Browsing Category: religion

The Holiness of Nature

It is common knowledge to Mormons that when Christ and Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph Smith (the founder of the LDS church), he was in a wooded grove just outside his family’s farm. He was green, secluded nature. It was sacred, holy ground. It is known to us as the Sacred Grove.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Growing up, I always loved forests. From the time I was 10 until I graduated high school, I lived in Northern Virginia, surrounded by forests and streams. My family had a tradition of going camping to National Parks all over the nation. Typically these were forest invested national parks. I loved exploring our campsites and allowing my imagination to fill the forests. I felt at home there.

The greenery was the biggest thing I missed when my family moved to California and I went to Utah for college. I felt at home under the canopy of green trees, treading beaten dirt paths, listening to bubbling brooks, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have that in Utah.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

One day, while living in Provo, Utah, on a random bike ride, I happened upon a secluded part of the Provo River–there were trees everywhere. It was very reminiscent of Virginia. I had found a home away from home. From then on, if I ever had a fight over the phone with my mom, or an argument with my husband, or if I was just overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, I would bike or drive over to my personal sacred grove. I would find a small rock hanging over the creek, under the shade of a tree, and just sit. I would close my eyes and just breathe. I allowed the sounds of nature to fill me with peace.

When we moved in with my parents, we lived near the green, Alpine mountains of the Wasatch Front. The temple we would attend sat in the middle of these, and as we drove up the hill, we would be blessed with a picturesque view of the mountainside covered in evergreens. It would always make my heart burst to see that.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

In April, during the LDS General Conference, I was upset with my family and husband. I don’t remember why–it was probably pretty petty since I can’t remember. But, I excused myself, took the car, and started to drive up the mountain. That was one amazing plus that I had always loved about everywhere I lived in Utah–the breathtaking view of the valley below, especially at sunset. So, I drove up and up as far as I could go in the neighborhoods. I was listening to Conference on the radio as I drove, trying to bring the Spirit back to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I found an entrance to a trail. I immediately parked my car, turned Conference on my iPod, and started hiking up the trail.

It was probably the most spiritual experience I had ever had while listening to Conference. Instead of sitting in my pajamas, snacking with my family, lounging on a coach watching Conference in our living room, I was alone with Christ and His words, in the nature that He created. It was one of the most intimate, close experiences I’ve ever had with my Savior.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Before we moved to Texas, I made sure to go on a few trails with Rhys to begin to instill in him my love of nature. He loved running on the paths and throwing rocks and sticks into the streams. I just hope that I can find some lovely hidden, sacred groves here in Texas.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Abraham 5:9 And out of the ground made the Gods to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life, also, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to beinhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.

Alma 30:44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Tom Reese (Ensign, February 2013The supreme beauty of the natural world reminds us of the power and perfection of God. When we are in nature, feelings of hope, peace, and reverence come to us through the Spirit. In nature we can see the handiwork of the perfect Artist. For centuries mankind has tried to emulate the handiwork of God. No human, however, has been able to match the perfect artistry of the Lord. Sometimes I wonder if God created the earth as He did to give us a small taste of what is in store for us in the future. If this earth can be so astoundingly beautiful, what must the renewed and perfected earth look like?

My Heavenly Father Loves Me (Children’s Song Book #228)

1. Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.

2. He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.

Tayler from The Morrell Tale.com

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Power of Prayer

The lord truly will answer your prayers.

“He’s not able to come home,” my mom delivered the tragic news to us.

My dad had volunteered for a tour in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. Thankfully, it wasn’t a combat position–he was a JAG for the Marine Corp (a lawyer) and his job would be to train Iraqi lawyers how to hold a fair court of law with due process. He was only supposed to be gone for 10 months. I remember that my bishop gave us a promise from God that he would come home safe and well. Of course, we were still nervous since the Embassy was being bombed often, but we trusted that God would return him to us.

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However, during that 10 month period, my mom experienced some of the worst pain of her life. It had been little over 10 years since she had a radioactive surgery to kill a melanoma tumor in her right eye. But, the eye was finally dying. It caused her so much pain–her eye swelled, she barfed a lot, couldn’t eat much, had splitting migraines, and was in bed most of the day. As the oldest, I was given a lot of responsibility around home. But, to a fourteen year old freshman with three younger siblings and no father currently at home, it scared me.

