Day 14: He Knows Us Personally

Mark 5:

24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

This story has always been one I could vividly visualize!  Even in my minimal struggles, I know the toll that physical afflictions can take on a body and finances.  It can be so overwhelming!  I can imagine myself as this woman, physically afflicted and yearning for healing.  Wanting healing so badly that I would crawl through a crowd of people to Jesus.  Her faith was so great!  She was so certain if she could just His clothes, she would be healed.  It must have taken immense effort.  She had so much hope in the reaching out.  And immediately when she touched the hem of his clothing, she could feel the change come over her.  She knew the effort had been worth it!

I can only imagine the fear that came over her when Jesus stopped and asked who had touched Him.  I imagine she suddenly had a knot in the pit of her stomach wondering if she had done something wrong, if He would be mad at her.  I admire her so much for her courage to speak up and take ownership of her actions, especially not knowing how tender His response would be.

I admit I giggle a little each time I read the very confused response of Christ’s disciples when He asks who touched Him.  The saw the size of the crowd.  There were being pressed on every side by it.  They probably were feeling very lucky not to lose the Savior amongst the mess of people.  But Christ’s alertness and sensitivity is so profound to me.  He knew someone had reached out to Him with intent.  He knew that His power had healed someone.  I am absolutely certain that He knew exactly who it was as well.  But He gave her the opportunity to connect with Him.  He allowed her the precious knowledge that what she had done would have been freely given to her.  She never needed to feel guilty about the power she had tapped into.  He knew her.  He knew her struggles. He knew her yearnings.  He knew her faith.  And He blessed her for these things, for her efforts.  It is such a witness to me that He knows the same things about us and that He also wants to offer us His power and His blessings.  We just have to make the effort to reach out!

Song:

Known

Talk:

One Among the Crowd

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/one-among-the-crowd?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: What can you do to reach out to the Lord? How can you show faith that He knows you individually and desires to help you?

Day 13: He Can Make Us Whole

Luke 17:

11 ¶ And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Matthew 9:

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Mark 10:

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

There are so many stories in the scriptures of Jesus healing people. The phrase “made whole” has always struck a chord with me. Especially reading the first story I shared here. When I would read about how 10 lepers were healed and only one went back to show gratitude, I always wondered why Jesus would tell him that his faith had made him whole. He had healed all 10 of them, so how was this grateful leper’s blessing any greater? For a while I thought maybe it was because he was given the knowledge of how he was healed. Then I had an experience that taught me for myself that there actually was a difference between being healed and being made whole.

In 2011 I unexplainably started losing my vision. It affected both eyes, but my right eye more dramatically. I went to many doctors and no one could ever explain why my retina suddenly started to become defective. My blood vessels were leaking and I was losing my color and central vision. The first year was incredibly hard, especially because they could not identify the cause and therefore could not tell me how it would progress or whether it would spread to other systems. It was a time of great loss and much fear for me.

In my religion we believe in the power of healing blessings through God’s power. I received many blessings of healing over this time. I struggled because I had faith that God could heal me, but for some reason felt that He did not want to. After nearly 2 years of working through things, turning to God for strength and answers, seeking the best medical help, sharing my feelings and fears with my friends and family, I got another blessing. After that blessing I had the strangest calm come over me. And in that calm I distinctly felt a lesson being taught to me. The anguish and uncertainty that had been so prevalent in my life for almost two years was gone. I felt peace. I could look back and see times of comfort, tender mercies of love, and so much I had gained… empathy for others, gratitude for the blessings in my life, an increased closeness to my family, and a better relationship with my God. I had received the miracle of one eye being healed and the other eye was being left with me the way it was, maybe as a reminder of those lessons. Maybe to keep me humble. Maybe so I would remember to testify of God’s mercy in the other things I had learned. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Even though I had not been physically healed in that eye, I had through God’s power, my faith, my positive attitude, my searching for lessons in the trial, and my patience over that time been made whole.

