Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dirty looks in Sacrament meeting... Yikes

So. Today during sacrament meeting we (my row) were getting ready to pass the sacrament. To my surprise, the person closest to me on my left was THREE CHAIRS DOWN. I stood up, as gracefully as I could to pass the bread tray:


As I was doing so, my foot caught the edge of the metal chair leg the chairs in my ward are comprised of. Yikes. It made this loud clanging sound, and I was mortified. It would have gone much smoother if the person next to me had gotten up to meet me halfway or at least moved closer.. But no. That's not the way things worked out! 

For those of you that don't know, I'm extremely clumsy. The floor and I have become great friends over the years; in part because of the preventative measures I take to stay close to the ground, and also because I just fall a lot. Sadly, I ended up interrupting sacrament meeting, immediately looking down and taking my seat, praying that no one in the Bishopric was looking my way. So there it is! My embarrassment for the day. At least I didn't do anything embarrassing like spill the sacrament water on myself while I attempted to take the whole teaspoon of a sip out out of the little cup. it happened numerous times, and thats when I realized I just have to go for the two handed sip. It's easier that way, you know. :)

 Do you have any embarrassing church meeting stories??? I would love to hear them! Comment below!! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Visiting Teaching: What you should know!

By now, you have probably been assigned a visiting teacher, as well as a sister to visit teach. I would just like to note that I have the best visiting teachers in the world. There. I said it. Brittany and Talia?! They are amazing. The first time we met last month, we literally sat in Starbucks (with HOT CHOCOLATES!) for two hours talking about our lives, what we are thankful for and our "conversion" stories. You don't have to be a new convert to have a conversion story you know. :)

So, what is a visiting teacher? Well I like to explain it like this: they are sisters who visit with you, and teach you a lesson (share the thought for the month). It's not like institute or anything, more like a discussion, really. You really get to know and appreciate your visiting teachers. They are there for you and will help you with anything you need! Here's an excerpt from one of the church handbooks about visiting teaching:

“Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another. Through visiting teaching, the Relief Society president helps the bishop identify and resolve short-term and long-term needs of the sisters and their families” (Handbook 2, 9.5).

The bishop can't be everywhere at once. This is why visiting teaching is such a blessing!

My first experience actually teaching was a different story. I was not prepared at all,  and that is the one thing that I absolutely can not stand. I need to know what's going on, when, where and why. I got that from my mother.. :0

So one of my visiting teaching companions couldn't make it, so it was just my neighbor (and also friend) and I who went to these sisters' house. I didn't know there was a lesson involved until it was too late. I didn't know the structure, I didn't know what it entailed and I didn't know the sisters. I don't have a problem making new friends at all, but that was the cherry on top of the cake for me. I was incredibly overwhelmed. So that time was a bust. I'm hoping this month will be better! 

If I were asked what tips to give, here's what I would say

1. Know the lesson before hand. You can find them here.

2. Get to know your sisters. Don't make it strictly a lesson.

3. Let them know that they can come to you in time of need! (You are representing the Relief Society president as well as the Bishopric when you visit teach).

4. Have a tentative schedule. Here's an example I like to follow.

-opening prayer
-talk about life, past week etc.
-give lesson
-offer help/assistance
-closing prayer
-make plans for next month

5. Know your companion. If they are shy, don't put them on the spot. Don't do the talking either. Let the Spirit guide.

6. Don't go to the same location every time! Spice it up! Try Starbucks, or an inexpensive restaurant! 

Good luck ladies!! I know you will be great! 





Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh so friendly!

There is absolutely no getting around the fact that Mormons are just freakishly happy. After all we are members of the true Church of Jesus Christ.. what's not to be happy about?? Honestly though, I don't think I've sat through a talk during conference, listened to my relief society president or chatted with members without the person on the opposite end of the conversation (or talk, as given in that example) NOT be smiling. 

Can I just say, that this is SO refreshing??? 

