We had a wonderful Christmas Sunday.
Dad was asked to speak, and asked to speak more on the Atonement made possible by Christ than of Christ's birth.
Kind of a different topic than we are used to for Christmas.
But if not for his Atonement ad life, his birth would have been just another baby being born.
It went along with this past week's come follow me.
Anyway....we had some dear friends come to watch.
Bubble and Eldon came, which was fun.
And a friend of Dad and mine, Lynn, came.
He is a pretty cool dude.
First the choir sang, then the YW girls got up and sang.
Cass had a solo part and sang beautifully.
Then Dad got to speak.
He really did an amazing job.
It was very powerful and he didn't shy away from real topics.
I typed it out so it can be saved forever :)
As we learned in Come Follow Me this week, it's not only important to know how Christ was born but to know WHY. We know that he came here to redeem us and we know that he came here to bring us the atonement of Christ.
The Atonement of Christ is something that is very near to my heart. I've come to appreciate it and to understand it in ways I didn't know were possible. It has brought great change to my life. I really can't say enough about it.
I found that hope in Christ and the Atonement of Christ are very powerful tools that we can use in our everyday life. And I need to use in my everyday life just to avoid the pitfalls of this world we live in. They are powerful tools, but tools are only good if we use them.
I liken this to what happens to me quite often at get-togethers or parties when I meet someone new and they find out I am a fire fighter, one of the first things they say is, 'well good, if the house catches on fire we have to to put it out.' and I have to kind of laugh to myself because, I have a working knowledge of how to put fires out, I have experience with fire fighting but without my protective gear to get in close to the seed of the fire, without the big red engine outside pumping water through my hose, I am little more effective than anyone else there.
I liken that to how I was living my spiritual life.
I was born in the church, I had a very active family, read the scriptures, graduated seminary. I had a working knowledge of the gospel and I had experience with church but I was not utilizing the tools that I had at my fingertips. Specifically the tool of the atonement. I have been thinking a lot about what are some of the reasons that keep us from using these tools that we know are so vital to our spiritual growth.
Even though the reasons may vary from person to person, there is one common denominator and that is the adversary.
As Elder Johnson told us in the October general conference, the adversary likes using the three D's to keep us distracted from our mission. Those three D's being deception, distraction and discouragement.
Deception, that has got to be one of his favorite ones, right? He's been using that since the very beginning and he has become very skilled at it. He knows what lies to tell us and how to make us believe them. One of his best ones is that, whatever fight you are fighting, that we are fighting it alone. That we are the only ones going through addiction. We are the only ones that are dealing with depression. The only ones that have feelings of inadequacy, that are experiencing loneliness. He tells us we are the only ones with family issues. By telling us these things, we put up walls. He, essentially, is isolating us. And we are isolating ourselves. We are isolating ourselves from our friends and our families, from our ward, and most importantly, we are isolating ourselves from Jesus and from Heavenly Father.
Once he's got us isolated, it's real easy for him to pile discouragement on top of that. What that does is it isolates us further. It takes us further from the Light of Christ and from everything we know to be true. You know, we may feel overwhelming guilt for sins of our past or we are just unable to control certain behaviors in our life right now. We may feel that we just aren't good enough to be loved by God. These are all lies that he loves to tell.
So how do we combat that isolation and the shame? Well I propose that the opposite of isolation, the opposite of depression, the opposite of any of this stuff is connection.
Connection with each other, connection with our families and most importantly connection with Heavenly Father.
Sometimes, reestablishing those connections is tough. We feel that we might have burned bridges that can't be repaired. We feel that we are just scared of being judged by others. And sometimes we feel like we are in no position to ask Heavenly Father for anything. Sometimes the situation is bad enough that praying and reading our scriptures isn't gonna help a whole lot. And we have made up our minds to go it alone.
This duality has always interested me, how on one hand we can be so discouraged and down on ourselves and demoralized but on the other hand we are still too prideful to go to our Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness.
But we have all been told that it is impossible for us to fall any lower than the light of Christ can reach and what an amazing thought that is. There is no situation in which we cannot fall on our knees and call upon our Heavenly Father. There is not anything we can do that would disqualify us from the atonement of Christ.
As President Packer taught 'for some reason we thing the atonement of Christ applies only at the end of our mortal lives to redeem us from the fall. It is much more than that. It is an ever present power to call upon in everyday life.'
We can use it to give us strength when we don't have enough strength of our own. We can use it to overcome temptation. We can use it to deal with grief. In other words, it is capable of healing us.
I testify of the power of the atonement on my own life. I am a daily, if not hourly, user of the atonement. I have learned that there is great power and it has changed the very way I live my life. It made it possible for me to course correct when I did not like what I had become. The atonement has given me hope and that is important because there are times in my life that I had very little hope. This change didn't happen overnight and it has been a hard fought battle but I wouldn't change it for the world. I do believe that all our trials are given to us for a purpose. I wanna believe that my trial will someday help others. I have learned to no longer compare myself to others, but I compare who I was yesterday to who I am today and who I want to be in the future. All we can do it just try. President Hinckley said 'all the Lord expects of us is to try, but we truly have to try.'
I testify that there is great power in consistent incremental change. Be a little better tomorrow than you are today.
I also testify that the feeling of Joy and happiness that we feel during this Holiday season can be accessed, by any one of us throughout the year by utilizing the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I am sure hearts were touched today.
We only had one hour church, so after wards we came home and had lunch.
Dad got a call from an older guy in the ward who wanted to tell Dad of an experience after they left church today.
He said that they brought their Non-member son in law with them.
He has been to church many times and he complains about the 'Mormon' talks being shallow and (to him) self promoting.
I don't think that is the case.....but this is what this non-member feels.
He said that when they got home, his son in law told him that he has never heard a talk like that before.
It was real and raw and hit his heart.
I am grateful that our friend shared that story with us because just before he called Brent was saying how even though he saw people nodding off in the congregation, if there was only one heart touched, that was all he wanted.
And then we got the call saying that was exactly what happened.
But, I know for sure more than one heart was touched.
I am so grateful for Brent and his testimony and the growth I have seen in him.
He is a pretty amazing guy ❤
We were talking today and feeling the Christmas spirit.
I usually equate the spirit to emotional and crying.
But today was very different for me.
But just a feeling of complete happiness.
I really think it because I have been feeling this 'Christmas spirit and joy' for much of this past year.
It is a feeling of happiness and contentment and love for all I have been blessed with, trials and all!!!
I love feeling like this and I hope I can continue to feel this into the new year as well.
We watched the Christmas devotional since we missed it when we were in Utah.
Then we all took a nap/quiet time!
After dinner we made some card and treat deliveries to neighbors.
We have been blessed with such great people in our lives.
I am just beyond grateful!!!!
Of course, today wasn't all peaches and cream.
There was actually a lot of fighting and grumpiness from the kids.
But, I am still grateful for all the good and all the not-as-good.