Through that experience I was able to understand the story of the lepers. All were healed, but only that grateful leper was healed from his mental, emotional, and spiritual scars that had stemmed from his affliction. He was made whole because he turned back to the Savior. Though we may not be healed physically in this life, we can ALL be made whole emotionally and spiritually by doing exactly as the leper in this story did, we can turn to the Lord. And as we do this, He will help us start that journey of healing.

Song:

Made New

Talk:

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wilt-thou-be-made-whole?lang=eng

Thought by Merrill J. Bateman:

(He was listening to a woman who had been paralyzed in a car accidentally bear witness to Good having healed her on the inside.)

“As I listened, the Spirit bore witness of the great miracles of the Atonement and the Savior’s power to mend broken hearts, to heal from within. The Savior’s parable of the ten lepers took on new meaning. Luke describes Jesus meeting ten lepers. Upon seeing the Savior, they cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus responded: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” As they went their way, they were cleansed. One returned, fell on his face at the Master’s feet, and gave thanks. Jesus said, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” And then the Lord said to the one who returned, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (see Luke 17:12–19). In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole. The tenth leper and Sister Hee were changed eternally by their faith in the Savior and the healing power of his atonement.
The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom. May our faith in the Father and the Son help each of us to become whole.

Soul Searching Question:

How can you show faith and allow God to make you whole in one area of your life today?

Day 12: He Restores Vision

John 9:

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

39 ¶ And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

When I went blind in my right eye 8 years ago, stories about Jesus healing the blind really began to resonate with me.  I understood the fear and the yearning that comes with this particular impairment.  One of the wonderful things I learned from this trial  is how much more I appreciate Spiritual vision and alertness.  Having a loss like this and feeling a great need to turn to the Lord for help brought so much depth and fulfillment to my life that I didn’t even realize I had been missing.  As much as I would love to have my full vision restored to me, I would not trade it for the Spiritual sight I gained!

Though many may never struggle with the trial of losing physical vision, I think we all from time to time lose our spiritual vision.  It is so important for us to be doing the primary things to seek a personal relationship with the Lord so that He can keep our vision healthy and clear.  It is so important that we spend regular time seeking increased learning and growth.  Through these efforts He can teach us and guide us even when we sometimes walk in the dark.

Song:

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Talk:

For I Was Blind but Now I See

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/for-i-was-blind-but-now-i-see?lang=eng

Thought by Mathias Held:

“In addition to our rational minds, another dimension to gaining knowledge can give us guidance and understanding. It is the still and soft voice of His Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and also to our minds.
I like to compare this principle with our visual capacity. Our Father in Heaven has given us not only one but two physical eyes. We can see adequately with only one eye, but the second eye provides us with another perspective. When both perspectives are put together in our brains, they produce a three-dimensional image of our surroundings.
Likewise, we have been given two sources of information, through our physical and spiritual capacities. Our mind produces one perception through our physical senses and through our reasoning. But through the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Father has also provided us with a second perspective, which is really the most important and true one because it comes directly from Him. But since the whisperings of the Spirit are often so subtle, many people are not consciously aware of that additional source.
When these two perspectives are then combined in our souls, one complete picture shows the reality of things as they truly are. In fact, through the additional perspective of the Holy Ghost, certain “realities,” as pictured exclusively through our mental understanding, can be exposed as deceiving or plainly wrong. Remember the words of Moroni: “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
In my 31 years as a member of the Church, I have experienced many times that if we rely only on our rational mind and deny or neglect the spiritual understanding we can receive through the whisperings and impressions of the Holy Ghost, it is as if we were going through life with only one eye. But figurately speaking, we have actually been given two eyes. Only the combination of both views can give us the true and complete picture of all truths and of everything we experience in our lives, as well as of the whole and profound understanding of our identity and purpose as children of a living Heavenly Father.

Soul Searching Question:

How can you choose to see the Savior’s hand more clearly in your life?  Where can you increase your investment of time or energy to help your vision become more clear?

