Redemption

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have temples. Unfamiliar with temples? Learn more about them here:

I have finally just started making headway in my personal family history research. This is genealogy, which includes compiling photographs and personal records of our ancestors as well as researching further back in our family lines. It also includes baptisms for the dead, which, as shown in the video, we perform in our temples.

Allow me to jump around a bit, here. Joseph Smith taught, as is found in the Doctrine & Covenants 128:18 (emphasis added):

It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.

I have a general understanding of that last statement. In other words, I have never been sure exactly why we cannot be perfected without each other, but I have faith that the Lord knows and I trust Him.

In the process of doing my family history research, I have had wonderful experiences, even miracles, that led me to names of my long-lost ancestors. It has been amazing.

I’ve also learned things about my family that I am far from proud of. In fact, some of the things they have done are utterly repulsive to me.

I have also done a lot of thinking about my genetic inclination, and I must admit I have felt a little put-off with my ancestors about some of the flaws that seem to run solidly in my family line and I am battling to end right now.

My grandma’s stepfather did some pretty terrible things to my great-grandma. Or, at least, his mother did terrible things to my great-grandma, and he allowed her to.

There is a little tab on FamilySearch for members that shows us baptisms for our ancestors that haven’t been completed. It shows up with a little star to tell us we are missing something.

His name keeps popping up.

Allow me to back up, a little bit. We are taught that baptism and confirmation by the gift of the Holy Ghost can sanctify us, make us clean and pure. We believe that with this ordinance, our sins can be washed away.

We also believe that the family can be an eternal unit. We call the creation of these eternal bonds ‘sealing.’

And now I continue to jump around. I promise it will all come together…

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-10, the Savior tells us:

…For he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

There is a great post exploring some aspects of it here: The Wasted Atonement.

I called my grandma and asked her about the name of her stepfather appearing on FamilySearch. I approached the topic of baptism delicately, because I can understand having some qualms with forgiving a man that had impacted the life of a loved one so terribly enough to allow his saving ordinances to be performed- I struggle facing that inevitable decision eventually in my own life.

We need to do his work so my grandma can be sealed to her two brothers, who passed away a long time ago, and who she loved dearly.

We have to allow him to work out his salvation with the one true Judge of Israel. We have to forgive and move past his wrong in order to enjoy the full blessings offered to all of us.

A few weeks later, after a miracle, I had a few names of women in my family ready to take to the temple and baptize for the dead.

A thought started teasing the back of my mind- I didn’t know these women personally! What if they did something unimaginably terrible?! Was this the right thing to do?

And after I had been vicariously baptized for each of them, I had a feeling in my heart that everything was okay. It didn’t matter what they may or may not have done. The Savior had suffered for them the way He had suffered for me. That work was complete- that price- the price for all of our sins- had already been paid.

No matter what they had done, it didn’t matter. Their sins were washed away. They had been redeemed, just as I had been.

This experience opened at least a part of the concept of needing each other to me. My family needed me to perform this vicarious work for them in order for them to progress and gain redemption.

I needed to help them in order to be forced to forgive them. Because without offering that forgiveness, for wrongs that may never even have been committed and wrongs that certainly were, I would have come under condemnation. I had to give the weight of any perceived grudge to my Redeemer.

My performing this work played an integral part in my (continuing) redemption. 

Indeed, “…[I] without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without [me] be made perfect.”

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Socks

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December 2008

“Hallo, Katrina. I noticed when we came and visited you Sunday that you weren’t wearing socks. Because you have been sick with a cold, I thought I should call and tell you, you should really be wearing socks all the time. Consider it advice from your grandmother.”

“Thank you, Gabi, I will put some on right now.”

“I remember my mother telling me to wear socks, and I also told my daughter to wear them, and even my daughter-in-law, sometimes. So I thought, now it is your turn.”

This barefoot girl has been wearing socks all week. Thank you, Gabi. Love to you.

(This conversation is not exact. It is based off a related record written at the time.)

The Armor Builders

Yesterday was a pretty good day. It was one of those days where you get so much done (in my case, around the house), that by the time 7 pm rolls around, you crash and are virtually dead to the world for at least the next two hours.

But so much got done!

So, I was feeling pretty accomplished until I sat down to feed the baby and read this article: Chances are your teen is looking at porn. But it’s worse than that.

My three oldest boys watched roughly 4.5 hours of TV today.

And after days like today, I can’t help but notice the trend I’m programming into them.

