Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lessons from Rahab

You'll have to excuse my constant blog posts about the Old Testament.  As I've said before, I teach gospel doctrine at church every Sunday, so needless to say, it's on my mind.  Plus the Old Testament is so rich and full of good, amazing stuff! Going through it this time around has been such an amazing experience.  Especially since I have been to so many of the places it talks about in there.  Truly amazing.

My lesson today was on the book of Joshua and wow there is a lot of good stuff in there! One particular point, that stuck out to me this time around, is in the story of Rahab.  Joshua needed to defeat the city of Jericho, which was walled up, so he sent over two spies to check everything out.  They were sought after by the people of Jericho and Rahab, a harlot, helped them by hiding them in her home.  In exchange for helping them, she asked that when Jericho was destroyed, the Israelites would save her and her family.  The two spies complied and swore an oath to her.  Jericho was destroyed and her family was saved.

There's a lot more to the story of Joshua and Jericho, but I particularly wanted to focus on Rahab and what we can learn from her since a) she's a woman in the Bible with a story (those are hard to come by) and b) there's a great lesson to be learned from her.

Rahab was a harlot, and therefore was probably not living the most faithful life.  The Lord, however, still saw fit to use her.  He took an imperfect person and he used her in his plan for the Israelites to conquer Jericho.  She was able to be an instrument in his hands, despite her "life of sin."  And the spies could have looked at her and said, "Yeah she's not someone we want to interact with."  But they didn't.  They accepted her help and were able to conquer Jericho because of it.

So sometimes we may feel inadequate because we are imperfect.  We may feel that we are not worthy of being an instrument in the Lord's hands.  But that simply isn't true.  And Rahab teaches us that.  The Lord knows our true potential.  He knows that we are imperfect and have flaws.  And yet he still needs us.  He still wants us to come unto Him and be perfected through Him.  And what a blessing right? If he only used perfect people, he wouldn't have anyone to use!  Anyone, and I mean anyone can be an instrument in the Lord's hands.  If we seek him and submit to His will, we can do all things through Christ.

Rahab was imperfect.  Pretty much everyone in the Bible was imperfect (except Christ of course!).  I am imperfect and you are imperfect.  And sometimes we really mess up.  And get to a point where it feels impossible to come back.  But it's never too late to come back.  And there's no such thing as being too deep in to resurface.  The Lord can and will use you, if you just let him.  And he can perfect you and make you whole.  Through the power of the atonement, we can become stronger and be used by the Lord for good.

Thank goodness for the Lord and his infinite mercy.  And thank goodness for Rahab and her story.  She plays a seemingly small part in the Old Testament, but yet there are big lessons to learn from her.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Imperfection

I'm a perfectionist.  And I'm sure you can relate.  I make a goal, let's say to eat healthy, for a week.  And then I do really well for a few days.  And then Wednesday comes and opportunities for something delicious like cookies comes my way.  So I indulge and then basically say to myself, "welp, I guess the week is shot" and then eat lots of cookies the rest of the week.  Flawed thinking, right?

But don't we all do this all of the time? Where we are confronted with failure, hardship, etc and then just give up? Learning to overcome those failures and keep trying is what is going to get us to where we want to be.

Something I always think of watching Flint learn how to walk.  He could take a few steps for such a long time.  He would take a few steps and then fall over.  And once he fell over, he would just crawl to wherever he was trying to get.  We kept trying to teach him to no fall back on crawling, but it still took him a few months to get it.  The true breakthrough, however, came when he learned to get up.  When he learned how to stand back up after falling down.  And I realized that I need to do this too.  Or else I will never learn to "walk."

There are all of those cheesy quotes out there like "You don't really fail until you give up trying" but dang it, it's true!

So I guess what I'm saying is that I missed writing in my blog last week.  And I have been tempted all day to just not write anymore and be done with this.  But I'm not going to! I made a goal to write every week this year.  And maybe I missed a week by one day, but that's ok.  Gotta keep going.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Be Still My Soul

Life is good.  I've just been overwhelmed today with love and gratitude for a Heavenly Father that has blessed me in abundance.  It just kind of all hit me at once this weekend.  I have an amazing husband with a solid surgeon job (which was his dream) for the next 5 years.  A husband that stayed awake for 36 hours straight to install our new dishwasher.  And then stayed up again until 1 am last night putting the kitchen back together again while I slept.  I have a new home that is slowly but surely coming together that I just absolutely love.  Being here just makes me happy.  Going out into our peaceful yard and watching Flint jump on the trampoline or play in the sand just makes my day.  The weather has finally decided to warm up and I've got the sunburn to prove it.  But I'm grateful for that sunburn because I'm grateful for the sun.  I have a beautiful baby girl who brings me joy and is loved by her family fiercely.  Basically, I really do feel like I have it all.