Day 4: One by One

Mark 5:

1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
18 And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.
22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

There are three amazing stories here, but rather than focus on the details of each of them today I just want to share a recent insight that I had using this chapter as a perfect example. For so long when I thought about serving I felt guilty because I have not been involved in very many big service projects. I’ve never flown to another country to serve the poor and the hungry. I’ve never spent weeks on end helping in a community that’s been wiped out by a natural disaster. This has always weighed on me as a feeling of not doing enough to love and serve others. Then about a year ago, I was reading this chapter (or one like it) and suddenly it dawned on me that as wonderful as being involved in projects like this are, especially if you have felt a prompting to be involved, serving like the Savior does not require me to do these huge acts. At once I saw very clearly that the Savior served (and serves) one by one. He spent His days ministering to individuals He found along His way. He saw their hurting and He helped them. Most often His miracles were preformed on His way to somewhere else. He served as He went. He saw a need and He filled it. Instantly serving well, serving as the Savior does no longer felt daunting or unattainable. I wondered how many opportunities I have had to give meaningful service that I have swept aside because I was too focused on the next place I was going or the projects I was trying to complete. But with new understanding changes for the better can be made.

Truly understanding that the little things we do to make another’s life easier are the essence of Christ-like service has really been a game changer for me. It has created a desire in me to be more aware of those opportunities throughout the day. It has made me want to slow down a little and pay more attention to the whispers that come showing me the needs around me. It has helped me feel validated in the little things I do to show love to those around me. Now I feel great when I take an hour to listen to a friend vent, or go out of my way to write a note and create a special treat for one of my kids who is having a hard week, or take the afternoon and spend some quality time with my husband. I have begun to see the time I invest in facilitating my scripture study or writing for my blog as opportunities to serve as I share God’s word and love with those who read my testimony. I never really saw these as service before, and as good as it is to be part of big organized service projects, better understanding Christ’s way of ministering helps me to recognize that maybe service in the little things along our daily path are just as important, if not more so.

Serving in the Savior’s way means keeping our eyes and our hearts open to see a need and fill it, just like He did.

Song:

Dream Small

Talk:

Ministering as the Savior Does

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/ministering-as-the-savior-does?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: How can you become more mindful to be a better minister to those around you one by one?

Day 2: Broken Up

Matthew 13:

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

I love the vivid imagery our Savior painted with as He used parables to teach the gospel!  The parable of the sower is one of my favorites! As I look back in my life I can see how my heart has taken on each of the conditions Jesus mentioned in this parable.  There have been times when I was angry and bitter and even though the Spirit tried to teach me the word was gobbled up before it had a chance to sink in.  There are times with I was too overwhelmed with the busyness of life and my pursuits of a worldly nature when the thorns crowded in and consumed my heart leaving no opportunity for spiritual thriving.  There have been those times when my heart has been more stony and I have heard truths and felt excited about them in the meeting where they were being taught only to go home and give no more thought to nurture them.  And then there have been times, my favorite times, even though sometimes they were my hardest times, when I have sat down regularly to spend time with the Master Gardener on a very regular basis.  And as we had these cultivating session He broke up the soil of my heart.  He taught me about thorny weeds I needed to remove and rocks I needed to toss out.  He showed me how to fertilize my soil.  And in that time together I have felt the most beautiful garden spring up in my soul.  I have felt peace and joy in a way that was not reasonable or explainable with the other difficulties that were happening in my life.  I felt loved.  I felt nurtured.  I felt strengthened.  But getting to that point was not easy.  It required a willingness to be broken up.  It required a willingness to make a painful exploration of who I was and who I wanted to be.  Sometimes self-examination is not easy.  Honestly, most of the time if we are doing it correctly it is not.  But it is ALWAYS worth it because our Lord can show us the areas in our lives where we are hurting the most and why.  And most importantly He can help us to change it so that it can become pleasing rather than painful!

Song:

Today’s talk goes into detail about the different types of soil and is very helpful in helping to determine where our own heart is and where it could use a little nourishment.