That was the situation when mom told us that the General wasn’t going to let dad come home for another few months. One the one hand, it meant my dad was doing such an excellent job and was truly needed in Iraq. But, on the other had, we desperately needed him back. My parents tried to use my mom’s medical condition to persuade the general to find a replacement. It didn’t work.

So, my parents, half-way across the world from each other, prayed and fasted that the general’s heart would be softened. My siblings and I prayed every night and every morning for the same thing. After a month, it was to no avail.

But, we didn’t give up. Growing up Mormon, we had a strong testimony not only in the power of prayer and fasting, but also in community support. We told both sides of our family. We told our entire congregation. Working with our Bishop, we decided to try to change the wording of our prayers: instead of trying to have the General’s heart softened, to help a replacement for my dad be found, but let the Lord’s will be done. A special Sunday was chosen for the congregation and our entire extended family to fast and pray. We all trusted that the Lord would help my family.

Less than a week went by and we heard that a replacement had been found for my dad and he would be coming home within a month! My mother and siblings immediately knelt down and thanked the Lord for answering our prayer.

Dad came home, was able to help mom get back on her feet, and our family was whole again.

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Even 12 years later, that experience of prayer is the strongest testament I have to the power that can be when we plead with our Heavenly Father. I truly believe that if our hearts and intentions are pure and good, and that we are humble, Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers.

The lord truly will answer your prayers.

Mosiah 9:18 (Book of Mormon)
And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers

Doctrine and Covenants 112:10
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.

 

2 Nephi 32:9
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ is the Center

Christ is the center of my religion. No matter what anyone else says, I am saved because of him. It doesn't matter if I am Mormon. I am Christian, Christ is my Savior.

I never once in my life lacked a testimony of God, the Father, His Only Begotten Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I have always known that I am a Child of God, and it is through the Atonement and Grace of Christ we are saved. I have always believed in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Yup. The Book of Mormon. Yup. I am a Mormon. And, I am a Christian. I have been both my entire life, and will be forever more.

Christ is the center of my religion, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I am Mormon, I believe in Christ as my Savior, and I am saved. That is all that matters.

However, since I grew up in the Mormon Church, it wasn’t until recently that I developed my own testimony rather than relying on others and being content with my religious culture. I’m sure the same thing happens to anyone born into a family religion.

I have always had a thirst for learning–I relish in knowing about different cultures, religions, history. I am a life-long student (if I could be in college forever, studying topics of my choice for free, I would!). I have always been able to connect the dots between different sects, denominations, and religions. Learning about Jung’s theory on the Collective Unconscious, I became a fan of tolerance between all religions. They all stemmed from the same Adamic religion that God and Christ entrusted to Adam and his descendants. I know many people feel slighted when Mormons say that my religion is “the only true religion.” I don’t like that phrase. Through my studies of different world religions, esoteric history, symbols and myths, and my own knowledge of my religion, I have come to see that all religions have truth and light. Some may have more than others. I believe my religion has some priesthood keys and Gospel knowledge that others may not. But, I don’t believe that any religion is the “wrong” religion…

Read more at Life As Me.

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reading Roundup | April 2016

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

I read like a fiend for this month’s Reading Roundup. Mainly because I visited my Grandma. She has some of the most interesting books ever–all history, culture, literature, and religion. So, I begged her if I could borrow three Mormon titles that caught my eye. She reluctantly agreed (she doesn’t like lending out books in fear of never getting them back). So, to appease her, I tried to hurry and read them so that I could return them.

The one thing that I hate about reading non-fiction books that I don’t own, is that I can’t write notes in them, and actually had to suffice taking pictures of parts I really loved or stood out to me on my iPhone!

I also read two fiction books: one YA and one adult fiction.

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Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

How Do I Know if I Know? by John Bytheway

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

I was very excited to read this book: 1) it was written by John Bytheway (a Mormon comedian and a famous Mormon speaker) and 2) it was all about finding out what you truly believe, which is what I’ve been trying to do this past year. Bytheway said that the biggest problem facing members of the church today isn’t pornography or any other sin, but the strength of their testimony.

