Monday, October 28, 2013

What We Believe - a Short History of the Church

Sorry I missed last Sunday's "What We Believe"! I was powering through trying to finish the childhood photo album I had been working on. Today I'm back, and I think I'll try to write the next couple this week and schedule them to post beforehand, so that when the baby comes they'll still post on Sunday for the next couple weeks.

Last week (or two weeks ago, I guess), I talked about how we believe Jesus Christ's full and complete gospel has been restored on earth today, after many parts of it were lost and confused after his death and the death of his apostles. He called a prophet in our day, just as he has called prophets for thousands of years. That boy that he called as a prophet to restore his gospel was Joseph Smith. You can read all about how that happened in my last post

Today I want to share with you this video, which is the story of Joseph Smith and the restoration and establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), told by members of the Church in Ghana, Singapore, Colombia and elsewhere.

I would like to add my testimony to theirs that I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's church. Its gospel is simple and beautiful. I will continue to do my best to share with you what it teaches, and why it brings such happiness and peace to our lives.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Captain's Log, Week 183

Good morning! Time for this week's Captain Log!

Alyse, Banks, and me, July 1991

  • The big news this week is that I FINISHED MY CHILDHOOD PHOTO ALBUM! Guys, I have been working on this forever! It is the biggest project I have ever undertaken in my entire life - no exaggeration. AND I FINISHED! It definitely deserves its own post, and it will get one, though probably not for a while (what with the baby coming and the fact that it's a Christmas present for certain persons). Woo-HOO!
  • Less than two weeks until the baby's due date! Jason and I both think she's going to come early. Ellie was four days early, and this baby was measuring a couple days ahead at the last ultrasound, and the doctor says I could go at pretty much any time. We've made guesses on when she'll actually come - Jason says October 30th, and I say November 1st. My dad guessed November 2nd. You're free to add your own guess, if you'd like. :) (Her due date is November 5th, to give you a reference point.)
  • Going back to the childhood photo album for a second, this last week I totally felt like I was in a race against time to finish the book before the baby got here. Finishing a photo book might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that I've been working on this one consistently since May 2012, it was 240 pages long, and contained 2,814 pictures. AND I FINISHED! (Lol, I know I sound like a crazy person, but I just completed the biggest, longest project of my life. So you'll have to excuse me.)
  • Okay, this is big news: Ellie drew her first "on purpose" object. Like, instead of random squibbles or trying to do shapes, she drew something and then told me what it was. Here's how it happened: yesterday afternoon she requisitioned my notebook and pencil and was flipping through the pages, coloring. On the page below, she drew the oval object and then scribbled over it. Then she looked up at me, pointed at it, and said, "I make speedbow." It took me a second to figure out what she was saying, but then I remembered she had just been watching a Team Umizoomi episode about boats, and it clicked. "You made a speedboat?" I asked her. "A speedbow." She confirmed. Then she drew the long squiggle underneath it. "Is that the water?" I asked. She thought about it for a second, and then nodded. So, ladies and gentleman, I present to you Ellie's speedboat!

  • Another quote from Ellie this week, while playing with her little Noah's Ark and Lion King animals. She was feeding each of them "juice" from this little plastic feedsack, and it was Nala's turn. "Nala like juice. Hey, how you doin', Nala? Num num num."
  • We cleaned up our balcony (it was really dusty/dirty) and so Ellie's been playing out there more this week. She loves it.
  • My friends Shaun and Lanette adopted their second little baby! Yaaaaaaaaaay!!!!! You can see their post on their new little boy here: "Our Perfect Boy." We are so happy and excited for them!

And that's what we've been up to this week!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sarah's Baby Shower

Last week our sister-in-law Sarah had a baby shower. She is due on November 17th, just two weeks after me, so our babies are going to be super close in age! She and Tyler are having a boy. :)

One of the games we played was a guessing game, where we each tore off a string of toilet paper to guess how big Sarah's tummy was. Here Shelley is measuring Sarah to find the winner:
And Sarah opening her presents:
Our beautiful mother-in-law Diana:

Shelley, Sarah, me, and our grandmother-in-law, Mimi:

And Sarah and her mom:

Yay for Sarah and Tyler. :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Captain's Log, Week 182

Hi friends! One week closer to the new baby - only two and a half weeks til her due date! We are so excited.

