Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Glimpse into the Life of Job

In the past few weeks, my family has endured several trials. They are mostly temporal things, but they affect the family nonetheless. My dad lost his job, after 17 years of diligent, loyal employment. The dishwasher stopped working. The stove/oven stopped working. The refridgerator stopped working. The cars are falling to pieces. There was a leak in the shower. All these things, and more have afflicted my family. As I look at the events that have happened in my family over the past few weeks, I am reminded of the story of Job. Job was a just man who walked uprightly before God. He was righteous and humble, and he had been blessed significantly by the Lord. He had property and lands and livestock, making him a wealthy man. He had a wife and seven children, who were his pride and joy. He lived a comfortable life, while working hard to earn his keep. Then, the adversary stepped into the picture, and was allowed to tempt Job, to see if he would deny God. Job lost everything. His children died when the roof of his house fell upon them. The cattle and livestock were stolen, and the sheep were burned by the fires from heaven. His servants were slain by the Sabeans and the Chaldeans, who stole the oxen and mules and camels. Later, Job is smitten with boils, which caused him to live in constant discomfort. His wife and friends turn against him, calling him a sinner, and telling him to curse God and die.

The things that my family is facing is nowhere near as awful as what Job faced, but it tests their faith (and mine) anyways. Imagine the sorrow that Job felt. I read about he wished that he had died when he was born, or had never been born. He laments and prays and asks God to remove the hardships from him- yet he never denied God. He said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15).

My great-grandfather Clarence Kennedy used to say, "The cows give more milk and the chickens lay more eggs when you have a boy (or girl) on a mission." Though it's hard to see sometimes, there are still blessings being poured out onto my family. My dad now has the opportunity to study his scriptures more often and more in-depth. He has the chance to make the needed repairs on the house (like ordering parts to fix the appliances and repairing the leaks). He has more time to devote to making himself a disciple of Christ, and he is more aware of the things that affect the home. He told me that he tries to study his scriptures at the same time I study during the morning (which is 8:00 for me, 9:00 for him). My mom doesn't have to worry about being home to clean the house so much, or prepare dinner. My sister has her dad at home to help her through the final week of high school, before graduating and turning a new leaf.

Job, though tempted, tried, beaten down, and nearly defeated, said, "when He (the Lord) hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). The process of refining gold to make it shiny and valuable involves being melted down in a fire several times, until it comes out gleaming and beautiful. How true this held for Job! At the end of his trials, he is blessed to see the Lord with his own eyes. He was restored to his former wealth and comfort, healed of his afflictions, and blessed with seven more children.

I am confident that the things that my family is facing at this time in their lives is part of the refining process to turn them into beautiful, strong disciples of Christ. They will be blessed for enduring well.  Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8 says, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; though shalt triumph over all thy foes." I know that if my family and I approach these trials with an eye single to the glory of God, and praise Him in our trials and in our blessings, He will make a way to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), and we will be able to bear our afflictions and trials.

I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I know the Atonement is real and that it is available for all who believe in Christ, if they will but come unto Him. I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Doubting My Doubts

It's no secret that the adversary does his very best to instill doubts into our minds. He disturbs us with thoughts like, "Is the church really true?" "Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?" "Is Thomas S. Monson really our prophet today?" As a missionary, many of my doubts sound like this: "Am I really supposed to be on a mission right now?" "Am I doing the Lord's work, or am I just trying to convince people about the church?" "Isn't there something better I could be doing with my time?" Unfortunately, doubts are a reality of life. The adversary does everything he can to convince us that our doubts are truth. Doubts are never truth!
In an effort to encourage the members of the Church who are struggling with doubts, our dear Apostle, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated, "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." My mission president, President Swain, has said that as soon as doubt comes, faith leaves. As much as it applies to missionary work, it can apply to real-life situations. I am asking you, my dear friends, to doubt your doubts. Don't let your faith waver. Trust in the Lord. Like Job says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Even if God brings you low (like the currant bush story; see D. Todd Christofferson's talk, "As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten") you must always trust Him. Build your foundation on Him. Fast and pray often. Trust Him. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Slow Start

