Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Father; My Example

A couple-three weeks ago I wrote a post called, 'My Mother, DeAnn'. As you can guess, the said post is about my mother, DeAnn. She is a sass of a lass and is the maker of the home I grew up in. Here is a portion of that post, "My mother would not be the woman that she is today without the support and love of my father, Dave. He is the supreme example in my eyes of how to be a husband. It is obvious that my father loves my mother by the way he treats her; the way he holds her hand; the way he talks about her; when he buys her flowers; and even the way he looks at her. He is completely supportive, compassionate, and patient. Because of my father I know what kind of man and husband I need to be. My father epitomizes Elaine S. Dalton's teachings to "love [your children's] mother". What a good egg! While my mother is a wonderful woman who has blessed all of those around her throughout her life she would not be complete without my father. Neither would my father be complete without my mother. They are quite the pair."

I would like to shed some light on this unsung hero. My Dad is simply the greatest. Here is proof:

Here he is at the center of attention, telling yet another hilarious joke.
I could go on and on about my father and how wonderful he is. He is incredibly patient. He is the hardest working person I have ever seen. He openly and affectionately loves and cares for his wife, my mother. He is hilarious (just look at the picture above!). He is the patriarch of his home and family and he has our utmost respect. There are so many great things about my father but the one that I would like to focus on is his worthiness and respect to the priesthood authority that he holds.

As I explained in my post, "Lockout", the authority to act and do things in God's name was lost from the earth for many years after the death of Christ and the rejection of his apostles. Without permission from God to baptize, bless the sacrament, heal people from infirmities, and receive revelation from God for the body of the church the world fell into chaos. People tried to do it by their own authority but this led to divisions within the Christian faith and resulted in man's creation of many churches. However, there is hope. Our loving God reached out to a boy, Joseph Smith, whoh was called to restore Christ's original church to the eart. After the martyrdom of Joseph Smith another worthy and righteous man was called to lead. This same pattern has been followed to the present day in the which we are led by President Thomas S. Monson. He guides and directs us to Christ and eternal joy.

Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worthy males have the privilege of receiving this priesthood authority. Its sole purpose is to bless others. One must be worthy to practice the responsibilites contained within. I know of no one better who has lived up to his priesthood covenants than my own father. He is my example of valiance, integrity, and love. I am forever grateful for him because he has shown me how to honor the priesthood, which I have done to the best of my ability for my two years as a missionary and which I vow to continue to honor throughout the rest of my life.

Here is a video narrated by President Thomas S. Monson on how to honor the priesthood and how important it is:

I love my father and I love the priesthood. It is real. It is here today. Live worthy of it. Access it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hang On To Hope

Confusion. Sadness. Despair. Anger. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Difficulty.

We all feel dejected at times but I assure you that none of the said strugglings are impossible to overcome. The scriptures teach us that hope is the anchor of our souls (Ether 12:4). The adversary, Satan, wants us to let go of hope. No amount of negativity can destroy true hope anchored in Jesus Christ. He is the bright light to guide us out of our disorientation. The only way for us to become un-anchored is to distance ourselves from the influence of Christ.
Here is one of my favorite drawings ever. By: Jeremy Garcia
I've said it before and I'll say it again. One of my favorite bands is Guster (see my post "Everything Grey"). One of my favorite songs by them is called "Hang On". The message of the song is one of hope:
Hang on
Hang on
When all is shattered
When all your hope is gone
Who knows
How long
There is a twilight
A nighttime and a dawn

We break
We bend
With hand in hand
When hope is gone
Just hang on
Hang on

This song teaches that when you feel like letting go is when you most desparately need to hang on. By persevering you prove to yourself that you still have hope in a brighter tomorrow despite your hopeless feelings. You may feel that 'all is shattered' and 'all your hope is gone' but you must remember that it is part of what you have been called and prepared to struggle through. Everything has its purpose.

'There is a twilight, a nighttime, and a dawn'. Life is full of ups and downs and even though "weeping may endure for a cometh in the morning" (Psalms 30:5). You need to faithfully endure this 'Race of Life' as 'we break [and] we bend'. We are promised that Christ will turn our "mourning into dancing...and [gird us] with gladness" (Psalms 30:11). As we hang on 'hand in hand' with the Savior and those that we love we will experience eternal felicity.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Mother, DeAnn

DeAnn Kempton Lee. This classy (yet sassy) lady just so happens to be my mother. I am proud of it! She is caring, loving, tender, funny, pretty, nurturing, helpful, and maybe even a little crazy! But that's why I love her so much. She is MY mother and she is there for ME. Time and time again through the best and worst of times my mother has been there for me. While influencing me to do what is right she trusts me with making my own decisions and allowing me to suffer the consequences, whatever they may be. She builds me up but is not afraid to correct me when I am making a mistake. She buoys me up when I am feeling low and cheers me on when I am finding success. My mother is the greatest.