I really liked Bytheway’s insights. He spoke honestly and plainly. One thing that really stood out to me was this quote, because of my issues I have with using grace as an excuse:

“One time, while visiting another state, I was handed a tract that told me all I had to do to be saved was ‘Accept Jesus as my personal Savior.’ It even gave me the exact words to say.  That was it! Well, Jesus Christ is absolutely my Savior and my only hope for salvation. But it doesn’t make sense to me that simply saying a sentence is what  Jesus is asking us to do, or what He asked His disciples in the Bible to do. We believe in Christ, but we follow Christ in order to become like Christ…The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only about knowing but about doing. If we read about the Gospel, we’re informed, but if we practice or live the Gospel, we are transformed.”

However, it didn’t go much into depth. It was a very quick read, mainly because it was centered toward Bytheway’s dominant audience: the youth (12-18) of the Church.

The King of Dragons by Carol Fenner

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

I was pretty interested in reading this YA novel that I had gotten at a library $1 sale, especially because it didn’t have any summary in the back. So, I literally had no idea what the book was about. Based on the cover, I was expecting some sort of ethnic mystical book. I was completely wrong.

The King of Dragons is about Ethan, a young boy, who is homeless and living in an abandoned courthouse, waiting for his father to return. But, a NPO bought the old building and turned it into a kite museum.

I thought the writing was very confusing. A lot of times, especially with the father, tried to be deep and mysterious, but it failed. I didn’t feel like the characters really got any growth. It definitely was no where near being a favorite for me.

Exploring the Connections Between Mormons and Masons by Matthew B. Brown

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

I remember when this came out in 2009. I had just finished my college exams for the semester and was at BYU’s campus bookstore to buy my reward of a book for finishing another semester. I saw this on the shelf after I already purchased a book and knew I wanted to read it sometime.

I have always been interested in esoteric/religious history, especially after reading The Secret History of the WorldGrowing up, I had heard that Masons were bad and that Mormons were accused of taking things from Masonic rituals and putting it in their theology and rituals was anti-Mormon. But, as an adult, I realized that Masons weren’t evil, and that yes there are some similarities between Mormons and Masons, especially when it comes to the different things that happen in LDS temples.

What I loved about this book is that it did show similiarities between the two, but proved that Mormons did not base anything off Masons. The author used a lot of primary sources, although I felt his argument was a little week at a few times when he “proved” things saying that God had revealed it and using only Mormon scriptures…I mean, I believed it, but those who don’t believe God talks today or in Mormonism would just shrug off what he had to say.

One of the most interesting points he made was the the Masonic rituals were actually proved to be based of not only the medieval mystery plays (which were super-uber religious), but also from texts of the early Christian Church on what they did and how they practiced. So, if one argues that the LDS temples are Masonic in origin, you could really just skip Masonry as the middleman and say that LDS temples are based off early Christianity. Brown was also able to compare what Mormons did in temples to a lot of different rituals or symbols that different monastic orders use and do.

Now, to what point Masonry and Mormonism are similar, based off each other, coincidental, I don’t know and doubt I ever truly will. I doubt anyone will ever really truly be able to prove anything in anyway. What is important is how I feel and who I keep at the head of my mind while in the temple–Christ.

Much Ado About Mormons by Rick Walton

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

This book was basically a compilation of what different famous people throughout history have said or written about Mormons and Utah. It was really interesting to see what some of the early US Presidents thought, as well as people such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Buffalo Bill, and present-day Presidents. Many had good things to say about either the beauty of Utah, how clean/organized/well-set-up Salt Lake City was, the kindess and charity of the Mormon people, and how happy and peaceful we always seem. It was quite interesting to read!

 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Book Reviews include: How I Know If I Know, The King of Dragons, Attachments, Much Ado About Mormons, and The Connection Between Mormons and Masons

I read this one for Bonnie’s Book Club this month.

I’ve never really been interested in love story books…I honestly find them a little boring…kind of like chic flicks…if it isn’t a RomCom, it’s not worth my time. This book was extremely boring to me. I literally fell asleep reading it one night. Ask Justin…

It’s about a geeky, socially-enept boy, Lincoln, who gets a job at a newspaper doing Internet security. He has to read flagged emails and warn the employees. Two girls, Beth and Jennifer, who email each other because they are best friends often get flagged. Lincoln starts to fall for Beth. Beth sees Lincoln one day and starts to fall for him, not knowing exactly who he is.

