Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Public Speaking: Everyone Cries

So I know it's been a long time since my last post but I'm just going to jump in almost as if I hadn't missed a beat. I was asked to give a talk this past Sunday in Sacrament meeting on the preeminence of the family in the Church. I may have mentioned before on this blog that I enjoy public speaking. Don't get me wrong, I don't know if I would like it giving major talks every week in Church, or any other venue, but the occasional talk is something I rather enjoy. I made the mistake of mentioning it over the pulpit and a lot of people in the ward have been teasing me a little bit about it now, but it's all fun. I actually think I made a lot of people in the ward cry as I was talking about Nana and Granpda, myself being one of them (I almost didn't know if I would make it through the talk). Anyway, I wanted to follow Robbie's example and post a copy of my talk, not because I'm a great orator or writer or anything like that, but because the topic is so important. I want everyone to not only know my viewpoint but to also hopefully start to think about how important it is. So here goes.

Good morning brothers and sisters, I’m glad to be here today. The scriptures teach us that there are two reasons why we came to earth, two closely related reasons. First we learn from the prophet Abraham that we were all spirits in the preexistence and we were sent to earth in order to be tested. “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” (italics added, Abraham 3:25). The second reason we came to earth was to get a body. And not only just to get a body but to return it pure to our Father in heaven in order to become like God. The Prophet Joseph said that “we came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment” (Teachings of the Presidents Joseph Smith, pg 211). The Lord knew that to do that, to return our body to him pure, we would need help, we would need protection, and we would need instruction.

We know, from the Book of Mormon and the prophet Nephi, that when we say “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” we also can say “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). Does that mean that we can keep all the commandments we read in the scriptures, and that we hear in General Conference? Yes, it does, but that is a talk for another time. The purpose for this talk is to think of that scripture and realize that our Heavenly Father has prepared a way for us to take this physical body and do all things that the Lord commands us and therefore return it pure to heaven at the end of our life. And the way, maybe the only way, to do that is in the family, and with our family.

Many of us have been on missions and the rest of us have known the missionaries and perhaps been taught by them. On a mission the mission president, and the missionaries, tend to focus, rightly so to a degree, on baptism. Our goal as members is to prepare investigators to be taught by the missionaries. The missionaries’ goal is to teach the investigators and prepare them for baptism. The converts’ goal (and each of us is a convert and should repeatedly be so throughout our lives) is to get ourselves and our whole family to the temple. Why? The temple is all about the family, the eternal family. Worthy families go to the temple and slowly perfect themselves to become eternal families with our heavenly Father. May I repeat: Worthy families go to the temple and slowly perfect themselves to become eternal families with our heavenly Father. Elder Bednar tells of when he was recently called to be the Stake President. In talking to a friend who was a former stake president, his friend mentioned how important his call as a temple worker was and how he wished he had been a temple worker before he was a stake president so that he could focus his stake on the temple and help to shepherd the Saints to the Lord’s house. I pray that we may all realize how important the temple is. The temple and the covenants contained and fulfilled therein are the only ways to make our earthly family an eternal family. They are the only way to take our whole family back to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Please notice that the reason the church, it’s activities and it’s lessons and it’s leaders, focus so much on the temple is because of the covenants of the temple that allow us to have eternal families. The family is the central unit of the church because it, combined with the temple, prepares us and helps us to be pure in the presence of God. Parents teach their children how to live, how to act, how to speak, how to read the scriptures, how to attend church, how to pray, and how to attend the temple regularly and frequently. The scriptures are full of how parents can do that. Nephi teaches us that a major part of his preparation in becoming a prophet was his being “born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1). He had visions regularly because of his father’s visions “And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, . . . was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost. . .” (1 Nephi 10:17). Nephi became a righteous man, leader, and prophet, because of how and what his parents taught him. No wonder the church places preeminence on the family unit.

