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Monday, November 29, 2010


In my reading preparing for class, I had a hard time understanding some of what the manual was trying to explain, so I really appreciated Brother Line’s class tonight. He had some very interesting facts about the destruction of Jerusalem and dismantling of the temple in 70 AD. We were reading Joseph Smith Matthew and did some comparison to Matthew 24. I was amazed at how thoroughly the Romans sacked Jerusalem and methodically destroyed the sacred temple. To be honest, though, I’m not surprised that such a drastic event occurred; the hearts of the population were very hard. When people reject the prophets and apostles like that, the protection of the Lord is no longer theirs.

It’s always interesting to me to study apostasies and the progression that leads to the fall of civilizations. When God’s people choose to revile His servants instead of revering them, the consequences cannot be avoided. God, in His infinite love, continually tries to warn His children, but the ultimate decision is ours. I appreciated what Brother Line said about how the elect in 70 AD could be deceived; when the prophets and priesthood have been taken off the earth, confusion soon follows. God directs His people through His servants, but He will not provide that direction if it is not wanted. It is a warning to us that we should be very careful in our attitudes towards our prophets and leaders. When I hear about members of the Church criticizing the leaders, especially their General Conference addresses, I can see how dangerously close they are to the attitudes that prevailed in 70 AD and other times of apostasy. God won’t force His blessings on us, and to reject His guidance and love is the most foolish error we can make. I know pride manifests itself in many different forms, and if left untended will grow to take over more of one’s spirituality. That is why it is vital to read these accounts and carefully examines one’s own standing before the Lord.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Abrahamic Covenant

For my own personal reasons I have a deep interest in the Abrahamic Covenant, so when we studied it today, I really perked up. I got the chance to teach about it this last year when we came to the lesson in Sunday School and had a really neat experience with it. I had prepared the lesson with PowerPoint and had a video clip and everything all lined up for class, but when I went to set up, I discovered that the media wouldn’t work that day. So, I put away the projector screen and drew a chart on the board and led a discussion on the details of the covenant. We outlined what God promised to give Abraham and the responsibilities Abraham accepted on his part. The beauty of teaching that lesson was how well I really understand the different parts of the covenant because of drawing that chart. For the first time I felt a real click in my mind about the details of the covenant and how it specifically applied to me. I love studying about Abraham because I feel that the better I understand his life and relationship with God, the more included I feel as a member of his family.

I understand about the literal descendants and the need to be a literal seed of Abraham, but I also see how the adoption into the house of Israel reflects the great mercy of the Lord. He promises that we can become literal descendants when we make covenants with Him. There is an actual change that occurs with covenanting with God that enables us to partake of the Gospel fully, even as there is a very real change that occurs when we repent of our sins and use the Atonement in our lives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Daily Readiness for the 2nd Coming

So, we talked about dispensation heads, translated beings and even a bit about the last days. We read Moses 7:58, 60-61 about Enoch’s lamenting about the wickedness of mankind. Toward the end of class we read in Doctrine and Covenants section 1 verse 35 about how the devil will have power and peace will be taken from the earth. We read a quote from Elder Ballard about how we are living in this time. That would be a little discomforting if read alone, but we read on to verses 61 and 62 where the Lord promises to protect and save His people. I particularly loved the phrasing, “And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth…”

I grew up with some...passionate members of the Church who loved to focus on the shock and awe of the Second Coming and how it would happen any second now. I remember several Sunday School lessons as a child and youth that were dedicated to reviewing the many signs of the last days and listening to how close we were, that I was of the chosen generation, etc. However, I was blessed with a family that had a true vision of the gospel. My parents carefully listen and obey the voice of the prophets and understand that the day and time when Christ comes doesn’t matter as much as our obedience to His voice every day. The grandeur of His entrance will be astounding, for sure, but the real concern is to feel His quiet presence in our homes and hearts every day. Those who follow Him today will feel the blessings of peace and truth rain from the heavens and we will share that with those who need that comfort. The Lord watches over us, He will watch over us, we just need to keep the proper perspective to keep working on our personal salvation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Justification and Sanctification

