5 Ways To Gain More Knowledge & Blessings From The Hardest Trials

The ever present hiss of oxygen and the occasional beeping of a monitor are sometimes the only sound I hear for hours, as I lay alone in my hosptial room.  I stare at the white sterile walls that surround me.  The walls are totally blank with few unnoteworthy exceptions.  Sometimes I wish my life were as clean and as sterile as those walls, devoid of any adversitity.  It’s an easy thing to wish for when I’ve spend more than half of the last year in the hosptial.  If I could whitewash all the years spent facing the pain, lonliness, isolation, boredom, fear, anger,  grief, and saddness that comes with a chronic illness that requires very frequent and prolonged hosptializations, wouldn’t I want to?

But then I remember what I am here on earth to do.  I remember that my adversity and trials aren’t punishments; they’re gifts that allow me to improve myself, transform my weaknesses, and grow into the person I was always meant to become.  I remember that adveristy is a blessed opportunity – even an invitation – from my loving Father in Heaven, to become more like my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  I remember that if I were able to whitewash my life and forget all my trials, I’d also forget all the knowledge and blessings that come from them.

It’s been easy for me to get bogged down in the weight of a trial, and completely miss what I am learning and how I am growing from it. Perhaps if I were more methodical, more intetional about learning from adversity, I’d be able to develop more from it.  There are five things we all can do to gain more knowledge, growth, and blessings from the hardest things in life.

Seek Guidance

It’s a lot easier to learn something when you figure out what you are learning.  Recieve guidance as to what’s there to learn from life’s hardest moments.  Sources of guidance can be close friends, family, religious leaders, professional counselors, scriptures and other books, and divine inspiration.  I personally realize the lesson in every trial most easily when I read my scriptures frequently and pray unceasingly to my Father in Heaven to reveal to me what He wants me to learn.  It reminds me that I am not in control, but that’s completely okay, because the one that is in control, my Heavenly Father, knows exactly what I need to learn, andhow I need to be blessed.

Conduct Research

It can be hard to know what you’re learning if you aren’t tracking your course throught the trial.  Record your journey in a journal. Look for patterns.  Ask yourself and Heavenly Father questions.  Pose hypothesis, and then experiment on the results.  I recently suggested this to a friend struggling with social situations and feelings of not being included.  Instead of thinking negatively about social situations, she tried thinking that people would perceive her in a positive way right before starting an converstation.  So far the results have been an off the charts improvement.

Count Your Blessings

When you remember to have an a attitude of graditude you get access to appreciating the good times and the bad.  Being grateful even for your trials opens up your ability to grow and change for the better and help you learn so much more from adversity.  When I take time to enummerate the ways being chronically ill has bettered my life, I am always astounded by all the good things that have come from it.

Serve Others

Getting out of your own head and focusing on helping others in need, gives you clarity and perspective that can shing light on what there is to learn from your trials.  When I take the time to be a good listener for a friend going through something really tough, the weight of my own trials diminishes.  As I lift their weight, Heavently Father lifts mine.

Do It Together

When you are in the depths of your trials, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t alone.  Whether it other people going through similar things or knowledge of the divine on your side, walking foward hand in hand allows you to both receive and share knowledge and blessings.  My default mentality is that I have to do everything hard alone (also that I’m alone in my trials).  The good news is neither are at all true. And not only do i not have to do everything alone, but it’s completely impossible to do so. In fact, this life was *designed* to teach me (and all of us) not to do it alone.  Instead I should rely on Christ, his teachings, and his disciples to get me through everything, from the smallest of small to the most miraculous triumphs that aren’t even imaginable to my feeble mortal minds. And we are the opposite of alone in our trials, we have a brother in Heaven that has a *perfect understanding* of what we are going through. I don’t even have a perfect understanding of what I’m going through, but through Christ I can start to come to an understanding.

In what ways do you gain knowledge and blessings from your trials? Please share in the comments!

