Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: Understanding Your Endowment by Cory B. Jensen

I received my endowment almost exactly twenty years ago, on August 29th, 1995. I knew practically nothing about it, just that I'd be getting my garments and going through the veil. I didn't know either of those two things meant or entailed, just that it was a good thing and that I was looking forward to it, and that it was a step toward getting married, which would happen two days later, on the 31st.My husband was (and is) an avid temple goer, and he was so excited for me to go through for myself.

When I went through, I really didn't understand a lot of what was going on, but I felt the peace of the Spirit and knew that I would eventually come to understand it. Perhaps my experience was also somewhat muted by the fact that I was really sick that day. Regardless of what I did or didn't understand, when I stepped into the celestial room, my heart was full, and I knew I'd done something that made my Heavenly Father very happy.

Like I said, that was twenty years ago. I've now done endowment sessions in the Salt Lake, Provo, Timpanogos, Bountiful, and Jordan River Temples. I've attended sealings in most of those, plus Logan. I've gone to the open houses for Bountiful and Draper. I love the temple with all my heart, and while I know I don't understand even the first layer, I look forward to each time I go.

Understanding Your Endowment by Cory B. Jensen takes a closer look at the historical and doctrinal reasons why we do the things we do in the temple. He doesn't go into detail about things that are too sacred to share outside the temple walls, but instead, he breaks down the meanings of why we make covenants and why we are washed, etc. Pulling on scriptures from the different books of the standard works, he lays a foundation that helps us understand where the different parts of the endowment come from and why we still perform them today.

He doesn't focus solely on the endowment. Instead, he begins with the initiatory, which is as it should be because the initiatory is very much a part of the endowment - a preparatory step. He gives the biblical explanation for why we perform the initiatory, and then asks us to ponder the things we hear when we do that ordinance in the temple. After that, he discusses the background of the endowment, and then moves on to the sealing, which is the culminating step in the temple experience. If you as the reader have not yet attended the temple, you might not understand all the references he makes, but you will gain some understanding and perspectives as to why we follow that particular pattern.

This book, while doctrinal, is easy to read and understand. I read it in an evening and found it enjoyable and informative. It's not geared as a preparatory book for those who have never attended, but rather, is more for those of us who have attended to help us get more out of the temple experience. This isn't to say that those who haven't gone can't read it - it's just not meant as a preparatory tool per se.

The biggest thing this book did for me personally was to plant in my heart a desire to know my standing before the Lord and to seek Him out in prayer to ask what I yet lack. It also made me want to go back to the temple again with these new perspectives so I can continue to learn what the Lord would have me learn.

You can purchase Understanding Your Endowment by clicking here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

This Whole Modesty Thing ...

Back when I was a teenager, we were taught in Young Women that we should dress modestly. Some girls chose to follow that counsel, other girls didn't, and that was pretty much the end of it. Counsel given, choice made, life went on.

However, about a year ago - or maybe two years - all of a sudden, modesty became this big thing. Bloggers everywhere decided to start picking it apart. Some were really . . . well, let's just say that the discussion became interesting. People began to place blame - "A man can't control his thoughts, so a girl has to stay modest for his sake." Others felt that asking a girl to dress modestly interfered with her rights and was taking us a step back in our progression toward an equal society. Still others stated that when it gets hot outside, girls need to dress in less clothing so they don't get overheated. And it's all felt very angry and defensive and prickly.

And I've sat here going, huh?

I have to be honest - to me, this is an issue that just doesn't feel big enough to be an issue. If you'd like to follow the counsel, follow it. If you'd rather not, don't. It's your choice, that whole agency thing we talk about all the time. Those who follow the counsel have their own personal reasons for doing so. Those who don't have their own personal reasons for their decision too.  What is your heart telling you?

Whenever I see a debate like this raging on the Internet, I can't help but wonder what we're missing when we get so caught up in distractions like that. It's really difficult to listen to our hearts when there's so much chaos. We need quiet. We need to turn off all the other voices and listen to ourselves. That's how we'll make the choices that will lead to happiness for us - not engaging in all the rhetoric.

It's the same with every piece of advice we're given, counsel we're dispensed, or commandment we're given. We have the choice as to whether we'll listen, and we need to make those choices by tuning in to our own hearts and determining for ourselves where we stand on those issues. The Holy Ghost is always there to confirm to us the rightness of our choice, or to encourage us to take another path. In the end, it's up to us. It's always up to us.

My daughter and I choose to dress modestly. We don't do it because we're trying to keep men (those slobbery, hairy beasts) from lusting after us. We don't feel as though our rights are being taken away. We also don't find ourselves suffering particularly when the weather gets hot, or any of the other arguments being made for/against. We simply feel better about ourselves when we're dressed modestly. That's our personal choice. And we encourage everyone to make their own personal choice, for themselves, in their own lives, because that's how the whole agency thing works.