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2015/05/saturday-morning-session/the-parable-of-the-sower?lang=eng&fbclid=IwAR0_gDkWZWtgsd9D3b2sHN4-KElxsHePPEK4GcLO0h34GIERrig68ifcjBs

Soul Searching Question: What condition is the soil of your heart? What are you doing to break it up and nurture it to improve it? What specific things are you doing to keep your heart soft and receptive?

Ask God How He Feels About You

I never imagined that just the prospect of the transition into empty nesting would hit me so hard! From the time I was a young girl playing house with my sisters, the only thing I ever wanted to do was to be a mother. I loved school and I have enjoyed eacg job I have had, but the dream of my heart was motherhood. And though it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, caused me the most anxiety, and had me in tears many times, I’ve never been disappointed in the thrill of it. I love being a mom! I love nurturing, teaching and connecting with my children. I love creating memories and traditions with them. I love learning from them and realizing that they truly push me to be a better me. So it was crushing when a few years ago I suddenly realized that I only had a handful of years left of this being my full time, all encompassing, day consuming job. I felt like I abruptly hit a brick wall. What was I going to do with my life? Did I have another purpose? Something that would give me as much joy and fulfillment? Or at least a portion of that?

This realization came amidst some other really hard hitting trials and in the blink of an eye I felt like I was drowning. I know that most of my feelings of worthlessness and self doubt came from the other things happening in my life, but this sudden realization did not help. In fact, it just compounded all the other feelings I was having. I have always been a cheerful person, an optimist by nature. But this time in my life was devastating. I felt hopeless and helpless. I spent most of my days crying and trying to figure out how I was ever going to be happy again. As I said, their were many contributing factors to these feelings at that time and this was just a part of it, but it was the first time in my life I sincerely wanted to know who I really was and what my life’s purpose was. It was the first time that I realized that my children would not be my purpose forever and that there must be something more.

And then something beautiful happened. I started to feel prompted about what to pray about. And one of those things was, “Ask God how He feels about you.” Oh man! When you are feeling lower than dirt and can’t see anything good in yourself the last thing you want to do is ask God who sees all and knows all and is purity itself how He feels about you. But to my credit, I was obedient. I cannot put into words the sacred answers that came in that powerful communion with my Maker. I can only tell you that I cried harder than ever when the feelings of pure love came into my heart. I can tell you that He does know us perfectly and likewise He loves us perfectly. He knows the worst about us and loves us anyway. He cheers for us in our successes and He aches with us in our failures. He is for us and NEVER against us.

From that point on I was led to people, articles, and activities that strengthened my understanding of my diving identity. I was prompted to write a list of my good qualities. That was so hard! But again I obeyed and I know I did not make that list myself. Now one of my greatest treasures is a tangible list made by me and my loving Heavenly Father of my redeeming qualities. I was also led to create a list of my weaknesses. And in that list I found help in acknowledging them and the source to which I could go for help in creating healthy boundaries for myself to overcome those weaknesses. Aside from the personal divine assignments I was given, I had conversations with people who did not know my struggles that validated the positive things I was starting to feel. I got random texts that affirmed the heavenly love I had felt. I was led to groups that had scriptures and conference talks that taught me more and led me into deeper understanding of who I really was and how God really feels about me. And then along this journey I started to get very concise promptings and answers to my bigger purpose and how I would fulfill that.

This journey is very personal and maybe people would question how I came to be so sure of the things I am absolutely positive about now, but that is fine with me. Every one of us is entitled to the same journey of finding their true identity and purpose. In fact, I believe we are each accountable to seek out these answers. I can’t tell you what yours will look like. I can tell you it will not be an easy journey. To be honest, the vulnerability required will feel like a high price to pay. At times you may wonder if it is worth it. I promise it is! As you seek your divine identity and purpose with sincerity and diligence, if you will keep your mind and heart open and create a space for God to communicate with you, He will lead you to find your answers little by little. It will change your heart and it will change your life! As I said, I can’t tell you what your journey will look like or the specific answers you will find, but I can tell you how to start… Ask God how He feels about you.