Our Heavenly Father knows what our families go through. He knows what the world is like now and He knows that our homes need to be, and should be, a safe and righteous place for our families to be. A number of years ago the then Elder Eyring explained how the family creates in us a desire to return to our heavenly Father and the family helps us to do so by teaching us the gospel. He said he knew it would be hard because of Satan, trying to keep us from it. He quoted the prophet Brigham Young “The men and women who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom will find that they must battle every day” (To Draw Closer To God, Henry B Eyring, pg 114). Our family helps us in that battle. President Hinckely said in an interview “ ‘We have a family home evening program once a week across the Church in which parents sit down with their children. They study the scriptures. They talk about family problems. They plan family activities and things of that kind. I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world’ (interview, Boston Globe, 14 Aug. 2000).”

In family home evening each week we can prepare our family to go out and not only face the world, but to return with honor, pure and clean and ready to approach God in humble prayer. Think of that, brothers and sisters, we teach our kids from when they are little to pray and then they will know forever that they have not only a loving Father in heaven who wants to help them and who loves them, but also that they can petition help from God, the creator, the all knowing and the all powerful. Do you think He will ignore us when we ask for help? I testify that He will not! Do you think He will abandon us when things seem to be going wrong? Again, I testify that He will not! Never! So in family home evening we teach our children to pray and how to face the world, in other words we prepare them for that battle that getting to the Celestial Kingdom is going to be. In that same BYU devotional from which he quoted the Prophet Brigham Young, Elder Eyring also told another story about his father. His father was a famous, world renowned and respected scientist who in his later years contracted, and eventually died from, bone cancer. He tells how his family would take turns sitting with his father through the long months of his illness and how they all had to watch him suffer from the terrible pain. Elder Eyring said “One night, when I was not with him and the pain seemed more than he could bear, he somehow got out of bed and on his knees beside it-I know not how. He pled with God to know why he was suffering so. And the next morning he said, with quiet firmness, ‘I know why now. God needs brave sons.’” (To Draw Closer to God, Henry B. Eyring, pg 116).

We will all face those moments in life when we will ask God to know why we are suffering so. Remember, God needs brave sons and daughters. Family provides that example of righteousness and strength for us. That brave example we rely on when the going gets tough, as they say. I watched my grandfather, for the last nine years care for my grandmother as she suffered through Alzheimer’s. He watched her at home until she could hardly remember her own children’s and grandchildren’s names and then he had to put her in a home. But he wasn’t done then. I remember many, many holidays where we got to go visit Nana at the cottages. She called all the men by the same name because she couldn’t remember who we really were and at first it was the name of her only son and then it was the name of one of her brothers. And all the women she called by the same name, her sister’s name as well, but she always knew my grandpa’s name. Eventually she lost all ability to speak anything but gibberish, and then eventually she lost the ability to recognize when people were interacting with her. Through all those long years that Nana was in the Alzheimer’s home, my grandfather would visit her three times a day, for every meal. I still remember how lovingly he would talk to her (even when she couldn’t and didn’t respond), how he would buy her things, how he would feed her when he could, and how he would kiss her hello and goodbye. Grandpa even got so forgetful with old age that he always asked me how I was doing in school and what I was studying, even though I graduated four years ago, but he still visited Nana three times a day. We maintain that he was holding on just long enough for Nana. She passed away on Mother’s day last year and within one month of her passing my grandfather began to forget people’s names and things he’d done. He doesn’t remember me very much anymore and Nana is gone, but I will always, always remember how beautiful a temple marriage can and should be.

It is from this example, and the example of my father’s parents and from my own parents, and even from stories of my ancestors, that I know what it means to be a Hamblin. Do you know what it means to honor your last name? We all need to remember that we have taken upon us the “family” name of Jesus Christ. When we take the sacrament we take His name upon us. Just as we worry about what our earthly parents think of us and we try to do what they tell us to do, we should try to do what our Heavenly Parents tell us to do. That means that we need to try and be in tune with the Holy Ghost as much as possible. He will tell us what the Lord and our Heavenly Father want us to do. He will help us as we read the scriptures, and we should read them every day, to know what lessons Heavenly Father would have us learn. All of these things will help us as we interact with our family members on a daily basis. Parents will learn, by reading and studying the scriptures themselves, how to teach their children and what they need to teach them. Family scripture study and family prayer will draw a family closer together, so when there are problems, when someone is being tempted or feels in trouble, they will know where to turn to seek the help they need, to the family. Each of us should compliment with sincerity our family members more often. When life gets tough we turn to those people on whom we can trust and who will help. If we are constantly demanding things from our family, never giving of ourselves, and we do not tell them nor show them how much we love them, when life gets tough for them they may not turn to us. And if that prevents us or them from drawing our family back to Heavenly Father we will forever be sad.

