Lehi's Dream: A Tale of Three Trees

In the Oct. 2011 Ensign Elder David A. Bednar said this,

 May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear additional lessons from Lehi’s vision that will help us  to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).

I took that as a direct challenge and studied chapters 8-15 with new eyes.  In doing so I came up with what I'd like to call A Tale of Three Trees.

The Tree that Grows Within
Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

There is a strait and narrow path which leadeth to the tree of life (1 Nephi 8:20).  It is this path we must enter to gain our own testimony of the teachings of our Savior.  There are three steps in this process.

First we must commence along the path.  "And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree (1 Ne. 8:22)."  How do we do this?  Alma teaches,
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." 

Likewise, Nephi showed by example how we must commence.  
I, Nephi, was ddesirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the eHoly Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men."  (1 Ne. 10:17).

However, if all we do is commence we will be tempted and lost in the mists of darkness (1 Ne. 8:23).

Catch hold & Cling to
Next we must catch hold and cling to the word of God  (see 1 Ne. 8:24).  Elder Bednar explains his thoughts on what it means to cling as to hold on with one hand or to study the scriptures in spurts rather than with consistency.  We are told what will happen to those who only sporadically hold to the rod of iron.

And after they had atasted of the fruit they were bashamed, because of those that were cscoffing at them; and they dfell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (1 Ne. 8:28)"  

In Alma we learn that this seed, if not nourished will be scorched,
But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out (Alma 32:38)."

Here I will let Alma and Nephi do all the talking.  :-)

And thus we learn that we must continually nourish the seed which is planted within our hearts.   And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
 41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.  (Alma 32:41-42).  

But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the arod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. (1 Ne. 8:30)

Tree of Life
Once we have planted the seed within, and have continually nourished it, how do we partake of the fruit of the tree?  Alma teaches us we are to repent and be baptized to partake of the fruit of the tree of life.  (see Alma 5:62). 

When talking about the tree of life, the angel shows Nephi the meaning of the condescension of God, first in His birth (1 Ne 11:16-20) and next in His ministry upon the earth (1 Ne. 11:26-34).  

Each week we have the opportunity to experience this love of God as we renew our covenants made in baptism through the sacrament.  

"Yea, he saith: aCome unto me and ye shall partake of the bfruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the cbread and the waters of life dfreely; (Alma 5:34).  

The Olive Tree
Why did Lehi leave Jerusalem?  In 1 Nephi chapter 10 we learn that not only is it because it was a commandment of the Lord but because of a fulfilment to prophecy.  

"Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the aland of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth (v. 13)."  

Israel was to be scattered and Nephi reminds his brothers that they also are a part of the house of Israel (see 1 Ne. 15:12).  

The first thing Lehi did after partaking of the fruit himself was to look about for his family so he could share the joy he had found.  I find it interesting that there is mention of multitudes of people trying to find their way to the path which leads to the tree of life  (1 Ne. 8:21).  Similarly we are told that Israel shall be gathered and grafted in to the olive tree (1 Ne. 10:14; 15:12-16).  People are searching.  Once we have partaken of this fruit, of this love of God, it is our responsibility to share it with others.  

"And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit (1 Ne. 8:15).  To beckon means "to appear inviting."  We are to invite, so beckon, and to bring others to Christ. How do we do this?  Simply by showing them the same love our Savior has shown us.

President George Albert Smith has said, "Brethren and sisters, if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that feeling of love in your hearts for your fellow men, then I want to say that you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift that came to earth when this Church was organized. ...Our ministry is one of love."


Favorite Family Board Games

One of our favorite family things is to play board games together. Through the years I've stocked up on quite a few games...a whole closet-full actually. I also believe that playing board games is one of the best ways to learn.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The only trivia game my husband will play!  Answer in numbers and then place your bet.  Ages 7+ (though you can even let your little ones play)

Spell words in different categories and be the first team to get seven tiles on your side of the street. We call this one Road Rage, it can get pretty intense!  Ages 10+

This is our newest favorite.  Collect cards to earn points, building up your wonder.  Ages 7+

This is a great geography game.Use the tiles to plan your trip across Africa.  First one to complete their 10 Days wins!  Also comes in other versions: USA, Asia, Europe and South America.  Ages 6+  

Roll the dice. Add, subtract, multiply or divide, trying to get as many of your marbles in a row as you can.  This one is a favorite I play with the younger boys but it's fun for the whole family.  Ages 7+

Use tiles to build cities and farms.  Try earning the most points for biggest cities, most farmers and longest roads.  Ages 7+

Classic "better than tic-tac-toe" kind of a game.  Try to get four of your color in a row.  Be careful, though, your opponent may cover your pieces up with their own!  Ages 6+

Earn the most points by collecting resources to build roads, settlements and cities. Ages 7+


Don't Lose Perspective

image from camelcity.com

Yoga class. It was in a new studio.  New class time.  And it was really hot.

So, I think to myself, "I want to be right in front of the air conditioning."  I found myself a nice cozy spot and prepared for relaxation.  After the first fifteen minutes of class I realized I had made a big mistake.  As the sun set, it began to shine brighter on my side of the room.

Word to the wise:  air conditioning doesn't really help if you're getting beat by the sun.

And then it hit me:  I was blinded by what was right in front of me and didn't think clearly through what that meant for the future.  I was even warned by another, more experienced yogi, but ignored him.

Life is full of "moment distractions" - those things, people, or events that inhibit us from keeping an eternal perspective. How often do we really ask ourselves how much of what we do affects our future?  That purchase that almost fits in the budget, but not quite.  Yelling at a child when a soft word would work so much better?  The minutes past a balanced amount that we spend on social media?