I found that plot a little creepy–both Lincoln and Beth were stalkers. Eww. It also took place in 1999 with a ton of references to 90’s pop culture. I was NINE in 1999…I didn’t understand half the references!

However, I did like Rowell’s style of writing. Half of the book was formatted as the emails sent between Beth and Jennifer (like today’s texting between friends). I thought it was very well done–it truly sounded like two friends having a conversation. And, when it was in prose following Lincoln, Rowell also did a good job with his train of thought. It wasn’t jumpy, but it wasn’t super structured and predictable either.

So, although Attachments was well written, I just wasn’t interested in the plot.

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What books did you read this month? Which of mine seem interesting? Which one would you want to read?

 

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

#Hallelujah | Follow Him and Find New Life

He lives! Our Savior lives! Follow Him and find new life. Because of Him, we can be with our families for the eternities. #Hallelujah!

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, representing Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, treading on palm leaves, before He spent the last week of His mortal life. But, as we know, a week later, three days after He was crucified and died for our sins, He was resurrected. And because of Him, we, too, can taste everlasting life. #Hallelujah, He lives!

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He lives! Our Savior lives! Follow Him and find new life. Because of Him, we can be with our families for the eternities. #Hallelujah!

I love the Easter season. Easter represents spring, new beginnings, new life. And how appropriate that Spring begins around Easter. Spring in it’s eternity represents Christ’s resurrection. Because of His death, we may live. Because of Him, I belong to a hopeful church. Because of Him, I know I can see my family again after death.

I have been very lucky in my life not to have known the loss of a dear one. I have known both sets of grandparents in my life. However, my maternal grandmother died when I was one. I grew up hearing about Grandma Rhea. I grew up hearing farm stories about her youth from my dad. I grew up hearing about how she cared for my mother when she was newly wed as a barely-20-year old. I grew up hearing how I look a lot like her. I grew up seeing a sketching of her in my living room, her kind eyes always beaming down on me. I grew up with my family wrapping ourselves in a quilt made of her old clothing. I grew up believing that she is my guardian angel. Because of Christ, I know that I will see her again, and this time, I will know her. #Hallelujah

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My paternal grandpa passed away on Christmas Day 2014. We all knew it was inevitable. He was suffering from very poor health for years before, and it was finally time for him to leave us and return to our Father. Even though my grandfather made mistakes in how he treated people and himself throughout his life, his grandchildren were his pride and joy. He loved us to no ends. I remember having tickle fights with him. He taught me how to play chess and cribbage. He would always invite us to sit on his lap while he sped down the road and popped wheelies in his electric wheelchair (giving my mom and grandma heart attacks in doing so). He always wanted to see us. My grandpa was declining in health and in a nursing home when I was married in August 2012. He was even worse when I gave birth to Rhys in July 2014. When Rhys was about a month old, we visited my grandpa. He teared up when he saw Rhys, his 7th great-grandchild. One of the most precious pictures I have of my grandpa is of his big, old, withered hand, holding Rhys’s tiny, new, perfect hand. I cherish that photo. Because of Christ, I know that I will see him again, and he will be able to play with Rhys even more vigorously than he ever was able to play with me. #Hallelujah

grandpa and rhys

This Easter season, I challenge you to think more of our Savior, Jesus Christ, than of Easter bunny and eggs and chocolate. Think of those you have lost and who can be with you again through the Resurrection of Christ. Follow Him and find new life. Repent of your sins, try to be more like Him, and feel His love and Grace and Life within you.

What makes you say Hallelujah this Easter?

He Is Risen

  1. 1. He is risen! He is risen!
  2. Tell it out with joyful voice.
    He has burst his three days’ prison;
    Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
    Death is conquered; man is free.
    Christ has won the victory. 

  3. 2. Come with high and holy hymning;
    Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.
    Not one darksome cloud is dimming
    Yonder glorious morning ray,
    Breaking o’er the purple east,
    Symbol of our Easter feast. 

  4. 3. He is risen! He is risen!
    He hath opened heaven’s gate.
    We are free from sin’s dark prison,
    Risen to a holier state.
    And a brighter Easter beam
    On our longing eyes shall stream.

**Click here to learn more about the Easter 2016 #Hallelujah campaign.

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.