There. I've now joined the voices of bloggers everywhere discussing this topic. Peace out.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bless the Beasts ...

I've always liked animals. When I was a little girl, I had a couple of rabbits, and I'm fond of dogs. This was all kind of surface for me, though - I didn't freak out or get giddy whenever I saw an animal. They existed, I existed - it was all good.

Last summer, however, all that changed. My daughter had been asking for a dog for some time, and for her birthday, I decided to go ahead and get her one. I'd been procrastinating because I didn't want something underfoot and I didn't want dog hair all over - my daughter and I shed enough as it is. A curse of having thick hair. But I finally relented, and we were able to find the absolute perfect dog for her at the Humane Society of Utah. At first, I thought we'd gotten her for my daughter, but as it turns out, she's for all of us.
Her name is Belle, and she's half Chihuahua and half Manchester terrier. I can't explain the sweetness she's brought into our family. Yes, she's underfoot, and yes, she sheds, but I find that I don't mind so much. She's constantly doing cute little things that endear her to us even more, and she has us all wrapped around her little paw. Even my big tall son will scoop her up and carry her around like a baby. She's adored and adorable. And suddenly, animals all over the world are more on my radar - you know how it is, when you're pregnant or want to be pregnant, you start noticing babies? Well, now that we have a dog, I'm more aware of them.

And frankly, I've been shocked and sickened by much of what I've seen.

In years past, whenever I'd hear about a case of animal abuse, I'd think, "Oh, that's too bad," but I'd sort of skim past it because I was thinking about other things. Now that we have Belle and I'm more attuned to the animal kingdom, I've seen some articles that have made me nearly vomit - the abuses mankind perpetrates on animals are staggering, evil, and beyond my comprehension. I don't use the word "evil" lightly, but I absolutely mean it in this case. There are some truly twisted individuals out there who do things to animals that belong in the lower levels of hell. I'm not going to list them all here, but you can find any information you're curious to find on the Internet.

Why are some people so cruel? How could they have come to believe that this kind of behavior is all right? It makes me wonder what they've gone through in their own lives to create that kind of hard shell around their hearts, and it makes me cringe for their families - are they kind to their families while treating their animals in such horrific ways, or does the abuse extend to everyone around them? I know that animal abuse is a sign of a deeper mental issue, and I can't believe that someone who could treat a dog or other animal in such a way could be all right in all the other areas of their lives. This is not normal. This is not okay.

I beg of everyone reading this post - if you encounter any evidence of animal abuse in your neighborhood, please call it in. These beautiful little creatures don't deserve the things they are put through. And please, please realize that animal abusers must be stopped before their abuse escalates. When you look back into the life stories of some of our most notorious serial killers and rapists, you'll find that many of them began abusing animals as children. It is an indicator of a deeper illness. Please don't overlook it - please report it.

I read an article on Facebook just moments ago that had me crying out in disgust and shock. If Belle weren't taking a nap right now, I'd go in there, scoop her up, and promise her over and over again that nothing like that will ever happen to her. I always have been and always will be a fierce and avid warrior against child abuse, but we're now going to add animal abuse to that list. This must stop. It must. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Watchers Blog Tour

Hidden Fire Blog Tour and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Finding your own unique strength and courage is a major theme of The Watchers. The characters in this series are as diverse as they come: different nationalities, male, female, dwarf, human, dragon, pixie, noble, peasant orphan, young, aged. Yet, no matter the situation, whether tragic or triumphant, they find ways to grow and develop into something stronger. 

The main character, Auriella (Aura), is born and lives in a society and time when girls, especially of her social status, didn't have opportunities for education or growth, let alone a chance to be a hero. The Watchers must learn to work together, despite differences, to defeat Erebus and the Shadow Legion, just as we, no matter our gender, race, age, circumstances, etc., are capable of great things. 

Strong men and women grow in all situations and become heroes when one is needed. They don't think about it, they just do what's right. 
-Deirdra Eden, author of The Watchers Series

Book Summary
Auriella’s new life as a royal protector is in shambles. The new king ignores her warnings of a Shadow Legion invasion and he is determined to marry her off. Ghosts from her past, the discovery of other Watchers, and a handsome Scottish warrior throw her off guard and weaken her emotional defenses. Caught in a web of secrecy and betrayal, Auriella struggles to control and protect the devastating power of Starfire. A terrible truth and a fateful choice will lead her to her destiny as the fabled Lady of Neviah, or could shroud the entire world in eternal darkness. 

Filled with action, romance, drama, and comedy, Hidden Fire is an addicting read that you won't want to put down. 

“Deirdra Eden has surpassed her earlier achievement in this daring tale of struggle between good and evil forces that exist in every universe.” Mark F. Cheney, author of MARK OF THE JAGUAR 

“Thought provoking and full of action, I didn’t want to put the book down! I really loved the symbolism and it was a fantastic read.” Mary G. – age 15

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