Brother Line taught about justification and sanctification tonight and I’ve been mulling it over for a while. I talked with Brad about it during Family Home Evening and we made some more goals to step up our own spiritual progression. It was really neat to hear Brother Line’s resources about how automatic and immediate justification is. I thought back to even recent times when I’ve gone to the Lord to ask for forgiveness and how quickly that relief comes. It is true that we are quickly forgiven of our sins, but sanctification, the process of becoming holy, is a lifelong struggle.
Strangely, though, another thing I really focused on and appreciated tonight was Brother Line’s teaching strategies. I remember some of the teaching skills I learned from the leaders at Church Headquarters when I was training for my internship and how grateful I was to learn from master teachers, and tonight I felt that same feeling of learning from someone with some great experience. It’s tricky business teaching concepts like what we studied tonight about justification and sanctification, but Brother Line defined the concepts clearly then provided several examples and quotes to apply the ideas. What I really appreciated, though, was when he showed quotes and examples and had us as a class pick out the instances of justification or sanctification. It was a total learning process, from understanding the concept, seeing the application, and finding the application myself. That is a great teaching style I want to learn how to use as a teacher.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Every time I hear about the Atonement I realize that I have so very much yet to learn. We talked about the Atonement a bit tonight. Brother Line went through a bunch of scriptures to show that we believe that we are inherently good, and though we fall, we can return to innocence through the Atonement. He also mentioned that the Atonement has always been a central teaching, even in the Law of Moses. I remember my sister-in-law Kelly told me about her experience of reading Jesus the Christ while studying the New Testament and the incredible increase of understanding she had of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I just know that I need to make a more concerted effort when I study this doctrine. There is still so much I need to appreciate. Christ’s sacrifice is something that is under-appreciated even as we beg for forgiveness for our mistakes. It still amazes me that, as flawed and unimportant as I am, I can be made whole and clean because of what my Savior did for me

We discussed the symbolism of physical birth and the figurative rebirth of the spirit. In physical birth there is water – amniotic fluid, blood – the placenta, and spirit – the spirit of the baby in the womb. In the figurative birth, when we are born again, of course baptism uses water, the Holy Ghost is the spirit, and the blood of Christ, the Atonement, allows for repentance. Blood is the life force, the giver of life and was freely given by our Savior. I think of how, in ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, blood of the royalty was thought to contain their power that could heal nations, fix famines, and answer the needs of the population. The reality is, only one person on earth could really do that, and he offers that healing sacrifice to any that will take it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Service and Falling in Love

“Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.” Marion G. Romney. Wow. That was a gem that popped out right at the end of class. I’ve thought a lot about service the last month or so. What attracted me to my fiancĂ© in the first place was his kindness and service. Our courtship has been a whirlwind, but never have I doubted that I should date and marry him, mostly because of how I saw him serving and how he supports me in my service. My friend Laura asked me how I knew I should marry Brad and my answer was, “It was watching how he served others.” I agree wholeheartedly with this quote from Marion G. Romney; service truly is the fiber of exaltation. When I am serving I feel closest to God and His pure love, and when I see Brad serving I can see the sincerity of his service and his testimony of the gospel.

It’s strange that a simple act of service can say so much about a person, but really, you can read so much about a person and the way they serve. My first Sunday in the ward, Brad came and sat next to me and was attentive to me. It was the pure love that I felt flowing from his kindness that testified of his sincere nature. Service can be offered in many different ways and with many different attitudes, but true service, that requires love, and love is the basis for all of God’s works. My sister-in-law once told me, you love the ones you serve, so serve the ones you want to love. It’s true, love grows and magnifies with service. By giving a part of yourself in word and deed you love the person you share with more.

Can you tell that I love being engaged?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun times, fun times

This is a fun game I found while preparing for a class. The balloon rises faster the longer you play, the tension is awesome! Have fun whoever wants to give it a whirl! :D

I found it at this website:

Spanish Lessons

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Want vs. Need: When Wanting is Better

I remember a couple years ago at our Richardson family reunion, my little niece Ashley was just 2 and learning to talk. She followed her mother Jasmin around saying "I ant ooo." Which translates as "I want you." Her older sister Shayanne said the same thing to me (except in original English, not Ash-talk) this year at our family reunion. She kept wanting me to hold her and would look at me sweetly and say, "Aunt Sarah, I want you." You can't resist that.

This morning I was thinking about want vs. need, but not the usual premise. The leaders of the Church counsel us to judge our temporal wants and needs and choose wisely in spending our resources. However, I think when it comes to spiritual things, "want" is more effective. When a child tells you he needs you, you know your responsibility and respond automatically. It is lovely to be needed. But when a child looks at you and says "I want you," it is a completely different emotion. To be wanted fills your heart because that person chooses you.