I think I like this so much because I'm always smiling. I've been called smiley since I was a little girl, and that's how people knew me; by my smile. The other day my missionary friends were like: do you EVER stop smiling??? You are so Mormon. Honestly I have no idea what that even means.. I only took it as a compliment after questioning him in confusion. The same Elder also tried numerous times that day to make me aggravated, in hopes of seeing me frown, to no avail. I don't know. I guess I'm just so darn skippy happy with life right now! 

Folks, I love the fact that we are a smiling people. Keep it up; you don't know who it will bless.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Explaining to your non-member friends WHY you believe what you believe

Has it happened yet??? You know, that awkward moment when one of your friends finds out you're a Mormon, and there is that hard pause before either of you says anything?? Well.... my experience was a little different than that, but you catch my drift, right?

For me, it happened one day while a friend (also a member) and I were walking through our neighborhood. My old church was in my neighborhood and first, my old pastor drove by in his truck, waving as he did. I waved politely back. Then, another member of that church drove up and stopped, probably on her way to the church. When I told her I was attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she went into an enormous tirade that left me speechless, angry, and frustrated. I had the words, but I didn't know how to get them out. Instead I sputtered like a fool.

So... don't be like me, but rather, listen to the spirit before you start talking..

My Missionary friends explained it to me like this: 

Christ's church is like a stack of Jenga blocks all stacked up together. Over the years after the Great Apostasy, many new churches were formed and people pulled pieces of the Jenga blocks out here and there (ordinances and authority), thinking that they didn't need them and that they were unnecessary. Pretty soon, the Church (Jenga stack) crumbled, and people realized what they had done, and scrambled to piece back the stack (Christ's church). Of course, with all of the new churches, that authority was LONG gone, and even though they tried to bring back important things like Baptism, it wasn't under the authority that God placed under the Earth in Christ's church. 

Incomes Joseph Smith. We all know the story and I know that I am grateful that Christ's church has been restored! I'm sure that you have had many other questions, but I will let you go for now with these thoughts:

1. The Missionaries are a great source for specific questions you or your friends have about the Church.

2. Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and speech.

3. Pray about specific questions you need answers to.

I know that as you grow in your knowledge about the Gospel it will get easier for you to explain things to others! :)

Family History work.. Getting it together

 Yesterday in Relief Society we were in Chapter 10 of our handbook for the year, and the lesson was on Temples and Temple work. We were talking about our responsibilities when it comes to Temple work, and gathering names to bring to the Temple. One young woman was explaining how she was the only one in her family who is a member (like so many of us are) and that it didn't really set in for her that Temple work is so important, especially for her, because she doesn't have anyone else who is doing it with her.

This is the same situation with me. As most of you know, I am a new convert. Not only am I a new convert, but I am the only one in my entire family who is a member. If that weren't enough, I'm black. BAM. All three of those things make it incredibly hard for me to even continue my family history work when I've hit a road block. Right now, I'm at the point with my genealogy where I can't find anything past where I am on my Dad's side. It's so frustrating because people think they know more than me when I know that because of slavery, the records are so hidden, not there, or don't even exist. My family members who know more about my family haven't even gotten farther than where I am, and it really stinks when you have people constantly breathing down your neck telling you that you "just have to do some more digging." HELLO!!!!!? The records aren't there. Okay. Rant over. I'm just a little ticked off at some people's insensitive nature when it comes to family history work.


Although it is tough, it is important. Your family members are waiting for you to do this work for them so that they can have the same blessings that you know to be true. I remember the first time I went to the Temple, and I felt that peace that comes from knowing the truth about the restored Gospel. I know that you want your loved ones who have passed on to have the opportunity to be able to experience those same truths.


The least you need to know:


1. Family history can be HARD, don't let people discourage you. Don't discourage yourself simply because you aren't as far as others are in your research.


2. Every family is different, and will face different challenges.


3. Family history and Temple Work are a blessing that is so important for your family today, as well as your future family.


