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Last week I talked about where we came from, this week we I’ll cover why we are here and the first step in where we are going.

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Birth/Veil

If we lived with God before we were born and were presented with this wonderful plan, why don’t we remember it? In the LDS church we refer to this as “passing through the veil” at birth. This “veil” prevents us from remembering what happened before birth. It is common for members of the church, when describing spiritual experiences to say “the veil was very thin”, etc.

Mortal Life

Once we have passed through the veil we are in the stage of the Plan called mortal life. We are all born with the Light of Christ, what many people refer to as a conscience. This Light influences us to seek for truth and righteousness in our lives.

I’ve spent a little bit of time studying faiths other than my own, and I believe that one thing almost all religions have in common is a belief that there are things we must do in this life to achieve hpapiness (whether that happiness occurs in this life or the next, or both). Through the prophet Joseph Smith, who restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth, all of the commandments necessary to achieve that happiness have been revealed. We not only need to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but we must receive the necessary ordinances to live with Him again. Ordinances are sacred formal acts where we make promises to God and receive promises from Him in return.

In this mortal life it is necessary to receive the ordinances of baptism (symbolizing a new life and commitment), confirmation to receive the Holy Ghost (to receive divine help in following Jesus Christ), receiving the priesthood (the authority for men to perform ordinances and lead the church), the endowment, and being sealed to family and spouse. These ordinances are only available through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I will  describe each these ordinances in detail in future posts.

Spirit World

After death all the spirits of all of those who have ever lived upon the earth are sent to the Spirit World. The Spirit World is not Heaven in the traditional Christian sense of the word. It is where souls reside until they can be judged according to their works and sent to the appropriate Kingdom of God to reside for eternity.

Where is the Spirit World? We don’t know exactly, but the prophet Joseph Smith said that those who have died “are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith”. Prophet Brigham Young stated “Where is the spirit world? It is right here.”

What are the spirits like? Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). Isn’t it exciting to think that all of the scars and battle wounds we have developed in this life will be eliminated when we die? In the Spirit World we will all have the same thoughts, attitudes, and feelings that we do on earth. (see Alma 34:34). We will have the same appetites and desires that we had when we lived on earth. All of our spirits will be in adult form. We were adults before mortal existence, and we will be in adult form after death, even if we were to die as infants or children.

What do we do in the Spirit World? Those who have received all of the necessary ordinances during mortal life are busy with the work of the Lord. Those were not given the chance to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept it are given the chance to do so at this time. Those who rejected the Gospel during Mortal Life, and/or those who reject it in the Spirit World will suffer for their sins because they did not accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ, an act which paid for the sins of all men, eliminating the need for us to suffer for our own mistakes.

I know the Gospel to be true, but sometimes it is difficult to essentially convey the message “This is the only way you can do it.” After thinking about this for a while, thinking about telling this to so many people that I respect and admire I felt a little bit stumped. Then I remembered what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:13-14:

13 ¶ Enter ye in at the astrait bgate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to cdestruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because astrait is the bgate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto clife, and few there be that find it.

This is not my Gospel, it is His. The necessity of these ordinances makes the work we do in the Temple of the Lord even more meaningful. We go back to the temple over and over to give those living in the Spirit World the opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel. How majestic is this Plan that provides all the spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven the opportunity to choose to live with him again!

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My friend Allison pointed me to this ABC News broadcast and I am so excited to share it with you all! Although there are a few things that I feel got twisted a tiny bit, it’s the best news broadcast I think I have ever seen about the Church that will help non-members understand us more.

I know you will all want to watch it because they show video footage of the inside new Draper temple! I wish I could be there touring it myself, but we will all have to make do with seeing whatever the cameras show us. You will be able to see what the baptismal font looks like, the endowment rooms (I believe they refer to them as ordinance rooms in the video), the Celestial room, and the sealing rooms. I love that the Church is trying to find ways to open up to the world about our beliefs.

I wish I could embed it, but you will have to click here to visit the ABC site to watch it.

A few thoughts after watching it:
1. We don’t practice polygamy. If you practice polygamy you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Period. We kick people out for doing that now.
2. I realize that this video will probably bring up more questions. Please ask away in the comments. I’ve been saving up all of your questions to answer as I go.
3. If the apostles wouldn’t talk about it in the video, I won’t be talking about it either.
4. The sealing room in the Draper temple is SOOOO pretty. Wow.
5. I love the last line. I plan to be less timid about defending my faith along with the Church leaders.

