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Forgiveness

Today is Mother’s Day, so to start off, I want to wish you all a happy Mother’s Day! It’s a wonderful day to celebrate those Mom’s that have had an impact on our lives, whether they be family or those who have impacted our lives positively anywhere along the road. Thank you for shaping each of us in a positive way.

Today at Church I heard a story from John in the New Testament that I had never heard related this way, and it made me think, made me see things differently, and I am grateful for the added perspective to this story and to my life. So I would like to relate the story and what I learned. This story comes from John chapter 8, in which a woman was taken in adultery and was brought before the Savior by the Pharisees to see what He would do about it. This woman was at a very low point in her life. She, in fact, had reached what we would call “rock bottom.” She was caught in a sin, she was brought publicly through the streets, she was probably humiliated because of what she had done as well as the judgements cast by everyone who saw her and those who knew her story. To make matters worse, because of the law, she could possibly be sentenced to death by stoning. She was brought before Jesus, whom she may or may not have known of, to have her fate determined. What was His response?

“He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

What happened? The crowd dispersed. Yet one remained. The only one without sin never left her side. Jesus stayed when everyone left. He didn’t stay to condemn her, He didn’t stay to humiliate her, He didn’t stay to accuse her. He stayed because He loved her and because she needed Him. And when they were all gone, what did He do? No condemnation, no ridicule, no humiliation. Love is what He extended, forgiveness was what He gave. But He never left her, just like He will never leave us, especially in our time of need, especially when we feel like we are not worth saving, when we are not worth anything. We matter to the most important people in the whole grand scheme of thing, and He, our Savior, and our Heavenly Father will never leave us, they love us so very much!

As I was pondering on this story it reminded me of a story I heard in one of my Church’s General Conference addresses. I think it applies here as well. I will relate the story here, and you can read the whole talk here, it is called “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet by Jeffrey R. Holland.

“Without safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers – Jimmy, age 14, and John, age 19 (though those aren’t their real names) – attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in my native Southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they now retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.

“Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.

“In his own words, he said:

“Prior to my jump I told Jimmy to go search for a tree branch strong enough to extend down to me, although I knew there was nothing of the kind on this rocky summit. It was only a desperate ruse. If my jump failed, the least I could do was make certain my little brother did not see me falling to my death.

“Giving him enough time to be out of sight, I said my last prayer – that I wanted my family to know I loved them and that Jimmy could make it home safely on his own – then I leapt. There was enough adrenaline in my spring that the jump extended my arms above the ledge almost to my elbows. But as I slapped my hands down on the surface, I felt nothing but loose sand on flat stone. I can still remember the gritty sensation of hanging there with nothing to hold on to – no lip, no ridge, nothing to grab or grasp. I felt my fingers begin to recede slowly over the sandy surface. I knew my life was over.

“But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited – silently, almost breathlessly – knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death.””

Elder Holland goes on to say, “we should always remember … brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings, from our sorrows and our sins. Against the background of this story reported by John and Jimmy’s family, I express my gratitude for the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge events in the divine plan of God that led up to and give meaning to ‘the love Jesus offers [us]'”

I have never reached the rock bottom, life or death situations like these stories relate, but I have had times of darkness, times of trial, times when I couldn’t figure out how to move forward. And what has cut through that darkness? My Heavenly Father through my Savior. No matter the trial, no matter how seemingly unimportant the question to my God, who knows all and sees all. I have never been condemned by Him, never ridiculed or made to feel worthless. I have received love, a never-ending stream of love, caring, comfort, kindness, compassion. I have received correction, I am not perfect. But not correction from an all powerful, unfeeling being. From a Father who loves His daughter, through His Son who loves me so much that He was willing to feel what I feel, to hurt what I hurt, to sorrow like I sorrow, so that He could comfort like I need it, heal what’s been broken, and light my way when I don’t know how to move forward. He never leaves me, especially in my times of greatest struggles. I know He never will.

The best part about my Savior Jesus Christ, is that He is your Savior too. He did all this for you too. He never leaves your side, He guides and directs, comforts and cares for not just me, but everyone. And He is never unavailable, He speaks each of our languages perfectly, and no matter how far away from Him we feel, we only have to turn around, because He is right there, always. If you don’t know Him, you should get to know Him, and if you do know Him, get to know Him better, because He wants to know you too.

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Easter

Today is Easter Sunday. A day of egg hunts and chocolate. A day with family and big dinners. A new beginning with spring in many areas, here in Alaska it’s just around the corner. But today is special for another reason. Today is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. I remember when my kids were in Elementary school. One of their teachers had them do an Easter craft project. They made these big, colorful eggs, and wrote down what Easter was all about. There were so many fun family traditions to read about, so much time together. It was a great reminder of how important family was. My daughter’s teacher came to me after school that day though, and had me read her egg. She had written down, “It’s the day Jesus was resurrected.” I was worried that in our politically correct world she might be in trouble. But the teacher said to me, “You are the only family who really knows and teaches their kids about Jesus, thank you.” I was proud of my daughter, and sad for the world that day.

We live in a very chaotic world. Everywhere around us people are fighting about anything and everything. We see communities torn apart because of differences in opinions, family’s split up because people can’t get along, or at least try to understand each other. We see no peace anywhere. If you ask the world why that is, they will give you so many different answers. People aren’t willing to listen, people aren’t well informed, people shouldn’t be allowed to think for themselves, etc. I don’t believe those are the reasons, at least not totally. I believe it is because we have lost sight of the one that gives peace. Our Savior Jesus Christ. Our country and our world in general is losing it’s moral compass because there is no feeling of accountability to our divine creator, our Heavenly Father, and there is no understanding of the need we have for the healing power that our Savior Jesus Christ provides through His infinite Atonement. So, today I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts, as well as three of my favorite Easter videos.

I know that Jesus Christ came to earth, just as described in the Bible, as a babe in Bethlehem. I know that He was baptized of John the Baptist, and that He set the perfect example of how we should live our lives, how we should treat others. I know that He went about doing good, everywhere He went, regardless of how He was treated, He loved. I know that He suffered for my sins, my transgressions, as well as my sicknesses, and the hurt caused by others, so that He would know how to help me, how to succor me when I am hurting, how to lift me when I fall, and so that I can repent when I make mistakes. I know that He bled from every pour in Gethsemane because of the pains of this fallen world, and I know that he was betrayed and crucified by the very people that He had loved, that He still loved. I know that He was buried in a sepulcher and that on the third day He rose again, the first to rise, but not the last. Because of Him we all will rise again. We all have the opportunity to return and dwell with Him in the presence of a Heavenly Father who loves us dearly, and made all of this possible. I know that Jesus is not a malicious or vindictive judge, but a kind and caring advocate with our Father. He suffered and died out of love for me, His sister. Love for you, and love for all mankind whether or not they will accept Him or not, He did it so we have the option. I am so grateful today, tomorrow, and eternally for that love. I know that the only way we can find peace inside each of us is through Him, and that the only way to regain peace in this world is by turning to Him. I am grateful that I know these things, and that I can share them with you. I hope you enjoy these Easter videos!

Because of Him

Because of Him: an Easter Message of Hope and Triumph

He Lives – Celebrate Easter Because Jesus Christ Lives