Monday, July 30, 2012

Become a New Creature

I came across a topic in the scriptures and in a few talks that I have been thinking about a lot. It is the term "new creature." On my mission in Iowa, one of my zones focused our entire transfer goal on becoming new creatures through Christ. We talked about and worked on becoming more humble, more pure, more focused, more diligent, etc. It was amazing to see that our faith in Christ allowed us to really become new--regenerated, refreshed, better.

Recently, I feel like I have hit a spiritual slump--I haven't been as spiritually focused as I want to be and as I have been before. I have been praying once again to become a "new creature" and I am seeing slight improvements as I act on the promptings I have received.

There are actually two scriptures that mention this topic, one in the Book of Mormon and one in the Bible.

Mosiah 27:25-26 - "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."(italics added)

2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (italics added)

It is my prayer that I become new, better, and more Christlike every day. I pray specifically for humility, patience, a sure understanding of the scriptures, and more charity and compassion in my hearts.

What "new creature" attributes would you like to develop?

Download above image here.

Download above image here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Awake and Rejoice!

As I was researching gospel topics to study, I came across a powerful talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in General Conference back in 2010. His talk is entitled "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul." I remember when he gave this talk--it pierced my soul and took my breath away. Elder Holland speaks with such boldness, love, and authority that I listened to every word with anticipation.

His talk covers very sensitive material, and I am sure there are many of you out there who have been victims of some of the harmful effects that he spoke about. These afflictions are not what I want to discuss today. I wanted to focus on the tips he gave us to avoid temptation and help others that you know to do the same. He gives these suggestions (which I have paraphrased):
  • Separate yourself from people, materials, and circumstances that will harm you (emotionally, spiritually, or physically).
  • Acknowledge that you need help recovering from addictions, and then seek help.
  • Exercise self-control in all aspects of your life and learn to abhor even the smallest sins.
  • Do not allow sinful or evil thoughts to linger in your mind.
  • Be where the Spirit of the Lord is and make your home a place where He can dwell.
 My husband and I have tried to implement all of these suggestions into our lives and home. Some call us extreme (for example, we will turn off a movie or throw away a book if it uses the Lord's name in vain even once) and others tell us that we worry too much, but guess what? We feel safe. We have avoided many things that could numb our minds and hearts to the things of most importance. I feel the Spirit in my home because I have done everything I can to keep evil out.

Now, we are not perfect by any means. Sigh. There are still things that sneak or creep in that are against our standards. We talk about them when they occur and come up with a plan to avoid them happening again. We have no desire for evil in our lives.

I love the scripture that Elder Holland quotes at the end of his talk, because it coordinates so well with the suggestions he offered. It is found in 2 Nephi 4:28 and it says, "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul" (emphasis added). How beautiful are the words of Nephi! Here was a prophet, a man who seemed to be invincible, and yet he cried because he felt as though he has sinned. And yet he was determined to no longer allow the enemy of his soul, Satan, to have any control over his life. He hated sin and vowed to no longer be a part of it.

I think it would be valuable for each of us to follow the counsel of Elder Holland and the prophet Nephi and "give place no more for the enemy of [our] soul[s]."

How has following the counsel of Elder Holland blessed your life?

**Note** I went a little overboard with this free fact...I couldn't decide which color scheme I liked best. Lucky you! You have the option of two color versions (8x10) as well as a set of bookmarks with the scripture on them. Use them for your Sunday School class, your YW group, etc. Let me know which one you like best!**

Download above image here.

Download above image here.

Download above image here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

He Will Take It All Upon Him

This weekend has been incredibly hectic and hard to deal with--one of those, "Hey Nikki, it's time to learn a lesson in humility," weekends. My husband was injured during a soccer game a few months ago and we were finally able to get his ACL reconstruction surgery done on Friday. We were not prepared for how tough the surgery and recovery would be. We honestly thought that we would be at the hospital for a few hours and then he would rest for a day or so and then be back on his feet for school and everything this coming Monday. Haha...yeah...we have no clue what we were thinking. 

