Spaghetti Squash

The other day I was baking a spaghetti squash in the middle of the day for a casserole I was making that night. As it was baking and playing with my daughter she decided to say “I don’t want spaghetti squash right now.” I told her she did not need to eat the spaghetti squash and I would set aside some dinner sans spaghetti squash so she didn’t need to worry. She was still pretty concerned about the whole spaghetti squash thing and couldn’t let it go. No matter what I told her she spent a few minutes worried about the possibility of having spaghetti squash at some future time. I wanted to just tell her that she didn’t have any need to worry, I was not going to feed her spaghetti squash, so she was worrying about absolutely nothing. I also want to tell her that even if I did feed her spaghetti squash it wouldn’t be for a long time so she really didn’t need to worry about it right now. I also wanted her to understand that if I did serve her spaghetti squash, it would be because spaghetti squash has nutrients inside of it that help our bodies stay strong and capable, and so even though spaghetti squash is not her favorite thing, it would truly be good for her.

And then I thought about me. How much I worry about things that may or may not happen in a future date. Things I don’t need to worry about – one, because they may never happen, two, because if they do I really don’t need to worry about until they happen, and three because I have faith that God has a hand in my life and all things that do happen in my life will be good for me. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and as a child of God I sometimes struggle in the same way my daughter struggles with things in her life.

When I struggle it is hard for me because I feel like should know better, and do better, that I should not succumb to worry or fear. Then I remember how I feel about my daughter, I wish so much that she would not worry because of all the things I know, but she doesn’t understand. I recognize that she does not have the understanding I do, and even though she is having a hard time when she really doesn’t need to, what I do is just love her through the struggle. And I believe that is what Heavenly Father does for me. Sometimes I think He loses patience with me, but I believe the truth is that, no matter how I struggle, He is always just willing to love me through everything.

Thank goodness for that truth.

Love

“Come, Follow Me” by Practicing Christian Love and Service – By Elder Hales

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The disciples were taught to turn from the ways of the natural man to the loving and caring ways of the Savior by replacing contention with forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. The “new commandment” to “love one another” was not always easy to keep. When the disciples worried about associating with sinners and certain classes of people, the Savior patiently taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Or, as a Book of Mormon prophet explained, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

As the Savior’s latter-day disciples, we come unto Him by loving and serving God’s children. As we do, we may not be able to avoid tribulation, affliction, and suffering in the flesh, but we will suffer less spiritually. Even in our trials we can experience joy and peace.

Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?

This weekend we received our conference edition of the Ensign in the mail. I always love opening the pages and looking through the beautiful pictures, seeing if there is anyone I know. I love revisiting what was said at conference. I love having a highlighter in my hand and marking the passages that I love.

Today I revisited Elder Cornish’s talk “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” I loved this talk when it was given at conference because I often have those questions run through my mind. His talk is filled with hope and inspiration to continue down the path of discipleship.

He begins by saying “Isn’t it wonderful how many ways our loving Heavenly Father guides and blesses us? He really wants us to come home.” What a perfect reminder that we are not alone in the journey, trying to make it back to our Heavenly Father’s presence. He is with us on our journey and he can help us perfectly if we ask for His help. On the same note, he continues later in the address by saying “Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it! That is His work and His glory.”

I think about my daughter and my relationship with her. When I really want her to accomplish something and learn something new, I am willing to help her in any way I can so she can gain the skills she needs to grow. Heavenly Father can help us more perfectly than I can help my daughter, and he wants to help us make it back to Him, what an amazing blessing.

Finally he concludes that “We can have hope in Christ because He want to help and change us. In fact, He is already helping you. Just pause and reflect and recognize His help in your life.” He is always there, the real question is are we able to recognize him.

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But if Not…

A few weeks ago my husband prepared our family home evening lesson on prayer. It was a really wonderful lesson and he shared a conference talk that was given in April of 2004 entitled But If Not by Dennis E. Simmons. I have reflected on this talk again and again since that family home evening. It was a talk that spoke directly to my heart and helped me understand prayer more fully.

One of my main questions about prayer is how do I make sure my will and desires are aligned with God’s will for me? We are taught to ask of God who giveth to all men liberally. In church we learn that God wants us to ask for His help. So I have often asked for help from God in a very specific manner, but I have always wanted to convey my openness to God’s plan and that I want what He knows is best for me, even if I can’t understand it myself.

I have wanted to express my true faith in God that He can accomplish anything I ask of Him, while being humble enough to recognize that He may or may not grant me my specific wants or needs in the time that I ask for them, or even in this life.

In his talk, Elder Simmons relates the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and how they would not worship the golden idol. Nebuchadnezzar was furious and commanded they be thrown into a fiery furnace and posed the question “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego responded “Our God whom we served is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us out of thine hand.” And then, in true faith they added “But if not… we will not serve thy gods, or worship the golden images thou has set up.”

I loved Elder Simmons full commentary on this scriptures story, so it is definitely worth reading or listening to, but I especially loved the phrase “But if not.” I feel like it is the piece I have been missing in my prayers in order to more fully communicate my desires to God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had full faith that God could and would deliver them, but they also had full faith in God that if he did not, they still refused to do what they knew was wrong.

I often feel like I have full faith that God can and will help me in the ways I stand in need, but the real question is will I continue to have true faith in Him if he does not.

