The purpose of this blog

The intention of the blog is to bring together those that believe in God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ. It is a place to share our personal experiences and feelings to ultimately testify that He is real, that He is aware of each of us and ever watchful in the details of our lives.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How Perris Knows - Part III (We'll have to come back to Part II)

Just recently, maybe a couple of weeks ago, as I was laying down to bed I had some strong thoughts/impressions come into my mind surrounding my experience praying about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  I wanted to share them, but you'll need a little background info first.

Like most converts to the LDS church I was baptized at the age of eight.  And like most converts, during my journey to conversion, I faced a time of extreme doubt and spiritual trial.  It just so happens that during this time of doubt I was also living the farthest away from the lifestyle that Heavenly Father had instructed me to lead; funny how those things go hand in hand.  

I was mostly raised in the church and had many spiritual experiences by the time I was 17, but I had also developed some deep-seated doubts.  My doubts ran right to the heart of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or as you may reference it, the keystone of the religion.  I doubted the reality of Joseph Smith's vision and prophetic calling; I doubted that he translated the Book of Mormon and the book's truthfulness.  Although I would never have denied my belief in Jesus Christ, I probably would not have put up much of an argument if someone had denied His reality.  Like I said, my doubts went straight to the heart of the religion itself.

During this time I continued to read scriptures every day, attend church every Sunday, and do my seminary homework.  I was certainly 'going through the motions' with these activities but I know now that they helped to prepare my heart to take the right steps in resolving my doubts.  

After being forced to attend EFY in Provo, Utah (Mom's are always key in one's conversion), I was challenged by my counselor to pray to know that the Book of Mormon was true.  I had heard people's accounts from the pulpit during testimony meetings throughout my whole life, but I had never considered doing it myself.  When the challenge was made, I knew in my heart that if I asked I would receive.  I prepared myself throughout the week with devotionals, talks, personal scripture study, reading Moroni's challenge, and praying each day that on the day I asked the question, I would get the answer I desired.  

The Experience
Finally the day came.  I imagine myself kneeling there with this great question, a hunger and thirst for knowledge.  I see my family members that have passed on (all my relatives who don't have the gospel), my future children, and my friends gathered all around me, speaking words of encouragement and support to my spirit.  With all the preparation and exercising of faith that I had done during the week, I asked Heavenly Father, "Is the Book of Mormon True?"; then waited.  My prayer of faith together with their power opened up a window to heaven for just long enough that I heard in my mind and felt in my heart the most clear and powerful, yet slight whisper that said, "You already know."  I barely caught a hold of the message and I then I heard the thought again whisper even more clearly, "You already know." 

I pondered for a second and then said to myself, "Yes, this is right and true. I do know the Book of Mormon is true."  In an instant it was like unto the Savior's birth where the clouds burst open with a multitude of heavenly host praising God.  Only for me it was all my spirit family and friends cheering me on and expressing their deep love and joy to my spirit.  In that instant my mind also burst open and I knew the Book of Mormon was true, I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet, I knew that God was real, I knew that Christ was real and that he atoned for our sins.  That on shout of praise and joy opened the heavens and poured down pure plain and simple truth and knowledge to my mind and heart, removing all doubts and filling my body with warmth and love.

I will be forever grateful to my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and their unified companion the Holy Ghost.  And to my spirit ancestors and descendants for their support and love.  I can't wait to thank them when I cross the vale.  

I know these things are true, and for all those who don't, I know that you can too.

How Perris Know's - Part I

When I was a boy, around the age of 8-10 years-old, I was given the assignment to mow the lawn either Friday or Saturday.  When Friday morning came along I found myself in a pickle; I wanted to play with my friends.  The problem was that my friends could play either Friday or Saturday, but I could only play one of the days because the other I had to mow.  I could not for the life of me decide which day would be the better choice, but it was important to me to make the right choice.  I distinctly remember discussing this with my mother on our back deck, which overlooked the shaggy yard.  She was very sweet to entertain my dilemma and listen to me weigh all the options.  In the end she said, "Well why don't you pray about it.  I'm sure Heavenly Father knows which day would be the best one".  And with that she left me to ponder.  In my young mind this was obviously the correct action to take, so I quickly bowed my head and simply explained my predicament to our omniscient father above and asked which day would be best.  I very clearly remember having the thought that Friday would be the best decision and feeling in my heart that this thought was true.  Although I didn't really have a perfect knowledge that Friday was the answer, I had faith that what I felt was good enough.  So I hopped up, informed mother, and went to work on the four hour task of cutting all the grass in the steamy humidity of summer.  I remember sweating a lot while I mowed and wondering if Saturday maybe would have brought a better result; perhaps the adventures with my friends would have been more fruitful had I waited a day. 

