Spiritual Sunday: Earthly Angels

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After posting my last Spiritual Sunday (that was actually posted on Monday…) I almost immediately knew what I wanted the following weeks message to be.

Our earthly angels.

We have earthly angels literally everywhere, all around us. But this week I was made especially aware of four that really stood out to me and made me so grateful for the blessing that these people are in my life. These four angels I’ve been particularly aware of this week are four incredible women who I really hope I can turn out like. My momma, both of my grandmas and a friend.

My momma. I genuinely feel bad for the people in the world who don’t know my mom. If I allowed myself, this post could go on for hours as I gush about what an amazing woman she is – but I’ll spare you of that time commitment and keep it short-ish. My mom has always been so giving, humble and full to the brim of service. She has three daughters and has always, always, always put us and our happiness first. She works so hard to make sure that we are happy and living a good life. This past week I’ve really been thinking about how she is one of those who won’t necessarily get up in your face and tell you her testimony or bear her soul to you about how she feels about the gospel – but she is one who rather than telling you, will show you. Her actions, deeds and big, selfless heart immediately teach you that she is a woman of God and lives a good life. I think this is one of the best qualities to have. I always remember hearing that quote that goes something like, words are nothing without action. That is my mom. She doesn’t just say she’ll do something – she does that something. I’ve also been overwhelmed with her kind and giving heart as we’ve prepared for Baby Boy. She has helped us so much. There are countless outfits in his dresser, accessories in his bedroom and other necessities for baby and me that she has bought us. It is really so helpful and lightens the weight on our shoulders significantly as we stress out (ok, the stress is mostly me) about making sure everything is perfect and ready for when the little guy comes. She is my constant earthly angel who teaches me how to be a good mother, friend and member of the church. She has also taught me so much about service and giving.

My Grandma. Both of my grandmas are being highlighted in this post. This particular one is my dads mom. You will never meet a more happy, optimistic, glass-half-full (more like overflowing) person. I always leave her presence feeling rejuvenated, happy and full of goals to be a happier person. Last Monday, Wild Man and I went to visit my grandparents who don’t live too far from us. My sweet grandpa struggles with some health issues and was already in bed, so it was just us and grandma. Wild Man asked her how grandpa was doing. She gave us the quick update (luckily he’s been having some good days, but is still tired, hurting, etc) but then before the mood could drop, she said, “but we are SO blessed!” She then proceeded to tell us of all the blessings in their lives and how she sees the Lords hand everywhere. This then led to an amazing story of how she converted to the church and her beautiful, strong testimony. It was incredible and Wild Man and I both felt so blessed and fortunate to have been there to hear her say these amazing things. I was completely uplifted by her – even more than usual. I was made very aware that she is absolutely one of my earthly angels who has given me an incredible example of steadfast faith to follow and strive for.

My Grandma. This grandma is my momma’s mom. My moms a wonderful person and there is no doubt in my mind she got many of her traits from her own mother. My grandma lives in Idaho and we don’t see her nearly as much as we’d like to, but it makes me extra thankful for the times I do get to see her and my grandpa. As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach I always find myself looking forward to seeing them when they come out to Utah to see us. My grandma has always been an example to me of being the person that always has it together. Her house is always perfectly clean, she makes delicious meals, she sews and her projects always turn out perfectly, she is always on top of things and though I’m sure she’d say she isn’t really… She at least is more so than most everyone else. I’m also inspired by her health. She cares for her body physically and mentally and I really hope I can be that same way. As I sit here and think about her and the fun conversations we always have and the sweet little gifts she always provides her family, I can’t help but feel so grateful that she is my grandma and that she loves me. She is on of my earthly angels because she inspires me to always do my best and care for everything I do.