With four boys at home, articles like that one terrify me. In fact, protecting my children from such an invasive and pernicious evil has been on my mind for at least the last year. The average age of exposure is 11, now — before our boys have even been ordained to the aaronic priesthood. I have a friend who was first exposed at seven – even before baptism. It has been an addiction that has afflicted them throughout their lives, and now even threatens their family, at times.

In Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul teaches us:

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….

And why? He starts with that in verses 11-12:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

In the Book of Mormon Helaman, through his sons Nephi and Lehi, teach in Helaman 5:12:

 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

At about thirteen, I started this for myself. I started building my armor, piece by piece. I started pouring my foundation. At thirteen.

Fortunately, even though I did have some things to overcome, I hadn’t happened upon what a lot of youth are seeing, today. At thirteen I was old enough to start building on my own. But now, the exposure age is so much younger than that.

What this means for me is that I cannot wait for my sons to start building their own armor. I have to start building it for them, and have faith that they will choose to bear it, polish it, and repair it.

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I need to make truth my standard, and have hope that someday, they make the choice to make it theirs.

I need to fashion their breastplates. I need to set a precedent of righteousness for my children, and hope that they will adopt that righteousness in their own lives.

I have to wrap their feet. I have to share the peace the gospel brings, especially when we prepare ourselves for it. And pray that my peace becomes theirs.

I have to prepare their shield. Faith needs to be the watch-cry in my home.

I need to fashion their helmets. To keep my eye trained on salvation and to train their eyes on the same goal.

I have to forge their sword. I have to make sure I set an atmosphere that invites an abundance of the Spirit. And I need to pray that the Spirit will touch their hearts, even and especially at their young ages, to establish an unconquerable testimony of Jesus Christ.

I need to pour their foundation on the Rock of Christ the Lord. And then pray, every day, that they choose to build on that foundation and improve it for the rest of their lives.

I also need to show them how to fill the cracks that may form and make any repairs necessary. They need to see me utilize the power of the Atonement, and I need to teach them to use it in their own lives.

In the April 2014 General Conference, Sister Reeves said, “Filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.”

I want my children to have the strength “…to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” I want my sons to be able to stand firm against the “…might winds [of the devil], yea, his shafts in the whirlwind….” And I want them to have that strength years before they reach the age of accountability. Because now they need it years before then.

How?

In our last General Conference, Elder Scott shared this with us:

Remember our Savior is the Prince of Peace. Peace in this mortal life comes from His atoning sacrifice. When we are consistently praying morning and night, studying our scriptures daily, having weekly family home evening, and attending the temple regularly, we are actively responding to His invitation to “come unto Him.” The more we develop these habits, the more anxious is Satan to harm us but the less is his ability to do so. Through the use of these tools, we exercise our agency to accept the full gifts of His atoning sacrifice.

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The answer is so simple and so intricate at the same time. I have to make time to pray. I’m not alone in this, though. My husband and I have to pray as a family and teach our children to pray, and our children need to see us pray.

We need to study the scriptures, alone and as a family. We need to teach our children the lessons taught and the word of God, and we need them to see us feast – gratefully – on that word.

 

We need to have family home evening- to make it a priority.  

We need to attend the temple. To let our children join us on the grounds, and feel the special spirit that is there. We need to attend together and renew the promises we have made to one another and to the Lord. And we need to live those promises and let our children see us joyfully living them.

But parents aren’t the only ones who need to build the armor of our youth. Friends, neighbors, even those who serve in church callings have a right and responsibility to add links to the chain mail we drape over our children’s shoulders.

We have to be the builders for our children. And we have to start building young.

And we can.

 

Long Day

I’ve been working on getting the blog ready for about a week, now. This blog is meant to be a mix of everything- all the facets of my life. So I hit a bit of a block when everything was prepped and ready for me to write. What do I start with? A recipe? A tutorial?

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Nah.

After my dilemma presented itself, the dishes didn’t get done (they will tonight…they will, they will…), this house full of the sick and the healing was full of whining and crying and screaming. Then I took the circus (four boys five and under) to order glasses frames and then to an ER followup with our pediatrician. Finally, a stop for pizzas and a prescription pickup, at the busiest time of day for both places, and with a tired and hungry husband sharing his burdens of the day, and a tired and hungry infant crying out that his patience has finally run thin.

I sat, waiting, and thinking longingly of eating the pizza perched on my dash in solitude.
Then I got home. Washed my hands while my sweetheart unloaded the older boys, and unloaded our newest member from his car seat. And he watched me as I changed him, his patience returned once more.

And I may not have solitude, but sometimes, if I notice, I have serenity.

What more can I ask for?