Here's what we've been up to this week:

  • It was my birthday on Monday! I am now twenty-five years old. It was a fun day; Ellie and I played for most of the day, and then Jason and I went to Marie Callender's for dinner (and I got a slice of Razzleberry pie with my plate. Yum!). Also, my dad and stepmom took me out to The Cheesecake Factory on the Saturday a couple days before for dinner. It was really fun and delicious. And this Sunday we're having a combined birthday dinner for me and my brother-in-law Tyler at Jason's parents house. So, lots and lots of good food this week. :)
  • Things are going better in pregnancy-land. The antibiotics finally killed my kidney infection. No preterm labor, woohoo! Plus, we had that ultrasound on Wednesday to see if the baby was measuring small, and she's not! The doctor who did the ultrasound said that she was actually measuring a couple days ahead. She said the reason I'm measuring small on the outside is probably just because I'm a couple inches taller than average, so my torso is a little bit longer and the baby is tucked inside more. (Which my ribs can testify to, by the way. Especially my bottom left two ribs.) So that's awesome. 
  • I am getting so close to finishing my "Childhood Photo Album." I think I've mentioned it a few times here on the blog before, but basically it's the biggest project I have ever done in my entire life. No kidding. Not exaggerating. And I am almost done. I am absolutely determined to get it done before the baby's born; I hope to finish it this weekend.
  • Ellie wore her first ponytail this week. Jason put it in, and Ellie kept touching it and alternatively calling it her ponytail and her "haircut."

  • My sister-in-law Sarah had a baby shower last weekend! It was very cute and fun; I'll be posting pictures of it tomorrow.
  • We got to hang out with some of our friends on Tuesday. Two of our friends who are usually up in Idaho for school were down here, so we had them and some of our other friends over to play games and eat a cake Jason made. It was fun. I'm excited to have our own apartment so we can do that more.
  • We (me and Ellie) talked to my sister Alyse on the phone a couple times this week. Ellie, sometime this week or last week, began calling Alyse's baby Ezra "Baby Reza." And sometimes, when Ellie's talking about "Baby Reza" to me, she'll go something like, "Baby Reza happy...Reza...Raisin...Raisins!" and then want to eat raisins.
  • Ellie has been singing "Hakuna Matata" this week. Alllllllll week. She likes to sing it during play time, at bed time, in the car - pretty much wherever we are and whatever we're doing, Ellie will be up for singing Hakuna Matata. (In fact, I can hear her singing it right now. She's supposed to be falling asleep for her nap, but I can hear her in there singing Hakuna Matata.) Here are a couple beautiful toddler renditions of the classic masterpiece (I especially love how Ellie says "problem-free" the second time she sings the song in the first video): 

  • Last night when we were getting dinner ready, Ellie went into our little hall/middle of our apartment thing, and was quietly entertaining herself somehow for a couple minutes. Then she closed the door that separates that space from our kitchen/front room, and started knocking for us to come open the door for her. When I opened it and saw her, I started laughing - I couldn't help it. This is what Ellie had been up to: 

    Ellie had found Jason's tennishoes and put them on. She proceeded to walk around our kitchen and family room in the big shoes, actually doing pretty well. They looked so out-of-proportion and it was so funny and cute.

And that was our week!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What We Believe - Joseph Smith

In the last couple weeks here on the blog I've talked about what we believe about Jesus Christ, God, God's plan for us, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and prophets.

In a nutshell, what I've said so far can be condensed into this: God lives. He is our father, and he loves us. He created a plan where we can become more like him. Jesus Christ is at the center of God's plan; he lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself for us to save us from our mistakes. We can always return to God because of this redemption, no matter what we've done. To spread this message and to reveal his plans to us, God has called prophets throughout history to teach his word.

My post on prophets covers the question: Okay, if God has called prophets throughout history, has he called them today? Why don't we hear about prophets in this modern day? Well, there actually are prophets on the earth today. I talked about them here, in the post on prophets.

So the next question is, when did this line of prophets start? In the bible, we hear about Adam and Abraham and Moses getting called, and then we can read about their successors throughout the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament there's Jesus himself, and then Peter and Paul, and then...who? What happened?