I think of how often I've told Heavenly Father, "I need you," and He responds instantly with His peace and reassurance. However, the times that I tell Him, "I want you," are the sweetest moments of my life. I feel His love fill my heart, my body, my soul. It is an experience beyond words; God's love is real and it changes you. I'm determined to tell my Father more frequently that I choose Him, I want Him and I love Him.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Creation Validation

We talked about the creation of man today. It’s funny, because when I came back to BYU after a 5 year break, my first semester included Biology. My teacher was a little apprehensive when we got to the evolution section of the class, mostly because it was his first time teaching to a Mormon college class. He read to us from the 1909 Official Declaration, The Origin of Man, but tonight I really understood what he was hinting at for the first time, that we are literally descendents from Heavenly Father. Christ is the Only Begotten of the Flesh, meaning that He was born in mortality, but Adam and Eve, also begotten physically, were born in immortality. I had this strange feeling of relief, almost, at the clarity of the concept. For years I have believed strongly that man did not evolve from another species, but even here at BYU I’ve encountered opposing views, but this teaching is what validates my feelings for all these years. It’s so nice to finally have official doctrine to turn to, even though I’ve believed it all this time.

Something that Brother Line said in class is sticking in my mind, “Heavenly Father hasn’t finished creating us.” I had a discussion with my roommate about creation v. organization. Her friend went into some of the particulars about how God didn’t create us, He organized us. I told her that the words are interchangeable, that while the matter that consists of our spirits and bodies has always existed, our selves as spirits were brought into being by God. To think that Heavenly Father created me, this flawed creature, then left me to my own devices sometimes seems unfair and un-God-like, but that phrase rejects such notions. God knows that we are still imperfect, but He isn’t done creating us. He is still forming us, as far as we allow Him to do that, to become the perfect and fully created child that He filled with potential at our initial creation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Celestial Marriage

September 27, 2010

I thought a lot about Nathan’s temple lecture during this lecture. We talked about the creation today in class. I was taught some very interesting things. One thing that I absolutely loved was the discussion on ancient temples and the tabernacle. Brother Line drew a picture of the layout of the temple and labeled the altars, wash basins, lights, incense, and mercy seat. I’m familiar with this diagram from my discussions with Nathan and Jelaire, but what fascinated me tonight was when Brother Line taught me about ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. The high priest would go into the room once a year and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the seat. On the seat are two winged individuals facing each other across the altar. They become bound by the blood of the sacrifice, a symbol of celestial marriage.
I’ve studied a lot about marriage, and it’s taken on deeper meaning the last few years as my desire to prepare to be a good wife and mother has increased. I understand the central importance of the family, but this imagery opened a whole new meaning to the focus of marriage in my eyes. Of course marriage is a holy ordinance, but couples make mistakes all the time. Husband and wife can become bonded through repentance. As they take part in the healing power of Christ’s Atonement, spouses grow stronger in their love. There is no better way to improve a marriage than to sprinkle your bond with the atoning blood of Christ to sanctify your relationship and overcome the follies that drive spouses apart. As I’ve spent the last year in the temple doing ordinance work I have always loved watching couples when they do service together and kneel at altars together. It is a sacred moment, and I think I understand a little better why it is so sacred.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pre-mortal Faith

September 20, 2010

Today we talked about the pre-mortal life. Wow. I had an “Ah-ha!” moment and it rocked my mind. Brother Line talked about our doings as spirits, which, of course, I’ve known about my whole life. However, he pointed out something that I’ve never thought through before. So, as spirits we could make choices, and we sometimes made wrong choices, which means that as spirits we sinned. Right. That makes sense. But when we were born we were innocent, we had no sin. How does this happen? In Alma 13:3 it is called the “preparatory redemption.” We know that the Atonement is infinite, it covers the present, future and the past, so it covered our mistakes in the pre-mortal life as well. So why is it important to know this? Because we’ve already taken part of the Atonement. Before we were even born we had faith in our Savior that He could perform the soul-saving act that would cleanse us from sin and enable us to return to our Father. We see the effects of the Atonement whenever we look at a clean, fresh soul on earth. Babies and children demonstrate the power of the Atonement in their innocence; they prove the Savior’s sacrifice is real and effective. Whenever we doubt that we can be made clean or that our faith will allow us to fully participate in the process of repentance we should remember that we can do it, because we have done it before. There is nothing beyond the reach of our Savior, his love reached across mortality to purify us even before we began our mortal journey. The Atonement’s power is real, our Savior defeated sin and death with His great love for us. Why does this mean so much to me? I think I realized something about my faith when I learned this concept. I know my faith has grown throughout the years, but to think that back in my pre-mortal life, before we had even left for our journey, I had faith that Christ would be able to perform such a supreme act of love and endurance for me leaves me breathless. I have the scriptures to teach me of Christ’s life, miracles and Atonement, but I once had complete faith that He would save me, even before He left to do so. Not that I am a wonderful person, but it reveals a little more about my relationship with my Savior that I didn’t know about before, and that is precious to me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13 Reflective Journal