The experience was not complete until the next morning.  When I woke up I looked outside and noticed big dark heavy clouds.  The kind make you a bit uneasy, like a water balloon that has been over-filled.  This was interesting, I had no idea that the weather would change from a hot sunny day to dark and cloudy overnight.  Sure enough after breakfast, the clouds could no longer contain the water, and it started to rain and didn't stop until after lunch.  I was dumb-founded.  Heavenly Father knew that it would rain and knew that I would not be able to mow the lawn with soaking wet grass, so he advised me to mow the day before.  I was filled with excitement, and even greater, I was filled with truth - Heavenly Father answers prayers.  This was a simple, possibly meaningless, example to some people, but to me it was part of the foundation that was laid for how I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that Jesus Christ lives.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Jami Knows

It is difficult to know where to begin. I suppose I will begin by describing faith. I am, by nature, a doubter. It is difficult for me to accept and believe things I have not seen for myself; not just in spiritual things, but secular as well. I just know there is a lot of misinformation out there and I don't want to be deceived.

Faith, however is asking you to do just that - believe without seeing first. Although it is difficult to exercise faith at times, I have done so throughout my life - leaning on the mercies of The Lord as I do so.

I have been blessed with witnesses from the Holy Ghost as I've exercised faith; as promised in the scripture, " . . . For ye receive no witness until after he trial of your faith" (Ether 12:6).

Among witnesses I have received include a sure knowledge that the man I married was the right choice for me.

Motherhood is the most difficult thing I've ever done and I rely on faith that I will receive the help and guidance I need to raise my three daughters the way The Lord would have me. As I've exercised my faith and struggled, I've received witnesses and help - sometimes through a scripture I've read, a person, or a reassurance through the Holy Ghost.

I have received witness that Jesus Christ is my savior and that through His atonement I can be saved if I repent. I remember my dad teaching a Sunday school lesson in my youth where he broke the word atonement into three parts -
at/one/ (ment)=with. That has stuck with me ever since. I know that Christ want me to be like him so that I can return to Heavenly Father.

Life is not easy - nor do I think it is meant to be. We are given the gift of faith to grow stronger. After the trial of our faith we receive witness. The witness, at least in my own experience, is more often than not a small experience. I think this is so our faith is tested even more. I also believe we need to write down our experiences so we can reflect and remember.

I testify that I have exercised my faith and have received witnesses over and over that Jesus Christ is my savior and that the atonement is real. I know that God lives and loves us and wants us to return to Him. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How Rea Knows #2

Keeping up with schedules of five school children and three pre-schoolers always proved challenging.  However, in this particiular week, it seemed the unexpected was even more prevalent than usual.  Emergency trips to the Doctor; helping with school assignments; soothing hurt knees and hurt feelings; cleaning up messier than normal messes; many important not-to-be-ignored telephone calls;  my much valued helpmate being called by his work to be away from home for the entire week..............these were a few of the barriers that delayed my preparations to be able to teach a spiritual class in our church women's group, called Relief Society.

When the morning of that day arrived, I was panicked, and wondered if I should even go teach because I was so unprepared.  As I knelt to pray before getting dressed for the meeting, I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help me teach this very important lesson, which was on forgiveness.  I told Him that I really had wanted to study and prepare for it, but that I felt I had nothing to offer these ladies since I hadn't been able to hardly even look at the scriptures and other materials available to me.

A great peaceful relief came over me, and I knew that it would be OK.  Even though I had no idea HOW it could be OK, I had learned by then that I could trust in that peace which signified to me that my prayer had been heard.