To have an eternal family what do we need to do? We need to have faith in Jesus Christ, we need to seek the guidance of the holy Ghost, we need to read and study the scriptures daily, we need to attend church, we need to be charitable to others, we need to teach our children and families to do these things, and then we need to take everyone we can to the Temple. We have to keep doing these things, but I promise we will be helped as we have family home evening and daily family scripture study and prayer. I know we will be blessed. I know the Lord wants us to do this and I know also that the lord will prepare a way for us to have eternal families.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love It!

I love the prophet Nephi's simplicity. I mentioned in an earlier post (July 8) about how hard and yet simple it is to be obedient and do what we are supposed to do. I wanted to post this as a follow up to that, a scriptural follow-up.

"And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses." 2 Nephi 5:10

Does he say they were perfect? No. Does he say they never made mistakes, never sinned, never committed a transgression? No. He just says they "did observe to keep" all the commandments. Did they make mistakes? Yes, I'm sure they did. But at this time in my life, the point of the verse, to me, is that they simply did it. They were focused on keeping the commandments; they tried to live how they were supposed to live; they wanted to be righteous and so did what it took to be righteous. It's all about choice! We choose whether we turn that corner and run towards the light, towards the Savior, or whether we turn the other way and go into darkness. Think about that as you re-read Elder Bednar's talk about the Parable of the Pickle. Also re-read Elder Porter's talk about A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit.

And what was the end result? Verse 11: "And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly;"

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Weekend

So, this was an up and down weekend. I helped Christina clean out her grandmother's garage, clean it out and organize it. It looks great now and I'll try to put a picture at the end of the post so you can see. Unfortunately we don't have a before picture, so you can't see how it was before, but it was a lot of stuff. So yesterday I was sore and that continues today a little bit. It still feels good to not only get a good workout but to, in the process, help someone do something that they couldn't do for themselves. Service! It's great.

In football this weekend there was a lot of up and down. Two of my top three teams won, so I'm happy about that, but my number one team, BYU, lost badly. They got spanked by TCU. I think they should have at least been able to make it a good game if not even win, but it seems like they didn't show up to play. I know TCU's defense is good and very fast, but BYU always seemed to make some stupid mistake that resulted in a turnover and points, a sack, a three and out series, a punt, etc. They are better than that! But Texas won and even FSU won on Thursday (not quite the weekend, but close (to the weekend and a very close game)).

Anyway, I'm left with waiting, again, this week to see if I get any job offers. I have two jobs that I interviewed for last week. One, with Capelouto (the pest control company) was a 2nd round interview, so when they call at the end of this week it will be with a job offer. The second, with Target, will call and offer me a 2nd round interview. I hope I will then be able to have two great jobs to have to chose between. That's what Christina and I keep praying for and we would appreciate any prayers from you all. Prayer really works.

Doesn't that garage look beautiful!??! Before you could barely walk through the middle. Yes, we took a truck load of stuff to the dump too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Post Blog-Post Comment

I would highly recommend this to everyone. It goes along nicely with my last post and I just love the way Elder Maxwell would write/speak.

Notwithstanding My Weakness Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Nov. 1976

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Truth & Lies

I read an interesting article in the Ensign yesterday and so have named this post after the title of said article, Truth & Lies. If you haven't read it, I recommend you do so, mostly because I think it will speak to you as it spoke to me. It focuses on the lies that Satan tries to tell us in order to separate our hearts and minds from focusing on the truth. The prophet and president Ezra Taft Benson taught that in the latter days Satan would specifically use "despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression" to overcome the Saints. How true that is!!