Here's what really happened: 7+ hours at the hospital, shaking uncontrollably as he tried to come out of the anesthesia, an endless list of instructions and precautions for his wounds, a giant brace, an ice/water tank that he has to be hooked to 24 hours a day for 3 days, bottles and bottles of pain medication, waking every 2/4/6 hours to administer the medication or change the water, attempting to not collapse while using crutches, constant and unbearable pain, moaning, inability to move around on his own, etc. (I'm sure anyone who has gone through a major surgery can relate!) Then top it all off with a 7 month old baby who needs constant care and doesn't like to sleep through the night, and you have a small glimpse of my world for the past 48 hours. No complaints--just filling you in!

In the midst all of the tasks and duties and emotions, I have learned a few little lessons. I wish more than anything that I could take my husband's pain away, but I know that I can't. It is hard to accept that I am basically helpless, other than providing him company and perhaps temporary relief here and there. I have learned of the humility it requires to be a servant (so to speak), and how difficult it can be to keep a positive attitude when he needs something every few minutes, and then my baby also needs my love and attention. (You may be asking how I have time to be writing a blog post and getting a new printable up--I'm at my only break for the night: right between feeding my baby and giving my husband his meds! Yay for a few minutes alone!)

A scripture kept coming to my head as I thought about the pain that my husband is so gracefully enduring: (Alma 7:11) - "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people."

I am learning that Christ has endured all things for us, including our own physical pain. Too often I consider the Atonement to be a tool only for my sins and errors, but the scriptures are clear that our Savior suffered these pains so he could "know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12) His purpose in giving His life and suffering unbelievable humiliation and abuse and pain was so that we can find relief, comfort, and support. Because Christ knows what my husband is feeling and going through, He can aid and provide healing for him. And while the Lord heals and strengthens my husband, He comforts me as I struggle with my afflictions during this adversity in our lives.

I am so grateful for the Atonement. I know Christ lives and that He is the Son of God. I know my family can be together forever because of the covenants that we have made that we strive to keep daily. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it testifies of the Bible and of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How has this verse helped you through physical, emotional, or spiritual trials? Please leave your comments; I'd love to hear!

Download here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Freedom = Peace on Earth

While I was thinking about how much I love America and humming "America the Beautiful," I was looking for inspiring quotes from latter-day prophets about how the United States is an amazing place. I really wanted something that talked about the blessing of our freedom in this great nation, and I wanted it specifically to be something that could be used for the 4th of July (Wednesday!).

As my husband and I searched and pondered, we found this awesome quote by none other than our prophet dear, President Thomas S. Monson: “When we safeguard (the heavenly virtue of freedom), when we honor it, when we protect it, we will walk with Washington, we will pray with patriots, and we shall have peace on earth, good will to men.

What wonderful promises from our prophet! If we honor and protect the freedom of our country, we can truly attain peace. I love the thought of praying with patriots--men and women who fought for our freedom in days past, and those who fight in days present. My prayers are with those patriots as I thank God for this beautiful land in which we can worship Him!

I am a patriot of the United States of America. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Today I have 3 different color versions of this free printable for you to download, print, and share! Red, white, or blue (of course!). Take one, take two, or take them all!

How has being a patriot affected the decisions you have made in your life?

Download blue here.

Download red here.

Download white here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Love Them Anyway

I hope you are having a beautiful Sabbath day!

A quote by Mother Theresa has been on my mind for some time now, and I thought I would share it with you in a free printable today, along with my thoughts:

"Do It Anyway"

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

I think this poem is absolutely amazing. I have had so many situations in my life where I have had to just "do it anyway" and sometimes it's actually really difficult! It seems really hard to do what we know is the right thing, the thing that God wants us to do, knowing that we may temporarily feel used, mocked, cheated, etc. As I have strived to "do it anyway" in the recent months, I have found great peace, despite what wordly trials have arisen from my efforts.

I believe God wants us to be happy. I know that He wants us to be happy. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been given to us so that we can find peace in this world and strive for perfection, no matter what the people around us may be doing.  I believe, like Mother Theresa, that the right answer in every situation is to "do it anyway" and follow through with the things we have been taught since Primary.

Have you ever faced a tough situation where you decided to "do it anyway?"

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