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Finding Wellness When You Can’t “Get Well Soon”

A balloon slowly twirls in the corner of my room in the ICU.  “Get Well Soon!” it proclaims, in its bubbly font pastered on a backdrop of a smiling kite floating above smiling flowers.

I am grateful to have it cheering up the overwise sterile and dull place I’ve called my home-away-from-home five times in the last year alone.  I am grateful to my thoughtful friend who brought it when she visited several days ago.  But the truth is life doesn’t fit neatly into phrases we so often use to comfort our loved ones when a major life trial afflicts them.  For me, “Get Well Soon” is a lie.  I won’t be well soon.  Yes, I’ll recover from this hospitalization, but I live with several serious chronic illnesses that will most likely sent me back to the hospital again.  When “getting well soon” isn’t possible, the challenge is to find insight, peace, and even gratitude in my situation.

I firmly believe that we are faced with trials on this earth, so that we can learn lessons we couldn’t learn any other way.  Through my illness I’ve learned patience, compassion for other’s trials, and trust that my suffering is all for a purpose and even brings blessings.  Nothing would have taught me patience, for example, quite like waiting through seemingly endless and prolonged hospitalizations.  I couldn’t have learned to have as much compassion, had I not suffered myself and felt the pain and loneliess of chronic illness.

I have even found blessings in my trials with chronic illness.  As I was forced to adapt and find new interests, I discovered my passion for writing novels, my love of web and graphic design, and, most importantly, my faith in Christ when I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  All these things came to be in my life directly as a result of my chronic illnesses.  They have blessed me in more ways than I can number, and especially blessed me with a sense of a life calling, purpose, and knowledge that I am not alone.  Realizing these blessings give me insight into the person my trials are helping me to become, a person I couldn’t have learned to be without these trials.

Knowing that trials have brought me great blessings fills my life with peace, purpose, and meaning.  And I am grateful for the role of trials in my life to make me a better person.  I am grateful for the ability to bless the lives of others that I learned from these trials.  I am grateful for my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, that I’ve learned from experiences I’ve had being sick.

As I look to the bigger picture, I see the role these trials play in becoming the best person I ultimately can be.  I may not “Get Well Soon”, but as I look beneath the harsh surface of life with multiple serious chronic illnesses, I’ve come to recognize that, on many levels, things are already “well” with my life.  And as I strive to find insight, peace, and gratitude in the face of my trials, all will be well.

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He Knows Us All By Name

It’s easy to feel alone in this temporal life I live in.  It’s easy to forget that my God, my Heavenly Father knows me by name.  And  not just me but all of us.  How can we really know God knows each of our names?  How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?

I had the joyous opportuntiy to visit Utah for the first time this past October of 2014. I went because I’d never been, to visit friends, to sightsee, and most importantly to gain a stronger testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ by attending General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

General Conference was an amazing Spirit filled even in which the Prophet of the Lord, President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors, Apostles, and Auxillery Leaders spoke to us over four two-hour session.  I was able to attend two of those sessions and be in the same room with these holy men and women.

One of the talks given that hit me the most was by Elder David A. Bednar entitled “Come and See”.  If you’ve never watched General Conference before, if you aren’t sure why you are reading this Mormon-centric post, then this is the perfect video for you because Elder Bendar speaks directly to the questions of people who do not belong the the LDS Church.

Come and See by Elder David A. Bendar

Read the transcript!

But the true highlight of my trip occurred the very first evening I arrived in Salt Lake.  By happenstance, the couple I was visiting with that evening had been invited to a Mission Reunion.  And this was no ordinary reunion for return missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  This was something extraordinary.  It was the mission reunion for the missionaries who had served under our Current Prophet over 50 years ago when he was a young man and the Mission President of a large Mission in Canada.

I was so excited to go.  Hardly daring to hope that I’d get to see the Prophet up close, I was still buzzing with the mere idea.  And I wasn’t disapinted.  President Monson came to greet his missionaries!

We were in a small chapel way far out of Salt Lake.  Where I sat a mere 4 rows back from the modern day Prophet of God, I was overcome with the Spirit of the Lord.  Though the thing that impressed me the most, that strengthened my testimony the most was something that harkened back to my questions:How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?How can we really know God knows each of our names?