And it's crazy to think that all of that frustration and anxiety I felt over the last 3 years has just melted away.  God really did have it all planned out from the beginning and here I am, experiencing the blessings that he had in store for me all along.  His hand was in the minute details of my life.  Of my family's life.  I know other hard times will come, they always do.  But for now, I just want to thank God for everything.  The lows, the highs, and the in-betweens.  I want to remember what this feels like- which is why I'm writing it down.  God has always had my back and He always will.

I remember when I first felt "converted" to God.  I was 14, attending my grandmama's funeral.  For the first time in my life, I really needed to know if this whole claim that I would see my grandmama again was legit.  I prayed like I had never prayed before.  During the service, a missionary sang "Be Still My Soul."  His voice wasn't spectacular, but the spirit that was brought into that room was undeniable.  Those lyrics burned within me.  And I knew it was all true.  I knew.

I feel like that day was a keystone to my faith.  I look back on that day, and rehearse those lyrics in my mind constantly.  They bring me peace like nothing else can.  And the more time that passes, the more significant that day has become to me.  I will forever be grateful for that song.  And different lyrics bring me peace at different times in my life.  During the last 3 years, the lyrics, "to guide the future as he has the past" have been particularly significant.  God has always guided my past.  And time and hindsight have allowed me to see that.  So I must have faith that he will always, always guide my future.  And now that I'm sitting on the other side of the "match day trial," I see once again that that promise has held true.

God is good and he wants to bless us with more than we can fathom.  I have learned this lesson so many times and yet it still astonishes me how much the Lord is truly on my side. Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side.  With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.  Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change, He faithful will remain.  Be Still, my soul.  They best, thy heavenly friend.  Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.  

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Red Couch

I have this red couch.  Dark red.  We bought it off of a 4th year medical student when we first got married because our brown leather couch had a huge tear right in the middle of it.  It was cheap and we needed a couch.  I have hated it since the minute we got it.  Red just isn't my color.

Well we just bought a new house, and as I've been trying to style it and come up with how I want things decorated, I just became more and more annoyed that we have a red couch. So I started looking into buying other couches.  Prettier (way more expensive) couches that would fit into my decor style better.  And I only came out even more frustrated because we just simply couldn't afford it.  Or I could blow all of our new house money on a couch and then be left with nothing else to spend on other stuff.  Sigh.  (I know, I know, first world problems...)

And I finally came to a simple decision.  A decision that I've made many times before in other aspects of my life and yet once again had forgotten the value of embracing.  I needed to embrace the red couch.  Embrace it for exactly what it is and stop wishing that it would be different.  So I started researching how to style dark red couches, and what do you know! A lot of what I found fit into my design aesthetic.  All of the sudden I stopped wishing for a different couch and have even become grateful that our couch is this color because it just fits so perfectly into our living room that I have laid out. Hey, I'm even sitting on this red couch right now.  And loving it! :)

And I was just reminded once again of the importance of embracing.  I really, truly feel that it is the secret to life.  Embrace change as it comes, because you can't escape it.  Embrace people as they are, because you can't change them.  And embrace the circumstances that you are in, because so many things are often out of our control.  It is so easy to get frustrated with well... pretty much anything right? People offend you, they aren't socially aware, they do stupid things, they don't parent their children how you think they should, they are flaky, they disappoint, and the list goes on.  But everyone has good in them.  Everyone. When you embrace someone for who they are, you are accepting that they have faults and you are giving them the benefit of the doubt.  You are trusting that they are trying their best and need forgiveness, just like you do.  You are also seeing the good in them and recognize the amazing qualities that God gave to them.  You appreciate the positives they add to your life.  When you embrace, you honestly live a happier, less frustrating life.  Trust me!

I feel like I have been able to truly love where I live because I have embraced Danville, PA for what it is.  Of course I have my times where I miss my "big city living," but there are so SO many wonderful things about living in a rural small town in central PA.  The people here are amazing, community driven people. The scenery around here is absolutely gorgeous and it is so fun to get out and explore it all.  And going to all of the small town festivals and parades has truly been a blast for me and my family.  This little town (and surrounding areas) has so much to offer.  I am blessed to be here.  But I wouldn't feel blessed if I hadn't learned to embrace it all.