I won’t lie, I kept wondering during class if we weren’t delving a bit into mysticism as we discussed God’s time versus ours. I was a little put off by some of the questions raised by some students, but I appreciated Brother Line’s answers and direction, and I trust him because of that. And, as I’ve pondered the concept of how God is all-knowing I realize how important this is to know. Neal A Maxwell said, “God lives in an eternal now where the past, present, and future are constantly before Him. His divine determination are guaranteed, since whatever He takes in His heart do to, He will sure do it.” As I understand better the nature of how God lives, I appreciate more how He participates in my life.

Brother Line talked about how we take the doctrines we know and put them together to discover mysteries. Like a triangle, if we know the degree of 2 of the angles and the length of one side, we can figure out the area, perimeter, other angle degree and other lengths if we know what to do with the information we have. We have a knowledge of God and His nature, where and how He lives; if I use that knowledge in a proper fashion, I can better understand my role as His daughter and how to develop my relationship with Him and my Savior.

Also, our discussion of how God wants us to remember that we are nothing was very good for me. I am nothing, God wants me to comprehend that, because once I do I can be filled with God’s love and fully grasp what it means to be loved by our magnificent God. He has created worlds without number, galaxies and creations beyond description. He is all-knowing, all-powerful and I cannot truly understand Him in my fallen and flawed condition, but He loves me, knows me and is very, very involved in my life. That is true happiness; for me, a small, insignificant creation, to be loved and guided by the all powerful Creator.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some thoughts from my Pearl of Great Price class

So, I'm taking Pearl of Great Price from Brother Line, the Institute director up at University of Utah. He asks us to write in a journal after each class to reflect on what we've read and discussed and I want to post those entries. Here's my first one:

Tonight we talked about the Holy Ghost and how he activates the power of the Atonement. After class I found myself at a picnic with my friend Dee and we talked about this for a bit. I think about my daily routine and my prayers with God; I always ask Him to consecrate my actions and thoughts. In Spanish, consecrate is “consagrar,” or “with holiness.” I literally ask God to make my life and actions holy. As I think about it more, I ask Heavenly Father to grant His Holy Spirit to walk with me all day so that I can take part of the Atonement hourly. I don’t want God just to help me make good decisions, or just to comfort me, but I am asking that the Spirit purifies and cleanses me so I can be a worthy vessel and do the Lord’s work throughout the day. That is the main purpose of the Holy Ghost, to activate the Atonement in my life.

I love being pure and feeling the pure light and love of God flow through me, and I need to remember that that is the Spirit working the Atonement in me. When I feel pure love for God’s children, that is the power of the Atonement. When I feel pure intelligence and understanding, it is because of Christ and His work for me. It is a truly beautiful and astonishing thing. I understand just a little better the Atonement and its role in my life. I hope this helps me to work better with the Holy Ghost as He tries to purify me, I want to be a better participant in the Atonement and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be a better partner as God instructs me how to be better and the Spirit works in me.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I cut off more than a foot of my hair on Saturday. I love it, but I didn't tell anyone because a lot of my friends have strong opinions about my hair and I didn't want to hear it. :D Things I've learned from this haircut:

Boys don't notice hair. Like, at all.

My boss calls it my "new do." How cute is that?

Italians get upset when girls cut their long hair.

Short hair flies allllll over the place in the wind, but falls right back into place with a shake of the head. Nice.

People will ask if you've cut your hair, even if you've lost more than a foot in the 2 days since you last saw them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Angel Mother!

Isn't she beautiful?

