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May 5, 2015

Is My Heart Healed?

Filed under: answers,healing,heart,hope,Jesus,love,Priesthood blessing,questions — admin @ 1:07 pm
Have you ever had a question in your mind for years, pondering on it from time to time, wondering if you will ever figure it out? I have a few questions like this, and I think about them sometimes, but mostly I just “put them on a shelf” in my mind until I receive some future enlightenment that reminds me of my question.  Then I can run to my “shelf” and grab my question off and rejoice that I have an answer—or at least a tiny bit of an answer—to my question.  Then I think about it more and put it back on the shelf if needed until more understanding comes to me.
I was given a blessing once when off at college when I was very sick.  I was having an allergic reaction to some medication taken after my wisdom teeth had been removed.  I remember my brother arriving to give me a priesthood blessing just before I was taken to the hospital.  Some of the words of that blessing have always stayed with me, and I have wondered about them for years.  I was told that the Lord knew of my circumstances and would “heal my heart.”  Yet, it was not my heart that was physically sick!  I knew it and my brother knew it, so what did this blessing mean?
I wondered if I was being called to repentance because the Lord knew of my many sins and imperfections.
I wondered if the Lord was telling me that I wasn’t a very kind or nice person and I needed to change, or that my choices in life up to that point hadn’t been done wisely and I needed to improve.
Another piece of enlightenment came to me a little while back.
As I listened to a January 21, 2014 BYU Devotional speech by Jonathan G. Sandberg entitled “Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,” clarity came.
“Healing is much more than ‘getting better’ or ‘having our problems go away.’ Healing is growth, development, and maturation. In a word, healing is change. It takes time and energy and struggle, but healing teaches us.”
When the Lord told me I had a heart that needed to be healed, He wasn’t chastising me, he was encouraging me and letting me know that staying focused on His plan was more important than anything else going on in my life at any time.  He was there for me and more aware of my complete situation than I was. It was a blessing of love and hope.
The Lord knew I was going to be fine with my allergic reaction.  He also knew all of my struggles, joys, and fears. He took this opportunity to remind me that He had a bigger work for me than I could imagine, to trust Him, and to stay on the path no matter how hard it got physically or spiritually. He would work with me. And He did and still does.
Every now and then I get a new glimpse into how He sees me and what He wants me to be. When I get this insight, I also realize that it is going to take continued work from me—and healing and strength from Him—for me to get there.
I didn’t fully understand the blessing because I couldn’t at the time. It has taken growth through living and experiencing to be able to look back on much of my life and see how I have been taught, corrected, changed. I know I still don’t fully see nor completely understand His great and perfect love for me and for all of us.  I have to keep remembering to trust Him and to keep seeking Him. I need to offer Him a softened heart, so He can continue to teach me and heal me.
I am grateful for my testimony that God lives. He watches over us, plans for us, and guides us as we give our hearts and efforts to Him. I know that He does all of this because He loves us and that through our Savior we can become whole and healed. 
I have wondered, “Is my heart healed?”  My answer is “Not completely yet.” But it’s doing much better than the day I received that blessing 22 years ago.
Kelly Ericson

April 21, 2015

What Does God Look Like?

Filed under: First Vision,God,Heavenly Father,Jesus,Joseph Smith,religion — admin @ 3:08 am

I was born and raised in Southern California.  Growing up as a child my family was not associated with any church or religion.  My father, however, was raised in a religious home but did not carry on that tradition after he married my mother.  They were good and honorable people who worked hard and loved their children.  My parents were a “perfect match” for each other and enjoyed the blessings of an exceptional marriage, but practicing a particular religion was not a part of their lives. 
I, on the other hand, had friends who “went to church”, so I “heard” about God from them.  Often, as a young girl, I would lie on the green grass in our front yard looking up into the sky wondering to myself, “If I looked really hard in the sky, would I be able to see God”?  Then I would ask myself, “I wonder if His face will appear in a cloud, or will He be standing on a cloud?”  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I always thought in my mind that God would be in the image of a man.    
Over the course of my childhood, I attended a few churches of various denominations – none regularly.  Sometimes I went alone but mostly I went with girlfriends.  I don’t remember looking for any particular “doctrine”; I was simply drawn to “going to church”, and finding out what God looked like. 
Years flew by and soon I found myself graduating from high school in 1956.  I had a best friend who was a Mormon, and she was planning to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  She and I decided that it would be fun to be roommates, so, I asked my parents if I could attend BYU with my friend.  They replied that if I could save enough money, I could go.  I worked and save all during my senior year and the summer before I was to leave.  Finally, I had saved a whopping $500.  I could go!    
It was there at Brigham Young University that the Joseph Smith story sank deep into my heart.  When I heard that Joseph Smith, at the tender age of 14, actually saw a vision of the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, as two separate and distinct personages in the form of a man – my youthful questions were answered!  I knew without any doubt that this was right.  There was a special feeling that came into my heart that told me that this doctrine was true.  We were created in His image, so why would He look any different – except that he is an “exalted man”, and therefore, has a “glorified” image.  It is in Joseph Smith’s testimony that I learned of our relationship to our Heavenly Father and to His Son Jesus Christ.  He is the Father of our spirits, and Jesus Christ is His perfect and only begotten Son in the flesh.  Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live, and to redeem us from our sins through his infinite Atonement.  We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  Though we are eons away from perfection, we can become like Him — that is Heavenly Father’s promise to His children.  
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormons”) was restored to the earth in this last dispensation of time – as prophesied by ancient prophets – through the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith.  He was visited by Heavenly beings and given keys of the Priesthood in order to establish the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful to know where I came from, why I am here on Earth, and where I am going after I die.

March 29, 2015

Youth Mini-Mission Message: Courage

Filed under: courage,family,God,Heavenly Father,Jesus,miracles — admin @ 1:04 am

I have never witnessed a miracle such as those surrounding Lazarus at Jesus’ side. I have never stood in wonder and amazement before God or angels as did Joseph Smith.  But I know through small and simple things great things come to pass.  
I have seen miracles in my life. They may not be big to some, but they mean everything to me.  I’ve seen God place people in my life and in my family’s life.  
My sister unknowingly married a terrible, abusive man.  Her once innocent countenance turned cold and her attitude to her loving family grew distrusting.  Through seven hard years alone my sister endured, until one man reminded her how much her family loved her and regardless of what she had done, they would love her.  
Within that year she came back.  She had the courage to leave, to be in a better place, to come home. 
C.H. 10th Ward youth member (blog post submitted by anonymous)

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