yet the meaning had never struck me as it did on that occasion.  Here are the words:

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav'nly Father's throne
And sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I'll drop my burden at his feet
And bear a song away.*

It was as if the Lord himself were speaking to me, inviting me, as His guest in His house, to remove my burden of cares and receive the peace that He offers. A sweet, calm feeling filled my soul and my worries were gone. This is the blessing of the temple and it is available to all of us as we present ourselves worthy and willing to enter His holy house often.

*Hymns, "How Gentle God's Command" verse 3-4, hymn #125

Lesson in the Desert

This past weekend my family and I--along with my brother Devin and his wife Marissa--climbed, explored, and wondered at the magnificent splendor of the sandstone fins and arches in and around Arches National Park.  In addition to enjoying the sun, the sand, and all that this incredible area has to offer, in the midst of frustration and adversity, I learned a lesson that Heavenly Father had in store for me.

After some great hiking late Friday afternoon, we returned to the campsite, ready to get dinner cooking.  The plan was to grill shishkabobs, but to my consternation, the winds had begun to whip up.  Perhaps that's an understatement.  Seemingly gale-force winds had completely blown over a neighbor's tent and our 4-man REI tent was flirting with the same fate.  The constant battering of the desert wind was disrupted only by intermittent gusts that blinded eyes and sandblasted any exposed skin.  Needless to say, our Weber gas grill would not stay lit and the sticks of raw pork and beef that Lisa had prepared sat on the table in the sun and wind waiting for me to figure out some way to cook them, or to waste them.

I was frustrated.  I didn't know what to do.  I wanted to be happy and enjoy our experience, but instead, I was short of temper and testy.  How I would much rather have been at a condo where we could have comfortably cooked a meal with no concern for inclement weather.  I thought of punting, and going back into Moab for dinner, but it was about a 25-mile trip one-way and we had just come from spending $60 at a restaurant for lunch.  Defeated and at a loss for anything else to do, I gathered the family and asked Jackson to say a prayer that the winds would be calmed.

In the midst of my frustration and indecision, our next-campsite neighbors arrived back to find their campsite in disarray.  I ran to help them fetch their tent that had blown away--despite being loaded down with their luggage, sleeping bags, etc.--and carry/drag it back to their campsite.  I helped them search in the blowing sand for their tent stakes so they could try, again, to anchor it as much as possible to the shifting sands. 

It was about this time that my mind was opened to a lesson that I believe Heavenly Father had for me, if I would but pay enough attention to see it.  The words of Helaman to his sons popped into my mind:

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."  (Helaman 5:12)

Ammon taught something similar.  Speaking of those converts who had been brought into the fold of God, he said: "...neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds withersoever the enemy listeth to carry them."  (Alma 26:6)

There are numerous other similar references, but perhaps none is more apropos than the words of the Savior to the Nephites: "...whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the .... winds beat upon them." (3 Nephi 11:40)

Our tents were certainly "built" upon a sandy foundation, and when the winds beat upon them, they were buffeted and driven about.  The lesson of having my life anchored to a solid foundation, the rock of our Reedemer, who is Christ, sunk deep into my mind.  If I am living such that I am anchored to that Rock, then I will be protected.  I will be strong and able to withstand the mighty winds which surely are and will be sent forth by the devil.  If, however, my foundation is not built upon the Rock, but upon a sandy foundation, I will be vulnerable and will be driven about in the face of the winds.  How thankful I am for repentance and for a new day so that with the Savior's help, I can pick up the tent that is my life and again anchor it to a solid foundation.

Yesterday's newspaper contained the following front-page headline: America Awash with Pessimism.  The article stated that people are using words like "terrified," "disgusted" and "scary" to define the state of things.  It went on to say, "The nation's psyche is battered and bruised, the sense of pessimism is palpable. . . . Americans are questioning where they are and where they are going.  And they wonder who or what might ride to their rescue."

Yesterday, I sat in a Testimony Meeting where person after person, young and old, walked to the pulpit and expressed the joy and hope they had personally received through the restored gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ.  They talked of indescribable happiness, peace of mind, fulfilling family relationships, and positive hope for the future.

What a contrast! The only true source of lasting hope, peace, and optimism in this world is the Lord, Jesus Christ. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon as I have associated with people in places all over the world: people of various races, cultures, and nationalities.  My experience is that those who have faith centered on Jesus and who try to follow his teachings are, as a rule, much happier and positive about the future than those who don't. The Prophet Moroni put it this way, "Wherefore, if a man have faith, he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope." How grateful I am to know that the complete gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness through the Prophet Joseph Smith, which gospel contains all of the doctrines, ordinances, and blessings necessary to give us "peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." It has brought great joy to my life.

"Americans are questioning where they are and where they are going. And they wonder who or what might ride to their rescue."  The answers to these questions are found in the restored Church of Jesus Christ.  The gospel gives us a new perspective and a "perfect brightness of hope." It provides a solid foundation in a world of shifting values. It points the way to Jesus Christ, who is our only hope to rescue us from both the messes we create ourselves, and those we find ourselves in.  I know that He will rescue those who trust in Him and strive to follow His teachings. This is my hope and it cheers my heart.  

(Sources: Deseret News, July 6, 2008 [Associated Press article by Pauline Arrillaga]; Moroni 7:42, D&C 59:23, 2 Nephi 31:20) 

My America the Beautiful

Now is my favorite time of year. It’s summertime, hot, beautiful weather, the opportunity to be outside and enjoy the beauty that God has given us. This time of year also gives me time to reflect on another great gift the Lord has given us, this glorious country of ours. We have so many things to be grateful for in this country, too many to count here.  Though I may let a few pieces of gratitude fly, much of it we owe to the blessings God has bestowed on us.