I am happy to announce that, of all my siblings, I was the first to call my mother and wish her a happy birthday. Yay! I was able to chat with her for a few minutes before my intrusive eldest brother interrupted with his well-wishes. Mom tried to say that I won because of the time difference (I'm an hour ahead of her) until I reminded her that two of her sons live in the same time zone as me. No one can steal this small victory from me.

By the way, I fell in love. And no, he is not a WWII veteran, or Larry "Lucky" Chesley. Nope, his name is John Thornton. Whoo, just saying his name sends shivers up my spine. (Side note: do you think it says something about someone's pysche if he/she says "shivers up" vs. "shivers down?" Is it like "glass half empty" vs. "glass half full?" hmm...)

John is the owner of a cotton mill in the BBC mini-series North and South based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. Just listen to this description, "Elizabeth Gaskell's classic explores the simmering, restrained passion between two very different people who fall in love in spite of themselves." Simmering? Restrained? Who doesn't want to see this now?

Seriously, it is a very well done presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I have to say that the reason I love John so much is because he is completely honest with his feelings and direct in conveying them. I just wish more people could be as brave as he is in reaching for happiness. (I'm trying to be vague about the plot so those who haven't read the book or watched the movie won't be spoiled for their first experience.) Anyways, I like John because he's flawed, very human, but you love him for his motivation and integrity. I promise, I'm not really pining after a character from a novel. I think.

It's cold. I traipsed around campus all day lugging a backpack filled to capacity with notebooks, texts, and scriptures and swinging my guitar through doors and crowded halls. It started snowing after I got to campus at 7:30 so I was unprepared and my shoes soaked through resulting in cold feet all day. And I picked up an extra five textbooks at the library for the paper I'm writing about the Guatemala Civil War and the CIA arranged coup d'etat. So, my hands were full of guitar and bags of books. BUT, I am NOT complaining because I found my lost woolly mittens! Yay for BYU Lost and Found! And I finally came home at 7 and switched my soaking wet jeans for snuggly warm sweats and am currently nursing a cup of minty hot chocolate. Life is good.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Funny Little Anecdote

My Doctrine and Covenants teacher from last winter semester, Brother Garr, is an absolute love. Whenever I run into him I get a big hug and questions about my job and classes. He's interested in my life and the things I do, which is one reason I love him so much. He absolutely loves sports and is slightly oblivious to the fact that not everyone else is as involved in sports events as he is.

Today I ran into him in the hallway at work and he asked excitedly, "Did you see the game on Friday?" I honestly don't even know what sport he was referring to and replied to the negative. He told me with great enthusiasm, "Utah lost!" I nodded my head and said, "That's," slight hestitation, "good...?" He was sweetly unaware of my ignorance, or just politely ignored it, and informed me that, yes, it is good, great in fact. I received well wishes for the day and headed back to work. It's funny how little moments with people you love can make you chuckle for days after.

Does anyone know what sport Brother Garr was referring to?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Goodness

I missed 2 weeks of church because of illness, plus the week I missed when I was in California. I walked into the sacrament meeting today and when Bishop Harrison saw me he jumped – and I mean jumped – out of his seat and rushed over to me. I was afraid I looked pale or something because he looked so concerned for me. He grabbed my hand and asked how I was feeling. It was so kind of him, I felt incredibly loved. I love my bishop; he really does care about the individual and watch over the ward members so carefully.

I taught the Sunday School lesson on Creation today. Thanks to Nathan and Jelaire’s AWESOME Christmas present, I was able to show a couple of great videos on the creation. I shared the clip of Elder Maxwell bearing testimony of Christ the Creator, and Russell M. Nelson explaining the creation of the world as a part in God’s Plan of Happiness.

As a class we read some of the scriptures in Moses and Genesis about God’s reaction to His creations. “And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good.” God called His work “good.” When I was studying this, I felt that sometimes we might underestimate the word “good,” so I went to the dictionary. Some of the definitions I found were:

morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious; of high quality; excellent.

Does that change how we feel about God’s creations? Then to remember that each of us are God’s creation as well. My friend Jon made a comment today as well, that God felt that His creations were “destined to succeed.” I feel so uplifted by that. I am a creation of God, I am of high quality, virtuous and destined succeed. And if I look at my surroundings with that same knowledge, I think my interactions with God’s creations can take on a more profound purpose because of it.