The Loss of Priesthood Authority

The Church of Jesus Christ is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19–204:11–14). These leaders have divine priesthood authority. Through revelation they direct the affairs of the Church. They maintain doctrinal purity, authorize the administration of ordinances, and call and confer upon others the priesthood authority.

After Jesus died, people persecuted the Apostles and killed many of them. When the Apostles died, the presiding priesthood authority - the authority to lead God's church and speak in his name - was taken from the earth. Consequently, there was no longer authority to confer the Holy Ghost or perform other saving ordinances. Revelation ceased, and doctrine became corrupted.

Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on their own wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth, and a lot of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. This apostasy eventually led to the emergence of many different churches, each teaching their own docrines.

After centuries of spiritual darkness, truth-seeking men and women protested against current religious practices. They recognized that many of the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel had been changed or lost. They sought for greater spiritual light, and many spoke of the need for a restoration of truth. They did not claim, however, that God had called them to be a prophet. Instead, they tried to reform teachings and practices that they believed had been changed or corrupted. Their efforts led to the organization of many Protestant churches. This Reformation resulted in an increased emphasis on religious freedom, which opened the way for the final Restoration.

A Restoration, not a Reformation, was required. Priesthood authority did not continue in an unbroken line of succession from the Apostle Peter. To reform is to change what already exists; to restore is to bring back something in its original form. Thus, restoration of priesthood authority through divine messengers was the only possible way to overcome the loss of priesthood authority.

The Savior’s Apostles foretold this universal apostasy. They also foretold that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church would be restored once more upon the earth.

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

When the circumstances were right, Heavenly Father once again reached out to His children in love. He called a young man named Joseph Smith as a prophet. Through him the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth.

Joseph Smith lived in the United States, which was perhaps the only country to enjoy religious freedom at the time. It was at a time of great religious excitement in the eastern United States. His family members were deeply religious and constantly sought for truth. But many ministers claimed to have the true gospel. Joseph desired “to know which of all the sects was right." The Bible taught there was “one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Joseph attended different churches, but he remained confused about which church he should join. He later wrote:

“So great were the confusions and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was … to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. … In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

As Joseph sought truth among the different faiths, he turned to the Bible for guidance. He read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Because of this passage, Joseph decided to ask God what he should do. In the spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt in prayer. He described his experience:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

In this vision God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith. The Savior told Joseph not to join any of the churches, for they “were all wrong” and “all their creeds were an abomination.” He stated, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." Even though many good people believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach His gospel, they did not have the fullness of truth or the priesthood authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances. They had inherited a state of apostasy as each generation was influenced by what the previous one passed on, including changes in the doctrines and in ordinances such as baptism. As God had done with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet through whom the fullness of the gospel was restored to the earth.

After the appearance of the Father and the Son, other heavenly messengers, or angels, were sent to Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery. John the Baptist appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to perform the ordinance of baptism. Peter, James, and John (three of Christ’s original Apostles) appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, restoring the same authority given to Christ’s Apostles anciently. With this priesthood authority, Joseph Smith was directed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. Through him, Jesus Christ called twelve Apostles.

The time in which we live is referred to by Bible prophets as the last days, the latter days, or the dispensation of the fullness of times. It is the period of time just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the final dispensation. This is why the Church is named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A living prophet directs the Church today. This prophet, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. He and the present Apostles trace their authority to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations through Joseph Smith.

I know this is a long post, but it's an important one, and thanks for reading until the end. I want you to know that I know that this is true - that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to earth today.

Resources you might be interested in:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday evening Jason, Ellie, and I went to the pumpkin patch. It was the first time Ellie's ever been to one, and she really liked it. :) She's been pointing out all the "happy pumpkins!" (jack-o-lanterns) for weeks, so we wanted to take her where there were lots of pumpkins. And she thought it was very exciting.

She kept running up to the tin bucket (above, to the left) where they had lots of tiny pumpkins. She would choose one, bring it back to this little table they had, sit down, then run back to the bucket and exchange it for another one a minute later.