4. Family history is never really done. You are living it right now!


5. Find a good family history consultant that will be sensitive to your personal situations, it will make things a lot easier.


6. Don't give up when you hit a road block, or you will never accomplish anything.

Friday, May 17, 2013

We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet..

Today is a sad day..

Early this morning, President Thomas S. Monson's wife, Frances, passed away. I heard the news via text from a friend, and immediately was overwhelmed with sadness for our Prophet and their family. Then, I remembered what makes us as Latter-Day saints so unique: We have the knowledge that death is not the end of a relationship with our loved ones. What I love about the Church, is that families can be together forever. Our Prophet, President Monson knows this and always makes sure to mention it in whatever talk he gives. He also stresses the importance of Temple Marriage, and being sealed to your spouse in the Temple for time and all eternity. Without that sealing covenant, we wouldn't be able to be with our loved ones forever.

I know that because of the Atonement of Christ, the Priesthood Authority was restored to the Earth, giving us the wonderful ability to be sealed to our loved ones forever. This is why while I mourn the loss of such an amazing woman, I rejoice in the fact that I know that her family will see her again, very soon.

I love our Prophet. He has a way with words, and gives excellent talks. His sense of Humor is impeccable and his words are inspired by the Spirit and I know that they are true. I have always loved listening to his talks during conference, and reading them afterwards.

As a new member, getting used to the idea that we have a living Prophet, just like they did in the time of Christ is something that for some, might take a little bit of getting used to. For me, when I first heard the word Prophet in a Church meeting, I thought: "OH NO." They are THOSE kind of people (you know, the ones who are on TV and ask for $5 for a "blessed" rag. PSSSSH). Boy was I wrong. Our Prophet's words are true, and we should follow them as Christ commands us to do. By sustaining our Prophet and our President's we are promising to follow His teachings.

Having living day Prophets are a blessing that we should take really learn to appreciate. As you listen to our Prophet's words, think about how they make you feel. I know the Prophet is chosen of God, because when I listen to his words, I feel peace, comfort and understanding. I also get excited! He has given us so much; let's keep the Monson family in our prayers.

The least you need to know:

1. Our Prophet is (and always will be) called of God

2. We can trust his words to be inspired words of God, and should trust them.

3. We should make sure to include the Prophet in our daily prayers.



I love our Prophet and I know that one day, he will see his beloved companion, Frances again.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making time for Daily Scripture Study

We all know that Scripture study is something that is SO important for our continual spiritual growth. Everyone can benefit from daily scripture study, and I know that the Prophet encourages us to do so. I was told that daily scripture study before the day begins will make all the difference in the world in regards to how your day goes. When I first started learning about the Church and it's teachings, I would read my scriptures every day. I even downloaded the LDS Gospel Library app on my iPhone, and Kindle Fire so I would always have it with me, and have NO excuses not to read it.

Then, I got lazy. I started working morning shifts at work (7:00 am-3:15 pm), and I was simply TOO tired to study the scriptures in the mornings. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I had other plans with friends and had completely forgotten about it. Look. We've all been there. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not going to lie either (I'm completely honest on this blog. Otherwise it would be pointless) because we all need to realize that we can become better at studying our Scriptures.

The way I look at it is this: Heavenly Father gave us the amazing gift of the Restored Gospel, Joseph Smith and many others fought (and died) to bring it to the world, and I can't find time to sit down and study my scriptures for 30 minutes?? When you think about it like that, it sounds selfish doesn't it? I think so..

I love this Gospel, and I love the Teachings. I honestly don't know why I can't just take that half hour and ponder/study the scriptures. It's for my own good after all! My goal is to start studying the scriptures EVERY morning, even if I don't think I have the time. I always pray, every morning, but the scriptures are what I need to focus on.

Now. Let me share a little bit about MY scriptures!



                                                                 So pretty! Right??