I was just talking to my husband about a goal/dream I've had for forever but not really accomplishing.  He said, "I don't think you really want that."  I was so confused.  He continued, "You fill your time with other things, so I don't think you really want it."  This was a great moment for me to look into my life and see what distractions were keeping me from fulfilling this lifelong goal of mine.  My husband was right...and wrong.  I DID want this to happen in my life, I had just let other things (some of which were necessary) take the place of THIS particular dream.

I love those moments when we can look inward with a different perspective, evaluate our lives, make changes if necessary and move forward.  Thank you yoga.  Thank you J.!


Dancing through Life

Wisdom is not reserved for the elderly, though they have plenty of it! 

We recently had two beautiful dancers from Brigham Young University stay at our home for a couple of nights while on tour.  I loved the spirit that they brought into our home.  I love exposing my children to their greatness.  Though they are young, I learned some important lessons form them.

Just Keep Dancing

When asked by a 12-year old girl what she needed to do so she could be in a group like this, one of our gals said, "Just keep dancing."

Life is like that, too, right?  Whether we want to be a professional ballerina, a doctor, a mom, a baker this is great advice!  Just keep dancing.  Just keep doing what you love.  Just keep reaching for that goal.  Maybe the Lord will have a different plan in the end, but it doesn't matter.  Either way you'll be doing great things and finding joy in this journey.

It Happened

While playing a game around our kitchen table, my husband kind of scoffed at one of the answers given by our guest.  This young gal, not even flustered, smiled and said, "Hey, it happened."

I took this to mean, "So what. Right or wrong, I made a guess, it happened."  Sometimes we get so stuck on our poor choices and wish we could redo them.  We will relive them over and over again, thinking of what we could have said, done or written.  Not this girl! She made a choice, wrote down an answer and waited for the outcome.  I could definitely be more like this in my life.

It's Totally Worth It

While waiting for the crew to take down the set so we could take our guests home we noticed something interesting.  Several of the dancers had ice packs wrapped around their ribs, their ankles, their legs, wherever an ice pack could be wrapped.

Visiting with our girls, we asked about the pain they had to go through and learned they practice 24+ hours a week getting ready for the show!  We talked about the pain, exhaustion, and some frustration in the process.  Then one of our gals piped up, "But it's totally worth it!!"  There was utter joy and honesty in her face.  It was beautiful to see.

You can guess where this is going.  LIFE can be painful, exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  But it is totally worth it!  We may not all have a stage on which to perform (and definitely no standing ovation) after the hard work we do, but there are simple joys we can look for that show us it truly is worth it!  A sunset, a phone call, a kiss from our sticky-faced child, a hug, a clean kitchen floor, a book read or a message sent.

Life is definitely worth the reward at the end if we but look forward, just keep dancing and enjoy the ride!

Thank you, Brooke & Riley!


Shame vs. Guilt

image from lds.org

A question that I've had for years has finally been answered!

What is the difference between feeling bad about something and needing to repent 
vs. feeling bad because the adversary wants to drag you down?  

I know the surface answer we often use is, "Well, it's like feeling guilty for the wrong reasons vs. having Godly sorrow."  But what is Godly sorrow exactly? How does each feel different?  For me, feeling bad is feeling bad and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how each emotion was supposed to FEEL differently from one another.  This has been such a hang up in my life, debilitating me to the point of depression and confusion at times.  I have struggled to separate my actions from my true identity.  Now I have the answer!


Guilt is feeling bad about something you did. 

Shame is feeling bad about YOU. 

Maybe this is not an earth-shattering piece of information for anyone else out there, but for me this has been monumental!  I believe the adversary's tool is shame.  He wants us to lose sense of who we really are, intelligent and worthy children of God.  So, when we make mistakes he is going to tell us not that we made a mistake, but that we ARE the mistake.  He will tell us we are unlovable, that we should be ashamed of ourselves, and that we'll never achieve our potential.  When hearing these words we can remember that "he is the father of all lies!"

Our Father in Heaven on the other hand doesn't necessarily want us to feel guilt, but he does need us to feel remorse for our sinful actions.  The dictionary defines remorse as "deep regret."  When we feel remorse, or Godly sorrow, we feel a call to move upward, to improve, to change.  A friend of mine recently described this feeling when she said, "After listening to General Conference I feel chastised, but at the same time the desire to be better and do better."  Heavenly Father desires for us to remember who we are and to use that knowledge to move ever closer toward Him.

Again, as I type this I think, "This isn't anything really new."  But reading about shame and it's characteristics I can now FEEL the difference.  When making mistakes I can now simply say, "Silly me!"  When I sin, I can now make restitution with clarity.  When I start to have those debilitating thoughts about my identity, I can clearly define them as words from Satan rather than from God and dismiss them (at least, more quickly than I did before).  My mistakes no longer need to define me.

With this understanding I feel like I can more confidently declare, as did Moses, "Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten (Moses 1:16)."

Think of how this can change our parenting as well!  When I try to discipline my children and see no remorse (or even before I give them the chance to do so), I turn to shaming them.  "How could you?" "You always..."  "You never..."  etc...etc.. Shame never changes behavior.

I am just feeling so revolutionized in my thinking right now and eager to put this new understanding into practice!  I know how shame FEELS compared to the FEELINGS of guilt or remorse.  This has been one of the most liberating discoveries I've made in a very long time and it feels GREAT!

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