Many do not know this about the Mormon faith but the LDS people like myself attribute the ability of the Lord to establish His gospel in this last dispensation to the United States Constitution. Though God, as we know, can do anything he wants, to have a nation that allowed religious freedom at such a pivotal point was a beautiful boon to the cause of the restoration. Also, we believe that the founding fathers were God-inspired men who were given a measure of His spirit so they could have the foresight to see what it was that would provide for the long term freedoms we enjoy, which opened the way for the revelations of the Lord to Joseph Smith.

Also, I would be completely remiss if I did not add a word or two on the sacrifices made by those who defend the inalienable human rights. My father is serving in the military, and I have a few other close family members who have chosen the same route. I can tell you the truth that it is a sacrifice to be in their line of work, for all the GI bills and ribbons and honor that we give to the men and women that serve us in that way, there is no way to repay the kindness or compensate for the sacrifices that they make, because it is unquantifiable. No matter what our political persuasion is, that truth stands firm.

I was reading some from Thomas Paine in Common Sense the other day and I found a statement of his that struck me, ”Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are build upon the ruins of the bowers paradise.”  I think of all the garments available to cover our lost innocence I would choose the ideal of the U.S. Constitution. The statement also got me thinking about the point that it is because we as a society are unable to check ourselves that we need the steady hand of a balanced government to heal societal ills as they come up. Since we live in a fallen world, a world without man-made government will have to be an ideal rather than a reality, at least until the rightful ruler of this world comes to take his rightful throne.

I Love this country for the freedoms it provides me, not the least of which is that we can “claim the privilege to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.” My prayer and testimony, this patriotic time of year, is that I might govern myself a little more and expect a little less of that governance to come from my beloved man-made, but God-inspired country. “God mend thy every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law.”

Love,

Symbols  

Hello Testimonial

Everyone has got to start somewhere and I am starting here. This is my first experience with the blogosphere.  I am extremely glad to be cutting my teeth in this atmosphere and on a subject that I feel so passionate about.

By way of introduction first I would ask you to please excuse my pen name. The only reason I chose to write under an alias is that I thought it would be “cool” and original, and it would give me a certain amount of anonymity so I could feel comfortable sharing some of the more personal insights I have gleaned; also I have a fetish for the temple, as many of you know the Temple is full of symbolism. Actually that is how I was introduced to the idea of writing here; I work at the temple with a brother, who happens to be the son of one of my elementary school principals.  Anyway, we got talking and this web site was brought up, I’ve always wanted to blog so, I was a willing draftee. There you go; shazzam I’m here.

I want this first effort of mine to be my testimony of the work through a little bit of insight into my life. I was born in the covenant (meaning I was born to LDS parents).  I have grown up in a loving household, for which the credit goes to my momma and dad, of course. Growing up I always went to church. Achieved the things that have been set for LDS youth to achieve: Duty to God, Eagle Scout, Seminary Graduate etc… Later I served a mission for the church in the San Bernardino California Mission.  While I did all these things the connection between me and the savior ebbed and flowed. Like most people I made some mistakes, some serious some not so. To tell you the truth that is how I gained the knowledge that the LDS church is true. Following my adolescence I was a searcher. Through youthful experimentation I came to recognize that I had always been conscious of God being there.  It was by the feelings the truth presented to my heart: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, the familial feelings, that I gained and regained my spiritual consciousness. The gospel’s true. I speak from experience.

A little about my experience as a missionary; the synonym: marvelous. To be able to cry the song of redeeming love for two years is the greatest experience I have had thus far, something many of my colleagues would also claim. I met many wonderful people, some not so wonderful. All needed what I had to share, not many knew that fact, and some knew but would not face the music. One of the many things I learned and something I would like to stress here is that there is a testimony to be had. If you have not gained one, gain one. If you have one, use it and strengthen it. Life is too short to not to search for whatever eternal truth there is to be had.

Love,

Symbols

I testify that he is far more than just a great prophet, Jesus Christ is the only begotten of God. He has and will save me from my sins so he is my Savior. He paid the price to satisfy the demands of justice if I will but apply for his boundless mercy through repentance. As my advocate with the father, he will plead my case. As my judge, he will judge me with perfect justice, mercy, and righteousness.

I love him because he loved me first (1 John 4: 19). Having never sinned he is the perfect example in everything and thus qualified himself to carry out the atonement so that everything that ever has or will be good on this earth can be. I have taken his name upon me. His greatest wish is that we progress and become one with Him and the Father (John 17: 21). It is mine as well.

He has strengthened me when weak, delivered me when captive to my mistakes, healed me when sick, filled my soul with joy when desolate, and tried me when in need of refinement.

Some day he will return in power and glory and rule and reign in righteousness and truth. I admire many men, venerate both ancient and modern prophets, but it is only He and his Father who I worship.

What a man may say against this does not matter for God's Holy Spirit has burned these truths eternally into my soul. And it is in his truth and upon his arm do I put my trust, and not that of man.

Brian R. Bradshaw

Thank you for cutting me down

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
                                                        1 Nephi 16:2

Being cut to the very center does not feel good in the slightest. However, it is an effective way of learning if we can humble ourselves enough to see the lesson being taught.

King Benjamin taught that the natural man is an enemy to God, and will be forever, "unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child...." (see Mosiah 3:19)

I've never thought of myself as an "enemy to God." However, as I reflected today on my reaction to the well intentioned advice that I received yesterday, I can see the truth is Benjamin's words. We all like to think that we are right. It hurts when someone tells you strait up that you are wrong. Recognizing when advice, even when hurtful, is given out of love allows us to grow.

God uses other people to bless our lives. None of us like to be cut down, but we all need a little pruning now and again. Becoming bitter and angry only prolongs the pain.

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