How can we really know God knows each of our names? How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?

As President Monson stood on the stand, something incredible happened.  He began pointing to various missionaries aged by 50 years since he last saw them and calling on them by name.  He said that he still could recognize and name all his missionaries from his Mission President days.  And I could see the love he had for each of them.

What a gift!  A divinely bestowed gift.  It truly testified to me that if a mortal Prophet could know all his missionaries by name, than our Father in Heaven must have an infinite capacity to do the same.  And God’s love for each of us, His children much be infinitely greater than even the Prophets.

Throughout the trip, and even now, that testimony really stuck with me and left me feeling so loved and understood that I felt surrounded by the divine embrace of Heavenly Father’s love for me.

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Preying on Writers’ Dreams: “This Letter is an Advertisement”

Self-publishing is a big industry right now.   Which means big money.  Not necessarily for authors but for companies who sell self-publishing services to authors wanting to self-publish.  One contender, Balboa Press has been calling my cell phone every month or so. Writers Beware!

A class action complaint has been filed against Balboa Press’s parent company, Author Solutions, for its sketchy dealings that are bringing in the big bucks.  The class action complaint breaks it down:

4. Author Solutions’ revenues are estimated at $100 million per year. Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or $33 million annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services (“Services”).

5. Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

6. Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors — errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.

7. Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing Services. These Services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

8. Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as “[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,” authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions is not an “indie publisher” at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.

The apple doesn’t land far from the tree.  I’ve had a pretty shady experience with Balboa Press so far.  I’ve checked them out and everything I’ve read indicates they are ripping off their own customers.  If you want a prime and horrific example look no further than this author’s experience:

The illustrative sketches and colorization were a disaster. It was apparent that there was a problem with adherence to the RAD/character description form. Pictures that were provided, or the coinciding text (page number and line number) from the manuscript provided to aid the illustrator were obviously ignored or subjectively reviewed. It was so evident, to the point where I was wondering if anyone bothered to read, or if they even couldread the RAD form. There was clearly no oversight of the illustrator’s work before remittance to me. I had continued to write, please call if you have any questions…

After months of inexcusable errors, it was apparent the Art Director, or whomever, did not adhere to “set up an artist that best suits your project.” The project was/is light, airy, and whimsical. I received “dark.” In most cases, the illustrations were sparse (not intricate detail) with no color consistency, no innovation, wrong genders, wrong race, missing or incorrect features, etc. An ancient woman was drawn as a bald-headed, old man numerous times, despite repeated pleas and request for adherence to the RAD and characterization forms. The little girl’s bed looked like a cot out of an army barracks or prison. Angel wings on a helicopter were inverted, objected to, and objections to the CIAC remained ignored – a lame excuse was offered.

My own experience with them so far has been subpar at best.  They called me up and tried to rope me in by getting me excited about my novel’s potential.  They told me how great my ideas were and how much I deserved to get my book out there.  They wanted to help me achieve my publishing goals.  All they needed was to relieve me of $999 to $7,999 of my money, and we could get started.  Even if I had that kind of money lying around I wasn’t totally sold that first call.  No deal.

A few months later someone else called again.  But this person had no clue about me or my novel.  What was my book about? No idea? Back to square one.  Apparently no one at Balboa ever cares enough about what potential clients say to make any file notes.  No points gained there. * Click.*

And on it went.  For a few years now.  (Yes really.)

Which brings me to another call today.  Same thing.  Starting from scratch with another clueless representative from Balboa.  I wasn’t buying.  *Click.*

Then I get the following email.  Then it hits me.  Not only did they pack this letter so full of stupid writing cliches that it reads hilariously, but they are preying on the dreams of writers’ with this letter and others like it.

Subject:  Believe in Yourself

Hi Lauren,

Be proud of who you are as a writer. An author’s voice is unique and no one will tell your story like you do. Don’t lose your voice. Stand out by having your own style. And your book doesn’t have to have an outrageous plot to be important. Simple can be good. Stick to who you are as a writer and your message will always hold significance.