My Friend. I have a lot of friends who could fit into this category of being my earthly angel. This friend in particular is the girl who does my lashes. I’ve known her for several years now and I genuinely enjoy the time I get to spend with her. She is an Esthetician and a Cosmetologist. Two of the most gossip and drama-filled professions out there, I’d say. Being an Esthetician myself, I know how easy it can be to be sucked into talking about negative, non-uplifting subjects with clients. But this woman in particular just never does. Every time I’ve seen her we’ve had a discussion about the gospel, we happily talk about our families, we help each other set goals to be better people and we are able to uplift each other and make each other feel better at the end of the appointment than we did at the beginning. I give complete credit to her and her willingness and eagerness to bring the spirit into the room and to share her thoughts and insight about the gospel. She is an earthly angel to me because she inspires me to bring the same uplifting spirit into my spa, and to always stay on the positive side while in conversations and discussions.

Obviously I have soooooooooo many more earthly angels. But these are the ones who really stood out to me this week and left me feeling inspired and eager to make changes in myself for the better. I’m so thankful for these people. I’m thankful Heavenly Father has sent us angels here on earth to help us, guide us, inspire us and be examples to us.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

“We were not placed on this earth to walk alone.” -Thomas S. Monson

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Spiritual Sunday: Beware of Pride

I love my Primary calling. Working with kids and helping them understand the gospel is so much fun, but this week when I was told I could have the week off from Primary and go to Relief Society, instead, I was way more excited than I thought I would be to go back. Its fun to sit in a room full of women who are friends, who are fun to talk to and who tell you what a cute pregnant lady you are 😉 Oh, except this cute girl who has a one-month old baby wet her pants during the lesson and now I have a legitimate fear of doing the same thing sometime after Baby Boy is born. But if it does, I hope I can handle it as classily as she did – seriously I’m impressed. And also terrified of my future control over my bladder.

Our lesson in Relief Society was one of those where as soon as I heard the title I was like, oh this is no coincidence that I’m here and not in Primary for this lesson. It was a lesson I needed to hear and I’m thankful I did.

Beware of Pride.

We started the lesson with writing characteristics of a prideful person on the board. Some of which were:

  • Selfish
  • Egotistical
  • Compares self to others
  • Not open to criticism
  • Disobedient
  • Impatient
  • Judgemental
  • Greedy
  • Not happy for others
  • etc, etc, etc

I immediately and unfortunately identified with a few of these.

Compares self to others. Not open to criticism. Impatient.

I’m sure I have plenty of other characteristics of a prideful person because I am far from perfect and becoming a humble, wonderful person is still a work in progress for me. However I’m also thankful to know I do also possess some characteristics of a humble person, too (does that make me even more prideful in saying that??) But as per usual in this gospel, there is always, always, always room for improvement and growth.

I compare myself to others. Sometimes I do it in a way thats only hurtful for me and brings my self esteem down, but I’m also very good at comparing myself to others to build myself up. Its not like I make these rude comparisons to others faces, but I know Heavenly Father can hear my thoughts – so its only hurting myself when I compare myself to others in any way.

I am not open to criticism. I like to think I’m doing the very best I can (usually). I like to think I’m almost perfect (ha!) and I like to think if there are changes I need to make in myself, then I will be the one to address them. So when people decide to ‘criticize’ me and give me their opinions/suggestions, etc, I can get a little bugged by it.

I am impatient. Pregnancy has especially reminded me of this prideful characteristic I have. I don’t like waiting for things. I want time to pass so much quicker than it typically does (I know one day i’ll regret saying that) or I want things to move according to my own timeline. Especially now with two weeks left until my due date, I’m feeling extra impatient. This is probably my worst struggle.

We then discussed how having these attributes can really halt your spiritual progression, keep you from blessings, keep you from blessing others and cause the gospel to not work fully in your life. Instant guilt. So of course as I sat there in my seat trying to silently eat a snack I’d brought myself, I began setting a long list of goals for myself so I can be better.

After talking about that more discouraging topic, the teacher asked us to change the words on the board from characteristics of a prideful person to characteristics of a humble person. The changes were made to words such as:

  • Selfless
  • Complimentary
  • Boosts others up
  • Takes advice/instruction openly without getting offended
  • Obedient
  • Patient
  • Long suffering
  • Giving
  • Service-oriented
  • Empathetic
  • Can be happy for others successes, promotions, good news..
  • Etc, etc, etc

Then the lesson took a change and you could tell all the women were eager and excited to take these attributes and apply them into their daily lives. I for one, was very eager to work on my patience, taking advice from others without getting offended and boosting others up. It got me all excited. I know I don’t have to master all these humble characteristics in this one week, but they can all be a work in progress and I really hope I can hold myself accountable to really striving to be a humble, more Christ-like person.