First, I have to say, thank you all so much for the wonderful things you said about my Sunday post last week. Special thanks to those who admitted that my writing helped them see the LDS faith in a better, positive light. Your words mean so much to me.

Now that I have that rather difficult post behind me, I needed to find somewhere to start. I have so many questions to answer, but in many ways the LDS faith has it’s own vocabulary and if I jumped right into the middle of things I might leave you all even more confused than when you started reading.

Then I went to sunday school for children (called Primary) and I realized that the first thing children in the church are taught at the beginning of each year is the Plan of Happiness (also known as the Plan of Salvation). I LOVE the Plan and I can’t think of any better place to start.

I got so excited that I made a little graphic to illustrate the plan as I write the 3 part series I will present in January. Hopefully it will help all of you better understand how the entire experience fits together.

The Plan of Salvation: Week 1

Premortal LIfe

We are going to start at the beginning. This is back before your senior prom, back before your first kiss, you haven’t learned how to ride a bike, you don’t know anything about tying your shoes… in fact we are going to go so far back in time that you haven’t even been born. This is before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, before the earth flooded over in the time of Noah, even before the time of Adam.

Before we were all born, we lived together as brothers and sisters with our Father in Heaven. It was during this period of time that we developed our identities and personalities. I like to think that Mozart played the piano a lot, Celine Dion walked around belting out songs all day long, and I probably did a lot of blogging.

One day, God called us all together and presented a Plan (see Abraham 3:22–26). It was a Plan that would bring happiness to all who chose to keep God’s commandments.  All who chose to follow the Plan would be sent to the Earth to receive a body and be tested. This test would provide each spirit with the opportunity to choose for themselves between good and evil.

Because all the spirits sent to earth would have agency (the absolute freedom to choose and act for ourselves), we would be making mistakes all of the time. We would need someone to help us be reconciled with God. Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of the Father in the spirit, covenanted to become our Redeemer and save us from our sins through the Atonement and Resurrection. (see Moses 4:2; Abraham 3:27)

Lucifer, our brother, and another spirit son of God, stepped forward and presented his own plan. He wanted to save all the spirit sons and daughters of God by taking away their agency, and have all the glory and power of God for himself. He rebelled against God, and all of those who chose to follow Satan (so many of our brothers and sisters were with him!) were cast out of heaven and denied the opportunity to come down to earth and receive a physical body in order to experience mortal life.

Once everyone had made the choice concerning who they would follow (Satan or God), it was time to get ready to come down to earth. I like to think that we all had a big party together because we were about to experience something new and exciting. You, me, all of us alive and reading this blog today had to wait thousands of years for our turn. And then, in April of 1985, my chance came! It was finally time for me to come to earth and have a body of my own!

Next week I’ll be covering mortal life, death, the spirit world. If you would like to learn more about the premortal life on your own, visit this page on LDS.org.

I’m writing this Sunday post as my first of 2009 because it is the most difficult topic I can imagine attempting to cover. I expect it to be quite controversial among the LDS readers, as garments are an extremely sacred thing to us, easily mocked and ridiculed by our critics. I expect many members of my faith to comment or contact me saying they think I am making a mistake in covering something so sacred in such a public manner. To you I say we cannot stick our heads in the sand, and we cannot let our beliefs and traditions be defiled by the critics. We can use our voices and our words to spread the truth. I don’t know if it will work, but I hope that addressing the topic will satisfy peoples curiosity and help them develop a sense of respect for something that is often defiled. It is my hope that in writing this post I will help people understand the LDS people just a little bit better.

To my non-member readers, to those who have either heard of the garment previously, or who are learning of it for the first time on this blog, I make a special request. I don’t know it if is possible that we have developed some odd sort of loyalty to each other. I open my heart and mind up to you, sharing the funny, sad, delightful, and special things in my life, and you in turn, become my friends. If this loyalty that I imagine really exists, I ask a special favor of you. Read this post, and let it be enough. I have not read them, for the church discourages us from doing so, but there are many sites out there that make light of our sacred things. They post pictures of the garments, they laugh at them, the pretend to understand them. But in spreading such sacred information to the world at large they prove that they know nothing about the LDS faith and the covenants we make. They laugh at us. They call us peculiar and we shake our heads in reply (sometimes a few tears escape in the act of shaking), and  in response we do nothing because it is God who will one day seek retribution for such acts of defilement.