My whole life, serving a mission was never on the agenda. My plan was to graduate high school and college, marry an RM, and have a family. I never grew the "foot or two," which always felt like a requirement to serve a mission, and I was really content with the way my life was going. I had only been 19 for a few months when I heard the words, "able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19 instead of age 21" escape the lips of President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2012 General Conference. I could hardly believe it, but I found myself sitting in my bishop's office less than a week later, anxious to start my mission papers. Like any good bishop would do, he counseled me to fast and pray about my decision to serve a mission. When I did so, I got a definite, "not yet," which I took to me as, "no!"
Fortunately, I was blessed to serve a 3 1/2 month service mission as a Young Performing Missionary (YPM) in Nauvoo, IL in the summer of 2013. Being a member of the Nauvoo Brass Band has been an amazing blessing for me, and it was that service mission which prompted my service as a full-time proselyting missionary for 18 months. When I was being set apart for my mission to Nauvoo, I got a very strong and VERY clear prompting that it was time to start my mission papers. All I could think was, "Really? Now? But I'm about to leave on a mission to Nauvoo! I'm supposed to serve two missions? I thought this was it!" Yet, I knew what I had felt, and as soon as the setting apart was over, I turned to my dad, who also happened to be my bishop at the time, and said, "I think we need to start my mission papers." He was shocked, but we did everything we could that night to fill out half of the mission papers before heading to the airport the next morning. The whole summer I struggled with my decision to serve a full-time mission, and I began to doubt whether or not I should go, but I remembered the prompting I had received, and when I got home from Nauvoo in August, I finished my papers and had a call within two months. At the time of my mission call, most of my dear friends had already been out on their missions for 6 months or so. By the time I left for the MTC in January, they had been out for 9-12 months. I worry about how things will be when I get home. Most of my friends will have been home for a while, and I'll be the odd one out. The thing that gets me is that I feel so far behind, that I'll never catch up.
Then I remember: IT'S NOT A RACE TO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM!!! Everyone will be resurrected, and everyone will be judged. I'm reminded of the following scripture in Isaiah 55 verse 8: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." I'd like to re-phrase that to say, "My time is not your time..."
I've tried to plan out my entire life, from the type of man I'll marry to the haircut I'll have when I'm 80 years old. The funny thing is, that everything I've planned so far has gone in a completely different direction, yet I still LOVE where I am in my life. Sure, some of my circumstances are less than desireable, but so what? I'll deal with it, just like Job dealt with skinworms and boils. What's more is that I'm going to try my hardest to "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15).
If things aren't going the way you planned, tear up those blueprints! It was never supposed to be that way! The Lord has bigger and better things in store for you! Allow Him to guide your life.
I know that the Lord hears our prayers, and I know He answers them. It may not always be in the way you planned, but He always answers them. I love the Lord, and the experiences I'm gaining as one of His missionaries.

Friday, May 9, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours

This morning was one of those mornings on the mission when you just can't force yourself out of bed. But, reluctantly, I dragged myself from my warm covers and laid on top of the heater for my "morning exercises." The rest of the morning was pretty normal: trying not to fall asleep during personal study, trying not to fall asleep during companion study, and trying to feel the Spirit the whole time. When we were getting ready to leave the apartment, we heard thunder and saw lightning. Now, to a Southern girl like me, that was nothing. But here in Utah, thunder and lightning is usually followed by... HAIL. And we heard it like gunfire on our roof. My companion and I looked at each other and said, "Nope!" We decided to wait out the storm, safe and warm in our apartment. There's a popular saying here in Utah that goes a little something like this: "If you don't like the weather in Utah, wait five minutes." Well, NO KIDDING! Five minutes later, the rain and hail stopped, and we were ready to go.
I'd like to compare this to life and the gospel. In Helaman 5:12 it says, "And now my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundations, a foundation upon whereon if men build, they cannot fall." When the hail and storm were beating upon our apartment, we were safe inside, under a roof which has been provided for us. In life, when the hail and storms and winds and whirlwinds beat on us, we have to remember where our foundation lies. Are you the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, only to come home after a huge storm to find it all washed away? Or are you the wise man, who was pleased to find that the home that he built on a solid, firm foundation was still standing, all in one piece?
Remember who you are built on. Remember who you are, dear child of God. Build your foundation on Christ, and you will never, ever fall.

About Me

Hi! My name is Sister Denton! I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Utah, Salt Lake City West Mission. I started my mission on January 15, 2014, and will end in July 2015. I started my mission in Magna, UT, and am currently in West Valley City, UT. I grew up in Memphis TN, and moved to Nashville when I was 14. I attended BYU-Idaho before my mission and was majoring in Elementary Education.

I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I am so grateful to have been born of goodly parents and to have been raised in the gospel. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission and to dedicate 18 months of my life to serving the Lord. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world, and I am anxious to see where this journey takes me.

Sister Lauren Denton