I received my Scripture Quad from the Missionaries who taught me. I was going to buy them myself (they are kind of spend-y!) when I got my next paycheck (yes, I'm a broke college student) but they said not to. I was confused until they started asking me how to spell my middle name and what color I wanted.. That's when I caught on. So with the help of my WONDERFUL Relief Society President in my Ward, Talise, the Elders gave me my scriptures a couple of weeks after my Baptism. It was the GREATEST gift I have every received other than the lessons themselves.

My case is cute too. My friend Natalie (yes we have matching names!) had a Vera Bradley scripture case, and I LOVED IT. But when I went to the Vera Bradley store to try and find one at the Mall of America, I couldn't find one that I really liked. So I went to the Christian Bookstore near my house and just bought one there that I had seen a few months ago and had liked. I like it! People say that it matches my personality.. I would have to agree with them. Nevertheless, the case isn't what is important. What's inside is. I do know that, I just think it can look cute too!



The least you need to know/tips:

1. Everyone struggles with (or has in the past) being consistent with scripture study. 

2. Making scripture study a priority will bless your daily life.

3. Find a study buddy who will hold you accountable!

4. deseretbook.com has great scriptures and totes, but lds.org's store has the same items for MUCH cheaper. DB is for profit, so naturally they are going to bump up the price.

Carry on, new Saints! Carry on! You can do it!!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teaching with the Missionaries: Some DO's and NEVER's!

So, the very first time I was asked to help teach with the Missionaries, I was so stunned. I was like: first of all, I've only been baptized for like... 3 weeks?? I did NOT feel prepared at all. I was just hoping that it would be more of a "sit and observe" type of deal. But... It wasn't. 

The Elders asked me to come prepared with my Testimony, and at the end of the lesson, they asked me to bear said Testimony. I just started speaking. And I started crying. I truly felt the Spirit. It was so strong. 

After the investigator left, the Missionaries told me that I did great! Now, for me, when people give me positive affirmation it doesn't really set in at all. So I said thank you and didn't think much of it. But when the Sister Missionaries came up t me later that week after hearing about it, I knew that I did OK. 

It was then that I realized that when they say "the teacher in this class is the Holy Ghost," they really mean it. I wouldn't have been able to logically bear my testimony without the power that comes from having received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Now that was my little spiel about bearing my testimony for the first time to an investigator. But what was really on the agenda or tonight is correct teaching etiquette whilst teaching with the Missionaries. Now, as a new convert, I know how a lesson can go: really good, or really bad. 

Thankfully all of the lessons I was taught were stellar. However, I've been in some that didn't really go as planned due to ward members or other factors. I will share one experience I had a couple of weeks ago. An RM (or Returned Missionary) and I were helping teach a lesson (with the Sister Missionaries) to a Chinese boy from the University near our Institute building.

EVERY TIME he had a question the RM would jump in and go into a Lon drawn out explanation, often times making it harder to understand than in the first place. I think the Sisters spoke maybe twice..?

Anyways, it was bad. I didn't say anything at all the entire lesson. He was pretty much running the show. After he and the investigator left I was chatting with sisters and casually mentioned it. They agreed as NICELY as they possibly could! (I love my ward Missionaries I truly do! :)

Needless to say, it wasn't the best lesson that It could have been. Here's some tips on giving a lesson:

1. Don't show up looking sloppy! You are representing the Church. (My friend's Dad, who was the Bishop at my home ward, told us to always look our best when giving a lesson.)

2.  Let the Missionaries do their job! (They can handle it, and if they need help they will let you know!) 

3. "Let the Holy Spirit guide". Literally. It's the best way to know what to say and when!

4. Be as friendly as possible! No one wants to join a church full of mean snobs! (Duh..)

Well! I hope this helps! Remember, you can make all the difference in someone's life just by bearing your testimony!

One of the Sisters' birthday is tomorrow, so I'm gonna make her some cookies! Have a great night!


