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February 26, 2016

Lead Into Gold

Filed under: alchemist,Atonement,Book of Mormon,Christ,gang,God,gold,inmate,kintsugi — admin @ 4:41 am

Over two years ago, I sent a Book of Mormon to an inmate who belonged to a gang when he was arrested.  That book completely changed his life.  Recently, I received a letter from him that included the following:

“There’s a style of Asian art [kintsugi] where the artist fixes a broken bowl or a broken flower pot with gold.  So instead of glue or some other adhesive, the artist uses gold to put the pieces back in place.  This creates something beautiful because every crack, chip, and jagged edge is now golden.

“In my broken places, God has given me gold.  That’s how the Atonement fixed me up.  So when I say ‘God has turned my mess into a message’ I’m sincere because, really, I’m a new man in Christ.”

I love that analogy, because I think of God and Jesus as alchemists, turning our lead into gold.  In fact, I see the Atonement as not so much repairing the broken places, but as creating a whole new pot or bowl.  I mentioned this to my friend and he agreed.  Eventually, that pot or bowl—you, me—can become gold.

Dave Trottier

January 18, 2016

Straight Out of The Rez – New School, New Friends, New Life

When I was 9 years old, my mom and I moved to Utah to live with Grandma Ellen. She was the mother of my mom’s foster mom when she was in the LDS Indian Student Placement program.

The day before I started 5th grade at my new school I remember asking my mom and Grandma Ellen what clothes would be appropriate to wear on the first day of school. I wasn’t sure if the dress code would be different from the schools I attended on the Reservation (Rez).

Grandma Ellen suggested that I wear something a little dressier than jeans. I didn’t have any clothing that was “dressy” so Grandma Ellen found a pantsuit that she thought would be perfect.

The first day of school arrived. I put on the light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side. I walked to school since it was just one block down the street.

As I approached the school I saw other children arriving who were ALL WEARING JEANS! The closer I got to the school the more anxious, embarrassed, and mortified I became. I just wanted to run home and hide. Just as I had thoughts to turn around my friend Mindi saw me and ran towards me. (A few days after moving in to my new home, my neighbor Mindi came over to introduce herself. We developed a quick friendship). That morning she said nothing of my attire or how different I looked. She only invited me to join her friends who were playing a game in the school playground. Mindi introduced me to her group of friends and told them how cool I was because I was a real American Indian who had lived on the Indian reservation. Throughout the entire day none of the school children made fun of my clothes, strange accent, or just how different I looked from everyone else.

Shortly after starting school my mom and I started receiving discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the LDS (Mormon) missionaries. I enjoyed learning about the plan of happiness. But there were times I wanted to be playing outside with my new friends from school rather than sit in an hour long discussion with adults. One day I decided to ditch my gospel discussion and stay after school to play with my friends. One of them asked me why I wasn’t at my appointment with the missionaries. I told them I didn’t want to go. This group of friends told me that it was very important to attend these appointments with the missionaries. They then walked with me back to my house to listen to the missionaries’ lesson. To this day I don’t remember what gospel lesson I received that day. All I remember is how these friends made me feel LOVED.

After receiving all of the gospel lessons, I felt what I was taught was true doctrine and I decided to get baptized and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My mother made the same decision too. Our baptismal date was January 2nd. In attendance were my mom, Grandma Ellen and her family, church members, the missionaries, and my friends; the same friends who had extended a hand of friendship on the first day of school.

That afternoon after my baptism, I remember playing outside in the snow with my friend Mindi. At one point she said to me, “Today you made one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life”.  It’s been over 30 years since that day and my memories of those friends, who made such a huge impact in my life, are an eternal  treasure. I am deeply grateful for their kindness, their love, and their friendship. What I thought would be one of the worst days of my life wearing a light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side turned out to be one of the best days of my life. So many other “best” days have followed, all because some 9 year-olds chose to fellowship instead of shun, to lift instead of belittle, to encourage instead of bully, to love instead of hate. They were simply doing what Jesus would do – love one another. Their gift of friendship played an important supportive role in my accepting the precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that God is our eternal Heavenly Father. I know that God sent his only Begotten Son because He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He loves me. He rescues me. He heals me. He can do the same for you.


April 5, 2015

Easter: Receiving Forgiveness As We Forgive

About a week ago I had a lapse of self control and I did something irresponsible. The result was that I physically hurt a friend and let down 2 others. I was deeply disturbed by what I had done, and by how easily the frustration came that precipitated the incident. I was sad that the hobby we were engaged in seemed like it would never be enjoyable again. I felt guilt that I had ruined a trip for others.

But as my feelings subside, I start to appreciate what miracles we saw and I see now. Millimeters variance could have made the injury devastating and permanent. It does not look like it will be. We obtained specialist medical help after working hours, against all reasonable expectation. Prayer and priesthood administration even reduced the severity of the injury from the time it was sustained to when we got first treatment.

What has most pressed on my feelings is how the people involved responded. Forgiveness was extended, and brotherly concern for both the injured and myself. As we think about Easter and what Jesus Christ did for us, I invite you to think about this: His atonement is not only abundant in tender mercies, but can be expressed through people who are willing to follow a Christlike pattern.

Mark R.

April 2, 2015

My Perfect Example

Filed under: Atonement,Easter,Jesus Christ,Savior — admin @ 3:07 am

I know that because He lives and is here with me, I have been able to survive and stay happy in my trial filled adult life. I love my Savior and I am so thankful for His beautiful gift of the atonement. Not only for my sins but for my hurts, my sorrows, my sicknesses, and my agonies. He is my perfect example. I’m just trying to be like Jesus. It’s all good BECAUSE HE LIVES!