Please, if you have questions, post them below, or email them to me. I will email you personally and we will try to come to an understanding together. Please don’t read those anti-mormon sites. Just… please.

Amanda, Kate, and Cate all asked specifically about the garment so I know it’s something on peoples minds. I won’t copy and paste an entire post often, but I feel it is necessary in order for me to keep from explaining more than is appropriate. Why is this? The garment, in my opinion can only be defined as sacrosanct. The following quote comes from lds.org.

Once people are endowed, they have the blessing of wearing the temple garment throughout their lives. They are obligated to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment. Those who have been endowed in the temple must remember that the blessings that are related to this sacred privilege depend on their worthiness and their faithfulness in keeping temple covenants.

The garment provides a constant reminder of the covenants made in the temple. The garment should be treated with respect at all times. It should not be exposed to the view of those who do not understand its significance, and it should not be adjusted to accommodate different styles of clothing. When worn properly, the garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.

According to Boyd K. Packer: (Don’t just scroll through the story he tells, read it! It really helped me understand what the garment was before I received it.)

There may be occasions when endowed members of the Church face questions on the garment.

On one occasion one of the brethren was invited to speak to the faculty and staff of the Navy Chaplains Training School in Newport, Rhode Island. The audience included a number of high-ranking naval chaplains from the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths.

In the question-and-answer period one of the chaplains asked, “Can you tell us something about the special underwear that some Mormon servicemen wear?” The implication was, “Why do you do that? Isn’t it strange? Doesn’t that present a problem?”

To the chaplain who made the inquiry he responded with a question: “Which church do you represent?” In response he named one of the Protestant churches.

He said, “In civilian life and also when conducting the meetings in the military service you wear clerical clothing, do you not?” The chaplain said that he did.

He continued: “I would suppose that that has some importance to you, that in a sense it sets you apart from the rest of your congregation. It is your uniform, as it were, of the ministry. Also, I suppose it may have a much more important place. It reminds you of who you are and what your obligations and covenants are. It is a continual reminder that you are a member of the clergy, that you regard yourself as a servant of the Lord, and that you are responsible to live in such a way as to be worthy of your ordination.”

He then told them: “You should be able to understand at least one of our reasons why Latter-day Saints have a deep spiritual commitment concerning the garment. A major difference between your churches and ours is that we do not have a professional clergy, as you do. The congregations are all presided over by local leaders. They are men called from all walks of life. Yet they are ordained to the priesthood. They hold offices in the priesthood. They are set apart to presiding positions as presidents, counselors, and leaders in various categories. The women, too, share in that responsibility and in those obligations. The man who heads our congregation on Sunday as the bishop may go to work on Monday as a postal clerk, as an office worker, a farmer, a doctor; or he may be an air force pilot or a naval officer. By our standard he is as much an ordained minister as you are by your standard. He is recognized as such by most governments. We draw something of the same benefits from this special clothing as you would draw from your clerical vestments. The difference is that we wear ours under our clothing instead of outside, for we are employed in various occupations in addition to our service in the Church. These sacred things we do not wish to parade before the world.”

He then explained that there are some deeper spiritual meanings as well, connecting the practice of wearing this garment with covenants that are made in the temple. We wouldn’t find it necessary to discuss these—not that they are secret, he repeated, but because they are sacred.

The garment, covering the body, is a visual and tactile reminder of these covenants. For many Church members the garment has formed a barrier of protection when the wearer has been faced with temptation. Among other things it symbolizes our deep respect for the laws of God—among them the moral standard. (lds.org)

I have one more link that should help you understand a little bit better, but please remember that this page was created by Brigham Young University and is not officially endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visit the Encyclopedia of Mormonism site on garments to learn more about why the garment is worn, how they are purchased, what they symbolize, and discussion of references to holy garments mentioned throughout the bible.

I was pleasantly surprised by the response I received to my last Sunday post of 2008, asking for suggestions for Sunday post topics in 2009. Thanks to all of those who chimed in. Here is what I will be covering in 2009:

Amanda asked about emergency food storage, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre (if you saw the PBS special on Mormonism you may be curious about this as well).