Now, you may say that this particularly struck a cord with me because, after 6 months of trying to find a job in today's economy it is natural to be despaired or get discouraged. I'll admit, that is true to a degree. It has been really hard for me (for whatever reason, most likely our culture, your self-worth seems to hinge, however incorrectly, on your ability to work/find a job). However I found that reading the article focused on so many other things that I thought it worthwhile to mention to everyone who may read my blog. I did not realize how insidious Satan is in the lies he tells. He has slowly pulled the whole world down towards hell, and therefore we see examples all around us of those lies. I promise that the Lord's love and mercy is so much greater than we realize! His divine love is not putting us on a rating scale; we are all loved as His children even though we have made mistakes and He does not love nor accept our sins.

The article fulfilled it's purpose. It reminded me of our Heavenly Father's and our Savior's divine love for me! It provided me hope and joy and peace by reminding me of the Lord's mercy and redemption.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Reminder

I was reminded today of one of the miracle's in my life. I love how our Heavenly Father provides opportunities for us to remember the good things in our life. I have been involved in a couple car accidents (both as driver and passenger) and of course there was the major head trauma/accident that I went through (see my very first posts) so my neck has to occasionally be adjusted by a chiropractor. With our recent move to Tallahassee I had to find a new chiropractor, and luckily my sister-in-law knew someone. I met with him last week and told him a little of what had happened to me, not going much in depth about everything, but just how it happened and being momentarily paralyzed the first few days after I woke up. The doctor did a bunch of tests on me and we met again today to analyze the results and look at the x-rays and discuss the exercises I should do. What struck me, and drove me to blog after such a long time of not posting, was how amazed this doctor was with me. Everything he showed me proves that I am completely fine after my accident. Not just that I am ok with residual effects of my accident, nor that I am ok with signs that I had the accident, but that I am completely fine. His tests show that my bones are fine, my muscles are fine, my neurological tests came back fine, my reflexes are fine, etc. He repeated a couple of times how blessed I am. That is why I wanted to post. I am reminded of how blessed I am. The Lord shows us His tender mercies all the time. We need to have open eyes and a humble heart to see them, but when we do how grateful we become. I am grateful for the Lord's power that healed me and that today reminded me of it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back in Florida

Well, as everyone probably knows already (either by talking with us or reading my wife's blog) we have moved back to Florida. This time, however, we are in Tallahassee and living in a doctor's office below my sister-in-law's family.

Despite my love for my last job I was let go. I put a lot of hard work into getting the home health company off the ground from nothing to treating and caring for a lot of patients. It was a good learning experience and I had tons of help from lots of people, but I guess I wasn't the right person on the bus (for anyone who has read "Good to Great"). I left with good feelings towards the company and with a lot of good friends at Advanced Health Care and AHC Home Care. Christina and I talked and prayed about what to do next.

Everything seemed to be pointing us to moving to Tallahassee. I have wanted for years to get my MBA and FSU has a very good program that is cheaper than most. We would be able to live with family and therefore receive a break on rent (versus paying a lot for our apartment in CO). We also would be able to help my sister-in-law's go back to church. Given the current state of the economy we figured it would be just as hard for me to get a job in Florida as in Colorado. Then, one night while serving in the temple, I read the Ensign (I think it was the April issue), and discovered that the first 20 some odd pages were all about getting a quality education to further your chances in the world. The more I read the more it seemed to fit, moving to Tallahassee and going to school. I was the first one to suggest moving and when I specifically said Tallahassee I think Christina almost fell out of her chair! She of course moved with alacrity on that decision and hence she has a job already and I don't.

We have enjoyed our time here, even though we literally live in a doctor's office and only have one room and bathroom for our stuff. We spend most of our time upstairs with family anyway. I continue to look for a job so we can figure out what is going on with our lives and maybe even get a house sooner rather than later. I guess if anyone knows of something please let me know. We've been going pretty regularly to the gym we joined (I need to lose some weight and get back in shape) and being home more during the day has allowed me to start a new project with the help of my cousin Robbie. We are still working on it, but will reveal it in all it's glory as soon as we have it ready, so be looking forward for it! ;)