LOIS’ POST: These last 18 months posting on our blog have brought many surprising blessings. Initially it took courage to open up our most sacred, personal feelings for public viewing. We appreciate your respectful feedback and encouraging comments. We are pleased to note that our modest posts have been read in 78 countries throughout the world. THANK YOU. As we complete our 18-month blogging goal, we hand the baton to our 21-year-old granddaughter, Madeline Dunn. We invite you to continue to visit the website, Reasons to Rejoice, as she expresses uplifting insights from her youthful perspective. As my final post, I want to share a simple statement of truth: Jesus Christ’s Plan of Salvation answers these deep questions of the soul: (1) Who am I? (2) Where did I come from? (3) What is my purpose on earth? (4) Where will I go after death? http://www.mormon.org/ This plan explains how we can be happy in this life and return to God’s presence, and how to grow up to become like Him. The Lord forgives my sins, recreates my nature, promises resurrection after death, and qualifies me for glory hereafter. He assures that all things wrong in the world will one day be made right. He promises His faithful followers a fullness of joy. That is the capstone of my REASONS TO REJOICE. “Rejoice, O my heart…I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (2 Nephi 4:30).
ALAN’S POST: As I look back over the past 18 months that my wife and I have posted on our website, “Reasons to Rejoice,” I have experienced great joy in exploring and sharing my deepest convictions. I have rediscovered and reinforced countless reasons to rejoice in my life. I am grateful for you, our readers, who have perused these posts three times per week. We now find it timely to shift our attention to specific genealogy and family history goals. As a parting offering, I want to share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of God’s marvelous Plan of Salvation for His beloved children. We left our heavenly home in order to come to earth and learn by experience. Heavenly Father knew that we would inevitably make mistakes, so He provided a Savior for us, who would atone for these errors. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and be sanctified. We are enabled through His power to progress eternally, to eventually become as He is. The scriptures and words of living prophets provide a roadmap to keep our feet on the right path. Through covenant making and covenant keeping, we are assured of joy in this life and forever. My hope is that you have been edified by reading our posts and will find future installments equally uplifting. I pray that the Lord’s choice blessings will be with you and your families. Until we meet again, we bid you ado.
“Strike one…Strike two…Strike three—you’re OUT!” bellowed the umpire. I watched as the dejected batter slung away his bat, slumped onto the dugout bench, and buried his face in his hands. In spite of his best effort and most powerful swing, he lost the game for his team because of a slight error of visual judgment. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has made provision for my inevitable errors in mortality through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Those words, “You’re OUT” are never spoken to God’s children. Through repentance and an earnest desire to do better, we are given a clean slate to try again. “How merciful is our God unto us…He stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long…As many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (Jacob 6:4). God is patient and long-suffering. He gives me multiple chances to turn and come back when I make a mistake. “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). No matter what challenges or disappointments are tossed in my path, no matter how many times I stumble along on my mortal journey, I promise to get back up and try again. Nelson Mandela said that “a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” I trust that Christ’s atoning power will cleanse and empower me.
When teens graduate from high school and leave home to taste independence, they enter the dangerous decade of young adulthood. In the thrill of freedom, they often explore forbidden paths which lead to destructive behaviors, habits, and detours. By contrast, what parent could want more than to hear the following words from a son or daughter during these critical years? Here is a short extract from a long list of lessons learned from our oldest grandchild who recently returned from her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was hard work. She said she is not the same person that she was 18 months ago.
- I have learned why we need opposition and the trial of our faith.
- I have learned the important role of the Holy Ghost, and why I never want to live without the guidance of the Spirit.
- I have learned the importance of family and what I want my future family to be.
- I have learned what it means to truly love people.
- I have learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and intimate.
- I have learned what Heavenly Father can accomplish through 19 and 20 year- old men and women.
- I think the greatest change in me is that I can say with confidence that I know the truths of the gospel for myself.
- There is a certain peace and joy that comes when you know the truth. It comes from the Savior. That is what continually motivated me to wake up every day with excitement to share it with others.
- I have learned that I have great reason to rejoice!
It is inspiration from God to send missionaries of young adult age to spread the good news of the gospel worldwide. In the process of blessing others, these young adults are shaped in magnificent ways. I am a grandmother with great Reasons to Rejoice!
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE? Before we came to earth, we lived as spirit children of Heavenly Father. We gathered together in a great council in heaven where Heavenly Father presented His plan for us to come to earth, obtain a physical body, gain experience to progress toward perfection, and ultimately realize our divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. A Savior would atone for the sins of all mankind, making it possible for us to repent and become clean again. In that premortal realm, we chose to accept Heavenly Father’s plan and Jesus Christ as our Savior. Because of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can return to God’s presence and progress to live the kind of life He lives. We shouted for joy at the opportunity to come to earth, progress through experience, and prove that we would be faithful to our premortal promises. This is the greatest of all Reasons to Rejoice!
We were driving in a blizzard on icy Colorado roads. “Can you see anything?” I asked my wife, for my own vision was grossly impaired. Each time a car passed, an opaque spray from their tires obliterated my windshield until it could finally be partially cleared by our wipers. My lack of clear vision in dangerous road conditions had a huge impact on our progress. When the danger subsided, I began thinking of the parallel of this situation to our spiritual life. We live in a dangerous world, where spiritual vision is easily clouded by disturbing external influences. Unfortunately, many slide off the path and over-turn. Following the teachings and example of Jesus Christ can illuminate our precarious path while we sojourn on earth. We can be confident that we are staying in the safe lanes of the straight and narrow path. We can’t prevent the storms from buffeting us on every side, but we can know of a surety that we will arrive safely to our Heavenly Home if we follow the Savior and apply His Atonement. The scriptures promise: “This is the way, and there is none other way nor name” (2 Nephi 31:21).
On this beautiful Christmas night I am cradling our precious newborn Christmas baby, so pure and fresh from heaven. She adorns our family’s celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth—His ministry, ordinances, priesthood, miracles, and example. But especially I celebrate His marvelous gift of Atonement—which is the most sacred event in the history of mankind. As I learn more of the Atonement, my motivation to embrace its full effects in my life is also increased. Atonement literally means being “at one” or united with God. Christ has paid my debt, and through my sincere repentance, He cleanses me so that I can be worthy to dwell with Him eternally. The ultimate oneness is not only a matter of geography but oneness in identity. It’s not just being in God’s presence, but growing to become like Him in attribute. “Contemplation of the Atonement moves me to the most intense gratitude and appreciation of which my soul is capable” (Marion G. Romney). A prominent goal this year is to thoroughly study and stretch to apply the Savior’s Atonement in my life.
Why do we address our prayers to Heavenly Father and close in the name of Jesus Christ? First, because Christ commanded us to do so: “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19). The Savior reminds us often in the scriptures of the ascendant order of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ–who performs the will of His Father. They are two distinct beings but united in purpose, attribute, and love. Praying in the Savior’s name is a reminder that salvation and resurrection come only through Christ’s infinite Atonement. At baptism I pledged my willingness to take Christ’s name upon me and follow His commandments. This covenant is renewed each week during sacrament. The Savior’s name is sacred. I should always pronounce it in reverent tone, never casually or rushed. (Too often as prayers are closed, the Savior’s name is hastily spoken, garbled, or unintelligible.) I want to honor Jesus Christ by following and serving Him faithfully all of my life. I can also demonstrate honor by articulating His holy name with reverence when I close my prayers.