Our teacher then ended the lesson by encouraging us to approach our spouse, parents, siblings, someone close to you and asking them to honestly tell you what they think you could work on when it comes to being prideful. She said its very eye opening to see yourself from the point of view from someone close to you, who’s opinion you value. I’ll admit, when I first heard this challenge, I thought NO WAY, because surely whatever Wild Man or my family told me would upset me and then I’d defend myself.. But then I realized its giving me the perfect opportunity to work on not being offended easily and taking criticism openly. Just like that I have the chance to start on these goals. Now I just need to get in the right mindset to ask.. So wish me luck on that, please.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

Spiritual Sunday: Just Be Nice

We are going to be short today and I plan on letting my quote I chose for todays Spiritual Sunday do most of the talking:IMG_2697

Just be nice. Give service. Love one another. Lets all help each other out. We all have the same goal to be the best people we can be and we have the power to help others as they strive towards that goal. Be as Christ-like as you can and always be on the lookout for someone in need – then help them. I’m trying to be better at this. I want to be known for the service I give and the helping hand I offer. Try it with me?

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

“In the service of the Lord, its not where you serve, but how.” -Elder Edward Dube

Spiritual Sunday: I Know that My Savior Loves Me

Our ward had our Primary Program today – I am a Primary teacher so I had the opportunity to sit on the stands and sing with these cute primary children and watch them as they shook and panicked on their way to deliver their parts, then happily skipped back to their seats after their talks were given, full of relief. If you read my previous post about the boy in my class I was worried about – he did great! There were only minimal, watered-down inappropriate dance moves and he delivered his part very…cleanly. Woot! The kids all rocked it.

Best part is now its done.

During the program and our last couple practices I have been touched each time we sang a certain song. I love all the primary songs. They’re so simple and still pack a powerful message, but this one in particular has just been music to my ears (pun intended).

The song is called, I Know That My Savior Loves Me. It goes:

“A long time ago in a beautiful place, children were gathered ’round Jesus. He blessed and taught as they felt of His love, each saw the tears on His face. The love that He felt for His little ones, I know He feels for me. I did not touch Him or sit on His knee, yet Jesus is real to me. (chorus) I know He lives! I will follow faithfully. My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me. (end chorus) Now I am here in a beautiful place learning the teachings of Jesus. Parents and teachers will help guide the way, lighting my path every day. Wrapped in the arms of my Savior’s love, I feel His gentle touch. Living each day, I will follow His way, home to my Father above. (chorus) I know He lives! I will follow faithfully. My heart I give to Him.  I know that my Savior loves me. I know that my Savior loves me.” 

The more we sang this song (& believe me, we sang it a lot), the more I started directing it in my mind. The main thing I hear each time this song is sung is, “I know that my Savior loves me.” I am so happy that I do know this! I feel my Savior’s love, daily and I see His hand in my life all the time. There is no doubt in my mind of the love He has for me. I know it because He has given me my family, my husband, our baby boy, our families, our house, our abilities and talents, our friends, the gospel, etc. It also made me think of this quote I saw the other day on Twitter that Elder Russell M. Nelson gave..
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The next thing that really stuck out to me in this song was the line that reads, “the love that He felt for His little ones, I know He feels for me..” We learn in the church that Jesus loves the children. They are so clean and pure and He even asks us to become as children – so obviously they are special to Him. This is a Primary song and as such, is sung mainly by Primary-aged children, but even as a teacher in her twenties, I was able to be reminded that He loves me just like He loves the children! He loves all of us that way!