Kaitlyn asked about missions. Great timing for such a question since That Husband retrieved a bunch of mission pictures from the home of his parents over Christmas, and I think it would be fun to show you some of them. Maybe if you all ask really nicely and explain what it would mean to you he will write a guest post about his mission experience in NYC.

Paula asked about the Sunday service format (did you know I go to church for 3 hours every Sunday?), LDS history (a series of posts in July would be a really great way to celebrate Pioneer day), and what my favorite things about the Church and SLC are.

Christiana asked about church hierarchy. A great question because it’s something I often have to study up on myself.

Anne, a Catholic anthropologist who studies human reproduction (a fascinating career choice, in my opinion) wants to know all about LDS views on things like birth control, IVF and other infertility treatments, medically necessary abortions, etc. One of the few “disagreements” That Husband and I had while we were still dating was on the topic of adoption and surrogate motherhood so I know a little bit about it. I’m going to really enjoy researching these topics for myself, and since I plan on getting pregnant myself in the future it will be good to know.

Kristin‘s questions were all about marriage, one of my favorite topics (did you know I love being married?). She wants to know how the church handles remarriage and the topic of marriage and death (a very common question since we believe in marriage for eternity), and posed a really difficult question surrounding a passage in Matthew 22. Kristin, I plan to answer that question as best I can, but it’s a tough one and I plan on consulting some of my old BYU professors for their help in interpreting the verse.

Kate emailed me a list of topics so long I think I can write well into 2010 attempting to answer all of her questions. Thank you so much Kate! Here is an abbreviated list of topics she asked about:

-Heaven (I’m going to add Hell to that post because we don’t believe in traditional “Hell” that most Christian faiths subscribe to).

-How does the “sealing” of spouses and families to each other work?

-How does baptism for the dead work?

-How can a person get into heaven?

-Where did the “soul” come from? Did we exist before we were born?

-Adoption

-Ghosts (interesting question!)

-Forgiveness, conversion, and baptism (A topic so beautiful, so moving, I fear my words will not do it justice)

-That Husband and his conversion story (notice a pattern honey, everyone wants to know!)

I’m working really hard to convince That Husband to write a post about his conversion story, but it’s a deeply personal experience for him and he is still not convinced it would be a good idea. I know many of you would like to hear that story, so feel free to let That Husband know why you are so interested in his personal conversion story in the comments.

And as always, do you have any more questions/suggestions for future Sunday post topics?

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

John 10:16

These other sheep were the people of Ancient America, among whom it had been prophesied that Christ would one day come. Manuscripts of explorers from as early as the 16th century tell of native oral traditions which speak of a white God who came down among the people, healing the sick and the lame.

The story is told in 3 Nephi Chapter 1 of the Book of Mormon. For several hundred years prophets had preached to the ancient American peoples concerning the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ and the miraculous signs that would accompany his birth. Some no longer believed Christ would come, and began to persecute those who believed the signs would be manifest. “Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.”

The people who believed began to sorrow. Prophets throughout the years had spoken of day and a night and a day which would be as one day (in other words, it would be light for36 hours straight). Would these miraculous things come to pass?

The persecutors of the believers decided to set a deadline. If the sign did not occur by a certain day, all of the believers would be put to death. The prophet Nephi prayed unto the Lord on the behalf of the believers, and the Lord spoke unto him saying “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world.”

The night before the day of the deadline, the sun went down and the world was filled with light. Those who had threatened the lives of the believers fell to the earth in astonishment. After the 36 hour period the sun went down and darkness fell over the land once again.

“And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.”

The King of Kings, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had been born. He saved the faithful believers from temporal death at his birth, and he would save them from spiritual death upon the event of his crucifixion.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:23

Saturday evening was a fun one for That Household, as it was the night we had volunteered I had volunteered us to pose as Mary and Joseph in the live nativity. I painted my nails for the company Christmas party the night before and I refused to take the polish off after all of my hard work (every time I write polish I want to capitalize the P and make it Polish now, hehe), which caused That Husband to nickname me “Goth Mary” for the evening.

I highly doubt Mary had time to do her nails before she rode the donkey to Bethlehem.

The costumes did not come with any type of instructions on how to put them on, so we just guessed.