Melanie Clark

March 18, 2015

Anxiety and the Atonement: My Story

Hello! My name is Sherrie and I have anxiety and OCD. 

For those of you who know me pretty well or have ever worked with me on a project or assignment, this information might have confirmed your suspicions. For some, this information might be surprising. 

In February 2015 I experienced a very severe panic attack. Through this experience I learned some important lessons that I would like to share. But first, some background information might be helpful. 

I’ve always had a little bit of a tendency to worry. I have inherited what I lovingly call the “worry gene” in my family. As I’ve gotten older, perhaps since I’ve had my children, I’ve slowly and steadily become more anxious. Usually whatever I am worried about resolves itself naturally and fairly quickly and I am able to relax and move on. 

Last month, however, was very different. At the end of January, I went with a group of friends to Disneyland. Because of the measles outbreak that had centered there over Christmas, prior to my leaving I checked in with doctors, asked my Mom about my childhood vaccination history, looked up my vaccination records on a public database and received another MMR vaccination. I did all of this because I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I wanted to be certain that I did all I that I could possibly do to avoid the measles and most importantly not bring it back home with me. After I did all of this, I went to Disneyland, had a wonderful time and didn’t give the measles another thought. (Well, not too many.) 

All was well during the trip and for about a week after I got home. However, the news, Facebook posts and the Internet in general were constantly updating me on the newest cases and outbreaks of the measles across the country. I started to read everything I could about signs, symptoms, incubation periods and contagious periods. Because of all of this reading I was very acutely aware that measles generally started with a fever about 7-10 days after exposure. With all of this information circulating in my brain, I started to check my temperature every day and began to check my face and hairline for the telltale spots. Every day. Every time I passed a mirror. I grew increasingly afraid that I was contagious and didn’t know it yet. At that point I began to break down. The Sunday a little over a week after I got home I cried through the entire three hours of Church because I was certain that I was breathing measles everywhere and on everyone. The fact that I hadn’t shown any symptoms and had received three or four MMR vaccinations in my life was not at all comforting to me during that time. My brain had convinced me that I was a measles-breathing fire dragon. It may sound funny, but it was very real to me. 

After that Sunday, my husband who has some experience with mental health, found me a counselor to go talk to because this particular fear was starting to affect me living my life. I retreated to my house. I did everything I could to avoid being out of my house and especially around children. I didn’t touch the Sacrament trays on Sunday. I made excuses to my kids’ friends for reasons they couldn’t come in and play. I had my husband run my errands for me. Any time I couldn’t get out of doing something, I did it with a giant pit in my stomach and feelings of overwhelming guilt. There were several times where I had to force myself to be “normal.” 

My counselor taught me some techniques to help me retrain my brain to react to stress and fear. I worked on them at home and made some good progress but one day I completely broke. In an attempt at “normal” life I had been at the school doing some volunteer work. But simply being there around so many kids pushed me over my limits. Still not showing any signs or symptoms, my frenzied brain insisted that I had just exposed an entire school to the measles. Later, I was alone in my house trying to calm myself, but nothing I tried worked. I knew that I was going to be the lady on the news who had knowingly exposed hundreds of innocent children. The fear, the stress and the guilt were crushing. 

At that moment my best friend came to drop something off and found me in a complete and total panic attack. So many thoughts were flooding my brain and I was hysterical. My husband called to check on me at that point as well. My friend convinced me to come with her for a drive. I resisted at first, not wanting to infect anyone, but she was eventually able to persuade me. She got me to her house where her husband and a neighbor gave me a priesthood blessing of comfort. My friend arranged for me to go the doctor and get a blood draw done that could determine my level of immunity. The next day the tests confirmed that I had “very high levels of immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.” With that news, almost instantly, my fear subsided. 

I don’t tell this entire story to get sympathy. I share it because of the very important things I learned. 

First, one in 40 people deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). My situation, while completely consuming and awful, only affected me and my family for about 2 weeks. I have to believe that there might be someone reading this who is struggling with disabling anxiety every day, non-stop. I wanted to share my experience to say that there is help available and to please not be ashamed to ask and seek out help from friends, family members and professionals. My anxiety still manifests itself, but I am learning to manage it before it gets out of control. 

Second, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we learn about the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. We learn that our Savior suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on the cross to redeem us and save us so we can return to the presence of our Father in Heaven. We also learn in Alma 7:11-12; 

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people.  

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. 

I have a firm testimony that my Savior knew how I felt because He had felt it too and because of that, He knew what I would need to be comforted. I prayed, but my prayers were not answered by my fears and anxieties being taken away. Rather, my prayers were answered in the comfort I received from my husband and my friends and the help they provided that the Savior knew I would need. Looking back on this experience, I see the tender mercies and the hand of the Lord throughout it all; my husband having experience with mental health and recognizing when I was in serious trouble and being kind and understanding and helping me to get help, my friend for listening to promptings about how to help me and following through with them, and the Priesthood holders who were willing to take time out of their work day to give me a blessing.

I know my Heavenly Father knows me and my needs. I know that the Savior has felt all that we feel and because of that, He knows how to help us. It may sound strange, but I am truly grateful for this experience. I know that all experiences we are given on Earth are for “our profit and learning.” For me, this experience has taught me greater empathy, true love and kindness and my testimony of the miracle and gift that is the Atonement was expanded and strengthened. 


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