The third and final thing that really stuck out to me is kind of a parenting thing. Its funny how when you’re super close to becoming a mommy to someone, how you find parenting advice, guidance and council all over the place. The line in the second verse that reads, “parents and teachers will help guide the way, lighting my path every day…” was one of those I really thought about and felt the responsibility of parenthood. As a parent it is my job (along with Wild Man’s) to rear our children in the right direction. We are our kids most valuable teachers and the examples they’ll look up to most. I need to make sure I’m always mindful of the impressions I have the ability to leave on my kids. They watch closer than we think they do and they will do as we do. I have the power to help guide them and light their path for them! Its a big job, but also, an amazing job! I hope I can be a good momma to this Baby Boy and that he will know I love the gospel and he’ll want to do the same.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.” -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Spiritual Sunday: Judgement

Thanks to my job I have been in monthly contact with someone who is completely different than me. This person and I have incredibly different standards, we have different morals, we have different ideas of right and wrong, we have different views of the world and what is appropriate and inappropriate. The two of us could not be any more opposite. When I first met this person, it was a blind meeting. I’d never met this person or heard of this person, before. I’ve learned in these situations to never have expectations – it typically just goes better that way. So just like everyone else, I held no expectation. After the initial awkward ‘hello’s’ and ‘how are you’s’ we got a little more personal with each other since we’d be spending a few hours with each other every few weeks. We began asking about each others day-to-day life and I harmlessly asked the person what their job was, and when they responded, I was floored. I am almost certain my jaw literally dropped to the floor and my eyes bugged out of my head and I blushed so badly my entire body went red. My mind went blank and all I could think to say was, “oh,” in response to the job. (I’m so mature)

The next few days I found myself thinking a lot about this person. I couldn’t wrap my brain around living a life like this person did and somehow feeling ok in their skin. The more I talked to this person on that day, as well as all the other days we’d talked, the more I found myself judging this person and everything they did. I didn’t approve of or agree with their life. None of it. The stories of their weekend, their work life, their love life, their friendships, their thoughts and ideas, etc all make me feel so proud of myself for being “better” than this person. I knew it was bad to think in this mindset, but I did, nonetheless. This individual was not living the commandments. This person was certainly not following Christ’s example. This person feared man more than God. To me, this person was just…bad and in result, left me feeling prideful, more ‘perfect’ and big-headed. After a month+ or so of these thoughts and judgements, I realized I was not feeling the spirit very well. Especially when I thought of this new acquaintance. At first I decided it was because this person had flooded my mind with negativity, but it didn’t take me very long to realize this was the wrong answer. It wasn’t this persons fault I wasn’t feeling the spirit. It was mine. I knew I wasn’t feeling the Savior’s love as strong because I was doing the exact opposite of what the Savior would want me to do. I was judging someone and I was judging them hard.

That night I prayed and asked Heavenly Father if he could help me love this person. Just because this person wasn’t like me didn’t mean I had to judge them, compare myself to them and have negative feelings towards them. I could still be a friend, or even just a nice acquaintance — and maybe a good example, someday. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I continued to pray that somehow I could be as kind to this person in my thoughts as I was to this person in real life. I was suddenly aware that when I thought of this person and thought about how I was ‘better’ than them and compared myself to them I saw that I was falling deeper down into the trap that the temptation of judgement sets. Heavenly Father doesn’t judge us by comparing us to one another, He compares us to ourselves and our capabilities and how we are doing on our own personal journey.

I found myself still slipping into negative thoughts bout them. So one day I decided to seek some council from a man who’s opinion I greatly value. I told this man the whole, detailed story. I told him about this persons job, lifestyle, choices, etc and then told him how I’d be feeling about this person. I followed up by asking, “should I just cut all ties or continue to see ______, regularly?” The answer to my question from this inspired man really helped me out. He said, “I feel like you’re really hung up on (this persons) career choice and (this persons) relationship choices. If they had a different job and a more traditional love life, would you like _____?” I knew the answer very quickly was yes. Had I not known this persons career and such, I would have adored this person. I’m typically very easy to get along with and I really don’t judge people, often, but this situation was different and I think it was because I’d never actually met someone with this particular career choice. The answer to this question I’d asked helped me see I was judging this individually purely based on a few aspects of their life. Only a few details I knew about them. Grant it, that didn’t mean I agreed with anything this person did, but it also helped me remember there is more to a person than their beliefs, hobbies, opinions and life choices.