I will always have a special place in my heart for live nativites now that I was a part of one. I wish I could say I spent the entire hour thinking about the birth of the Savior and what it would have been like to be there, or how Mary must have felt, but I’m not that disciplined. I think I spent most of the time gazing at the little plastic baby, wishing it was real, and that it was mine.

The goal of this live nativity was to be as still as possible at all times to add to the mystery of “Are they real or not?” didn’t think we were that good at pretending, but we actually had a man lean down and peer in our faces and say “Please just move and show me you are real people because you are creeping me out.” The times when we were alone, and the flow of traffic was reduced got a little boring, but whenever a group of kids showed up I always failed at pretending to be a statue. The inside of my lower lip is still a little bit row in attempting to keep from smiling. I was mad that I was the one who constantly gave us away because That Husband had a bad attitude about going and doing it in the first place! The person who has a good attitude (me) should not be shown up in their acting skills by the grump (him). Not even once did we hear someone comment that he gave us away, it was always “I saw Mary blink” or “I see Mary breathing”. Hello, I have to breathe!

The hardest part came right at the end when this group of 10 kids got right up in our faces for what felt like 10 minute and had a conversation about whether we were real or not. Then a sweet little 3 year old came over to one of the plastic sheep on display and kept saying “This is my favorite sheep. I love this sheep. I want to have this sheep.” Or how about the time when the Primary kids were singing Christmas songs and the tone deaf boy somehow got positioned right in front of the microphone?

It was a huge relief when our replacements showed up (thanks for being on time replacements!) and we were able to spend some time walking around looking at the nativities on display. I tried to limit myself to including just a few of my favorites here, but I took almost 100 pictures that night because there were so many beautiful (and sometimes hilarious) nativities on display. Please visit my flickr set with all of them here, I wish I could put all 100 in this post!

I took pigs to the fair for 5 years gorwing up so I loved this one.

Moose baby Jesus.

Is this a Cabbage Patch Kids nativity set?

Bathtime fun nativity.

A really beautiful Amish set.

I loved seeing Christs birth interpreted by so many different cultures.

This is definitely one of my favorites!

I was taking a picture of this awesome set in the Jerusalem section (yep, it’s made of real Olive wood from Jerusalem!) when my friend came over and said, “Oh you like this set?” It turns out that this set belongs to them! They did study abroad in Jerusalem together (that’s how they met) and they ended up bringing home 3 of these sets total for all of their families. Turning the star on top makes it play music. I have no idea how they were able to bring so many of htem home!

Of course I was fascinated by the Polish interpretation.

This would NOT survive long at my house. I would start with the camel and do my best not to eat the baby Jesus.

Absolutely beautiful corn husk nativity.

I wanted to find a way to hide this set in my purse and take it home with me and ship it to my cowboy Grandma in Washington! How fun to think they had a little hoe-down after the birth of Christ in “cowboy Nativity land”.

I’ll end with my absolute favorite set. Something about this Eskimo nativity scene just kills me every time. Maybe it’s because Eskimo’s seem a little bit mythical to me. The whole scene just kills me with cuteness!

So many people put a lot of hard work into making this nativity come together, and it ended up being an absolutely marvelous thing to experience. I loved seeing Christs birth represented and celebrated in so many different ways by so many different types of peoples. If you live in the Dallas area and you hear of one of these happening (I guess several of the churches in the area put these on), I really encourage you to go and experience it for yourself!

I love my little dollar store nativity set, but we will be replacing it soon with a nativity from Poland! That Husband agreed that it would be a worthwhile thing to invest in, and now I just have to figure out how I am going to save enough room in my suitcase to bring it home.

Go ahead and visit my flickr set to see the rest. I’m obsessed with nativities now, and I would love to see yours if you would like to share a link to a photo of it!

I’ve alluded to it twice now, and most of you are probably entirely confused as to why I would have mixed emotions about being the number 1 hit for an “I hate FHE search” on google. What is this FHE, and why do I keep referring back to it?

Family Home Evening is a time for families to get together to read, pray, study gospel principles, and basically just spend time together. Can you believe it was instituted back in 1915‽ I know my family life with my parents was pretty crazy at times, and there were just two kids to coordinate with, I can’t imagine what it is like for families with 4, 5, 6 or more. Church leaders knew that life was only bound to get crazier as time went on and so they developed a way for families to find time to reconnect during the week.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.”