At one point, we plopped her down on the top of a bunch of big pumpkins to try to get a picture. That didn't work since she immediately climbed down, but she then seemed to have the idea of sitting on pumpkins stuck in her mind, and ran up to these scattered pumpkins by the fence and sat on several different ones. 

And, as a final activity, Ellie decided that the pumpkins on top of the hay bales needed  rearranging. She moved nearly all the pumpkins (all the ones she could lift) from one hay bale over to this other one across the way.

And that was Ellie's first trip to a pumpkin patch!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Captain's Log, Week 181

Happy Friday, friends! I am writing this from our new apartment, which means...we have internet! Yay! The guy came yesterday morning and set us up.

Here's what's been happening with us this week:
  • My dad is in the news! One of his cases he's working on right now is about a giant emerald (850 pounds), and all the different people claiming to own it. National Geographic has actually even done a documentary on this emerald before, and are filming the trial so they can put it in a future documentary. Pretty cool stuff.
  • I hit the "36 weeks pregnant" mark. You probably already saw my pregnancy update; a further update is that I finished my antibiotics last night and am feeling pretty good so far.
  • This is pretty much my wildest dreams come true:

      You know those little marshmallows that come in hot chocolate packets? I love those little marshmallows. And my whole life I always wanted more than what came in the packets. I mean, they give you like eight! Eight little marshmallows for a whole mug of hot chocolate! *Shaking head.* Even the "marshmallow lovers" kind, with a separate packet filled with marshmallows, doesn't quite have enough. And after several years, I began to think to myself, why don't they sell these separately? They should sell these separately. Where is this product that should exist? And I looked for it and looked for it, and it was nowhere to be found. And that made me sad. 
      And then one day at 7-11 I was getting hot chocolate, and there they were! In the hot chocolate toppings! They had a canister of little marshmallows. But it wasn't any kind of name brand, and the canister said it was specifically made for the 7-11 company. So, I couldn't buy them. I thought for the next couple years (I'm serious) about writing to the 7-11 company and asking where I could buy them. When we moved back to California last year, during some conversation with Jason's family I mentioned my fruitless quest to find and buy the little marshmallows. And then one completely normal day, out of the blue, Jason's mom came home with them!!! Kraft apparently started making and selling them, and she found them at Target! And that was a glorious day. And so we've had a steady supply of little marshmallows for the last year.
      And then a couple weeks ago I was at the 99 cents store (California's big chain of dollar stores), and I found them for a dollar! So that was awesome, and I got some. And then yesterday I was at the 99 cents store again, and they were on sale three for a dollar! THREE FOR A DOLLAR! Do you know how amazing this is? Like I said, my wildest dreams have come true. I bought six. And am seriously thinking about going back and getting more. Happy happy happy.
    • Jason got his flu shot. Since he works at a hospital, he can just get it there. I still need to call Ellie's pediatrician and schedule hers; I should really do that today so they can get her in sometime next week.
    • It rained here on Wednesday! For several hours. It was awesome. Very very wet and cold, and totally autumn-y, and it made being inside feel really cozy and nice. And it had that wonderful rain-smell.
    • Ellie's still watching Lion King pretty much every day. The best thing to come out of that this week are her names for Timon and Pumba: "Joomom" and "Bumbum." The first time she said them I didn't know what she was referencing...then I figured it out...and couldn't stop laughing. Joomom and Bumbum. Oh my goodness. My new favorite thing.

    Aaannnnnnd....that's pretty much our whole week!

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    Pregnancy Update - One Month to Go

    Hi everyone! Only four weeks to go with this pregnancy. Can you believe it? I really can't. My due date is November 5th, which is officially less than a month away.