Me and the birthday lady, (Sister Riley) on the left! I'm truly blessed to know her, she's AMAZING! 
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Word Of Wisdom: Getting Rid of the Starbucks and the Cancer Sticks

So now that you're a Mormon, or are thinking about joining the church, you may remember the lessons the Missionaries taught you about the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is a set of commandments from Heavenly Father that are for the benefit of our health . Therefore, we as Latter-Day saints should strive to follow them. In the Doctrine and Covenants it talks about abstaining from:

Alcohol
Hot drinks (Tea/Coffee)
Tobacco &
Illegal Drugs

Now, for me personally, my parents never drank coffee. They never smoked a cigarette, and they never drank an alcoholic drink. When I was growing up. If we drank pop it was always Sprite or Root beer. I don't think I've ever seen my Dad drink a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi. My Mom had a horrible Diet-Pepsi addiction when I was in elementary school and she hasn't touched the stuff for years now. So for me growing up, the only pop I had was sprite, Dr. Pepper (when I got to my teen years haha), Crush, Fresca (my fave!!) or caffeine-free diet coke.

 So Mormon, right?? And I wasn't even baptized! 

I tried coffee for a few years, and never could get into it! I will say I quite enjoy the frou-frou drinks at Starbucks though. And all of the Frappes I used to get were coffee free anyway!

I will say that I was a huge tea drinker. But yet again, it was herbal. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have never had a problem keeping the Word of Wisdom because I never had those things in my life growing up. Sure I may have had 2 sips (literally) of alcohol, and a puff of a cigarette. But of course this was WAY before even knowing about the Word of Wisdom, and even the LDS Church. Needless to say, clearly neither of those two things struck an interest in me.

 I have benefited immensely by following the Word of Wisdom. For starters, I don't have any of the health issues assorted with over use of these harmful materials. I just feel clean, inside and out. It's a good feeling to have.

For those of you who are struggling with Cigarette addictions or alcohol issues, I encourage you to talk to your Bishop. He can give you a blessing that could truly help and make a difference. They also have addiction counselling for anyone who needs it within your stake.

 I know a story of a young guy in my YSA Ward, who was an investigator. He smoked, but after hearing about the word of wisdom decided to quit. He thought it would be hard and prayed about it. The next day he went for a cigarette and immediately got a sick feeling in his stomach. Every time after that it seemed like the same thing would happen.

Our Heavenly Father wants to see us successfully follow His plan for our lives. With that being said, if He sees that we genuinely want to change He isn't going to hang us out to dry. All we need to do is ask Him and He will help us get through it.

The least you need to know:

1. Following the Word of Wisdom can help us Spiritually and Physically.

2. Seek help when you think you can't possibly follow the commandments. You can do it. Sometimes we need a little help!

3. Know that Starbucks (as well as caribou) has TONS of caffiene-free/ coffee free drinks. I really like the Caramel Apple Spice over ice. 

4. The Word of Wisdom is not just to keep us away from certain things, but it encourages us to partake of healthy foods as well. 


Honestly it's just glorified apple juice with whipped cream and caramel syrup added, but it is SO good. 
They even have a secret menu! Shhh!



Have any other drinks in mind?? Post then below and I may feature you in an upcoming post!!

Disclaimer 
The Church has no stance on Pop or Energy drinks containing caffeine. It's up to each individual person to decide whether or not to drink them based on their own convictions. Me personally, I know that Heavenly Father wants me to stay away from all those drinks. That doesn't mean I slip up and drink a rockstar sometimes if I'm working a morning shift and I got NO sleep the night before. But it IS unhealthy, which I know. :)





Monday, May 13, 2013

Finding your FHE home

PHEW. Updating a blog is ridiculously hard work. Especially for me, because I keep second guessing things!