A typical FHE night growing up was structured like this for me:

  • Opening hymn (Ok my old family doesn’t do this, but my new family, consisting of That Husband and I, has done it twice and it’s not that bad)
  • Opening prayer
  • A lesson is presented
  • Discussion of the personal schedule of each family member throughout the week, family vacation planning time, etc
  • Activity
  • Scripture study
  • Family prayer
  • TREAT! (Can you tell this is my favorite part?)

I am sure that many of you can comment and say that your family did it differently growing up, but these seem to be the basic components that exist throughout the church.

With so many things to be done, you might be wondering who does what. Of course, the crafty ladies of the church have come up with a solution to that dilemma, and it’s a solution thats repeated in almost every LDS home I have ever been in. I present to you, the FHE assignment board!

I hope that other LDS members can find the irony that I do in having a special tag just for them missionaries. I’m sure the missionaries LOVE that idea!

Sometimes moms even get super crafty and come up with a “wheel of fortune” type board. Then one lucky child gets to spin the board to see what family member will be assigned to each job that week.

Now as for what is done for each component, the prayers and treat should be pretty self explanatory.

Song: If children are older a hymn is sung, otherwise scriptural songs for children we call Primary songs will be used.

Lesson: The number of topics that can be used for the lesson are rather endless. They are always geared toward reiterating gospel principles that will help family members make correct choices when faced with decisions in life. I discovered this great resource with lots of tips for Family Home Evening while writing this post.

Activity: I always tried to get all fancy and make my activity into an object lesson that related to what princples had been taught in the lesson, but sometimes we just played spoons.

Scriptures: Families finish FHE by reading the scriptures together, from whatever section of the Bible or Book of Mormon they are currently reading from as a family.

So I don’t hate FHE, in fact, I love it! It’s such a wonderful time to sit down together as a family and learn more about each other. My favorite thing about it is how loose the guidelines are regarding what should be done during FHE. In fact, there really aren’t guidelines at all, other than do it!

That Husband kicked off our FHE’s as a newlywed couple by doing a series of lessons on finances. I may have grumbled about it at first, but there was something so wonderful about snuggling up next to him and developing our family financial goals together. For the next few weeks, FHE will consist of writing Thank You notes. After that the FHE activity will probably be Christmas cards. Once the New Year begins we will do New Years Resolutions, and then we will have to start getting extra creative from there on out.

For members of the Church, what are your favorite FHE lessons, activites, or treats? As a newlywed couple we definitely need suggestions.

For those who aren’t member of the LDS Church, do you have anything like this within your own set of family/religious traditions?

An attitude of gratitude will see the good before the bad,
an attitude of gratitude is finding reasons to be glad.

President Thomas S. Monson

In our last church-wide meeting, President Monson gave a wonderful talk on finding “Joy in the Journey.” It was a talk centered on finding happiness wherever you are in life. Whether it’s the friends, family, naps, turkey, or pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving always leaves me in an exceptionally good mood for days to follow.

Today I bring you an inspirational story, bible story, and what I view as the ultimate reason to express our gratitude, as quoted from a talk given by President Thomas S. Monson.

His stories always make me tear up a little. 🙂

Many years ago I was touched by the story of Borghild Dahl. She was born in Minnesota in 1890 of Norwegian parents and from her early years suffered severely impaired vision. She had a tremendous desire to participate in everyday life despite her handicap and, through sheer determination, succeeded in nearly everything she undertook. Against the advice of educators, who felt her handicap was too great, she attended college, receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota. She later studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo. She eventually became the principal of eight schools in western Minnesota and North Dakota.

She wrote the following in one of the 17 books she authored: “I had only one eye, and it was so covered with dense scars that I had to do all my seeing through one small opening in the left of the eye. I could see a book only by holding it up close to my face and by straining my one eye as hard as I could to the left.”7

Miraculously, in 1943—when she was over 50 years old—a revolutionary procedure was developed which finally restored to her much of the sight she had been without for so long. A new and exciting world opened up before her. She took great pleasure in the small things most of us take for granted, such as watching a bird in flight, noticing the light reflected in the bubbles of her dishwater, or observing the phases of the moon each night. She closed one of her books with these words: “Dear … Father in heaven, I thank Thee. I thank Thee.”8

Borghild Dahl, both before and after her sight was restored, was filled with gratitude for her blessings.

