Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 10, 2014 - Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!
Hello my dear family!! I hope that all is going well with you back in Utah:) Things have been challenging this week in Nebraska, but I have been strengthened and comforted through those times:)

First, some updates that have happened this week!!
J Mc has now gone 15 days sober!! It has been a miracle! The Elders are working very closely with him and he is making so much progress! He came to Sacrament Meeting yesterday! I almost fell off of the stand with happiness when I saw him walk through the doors:) He says he is not ready to be baptized right now with all of the life changes that he is making. He wants to feel more stable and change things around before he takes on another commitment. He is doing awesome! Keep him in your prayers:) The spirit is working very heavily on J right now! :)

We were able to do a lot of service this past week! We did some service for the Maldinados again. We were making jewelry and dream catchers for their tribe to use in a fundraiser. It has been pretty cool!

We got some snow this week which was also an adventure! Our cars were grounded for about 24 hours. (meaning that we couldn't drive them at all) So we walked around a lot and shoveled a lot of driveways and side walks:) We did several less active members, active members, and just random ones that hadn't been done yet. It was a lot of fun doing so much secret service, but ill be honest, my back wasn't as thrilled about it all:) haha

So a funny story that happened yesterday at church. We were in Relief Society and sister Burdick was giving the lesson. It was on the Plan of Salvation. She was talking about the Resurrection and how her husband wanted to be cremated and spread across the Colorado mountains once he passed on. She said in a bold and quirky voice "that ain't happening!! There is no way that I am going to stand around after being resurrected waiting for you to go around looking for all of your pieces!!" It was pretty funny! I laughed a lot:) Maybe you had to be there:) 

I think I did well on my talk yesterday:) I always critique myself and give me a hard time, but my companion and several people in the ward said I did well, so Im trying to trust their judgement:) haha

Sorry not a lot of cool stories from the week.. It was rough:) but I learned a lot in my studies this week so I wanted to share one of the talks I read:)  

So I read a talk this morning in my studies called Lessons from Liberty Jail, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I would highly recommend that you read the full talk! It is really amazing and powerful! I have included several parts of his talk that I really liked:) When you have time, look up the rest:) sorry the thought is a little more long winded this week:) haha here we go.. 
"Most of us, most of the time, speak of the facility at Liberty as a “jail” or a “prison”—and certainly it was that. But Elder Brigham H. Roberts, in recording the history of the Church, spoke of the facility as a temple, or, more accurately, a “prison-temple.”8 Elder Neal A. Maxwell used the same phrasing in some of his writings.9 Certainly it lacked the purity, the beauty, the comfort, and the cleanliness of our true temples, our dedicated temples. The speech and behavior of the guards and criminals who came there was anything but templelike. In fact, the restricting brutality and injustice of this experience at Liberty would make it seem the very antithesis of the liberating, merciful spirit of our temples and the ordinances that are performed in them. So in what sense could Liberty Jail be called a “temple”—or at least a kind of temple—in the development of Joseph Smith personally and in his role as a prophet? And what does such a title tell us about God’s love and teachings, including where and when that love and those teachings are made manifest?
As we think on these things, does it strike us that spiritual experience, revelatory experience, sacred experience can come to every one of us in all the many and varied stages and circumstances of our lives if we want it, if we hold on and pray on, and if we keep our faith strong through our difficulties? We love and cherish our dedicated temples and the essential, exalting ordinances that are performed there.
You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.
Now let’s talk about those propositions for a moment. Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not have been our fault. Indeed, we may face difficult circumstances for reasons that were absolutely right and proper, reasons that came because we were trying to keep the commandments of the Lord. We may face persecution; we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones; we may be hungry and cold and forlorn. Yes, before our lives are over we may all be given a little taste of what the prophets faced often in their lives. But the lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.
(Speaking of praying to our Heavenly Father he continued) He does hear us. He does see us. Hedoes love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us.
When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child.
We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple.
Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised:
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]
That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble."
I know that our Heavenly Father is very aware of us. Sometimes we have things happen to us that are challenging and you are unsure of where to turn or how to get through it. But I promise as you turn to your all-knowing, unconditionally loving Father, you will receive the strength, comfort, and peace to make it through any challenge triumphantly. Our Savior suffered and personally experienced everything that we would face so that we wouldn't have to go through any trial alone. He has already done that. The times that I have been happiest in my life, is when I turn to my Savior through the good and the bad times. It is not the adversity that defines you, it is what you do with the adversity that we are given. As we remember our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ and turn to them in every situation, they can and will strengthen us, comfort us, love us, and lift us up. They can change our characters and refine us to become more like them, and in turn, better able to handle future situations. I know that my Redeemer lives. That is one of my favorite songs now! I have truly come to understand how much I truly do need my Savior. He is always there for me. And we do need him every single hour of every day. Never hesitate to turn to Him! I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father before. That promise above is true! The Lord is with us, carrying us, and angels surround us (both seen and unseen) to lift us up! You are known. You are important. You are loved.
Happy Valentines day this week!! Happy Birthday Ryan!!
Love you all!!

Sister Christensen:)

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