I have written about this before, but the best piece of advice I have ever received was when I was in Jerusalem, getting ready to fly home.  It was my last day there and I was going home to graduate from BYU the next day and move on into the adult world.  I asked my director's wife for her best piece of life advice and she said "unpack your bags." Whenever you face change, and a new place, unpack your bags.  It doesn't matter if you are going to be somewhere for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.  Throw yourself into your ward, community, job, etc and act like you are never leaving.  Love everyone around you, explore everywhere around you, and embrace the circumstances that face you.  That is what will make you happy.  And I have to say, I couldn't agree with her more.  Especially after all of the changes I have gone through since that last day in Jerusalem.  

So embrace that red couch in your life.  Seriously- it will change you for the better!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

It takes a village

Life update: We bought a house!! And I cannot begin to tell you how extremely excited we are about it.  Like seriously- we love love LOVE it.  Ben had this last week of work off and we hit the ground running getting the house ready to move into.  We closed on Monday and then moved all of our stuff over yesterday.  So that's why my blog post is super late this week.  But totally worth it.  We woke up every morning and then did house stuff until midnight or later every night.  It was crazy but so so good and so so worth it.  Yes we spent way more time at Home Depot than I originally planned (and I had planned on going a lot), but I'm so happy with the progress we have already made. I will post pictures and such once we get a little more unpacking under our belts.  Most of the work we did this week was painting.  We decided to paint the entire inside of the house.  Literally every room. We even ended up painting the ceilings, which put us behind schedule, but it was definitely worth it.  It looks great now!  We still need to paint our master bedroom and bathroom, but other than that, we got it all done! I'm still amazed.

But that brings me to my topic for today.  Community.  Unity.  Zion.  When I first moved to Danville, I was so so afraid of being away from my parents.  Because they did SO much for us while we were living close.  Helped us with anything we needed, I could always trust them to take care of Flint if I needed them to, and they were always feeding us like crazy.  What was I going to do without them?  Well although I am not related by blood to anyone in Danville, I have definitely felt a part of a family.  When people found out we were moving, I was overwhelmed with the amount of people asking me how they could help.  I could not believe it! Since so many people asked how they could help, I sent out a group text to my church peeps just saying we would do a painting party for anyone that wanted to come. So many people showed up and we got the entire house's first coat done in mere hours.  I still can't believe it.  And then yesterday, when we were getting ready to move again for the 3rd time in Danville and in 2 years, 16 people showed up at our door step to help.  And some kids even came and helped out! I am seriously blown away.  We got the entire move done from start to finish in 2.5 hours.  I can't believe it.  I seriously can't believe it.  And I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my people.  The people that took Flint during the week so we could get more done, the people who brought us food so we did't have to eat yet another frozen pizza, the people that painted with a smile on their face, and the people that offered help and I didn't even take them up on it because I already had so much help.

To sum it up, I think I felt a little taste of what heaven is going to be like.  Lots of awesome people, knit together in love and unity, and helping each other.  Seeing a need and filling it.  That's what I think heaven is really going to be like.  And what a glorious feeling it was to get a taste of it this week.  Once again, God knew what he was doing when he sent me to Danville.  He knew that although I would be away from my blood related family, I would still have a family to lean on and boost me up when I needed it the most.  It takes a village of people to raise a family.  That's what they say at least.  And I definitely think that's true.  All I can say is that I've been surrounded by angels this past week (or all along really) and I couldn't be more grateful.  What a wonderful community I have become a part of.

I hope I can be better at seeing needs in others and filling them.  I hope to become like the people that helped me this week.  God is good, people are good, life is GOOD!

Friday, April 13, 2018

More lessons from Joseph

Now that I am not working with the Young Women anymore, I have been asked to teach Gospel Doctrine, or adult Sunday school.  And I'm super excited about it because this year we are studying the Old Testament which I absolutely love.

I taught my first lesson this past Sunday and the topic was Joseph in Egypt, which was perfect timing considering my post from two weeks ago.  As I really dove into the story again, even though I had just read it, it was amazing to me how many things we can truly learn from this story.  I could probably continue with a "lessons from Joseph" mini series for the blog.  But for now, I will stick to just one more.

As you know, I've been seriously contemplating what faith means, and now what trust in God means. And wow is Joseph the perfect example of both things.  Something just clicked this time as I read the story about why our faith and trust in God matter.  And it comes down to being prepared.  Being spiritually prepared.  The story of Joseph shows us great examples of being spiritually prepared, but also of being temporally prepared.  The temporal preparedness would obviously be him leading Egypt to storing lots of food during their 7 years of plenty so that they had enough to live on and sell to others during the 7 years of famine.  But his spiritual preparedness is what allowed him to get to that point.  His faith during times of hardship is what made the big difference.