Tonight, being Monday, is important for many Mormons around the globe: Family Home Evening night (for those of you who don't really know what that is, check out the little link in the next sentence). Since I'm the only one in my immediate family that's a member I attend FHE Family Home Evening with some members of my ward who live in the area. Family Home Evening, or FHE as we like to call it, is a evening activity that consists of a lesson, prayer, and for us a ward service project or game. We have a lot of fun, and I encourage you to attend with your ward some times!

For me personally I know the benefits, because otherwise without people like you who are attending a ward FHE, I wouldn't have made some of the great friends that I have or experienced the things I have thus far! It truly blesses those without someone to do FHE with. 

The least you need to know/what I've learned:

1. FHE is a Blessing for many who are the only ones in their family who are members.

2. FHE is FUN!

3.There is always food (We're Mormons). So bring a friend! 

FHE sunset 



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goin' to The Temple

Ahh the Temple. About a month ago, I went on my VERY FIRST Temple trip!! I was both excited and nervous at the same time. The day before I went, we were all at the Institute building we attend for our Friday night activities. I was talking to some friends about it, because they knew it was going to be my first time there.

I didn't really calm down until a new friend I had just met (who had just returned from his mission the week before) was explaining how many blessings and feelings of peace come from the Temple. I had another friend tell me before I was baptized to "Get your Temple recommend as soon as you possibly can, and go to the temple as much as possible.



That couldn't have been better advice. I won't go into too much detail, (it's sacred, not secret), but I will say this: I have never felt more close to Heavenly Father than while I was at the temple. I encourage you to bring a notebook with you to journal while you are waiting. Those are memories that you don't want to forget. I haven't been back since April, but I know that I want to go to the Mesa, AZ Temple when I visit in May.


 It is the most beautiful temple I think I've seen thus far! (In my own opinion of course!)


The least you need to know:

1. Don't be scared, it is the house of The Lord! :)

2. Don't be afraid to ask your ward members or members of the bishopric if you have any questions about the day.

3. WEAR WHITE UNDIES!!! If you are wearing a headband, or hair ties, make sure that they too are also white. Most temples have hair ties/headbands to borrow :p 

Me personally, I would rather have my own..

4. Bring a notebook to journal with! TRUST ME. You will want those memories later in life.

5. Pray. Pray before you get there, and pray after you leave. It is a great way to usher the spirit into your heart.

6. Take some pics!! It IS your first temple trip after all!

I know that the blessings are IMMENSE. You will find that as you attend each session! Happy Mother's Day everyone! 


Natalie 


Friday, May 10, 2013

Soooo you just got baptized.. WHAT'S NEXT??!

CONGRATS!

You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know you're excited! After all, you HAVE received the restored gospel! (Thanks Joseph Smith!)

OR MAYBE you are getting ready to be baptized!? Either way, read on!

So do you remember that day? Your baptism day? Ahhhh. :) I do! I got the double dunk. Anyone know about that?? Pretty much happens when the Baptizer doesn't recite the ordinance "prayer" right, or you don't go fully under. THIS. My friends is what I want to talk about tonight. The Baptism dunk.

Now before I get into it, let me explain why: because when you begin to participate in the sacred ordinances of the Temple like baptisms, you don't want to run into this problem (like I did so many times).

First of all, it's more of a dip rather than a dunk! Don't go straight back, simply squat and lean back. Also! Trust the Elder baptizing you! They know what they are doing ;) Finally, just trust that you know that your Heavenly Father is blessing you for your efforts, even if you DO end up having to get double, or even triple dunked. Lol.

It's all good anyway ;)

The least you need to know:

1. Wear white undies! If you don't have any, buy some!!

2. Take pictures!!! 

I'm silently bashing myself for not taking pictures with my phone.. Of course, the missionaries I took the lessons from had their cameras and took loads of pictures! (Some of which are quite embarrassing.. I tend to make random faces.) I will have to ask them for reprints..

2. Invite your family, even if you think they won't come. 

That's something that I regret not doing, because as it turns out, they wanted to be there. No worries though! It was better this way. I wish you the best of luck!! And congrats again!