What I love most about my mother is her wonderful example. She is a true mentor. Not only does she 'say' what to do but she 'shows' what to do. I had the wonderful privilege to be taught every week day by my mother in seminary (an early morning religious class) for three of my four years in high school. It was there that my mother led a classroom of teenagers by expounding the scriptures and bearing fierce testimony. However, this is not something that my mother was able to do on a whim! She would feed and prepare herself spiritually as she studied and prayed.

However, these words of mine would not be complete without making mention of someone else. My mother would not be the woman that she is today without the support and love of my father, Dave. He is the supreme example in my eyes of how to be a husband. It is obvious that my father loves my mother by the way he treats her; the way he holds her hand; the way he talks about her; when he buys her flowers; and even the way he looks at her. He is completely supportive, compassionate, and patient. Because of my father I know what kind of man and husband I need to be. My father epitomizes Elaine S. Dalton's teachings to "love [your children's] mother". What a good egg!

My childhood is full of loving memories of both my mother and my father. They are quite the pair (best parents ever). Our loving Heavenly Father provided us with families to help us in this crazy world. Families are the most important social unit in society and they are to be led, together, by both the father and the mother. I have sweet recollections of hearing my father read his scriptures out loud and looking into my parents room to see them kneeling together in prayer. Together they are whole. "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

I owe all that I am to my wonderful mother (and father). My love for them is eternally deep. I am forever indebted. This Mother's Day show your appreciation to your mothers. Give her a call. Write her a note. Give her a hug. Love her. She'll appreciate it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Eye of Faith

The phrase, eye of faith, comes up multiple times in the Book of Mormon (Alma 5:15, Alma 32:40, and Ether 12:19). It has become one of my favorite phrases because of its deep meaning. I had previously been very confused about the meaning of the phrase. To me, it seemed contradictory because I have always been taught that to have faith is to believe and trust without having to see. In my ignorance I believed that having an 'eye of faith' implies that we need to see in order to have faith.

I continued in my confusion until I met a man in one of my past areas that I was serving in as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This man explained this confusing phrase to me as he told me an experience of his past. He had previously been employed as an instructor at Ricks College in Rexburg, ID where many General Authorities visit and speak.

Ricks College (way back when)

Game winner!
A member of one of the Quorums of the Seventy was speaking at a devotional where he was recounting some events from his younger years. As a grade schooler he would play basketball every day because of his love for the game. He would practice again and again so that he would become a better player. He envisioned in his young mind that he was playing in the Final Four (one of the final phases of the NCAA basketball tournament). In this scenario his team was down by one point and he was trusted with the final shot with four seconds left in the game. He practiced shooting that final shot many times until he became comfortable and the shot became easier. He would make it with consistency. Many years later he found himself in that very scenario. This time, however, it was a reality - he was literally in the Final Four, his team was down by one point with four seconds left, and he was trusted with the last shot. He was comfortable in the situation because of his diligent practice. Taking that shot was now second nature. When he was trusted to take it and he had great confidence. He took it and made it.

All of this was possible because his visionary preparation in his younger years. Then, when given the opportunity, he made his dream come true. He had an eye of faith. He looked forward with a goal in mind and worked hard in preparation.

In the Book of Mormon we are taught that faith is like a seed. If we plant and nourish it then it will grow into a great tree. If we seek in faith and put in the necessary work, God will provide us with that which we need. Conversely, if we "will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life" (Alma 32:40). If we expect an answer to prayer about whether the Book of Mormon is true or not; which school we should attend; who we should marry, etc. but are not willing to put in the effort to receive then we will not be answered.

It is my prayer that we will all look to the future with an eye of faith. When we successfully apply this principle we will be blessed with answered questions, accomplished goals, and captured dreams.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Building A Palace

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the pain experienced in adversity and trials. It is such a struggle! I have often wondered (and I know that I am not the only one) why it has to be so difficult?

I found an incredible answer in a quote from the amazing author, CS Lewis. He said:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of– throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
CS Lewis
These words by CS Lewis blow me away. The visual that he describes is simply amazing. Christ has no intention for us to become only 'cottages'. We go through incredibly hard times in our lives and we are bound to experience great pain. We may even want to give up or cry out and suggest that our burdens are 'too much.' However, we must ponder that "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). The price of our sins has already been paid for by our Savior. He bought a palace. We should never give up or complain and end up settling for a cottage.