In 1982, two years before she died, at the age of 92 her last book was published. Its title: Happy All My Life. Her attitude of thankfulness enabled her to appreciate her blessings and to live a full and rich life despite her challenges.

One of my favorite pictures that I have hanging in my childhood bedroom relates to this story.

In 1 Thessalonians in the New Testament, chapter 5, verse 18, we are told by the Apostle Paul, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God.”

Recall with me the account of the 10 lepers:

“And as [Jesus] entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

“And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”9

This is my favorite part:

Said the Lord in a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.”10 May we be found among those who give our thanks to our Heavenly Father. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.

Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed.

If you’ve been reading either of my blogs for some time, you might wonder what makes me so happy. My life isn’t perfect, but I still try to stay positive and reflect that in my writing. Finding Joy in the Journey is the key to all of this. I believe we make life what it is, and I want to make life wonderful.

There is no better way to start this post than with a few photos of Temples located around the world.

Logan, Utah

Hong Kong

London

Recife, Brazil

All Images of Temples Found Here

Those admitted inside of the temples hold a current temple reccomend. It can seem confusing to some that we can seem so secretive about what happens inside of such beautiful buildings. I admit that I heard many horrifying rumors about the temple growing up, some stories told in jest, and others thought to be true. The temple is not secret, it is sacred. I think it would help if you heard from one of our church leaders what temples are for.

Elder Boyd K. Packer answered that question:

The ordinances and ceremonies of the temple are simple. They are beautiful. They are sacred. They are kept confidential lest they be given to those who are unprepared. Curiosity is not a preparation. Deep interest itself is not a preparation. Preparation for the ordinances includes preliminary steps: faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, worthiness, a maturity and dignity worthy of one who comes invited as a guest into the house of the Lord. All who are worthy and qualify in every way may enter the temple, there to be introduced to the sacred rites and ordinances.

LDS.org points out that many people believe the temple is like a large, grand cathedral. In fact it is made up of many different rooms, all of which serve a specific purpose. As members we enter to make sacred covenants with the Lord, and we return often to both perform the same work for others, as well as to remind ourselves of the covenants we have made. One of my favorite things about the temple is that after the first time through, each trip is an act of service for another person. It’s a wonderful sacrifice of my time.

After a lot of digging, I was able to find some images released by the Church of the inside of the magnificent Salt Lake City temple. Did you know that this temple took 40 years to complete? It’s definitely a goal of mine to visit this temple at least once in my life.

The baptistry. Members begin doing baptisms at the age of 12. I used to love our youth temple trips when I was younger.

Per, LDs.org, “The endowment is given in rooms painted to represent the Creation, the Garden of Eden, this world, and terrestrial conditions.” In the Salt Lake Temple this includes the creation room, the garden room, and the world room.

The creation room

The garden room

The world room

The lower grand hallway

The upper grand hallway

The terrestial room

The celestial room

“The celestial room, with its beautiful furnishings, suggests the noble and exalted conditions awaiting the faithful.”

A sealing room

“There are more than a dozen sealing rooms for ordinances of marriage and of sealing children to parents.”

Another sealing room. I was sealed to my husband in a room much like this one. You can barely see it, but each sealing room includes the “forever mirrors”. It is two mirrors set across from each other, which cause the reflection to go on forever. We believe that our marriage lasts beyond death, extending forever, and the sybmolism is very beautiful.

The council room of the first presidency and the twelve apostles

“The Salt Lake Temple also has council rooms for the presiding priesthood quorums of the Lord’s church, and a large assembly room for meetings.”

The main assembly room

“As did ancient Israelites, we Latter-day Saints regard temples as places set apart, places to which we may go to draw close to God. Temple sites are revered as sacred ground. The spiritual atmosphere found in temples is further nurtured by the character of those who enter therein and by the nature of the instruction and ordinances presented.”

I hope that after seeing these photos, and reading a little bit about what happens inside of the temples you understand the term “Sacred, Not Secret” a little bit better.

I know that the work of God happens inside of these temples. I know that because of this work, families are sealed together for eternity. I’m so happy to know that no matter what happens, I’ll be with That Husband again someday, forever.

Source for all quotes.