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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lovin' the east coast

I have never lived in Utah. I have visited a few times. It is really beautiful out there and I love that everything is so wide open and wild.  I like that there are not so many people.  I would like to live out west, except for all the Utah mormons.   I love the church. I love the gospel.  I just do not like the attitude that some west coast mormons have about anyone who does not live in the western US. 

I have been LDS all of my life. I have never had any desire to move to Utah.  I enjoy being different and having the opportunity to stand out.  It is a little harder to live the gospel when everyone else thinks your values are weird but it is easier to have opportunities to share your testimony when people ask you about the things that make you different. 

We are not less faithful.  Our testimonies are not weaker.  If anything I think we are stronger.  Some of us have had our families disown us because of our choice to join the church.  Our friends think we are crazy when we send our children off to serve missions and not call home or see us for18months -2 years.  They look at us like we are bad parents.  They think the word of wisdom is the strangest thing ever and we dress funny (especially here in FL).  And imagine how difficult it is to explain to our non member family and friends why they can't come to our weddings.  We are indeed peculiar people.

Personally, these things make me stronger and living here means that I will always have opportunities to serve those who really need it and there are lots of chances to share our testimonies with people who don't know their Savior.

We east coasters have our own pioneers, as well.  My father was the first branch president in the area where I grew up.  My mom-the first RS president.  We moved from an old office building where rats ran over our feet in sacrament meeting to a tiny little one room white chapel just like the one on Little House on the Prairie to a big church building that we purchased from a Baptist congregation and had to pull down a huge cross from the top of the chapel.  

There are lots of other pioneer stories out here.   We are proud of our history and proud of being east coast LDS.  We don't need anyone coming in telling us that we don't measure up because we live in the "real world". 

We are tough and we are hard working. If you want to fit in, please make an effort to respect and appreciate us and stop obsessing over how awesome Utah is.  We appreciate any new ideas you have to offer but we don't need to be fixed.  Join us and help us build up the church here or go home and take the easy road. 

I know it is a little harder to find LDS friends here because there may not be as many people who you relate to in church here but we are loving and we are willing.  Reach out and be a friend.  Let us know when you need something.  We are you sisters...and brothers.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pathway - 1 Nephi 1-5

Our teacher asked us to think about the tender mercies of the Lord.  I see them often in my life and I think if we look, we can all find them.  Life is tough.  Challenges in all areas plague us.  Little things that make the burden lighter, like my sweet daughters giving me a hug and telling me they love me when they see I am feeling down, something funny that one of the little ones does that makes me laugh and releases some tension, or just a cool breeze that is a welcome break from miserable Florida summer weather are to me sweet mercies.  In addition the Savior provides us with real comfort knowing that as Nephi said, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which He commandeth them.  1 Nephi 3:7

Nephi understood this and did things that were very hard to do.  He followed his father into the wilderness, leaving behind home, comforts and riches.  He went all the way back to Jerusalem twice as requested by his father, the prophet.  He built a ship - having no idea before hand how to do so because the Lord told him to.  He dealt with all sorts of difficulties brought on because of his brothers' disobedience. He did incredibly hard, uncomfortable things because he understood God's plan and he trusted the Lord. Anytime he had doubts, he prayed and sought confirmation for himself.  While those around him murmured and rebelled and even tried to kill him, he stood firm and blessed his family and future generations by his diligent obedience.

We can be like Nephi. We can pray to seek guidance, confirmation and assistance. We can seek the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost.  We can do hard things when we act with faith.  That means that we have faith first and then that we have to act.  As we act and seek the Holy Ghost we can recognize the tender mercies of the Lord as he makes our burdens lighter, makes it possible to do things we didn't think we could and helps us to grow stronger, better, and more capable.

Nephi became a great prophet by faithfully acting one step at a time.  We too can become extraordinary as we face our challenges with faith and act especially when it is difficult to do so.  Like Nephi,we can strengthen and lead those around us and positively influence  future generations.

Thought from the institute manual:
Boyd K Packer - "The understanding of God's plan gave context to the afflictions Nephi experienced."

With Laman and Lemuel, it was different.  They had to be afflicted to be reminded of the power of God.
Helaman 12:3