Financial stability is a challenge nowadays. Money is something achievable but it will depend on you. It will depend on how committed you are in publishing and sharing your message to the world. Money comes and goes in life. If it is meant to be, it will happen. We can’t just wait for it to happen though. We need to do something about it. Dreaming for success is for everyone but putting it to reality is for those who are brave enough to take the next step even if there is fear of the unknown. Let us take this one step at a time.

Why make excuses when you can start your dreams? Why do nothing when you can begin something? Look, you have a lot more power within you that you’re revealing to the world. We all do. But because of distractions and interruptions and responsibility and excuses we sell to ourselves, we coast along at the same level for the best of our lives.

Only few have the guts to make A LEAP – a leap to new habits, new routines and a whole new story about their new place in the world and their service to it.

The Gandhi’s and the Mandela’s and the Zuckerberg’s and the Mozart’s were just ordinary people who had an idea, protected it from the voice of dissent, advanced it via tiny wins and got up every time they got knocked down.

You have this power too, but power unused deteriorates and potential not expressed turns to PAIN.

Now is your time to fly and to shine and to rise up. This is the day to show the world who you truly are.

I would like to assist you with your dreams. Yes, publishing will ask you to shell out money from your own pocket, but what I can assure you is that Balboa Press can expose you and your book to the rest of the world. This way you truly get to say to yourself, “I’ve done my part, let the book speak for itself now!” It is not easy to invest in something that you’re not sure of its future, but nothing is ever certain. What you can do as a writer is to invest in your dreams and believe that you can be someone that you never expected to be. Your sacrifices can result to a life changing journey if you give your book a chance.

All the best,
[Name Redacted]
Balboa Press

[Contact Information Redacted]

This email is an advertisement.

So I’ll be staying away from Vanity Presses.  There are ways to legitimately Self-Publish but using Balboa Press isn’t one of them.  If they contact you, remember it is called a vanity press for a reason.  They play to your vanity and emotions.  I know they tried to get me that way.  It’s enticing to think that the only thing standing between you and your dream is your savings.  But it’s a gamble.  And Balboa Press is the house that  always wins.  The only way to beat them at their own game is to not play.

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Eternal Goals: Making & Fulfilling on Life’s Purpose

Last Sunday I was asked to speak in church about making and fulfilling on goals.  I also introduced an exciting new project that my ward (or congregation) will be participating in.  I attend a ward for young single adults members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, told this thought provoking story in an October 1976 General Conference talk:

Several days ago, while driving to my home, I approached the entrance to Interstate 15. At the on-ramp I noticed three hitchhikers, each one of whom carried a homemade sign which announced his desired destination. One sign read “Los Angeles,” while a second carried the designation “Boise.” However, it was the third sign which not only caught my attention but caused me to reflect and ponder its message. The hitchhiker had lettered not Los Angeles, California, nor Boise, Idaho, on the cardboard sign which he held aloft. Rather, his sign consisted of but one word and read simply “ANYWHERE.” Here was one who was content to travel in any direction, according to the whim of the driver who stopped to give him a free ride. What an enormous price to pay for such a ride. No plan. No objective. No goal. The road to anywhere is the road to nowhere, and the road to nowhere leads to dreams sacrificed, opportunities squandered, and a life unfulfilled.
Thomas S. Monson, Which Road Will You Travel?

Rainbow Road by Bo Nielson

Imagine each of you are holding a sign up right now that says where you are going in life.  What does your sign say?  What would you like it to say?  And what would you like it to say if Christ were sitting next to you right now?

Your sign is another way of representing your life goals.  There are a lot of types of goals in life that lead down many different roads in this world.  We all want to go somewhere in life that will bring us happiness.  Though many things of the world try to convince us they offer happiness, how can we choose worthy goals that will bring us lasting happiness?  Even eternal happiness.

