Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Things In My Carry-on That Will Help Me Carry On

So, this is a post I've been carrying around for five months.

I was given the topic, "Carry on, carry on, carry on!" to speak on in church a week before I came home. I imagine Bishop Hood wanted me to talk about the song, but I was sneaky and just a little creative. In this world where we are still in a war of words and tumult of opinions, I need all the help I can get if I want to keep on the straight and narrow. These are five things that we can each carry around, if need be.
1. My Pedigree Chart

I love the fact that this is all filled in and I didn't have to do any work on it. I've got some amazing great-aunts and great-grandmas to get all this put together. Over on my Mom's side is my great-great-great-great Grandmother Ann Elizabeth Walmsley Palmer. She was one of the first women baptized in England, experiencing a miraculous healing when she did so. On my Dad's side are the Jonsson brothers who came to the United States a little later than most of the pioneers. They opened a tailoring shop and got to make one of President David O. McKay's white suits, the notes and measurements of which are now in the Pioneer History Museum in Salt Lake City, which is currently closed for renovations, I believe.

These stories my parents have told me have resonated through my adulthood. Their examples show me what I want to be. Ann Elizabeth had her daughters and granddaughters read her the Bible when she was older and blind, and when they would get bored and try to skip a section, she knew her Bible so well she told them to go back and read what they skipped. When her first husband ignored the counsel of the prophet Brigham Young, she divorced him and got a new, more obedient one.

The stories of faith, obedience, and diligence that our ancestors had will help inspire and guide us when we have need to be uplifted. You don't even have to look that far on the chart for those examples. My parents, for instance, are awesome.

In the Book of Mormon, Helaman gave his sons the names of Nephi and Lehi so they could remember where they came from. He said, 
"Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good. Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them." 
When we remember where we came from, we remember where we're going.
2. The Scriptures
Following the example of my great-great-great-great grandmother, I decided I wanted to know the scriptures front and back. Of course, this takes a lifetime of learning, but I have to start somewhere. On my mission, I read the entire standard works of the Church, the Book of Mormon an additional 3 1/2 times, plus other materials to help me understand what I'm reading such as Jesus The Christ, Our Heritage, Our Search For Happiness, and more than one Institute manual. 

These aren't a one-time-use deal, though. They are meant to be read, re-read, studied, pored over, and pondered repeatedly. I'm not surprised when I see how members who are struggling with the gospel, 
myself included, have not been reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. We have been commanded to feast upon the words of Christ.

The scriptures keep us anchored to the doctrine of the Church because this IS the doctrine of the Church. Whatever is taught is found here. Never at any other point in time have I felt like I have known the gospel so well as when I have been feasting on the words of Christ daily. Of his reasons for writing his record, Nephi said,
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. ... And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  
3. cards and pass-along cards
Now, this may be a sign than I refuse(d) to take off my missionary badge, but I promise doing missionary work will help you stay strong in the gospel. These are some blessings that Clayton M. Christiansen lists in his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries, that come directly from the Doctrine and Covenants. I highly suggest that you read his book.

  • You shall receive strength such as is not known among men. (24:12)
  • The gates of hell shall not prevail against you. (17:8)
  • You will be given a testimony of the words of the prophets. (21:9)
  • You will be able to keep God's laws. (44:5)
  • You shall have blessings greater than the treasures of earth. (19:37-38)
  • He will bear you up as on eagles' wings; and you shall beget glory and honor to yourself and unto the Lord's name. (124:18)
There is absolutely nothing like missionary work to bring you the Spirit in greater degrees than if you weren't doing it at all. My companions and I have seen how members who have felt a dwindling spirit in their lives suddenly ignite when they go out and invite their friends to learn about the gospel, or share something significant they learned in reading the Book of Mormon with a friend, or invite someone to church.

When you're always on the lookout for someone to share the gospel with, you tend to find yourself making sure that whatever you're doing is a shining example of a member of the Church. On top of that, the Spirit will be with us more strongly which helps us avoid sin.

4. Journal
My journal isn't the example here. I was really bad about writing in it on my mission apart from the last two weeks. Pretend this is my Dad's. Before his mission, he wasn't a great student of English, but he decided that he would write every day on his mission. And he is glad that he did. He remembers important, happy, depressing, funny, mundane, and unique experiences he had while in Bolivia.

In a previous general conference, President Henry B. Eyring told how he kept a journal of his experiences for years. He received the impression many years ago that the experiences he had we're not just for himself. He was commanded to write them down. He said, 
"I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: 'Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?' As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. 
"More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened."

Growth oftentimes is unnoticeable until we compare ourselves to who we used to be. As we record what we experience, we will more easily be able to remember the things that made a strong today when we feel weak tomorrow.
5. Temple Recommend
I keep this with me at all times as a reminder that I need to always be worthy of holding this in my hand. I want to be able to have to use it at a moment's notice. It's a good indicator of which kingdom you're aiming for, and a worthy goal to achieve.

But this doesn't really help me if I never actually use it. I, myself, have repented for not bothering to attend the temple when I had a recommend in hand. Now that I see what blessings the temple has to offer, I cannot imagine not attending the temple regularly. The temple is a source of spiritual strength, a guide, a protection against evil, and points us to Christ in every single word, image, and symbol
contained therein.

A friend in my singles ward said that the temple completes the Church for her. While we are here renewing our baptismal covenants and living the gospel, it is really incomplete without the rest of our families. The temple binds us to our families of generations that have gone before, and seals us to the generations which are yet to come. It gives us a Gods' Eye View of our life on Earth. We are not just here to live good lives and have a good or miserable time; we are preparing for eternal life which has more joy and progression than we can imagine. We have purpose to living righteously. We're not just trying to please an Almighty God, but working to get back to a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.


These are obviously not all of the things that we need to do or will help us endure to the end. They're just the ones that fit in my bag. For instance, I'm not willing to carry around a prayer rock.

Nephi said, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 

Isn't that what we're all working towards?

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