    Me and Ellie last week. :)

    A couple things are going on with the pregnancy at the moment. Here's the rundown:

    • I've had a recurrent UTI/kidney infection for the last three weeks. I am currently on my third round of antibiotics to fight it, and hopefully these ones will do the job. They are stronger than the first two kinds and actually fight the kind of bacteria I have (E. Coli, which the last test showed).
    • I really, really hope the infection doesn't hit for a fourth time. The first time was super uncomfortable, the second time led to that extremely painful day I mentioned in this Captain's Log, and the third time, last Friday, led to the beginning stages of preterm labor. That's the main risk with recurrent UTIs/kidney infections in pregnancy - preterm labor. When the infection hit last Friday, it came back and progressed much quicker than the first two times. This third time, I was in as much pain after three hours as I was after eight hours the time before. And I started to have lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions - one right after another, for hours. Both Jason and I were legitimately concerned that I was in the beginning stages of preterm labor. I went to my doctor's office and got antibiotics as fast as I could, took them, took some pain medicine, drank a bunch of fluid, and laid down on my left side for a couple hours. Luckily, after a couple hours the Braxton-Hicks contractions began to subside and eventually, over the course of the evening, went away. At my doctor's appointment yesterday he was talking about how preterm labor is a risk for these infections, and I told him about the continuous contractions I was having on Friday, and he said he was glad I came in. So I'm a little on edge over that. I don't want to go into preterm labor; I want our baby to stay in there until her due date!
    • The other thing that's a concern at the moment is that I'm measuring small. I'm about the same weight I was at this point with Ellie, and I feel about the same size, but my fundal height (uterus size) is measuring about a week and 1/2 behind what it should be. (I could have had the same measurement last time, but my last doctor never mentioned it.) My doctor is a little bit concerned and is sending me in for an ultrasound next week to measure the baby. I keep going back and forth about being worried about this - worried, because she might be small, and not worried, because I'm about the same size I was with Ellie and while Ellie was a little bit small (7 lbs 1 oz), it was fine. Also, I feel her moving all the time, which is a comfort.

    On a positive note, we finished moving into the apartment and now I feel much more prepared for the baby to get here.  So even if she does come early, we'll be ready. But we hope she stays in there for the last couple weeks. :)

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    What We Believe - Living Prophets Speak Today

    Good morning! I know I've already expounded on it a couple times, so I won't give you the whole explanation again, but today we're listening to living prophets speak!

    You can check out General Conference here.

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    Captain's Log, Week 180

    Oh boy, this has been a busy week. We moved to our new apartment on Monday, and have been unpacking and unpacking and unpacking and getting all the things in their right places ever since then. It is such a process! And I am so ready just to be all moved in. Unpacking and sorting and moving things and putting things away all day, every day is exhausting. But we're getting there! And once we're all done (hopefully in the next couple days) I'll take some pictures to share with you guys.

    We don't have internet at our apartment yet; I'm currently writing this from my in-law's house where I'm doing laundry. Our apartment complex supposedly has free internet, but when I took my computer over to the clubhouse, it could see the wifi network and said it was hooked up to it with full bars, but wouldn't actually load any pages. So I don't know what the deal is there.  Hopefully we figure out our internet soon.

    Ellie is still on a Lion King kick. Today when she woke up, the first thing she said (other than "Daddy! Mommy!") was "Mufasa? Mufasa? Sard? Mufasa?" She was saying it so cute; I don't know how to describe it, but her "Mufasa"s were the cutest "Mufasa"s I've ever heard. (She's speaking in more full sentences now, by the way. Like today at the end of her bath, she told me, "I want to get out." There have been more sentences and instances like that, but that's the one I can think of off the top of my head.)(Also, she's very specific with her requests of which dishes she wants to eat/drink food in. She'll tell us "red cup" or "green bowl" or whichever one she wants at the time.)

    And this weekend is General Conference!!!!!!!! Yaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!! I love general conference. I love hearing all the talks, and seeing all of the apostles and the first presidency, and the music, and getting to watch it in my pjs, and everything about it. To our friends of other faiths: General Conference is a big, twice-yearly meeting that our whole church has, where we get to listen to the church leadership speak. People go to it in person, or you can watch it at our church meetinghouses, or on TV, or on the internet. The first session was last Saturday, to the women's organization, and you can check out what was said here. Tomorrow on Saturday there will be three more sessions: One at 9 am (Pacific Daylight Time), one at 1 pm (PDT), and one for the men's organization at 5 pm (PDT). On Sunday there will be the two final sessions of this conference, one at 9 am (PDT) and one at 1 pm (PDT). You can watch any of these sessions live, here: October 2013 General Conference. If you were to choose just one to watch, I would recommend the Sunday morning session. That's the one the president of the church always speaks at. :)

    And that's this week's Captain's Log!