When Joseph was put into prison for something he did not even do, it would have been so easy for him to say "Ok well I guess God has forgotten me."  It would have been so easy for him to turn bitter.  Or if nothing else, it would have at least been easy for him to become complacent in his faith and just kind of apathetically exist.  To know that God is there, but not really do anything about it.  I know there have been times in my life where I have felt God has forgotten me.  But there have been even more times where times got tough and I didn't necessarily say "Ok God forgot me," but I just kind of sat on the bench for the while, waiting (in a very apathetic manner) for whatever it was to pass.  Like with the match, (I know, I talk about this a lot, but it's my life right now) I kind of just threw my hands up in the air and said "You know what? God is going to do what he's going to do.  Me praying about it won't change anything.  Me exercising faith won't change anything. What's going to happen is just going to happen." And Joseph could have easily said that same thing when he was thrown into prison.  Or he could have at least gotten to that point after a year. Or two years.

But he didn't. He kept the faith.  He kept his trust in God strong.  He built his faith even more, so that when that opportunity came, he would be prepared. He would be ready.  And you know what? That opportunity did come. When he was given the chance to interpret dreams, he was ready to do so.  With the help and power of God.  But what if he had just been sitting there, kind of just existing, waiting for something to happen and hadn't strengthened his faith? What if he hadn't been spiritually prepared to interpret those dreams? His story would have gone a little differently.  Joseph's faith mattered.  It mattered in his own outcome, it mattered to those other men in prison, it mattered to the Pharaoh, it mattered to all of Egypt, and it ultimately mattered to all of the surrounding areas and therefore to his family and their future.  The faith of a single person can truly change the world.  It cannot only make a difference but the difference.

I want to remember this lesson.  I want to take my hard times and turn them into opportunities to build my faith.  Take them as opportunities to bulk up my spiritual reservoir so that when the time comes, I will be ready, and I can make a difference.  What a blessing it is to have the scriptures to teach us lessons like this.  If I trust God, everything else will all work out.  Joseph knew that, and I'm so glad he did.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

An Open Letter to my Young Women

Dear Young Woman,

I hope you know what an absolute delight it was serving with you during my year and a half with the youth.  And I hope you learned something from me.  I hope I was a good example of what a faithful woman is to you.  And I am going to miss seeing you twice a week, coming together to have fun, serve others, and draw closer to our Savior.

I hope you know how important it is to know, and I mean truly know that you are a daughter of God.  That knowledge brings power.  That knowledge brings confidence.  And that confidence will change your life and the world around you.  It is so, so easy to get caught up in the chaos of the world. It is so, so easy to lose your eternal perspective.  And the knowledge that you are a daughter of God is what you need to combat that.  You are of divine heritage.  And he has amazing, wonderful things in store for you.

Don't dwell on your imperfections.  Embrace who you are, and know that with God's help, you can become who you are truly meant to become.  Those weaknesses that you are probably beating yourself up about on a daily basis really truly can become strengths.  If you put your faith in the Lord, put all of your efforts in, and rely on the grace of God, anything is possible.

Remember that you are standing as a witness of God at all times, and in all things and in all places.  I cannot express enough how important it is to be at the right place at the right time.  It's a lot easier to make good choices when you surround yourself with good people and good places.  Make friends with people that think you are the best.  That think you are awesome.  Having friends that fill your life with positivity is something that will bless you throughout the rest of your life.  Don't cling to negative people- you are better than that.  Because remember- you are a daughter of God.  And if you radiate light and positivity to those around you, the right people will be attracted to that and will want to be around you.

You are going to get overwhelmed by life.  It's something that happens to all of us.  Confide in your mom, confide in your leaders.  They have so much to offer you.  I have been so blessed throughout my life with amazing advice from my parents and leaders.  I still to this day thank God daily for the amazing youth leaders that I had who helped shape my testimony and faith in God.  When you do feel overwhelmed, just remember that you are never alone.  And also remember that the problem you face is just a small pebble that you probably have placed right in front of your eye.  As you pull the pebble away, and your vision isn't completely consumed by the sight of this rock, you begin to see that the world is much bigger.  And having an eternal perspective that you are just experiencing a small pebble in a large world can bring you comfort and peace.  All things will work together for your good.  Remember that and cling to that promise that God has given us.

The last thing I want to say is that you are going to make mistakes.  We all do it.  As much as I wish that the advice I give you will prevent the heartache you will feel from making those mistakes, I know that you will still make them.  Just remember that those mistakes do not define you.  Your divine heritage, the knowledge that you are daughter of God is what truly defines you.  Give yourself grace, repent when you need to, and just learn from the mistakes that you make.  And once again, if you remember who you truly are, you will be much better equipped to do so.

Remember, remember, remember.  YOU are a daughter of God.

Love,

Sister (Grace) Fisher