By the time I had walked up to the podium to begin my lesson, my faith began to waver somewhat, as I had not had one idea or inspiration as to how to even introduce this subject!  

For some reason, I felt the prompting to begin by asking questions....I don't remember exactly what they were, but as a result of one of those questions, one lady raised her hand and said, "You know, there is such a fine line between love and hate."  Miraculously, with only a split second of hesitation, my mouth opened and thoughts/words came forth.  The words I heard were obviously not MY words or MY thoughts!  I had heard this idea before, but never given it any thought.  Until that moment, I had not considered this subject!

I listened carefully to the words, though, because I  knew they were truth.  My first unexpected comment was "Satan would like for us to believe that, because it is HIS doctrine rather than true doctrine."  I continued the comments for about 2 minutes, I believe.  I began to have the thought, "What on earth am I going to say or do when this is over?"

I do not remember what the answer to that question was, but I do remember that the whole  lesson went so well, and that the revelation we had each heard sparked much good participation.  I had only been home for about half an hour after church that day when I got a phone call.  It was a sister that I did not know, who was visiting that day in my class.  She was crying.  She said over and over, "Thank you,  thank you.  What you said today gave me some perfect answers to my prayers.  I needed so badly to hear that about hate and love.  I can't tell you the relief and peace I have now."

I never saw that lady again.  But I knew the words given to me that morning were especially for her......and for me.  The concept I learned that day has served me so well in many, many times in my life.  I know that my Heavenly Father wanted me to know about that, and looking back on events in my life since then, I know that He lovingly prepared me for those times, as well as answering this sister's prayers.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How Stephan Knows

When I think of how I know, it all comes down to one thing: the spirit of God. It is thanks to the mercy of God allowing a portion of His spirit to be with us that we are able to discern light and truth. I feel so humble and grateful when I receive peace about a concern, an answer to prayers, or joy in simple things.  Indeed, those are tender mercies from the Savior.

One of those mercies is my testimony of Joseph Smith. I remember having a testimony of His calling and mission when I was a teenager. It was just that simple. When my older brother got home from his mission however, he shared some things with me about the Prophet's character and virtues. He told me he read that Joseph's axe yard was always an example of order and he could do three times the amount of work in one day an ordinary man could do (it could mean he was just strong, but I also took that to mean he was a hard worker).  He also told me of his extraordinary ability to connect with children, how he played with them and didn't shoo them away as many would. These little details prompted me to learn more about the prophet's history and read the Doctrine and Covenants.  My study and prayer on these matters brought stronger witnesses of every step of the restoration of the gospel, including priesthood ordinances and temple covenants.

I know that Joseph had visions and saw angels. I know that he saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ who really spoke to him. I know the Book of Mormon is a true record of ancient civilizations that lived on this continent and knew and worshiped God intently. I know the Book of Mormon was written on gold plates and delivered to Joseph Smith and translated by the power of God. I also know he saw miracles in protecting those plates. He saw miracles during each step of restoring all keys, truths, and rites of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Earth. God is all-loving and wants us to have everything that is good and pure. I know God lives, I know Christ lives and I know there is a true prophet living today through whom God speaks to us all and guides us in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How JeLyn Knows

There’s an experience that I feel strongly about telling, but it is one that requires a little more courage because I will reveal something that, until now, I wasn’t comfortable sharing with people I hadn’t grown to trust.

As a bit of the necessary background, which is the most difficult part to tell, I was diagnosed with Bipolar at age 15. Though I never lost my faith at that time, the skewed perceptions brought on by the illness before my diagnoses led me to perceive a loss of all other supports one by one, and I found myself in the depths of almost complete despondency in which the only hope I had to hold on to of a life worth living was the hope my faith offered. I remember listening to a favorite CD of mine put out by my church over and over again. It was a source of peace for a mind that offered none. By the point that I had perceived a loss of all supports except my faith, I started to live in fear that it would soon fail me too, so I began contemplating ending my life if it ever did. A life of such complete despondency would be no life at all.