Eternal happiness is a life long goal.   Like many goals in life, we cannot get there in one stride.  There are steps we can take to help us set worthy goals for our lives as we ultimately seek eternal life.  Here are six steps we can take to make and fulfill on worthy goals:

Decide Ponder and pray Place milestones Set reminders Take action Be accountable Step One is to decide.

When set a goal you first need to decide where you want to be in the future.   As President Monson’s earlier story illustrated, you can’t get where you want to go, if you don’t know where you are going.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“[…] set explicit goals. You should look ahead now and decide what you want to do with your lives. Fix clearly in your mind what you want to be one year from now, five years, ten years, and beyond.” (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

Goal Setting

Once you know where you want to get to in the future, you need to decide on a goal.  Goals can be big and small,  long and short term, and fall under any category of your life.

President Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth President of the Church said:

 “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short- and long-range goals.  […] Some will be continuing goals.[…]” (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986).

President Benson also mentions that there are four main areas of goals in our lives: mental, physical, and social, spiritual, as well as the lifetime goal of becoming perfect unto Christ.

A.  Mental Goals may include completing higher education, learning new trades or occupations, improving skills in a craft or creative area.

D&C 88:118 reads:
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

D&C 130:19 promises:

And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Target and Arrow

B.  Physical Goals may include increasing your body’s strength, endurance, dexterity, excelling at sport, or improving overall health.   These would also include goals to improve your obedience to gospel principals like dressing modestly and obeying the Word of Wisdom.

“Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads:

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

C.  Social Goals may include improving skills in listening, parenting, public speaking, and leadership.

Proverbs 18:24 tells us:

 24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

The Master’s Touch

D.  Spiritual Goals may include building your testimony, increasing your faith in a gospel principal, magnifying your calling, doing a service project, and increasing temple attendance.

D&C 42:61 states:

 61 If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.

E.  Lifetime Goals are goals of an eternal nature that help you to become perfect unto Christ.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

Each week when we partake of the sacrament we commit ourselves to the goals of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, of always remembering him and keeping his commandments. Of Jesus’ preparations for his mission, the scripture states that he ‘increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’ (Luke 2:52.) This encompasses four main areas for goals: spiritual, mental, physical, and social. ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?’ asked the Master, and he answered, ‘Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ (3 Ne. 27:27.) Now, there is a lifetime goal–to walk in his steps, to perfect ourselves in every virtue as he has done, to seek his face, and to work to make our calling and election sure (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986).

Step Two is to Ponder and Pray.

Woman Praying

Once we’ve decided on what we want for ourselves and your futures, we can prayerfully ponder steps we should take and make a plan of action.  We can seek revelation in our Patriarchal blessings as to what goals to make and how to execute those goals in our lives.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: 

Receive your patriarchal blessing and strive to live worthy of its promises. A patriarchal blessing is one of the most important guides in life that members of the Church enjoy. Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

Step Three is to Place Milestones.

Milestones are defined as “an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.”  Milestones help us to see we are growing and changing.  They help us to strive towards something and achieve more than we otherwise would have.  Goals are not meant to be achieved in one large chunk, but just as learning is done “line upon line, precept upon precept“ (D&C 98:12) so should goals be broken down into smaller goals.  Place milestones on the path to your goal ahead of time and work towards them.

Reminder by Rob

Step Four is to Set Reminders.

When you have a constant physical reminder of your goal it becomes more real.   One of my goals is to always become more Christ-like, so I have a painting and a stature of Christ in my bedroom that I can see from where I sit while I work.  Whenever I need a extra sense of peace or need to be reminded of my goal I glance up at Christ and my purpose is restored.  Wearing a CTR ring or setting a daily reminder in your phone to exercise or read your scriptures are other examples.

Step Five is to Take Action.

It’s great to decide where you wan to go, ponder and pray, place milestones, and set reminders, but all of that will be ineffective if we don’t take action.

D&C 60:13 reads:

“Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known” (D&C 60:13).

Step Six is to Be Accountable.

When you have a system of accountability your results in your goals will increase.