I don’t think God gives us trials to see if we will turn to Him so He can immediately take them away. If He did this we might learn that God is there for us, but how else would we grow and develop? I think the purpose of some trials in our life is to see if we can walk through them, ever having faith in God until the day and time he allows that trial to be lifted.

This is hard, especially when we have righteous desires. Marriage, having children, having good health, finding a good job, all seem to be really righteous endeavors, things we pray continually for God’s help to accomplish, and yet sometimes we are not granted those things, at least immediately.

I know for me it is difficult standing in the present moment looking forward, wondering if in five years I will be blessed with my current righteous desires. I have complete faith that God can grant me all the blessing I seek, but do I have the true faith that is required for the “but if not.” It’s something I am still developing.

I do however have a profound experience in my life where I have had righteous desires and waited (sometimes not very patiently) for those blessings to come, and they did come. The amazing thing about it is that I was able to experience my own personal miracle, I was able to see for myself and in my own life that God is a God of miracles, and now I hold onto that experience. If God had just granted me all I ever wanted, whenever I wanted, I would not have been able to participate in that miracle, and it has become a huge source of strength in my life.

I love one phrase in particular in Elder Simmons talk. He says “We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots become remarkable blessings.”

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I know that is true.

The Plan of Happiness

Yesterday I was listening to President Uchtdorf’s most recent General Conference address. It was so good, and such a great reminder to me just how blessed I am to have the gospel in my life.

I have been thinking a lot about how I have been relying on the gospel of Jesus Christ so much in my life these past few months. Life is challenging and hard things come to each of us, but the gospel and the plan of happiness teach us that this life is not the end. The things we struggle with now will all eventually pass, we will not be stuck in our trials forever. This quote from President Uchtdorf’s talk really stood out to me.

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I am so thankful for that truth. I have a lot of faith in God, he can heal us through our trials in this life, and if we are not healed fully, as long as we wait upon the Lord and follow Him, someday all will be made right. This eternal perspective has blessed me, it is the light and hope I hold on to.

Gratitude and My Testimony

This past Monday my husband drove me to the hospital to have a minor surgery. I have been experiencing some pain for quite a few months now and the surgery was going to explore a possible cause of the pain.

As we drove my heart was filled with gratitude. At times of trial in my life I often have an increased recognition of the love of others for me. It was so tender to feel the prayers and hears words of love from my closest family members and trusted friends. The gratitude for this experience was overwhelming, and I feel deeply that I need to write about this experience for myself presently and in the future, for my little family, and for all those who have trials. I need to express my gratitude for my dear family members and to my Heavenly Father.

One of the closest relationships in my life is with my best cousin and my amazing aunt. They are both close confidants and I feel so loved by them. I am so thankful to be able to share my life and challenges with them. They were both aware of my upcoming surgery but I was going to text them Sunday night to ask them to keep me in their prayers. By mid-day on Sunday I had received two separate text messages from each of them sharing their love for me and telling me they would keep me in their prayers. This small action touched my heart.

On Sunday we asked our home teacher to come over later that night to assist my husband in giving me a priesthood blessing. My heart was filled with gratitude knowing that he was willing to give up some of his precious time and to drive to our home to bless me. This act of service meant so much to me.

The day of the surgery both my mother and father texted me sweet messages filled with their love for me and their testimony that Heavenly Father would be watching over me. Their support through the weeks prior and prayers of faith along with their love and testimony brought me so much peace.

My sweet daughter is a ray of joy in the daily struggles of life. Her life is a miracle to me and reminds me that miracles are possible. She has a sweet spirit about her, and when she came to visit me in the hospital I asked her to sing “I am a Child of God” to me. She sings this beautiful primary song with such purity and it reminded me of my special relationship with Heavenly Father.

My husband has been my trusted companion through everything. I do not think he knew what he was getting himself into when he married me, but I am so thankful for his daily support and the priesthood he worthily holds. I am thankful for his powerful blessing that gave me an added measure of peace. I am thankful for his care for me and our daughter as I heal and recover.

These are my people, the people I can count on to love me and help me through the trials of life. I am so thankful Heavenly Father sent me these people to see me through.

I also need to write about how thankful I am to know my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ are there for me. The process of finding healing has been slow and the physical pain has been accompanied by emotional and mental challenges as well. It has been hard, and the healing is not complete. As of now I do not really know what the future holds, but through it all I have come to have increased faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. I know he is the master healer. He has brought me peace and comfort in times of need. He has given me added strength when I had to endure. I have felt His spirit as I have studied the scriptures, prayed and fasted.

It is interesting because this trial in my life has been pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Despite that fact, it has still been challenging for me individually and I have learned that God cares about me individually and he will help me with my difficult path.

This trial, although long and hard and not completely over, has been a blessing. I have felt my Saviors love for me. I have felt the love of those around me. I have the opportunity to exercise faith. I have even felt joy because of Jesus Christ. I know he is the way to peace and happiness.

I love learning about Jesus Christ. I just wanted to share three resources that have all helped me develop a more personal relationship with my Savior. First the Book of Mormon. It is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. Second talks from General Conference. Prophets and apostles really do testify of Jesus Christ today. And finally the book Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. This book truly changed the way I viewed my relationship with the Savior and has blessed my life.