My faith was able to pull me through until I got the help I needed. Fast forward a few years, and I wanted to serve a mission for my church, but was unable to due to Bipolar. To this point, my illness had been the main source of me feeling that I wasn’t enough for anyone at one point or another, except for God. After being told I couldn’t serve a mission, I felt for the first time that I wasn’t enough for Him, because all my faith and all I had worked through with Bipolar “wasn’t enough” for me to serve a mission. I could bear the pain of feeling like I wasn’t enough for imperfect people, but not the pain of feeling like my strengths weren’t enough for someone who knew me better than I knew myself! That made me doubt God’s love for the first time in my life, and from there came other doubts I never thought I’d have. Slowly, I stopped praying and reading scriptures because the pain I was experiencing was too much.

One day in this state of doubt, I turned on my ITunes. I had always, always made sure I specified a playlist, because otherwise I’d end up with Christmas in July, and I am not my mother’s daughter in that respect to be able to enjoy that. However, I soon found it had slipped my mind this time, because it skipped to a song on the same CD I used to listen to over and over again, pre-Bipolar diagnosis. Immediately, tears came to my eyes, because not only did it bring back the Spirit that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in a while, but it stood as a reminder of the times He’d pulled me through, that He still loved me, and would do the same this time too if I allowed Him to, and that even though I had turned my back on Him for a time, He had never, and WOULD never forsake me.

This is a truth that I know and that nothing now can ever make me doubt. HE LIVES! He loves us unconditionally! What’s more is He is constantly with His hand outstretched, wanting us to take it and to take that magnet of skewed intentions off our figurative compass so that He can get through to us and point us in the right direction when we turn to Him. His love is always the answer and will heal more than we could ever imagine if we let it work in and through us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How Rachel Knows

I was thirteen year old when the Nauvoo, Illinois temple was being rededicated. As a young child, my parents took us to the grounds where it had once stood before it was burned down. I remember walking the grounds in reverence. For some reason, my family felt a certain closeness to that particular temple so once it had started to be rebuilt, we made plans to drive out there again to see the glorious replica.

On our drive to Nauvoo, we stopped at many different church and historical sites. It was Saturday June 1, 2002 and we stopped at a little camp ground in Keokuk, Iowa to prepare for fast Sunday the following day. My family set up the camper trailer and I set up my little tent that I enjoyed sleeping in alone.

On June 2, I wrote in my journal:

“We went to a little branch in Keokuk. We were so lucky to be there on fast Sunday. Every one’s testimonies were so strong. Everyone was so excited for a temple to be a couple minutes away rather than a couple hours away. In Utah, there are temples everywhere. I take it for granted. I never realized what it would be like with only a couple people in the whole school are LDS or having a temple far away from you.

“My family is picking on me. I’m the only one that gets in trouble. This trip sucks because: my mom left her purse 2 ½ hours (one way) away, we got a flat tire, I’m being picked on, every one’s mean and we forgot a lot of important stuff. See what I mean.”

I don’t remember why I was upset, I just remember being extremely upset and I chose to leave my family in the camper and confine myself in my own little tent. I remember deciding to read my scriptures, even though I was angry and upset. I continued:

“I have just studied a scripture. It is Moroni 10:3-4 [which says “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”] After reading it over and praying about it I can now say it’s all true. Jesus Christ is the true God. He will manifest this unto you if you go before Him with a humble heart and faith. He has done it unto me and I know he can do it unto you. I know this is the true church. I know the scriptures are true. I know this gospel is true.

“The spirit is very strong with me right now. I feel much joy from the testimony I have just gained. I know it is all true and what joy that brings to me. It’s kind of funny it all happened in a little tent in Keokuk at a hard time in life with my family. But I know it’s true!”

This was the pivotal experience in my life. Before this, I had believed the things that I was taught, but after this experience, I knew that it was true. Sitting in that little tent, weeping with joy, feeling my Savior’s love and a burning in my heart as I prayed to know that the scriptures were true, is an experience that I have carried with me my whole life. In times of darkness, I sit back and remember what I felt that day and what I learned that day and I still retain my testimony and can testify that God hears you and He hears me. He loves us with a greater love than we can imagine. He reaches for us with His arms wide open, inviting us to come to Him and to come home.