Elder M. Russel Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules. (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” April 1987 General Conference)

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin suggests:

Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

There is no where on Earth more important to achieving Eternal Life than The House of the Lord, the Temple. 

We should all make the Temple our biggest goal whether it’s to get there for the first time, to get there more often, or to increase or testimony of the Temple.

The Los Angeles Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

The first time I wanted to enter the Temple I was four years old.  I remember the moment so vividly.  I was riding in the car with my parents and we drove by the Los Angeles Temple.  I was immediately drawn to it.  It felt very special and I knew I had to go in.  I had never been so curious about what occurred inside a building before, but I ached to be a part of it.  I asked my mom what it was, and she answered, that it was “someone else’s Temple and I couldn’t ever go in.”  As a young Jewish girl, I was curious who else built Temples, and was disappointed that I couldn’t be involved, but I accepted her answer.  However I hung onto that early memory though it was buried.

I wasn’t until years later that I was investigating the church more than twenty years later that the memory surfaced.  The desire to go into the Temple was stronger than ever.   So I decided consciously this time that my goal was the Temple. And I placed milestones to get there.  I set Baptismal date.  Took the missionary discussions.  Got Baptized four and half years ago.  Once that was completed, I went to the Temple to do baptisms for the first time.  It was amazing and powerful.  It Spirit was so strong.  But my Temple journey didn’t end there.  I wanted to get endowed.  So set new milestones.  I accepted callings.  Took the Temple Prep class.  And then I received my endowment.  It was the best decision I could have made.  My decision to set the Temple as my goal has blessed my life more than I can even comprehend.  More than I had ever imagined as a little four year old that had a secret goal of going to the Temple.

Elaine S. Dalton said the following in April 2012 General Conference:

[…] I [was] thrilled as I listened to Elder David A. Bednar invite each of you to become anxiously engaged in doing your own family history and temple work for those who have passed on without the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  As he issued this invitation to you, my heart leapt inside. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read of “other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work, including the building of … temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead.”  This is your day, and your work has begun! Now is the time to be worthy of and obtain a temple recommend. As you do this work, you will become saviors on Mount Zion.  (“Now Is The Time To Arise And Shine!,” April 2012 General Conference)

The Family File Milestones Poster I designed for the Family History project occurring in my ward

What an amazing promise: to be a savior on Mount Zion.  And we can all achieve that.  Especially in light of a new program relating to ward Temple and Family History work that’s being presented today.  You may have seen the posters in either foyer and you  should have  a copy of your own to take home in each of your programs (pictured left).  As a ward we will be collectively be researching our own family histories to find Family File names.  Familly file names are from your own family lineage.  You research them and then take them to the temple to do ordinances for those ancestors.

As a ward, our goal will be to do a thousand family file names.  Each family file name will count once (regardless of how many ordinances you do for each name).  Since goals don’t happen in one stride, we will have milestones along the way of 100 family file names completed, then 200 names, then 300, and so on up to 1000.

Elaine S. Dalton said the following in April 2012 General Conference:

The promised blessings of the temple extend not only to you but to all generations. As you make the temple your goal, your influence for good will transcend time and place, and the work you perform for those who have gone before will be the fulfillment of prophecy!  (“Now Is The Time To Arise And Shine!,” April 2012 General Conference)

I know that as we do this work for our ancestors we will bless them and we also will be blessed.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:

 “May we launch straightway toward setting goals that are gospel oriented, knowing that if we use the talents that are ours–that if we help others, strive for peace, avoid being overly sensitive or overly critical–strength upon strength will be added unto our own abilities and we will move straightway toward greater growth, happiness, and eternal joys”. (“Straightway,” April 1983 General Conference)

I like to leave you with my testimony that I know that setting and fulfilling on goals is a way we can achieve eternal happiness.  I know that as we set our goals on the Temple and other eternal things we will be blessed with peace, happiness, knowledge and revelation, and other things we need in our lives.  I know that through Temples families can be together forever.  I love the Temple.  I love Heavenly Father and I love the Savior, Jesus Christ.  And I say this in His name, Amen.

Angel Moroni

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