His sacrifice and love is incredibly personal. I love to personalize the verses in Doctrine and Covenants 76:41-42 that describe Christ's sacrifice. "That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for [me], and to bear [my] sins, and to sanctify [me] from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him." How wonderful and personal our relationship with Christ becomes when we realize that He endured so much for us on an individual level. He truly is our best friend.

"The Lost Lamb" by Del Parsons
His love is so deep that He endured pains greater than any man has ever experienced so we will never be alone in our sorrow, anger, frustration, confusion, etc. His greatest desire is for us to endure our own trials while accessing His sacrifice and ultimately becoming the 'palace' that He has intended for us to become. He wants what is best for us. He does not want us to settle for mediocrity. When we look at our adversities as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks while relying completely on Jesus Christ we will achieve greatness. Christ will build us to be palaces.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Forward in Happiness

There is an old expression that says, "April showers bring May flowers." Other than teaching that rain brings needed nourishment to seeds thus bringing forth blossoming flowers, this phrase teaches a great life lesson: No matter what dark and difficult times we may face we can be confident that, when endured well, the said trial will result in greater personal growth.

Springtime in the great state of Montana!
There are many people who simply look at Spring as 'the rainy three months before Summer starts'. It is true that it can get a little bit on the wet side of things but we shouldn't get down in the dumps about it. In fact, we should embrace the season and spring forward in happiness! This time of year is one of excited renewal.

Everyone faces tough times! They might stem from something trivial (like rain!) or from a much deeper and more personal issue. One thing that I know, without doubt, is that adversity comes to us for many reasons known to the Lord. Christ said to the prophet, Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8). No matter what we are struggling with we may be confident that "it shall accomplish that which [pleases the Lord]" (Isaiah 55:11).

Whenever I am faced with excessive suffering I often think of a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales. It is called, "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done". I recommend this beautiful talk to everyone! In it he shares a scripture that has changed my life! It reads, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalms 30:5). No matter what garbage I might be going through I can always draw strength from these words. Sadness will enter our hearts but the Lord will make up for it a hundred fold!

Elder Robert D. Hales
When adversity is handled with faith the Lord will strengthen us. When Joseph Smith was wrongfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail he went through unimaginable hardships. However, he was promised that it was all for a more glorious purpose. The Lord said, "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7). If we ever find ourselves in our own personal "Liberty Jail" we can remember the words of Paul: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Even when we feel hopeless at the end of our rope we can be confident that we will see Christ again and remember His words which said "your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).

Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail
No one can take your joy from you but yourself! So, spring forward in happiness. Trust in God that "all things will work together for your good" and that joy will come in the morning. Retain your joy by reading scriptures, being charitable, being full of gratitude, and turning to God in prayer. Be happy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I. Love. Easter.

The things that Christ taught on the earth are simple and everlasting. Everything that He lived for and taught is found in the scriptures and is embodied in the greatest act of service: the Atonement. Easter is meant to direct our thoughts and actions to this great sacrifice. Easter is a wonderful time of year where we have a special occasion to recognize and honor our Savior. The sacrifice that Jesus endured is the most important event ever to have occurred in the history of the world. He took upon Himself the physical, emotional, and spiritual pains, sufferings, sicknesses, confusions, etc. on behalf of you and me (Alma 7:11-12). His love is infinitely deep. He then proclaimed that "it is finished" when He died on the cross (John 19:30). His body remained in the tomb for three days before He was gloriously resurrected and the angel proclaimed "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matthew 28:6). How great is our Lord!

Christ, after His resurrection, ministered for forty days in Jerusalem where He taught and showed Himself to many of His disciples. Paul writes of these visits in his first epistle to the Corinthians.

"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: And after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:4-10).

These verses are particularly touching to me. Christ loves all of us. He will manifest that love to even those of us who have not followed Him as strictly as they ought to. I am one of those, like Paul, who proclaims that I am the least of all who deserve His divine help. Yet, I have tasted of the love and light of our Savior. I also declare that it is "by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain" and I will "[labour] more abundantly" to follow Him more closely (1 Corinthians 15:10).

I plead with all of you to labour more abundantly to follow the Messiah. No matter what we have done, "his hand is stretched out still" (Isaiah 9:17). Make this Easter special and give it to the Lord. Serve others. Pray. Repent. Love. I promise that as we more abundantly follow Him, He will more abundantly bless us.

Please watch this short video depicting some important events from Christ's ministry and his glorious atonement.

I. Love. Easter.