Since then, I have tried so hard to judge this person more on their character than their choices, more on who they are than what they are. I read an article about this subject that said, “If your favorite color is green and your peers favorite color is red, does that mean that because you’ve chosen different colors to favor and have different opinions on why your color is superior to the other color, that you should hate, judge or scorn them?” Halloo, revelation! Its like that quote was written just for me. …and I love it. I have it typed into my phones notes so if I ever slip back into the awful temptation that is judgement and comparison, hopefully it can pull me out of that gross slump.

As always, I have so much room for improvement, but I am trying to get better. I am trying hard not to judge this person in a negative way, anymore, along with everyone else I see and come in contact with. I wouldn’t want them to judge me – and aren’t we taught to treat others how we would want to be treated? Judgement is more certainly a temptation of mine, but I am determined to get over it.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

“None of us is perfect. I know no one who would profess to be so.” -Thomas S. Monson

Spiritual Sunday: Start Where You Are

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. I believe and know this gospel to be true and I am so very grateful for it in my life. When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to be able to incorporate something so special into it and I decided the best way to do that would be to have ‘Spiritual Sunday’ posts.

And I knew exactly what I’d post about for my first Spiritual Sunday.

Last weekend was General Conference. For those of you who don’t know what that is, its essentially two days (8 hours total, with an extra two hours for the men – the girls extra two hours happen a couple weeks earlier) of being able to hear the Prophet, Apostles and other church leaders speak to us, giving us counsel, guidance, inspiration and things to work on and set goals towards. I absolutely love Conference and I look eagerly forward to it every six months. If you’re interested in reading the Conference talks, here is a link to the churches website where all the talks are posted: General Conference Talks.

I enjoy listening for themes in General Conference and last week I actually felt like there were several themes for me, but today I chose to quickly focus on one in particular.

Starting where you are.

We are all trying to be the best we can be and to make it back to our Heavenly Father with our eternal families. Sometimes this journey (for me, at least) can become a little frustrating because its so easy for me to compare myself to others on their own journeys. Then I feel like I am falling short, I am not as spiritual as they are, maybe my testimony isn’t as strong as theirs when it comes to certain topics, etc. If I let it, it can totally become a setback then I become stagnant. I don’t move forward because I already feel behind. Its discouraging. This is not how I always feel – but of course, there are those times where its just easier to be down on yourself, and when those moments are happening in my life, its especially easy for me to feel this way.

There were two specific things I heard in General Conference that really stood out to me regarding this subject. First, God does not judge us and based on others and where they are on their spiritual journeys, nor does He compare others to us and where we are. He never compares us. His judgements towards us are only based upon us, the past and present versions of ourselves. We are all different people and we all have different lives so it isn’t fair to clump us all together and compare us to one another. (phew!) The second thing that stood out to be was that if we are not moving forward, then we are moving backward – there is no real ‘standing still’ when it comes to progressing (or falling behind) in the gospel. This was a huge wake up call. If I am not working to move forward then I am falling backwards! The exact opposite of what I want to do. This helped me really set goals for myself to make sure, even on the days when I’m just feeling lazy and woe-is-me, to at least pray, at least read a verse or two in the Book of Mormon, at least still have Family Home Evening, etc. I don’t want to fall behind and never realized that when I’m not working to move up the path of righteousness, I am moving the wrong way down it. Yikes. I’m so glad this was brought to my attention so I can work HARD on it.

Lastly, and the thing I want to stress the most, is that it was repeated multiple times in General Conference that we are never too far gone and God will take us just as we are. We can start right where we are and work on moving forward, using the atonement and striving to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion and that will be good enough for Him. It doesn’t matter where anyone else is in their journey. We can start right now, right here where we currently are. If we put forth a sincere effort and put our faith in the Lord, we will be blessed and we will be able to move forward. I know this. I have a testimony of this. As long as we work to move forward and live worthily for the Holy Ghost to be with us and take advantage of the atonement, we are doing good and Heavenly Father will be proud of us.

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xoxo

ceecee

“The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf