Welcome to our corner of the web! Here you will learn about our family and our journey of a family member adoption. In July of 2010, after 9 years of trying to add to our family and 5 years after we started our adoption journey, we welcomed baby Emily Rose. Emily's birth mom is Sharon's adopted sister. We look forward to someday adopting more children but for now, we are enjoying our time together as a family of 4!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Love Of God

(The other day, Jacob and I saw this at the store, it seems perfect for us and everyone touched by adoption. It will hang in the nursery.)

Yesterday Jacob and I spoke in church. It has been 9 years since I have spoken so I was a little rusty, and a whole lot nervous. I think it went o.k. though. The topic I was given was a talk given by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. I remember from conference that this was one of my favorite talks. I thought I'd share my talk based on his talk with you. To read President Uchtdorf's talk in it's entirety, go here. I did change my talk a little when I actually gave it, but this is what I had written down.

Pres. Uchtdorf asks, How do we Become Disciples of Jesus Christ? In John 14:15 the answer is given; “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” So with all of the commandments, what is the greatest commandment? In Matthew 32:37 and 38 the Savior Jesus Christ answers this by saying; “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Pres. Uchtdorf says, "Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk."

He goes on to say, "When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden."

Let me repeat that last part, "Obedience becomes a joy, rather than a burden." During our 8 years of marriage Jacob has spent 6 of them as a Soldier in the US Army. During those 6 years he has served 2 tours of duty, 12 months in Iraq, and 15 months in Afghanistan. I spent some time as an FRG leader. The FRG is a family support group and it was my job to make sure that the families of the other soldiers were doing o.k. Once a month we would have meetings to discuss any issues with our spouses and such. It was after one of those meetings that the hostess of the meeting offered everyone in attendance a drink. She stated that she had wine and beer. I politely declined and said I don't drink. She said that was o.k. and she had Coke and Diet Coke. I said that I don't drink caffeine either (gives me HUGE migraines) but that water would be great. She said, and I quote, "Let me get this straight, your husband is gone for months on end and you don't drink, I'm assuming you don't smoke or anything?" I said yes, that's right. She said "what are you? A Saint?" I chuckled and said, "Well, yes, I'm a Latter Day Saint." She looked at me puzzled. I explained to her that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that in our church we beleive in keeping our bodies clean and pure and not consuming alcohol and other harmful things. I then got the opportunity to talk to her a little about the church. She asked, and I was asked this alot during our time in the Army, if not drinking was hard for me. My answer was always the same. No, it's actually quite easy. I love the Lord, and I beleive the Lord has asked me not to do these things, so I don't. It's that simple. Because I love him, it's easy to follow what he asks me to do. (Not that I'm perfect, it's just that this is something I don't struggle with)

President Uchtdorf says, "God the Eternal Father did not give that first great commandment because He needs us to love Him. His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration.

No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!

For what we love determines what we seek.

What we seek determines what we think and do.

What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.

We are created in the image of our heavenly parents; we are God’s spirit children. Therefore, we have a vast capacity for love—it is part of our spiritual heritage. What and how we love not only defines us as individuals; it also defines us as a church. Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

Since the beginning of time, love has been the source of both the highest bliss and the heaviest burdens. At the heart of misery from the days of Adam until today, you will find the love of wrong things. And at the heart of joy, you will find the love of good things.

And the greatest of all good things is God."

Heavenly Father has given us so much. Summarizing Pres. Uchtdorf’s words, Through Heavenly Father’s direction, Jesus Christ created this beautiful world that we live in. He fills our lives with so much joy, fills our minds with such precious truths, gives us hope and peace during our darkest hours, leads us through our times of trial, rejoices with us when we rejoice, and answers our righteous desires. He has promised us eternal life, and has provided a way for us to progress in this life and in knowledge and glory until we receive a fullness of joy. He has promised us all that he has. If that isn’t enough reason to love Heavenly father, the Apostle John puts it simply, in 1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

So why? Why does he love us? With all our faults, why? Pres. Uchtdorf says, "He loves us, because he is filled with and infinite measure of holy, pure, an indescribable love. Think of the purest, most all consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount- that, is the measure of God’s love for you."
He doesn’t care how much money you make or don’t make, how big or small your house is, how nice your car is or whether you ride the bus or walk to work. He doesn’t care if we’re famous or forgotten. Pres. Uchtdorf puts it best when he says, “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, he loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love, emcompasses us completely. He loves everyone of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. His love is so great that he loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.”

So what do we do if we feel we don’t deserve his love? Or we don’t feel him around us? In Jeremiah 29:13 it says “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” That is the key, when seek him, we must seek him with all our hearts.
Pres. Uchtdorf goes on to say, "Seeking God with all our hearts implies much more than simply offering a prayer or pronouncing a few words inviting God into our lives. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” We can make a great production of saying that we know God. We can proclaim publicly that we love Him. Nevertheless, if we don’t obey Him, all is in vain, for “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”.... Don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you..... As you reach out to your Heavenly Father, as you pray to Him in the name of Christ, He will answer you. He speaks to us everywhere.

As you read God’s word recorded in the scriptures, listen for His voice.

As you visit the temple and attend Church meetings, listen for His voice.

In your daily interactions with others, in the words of a hymn, in the laughter of a child, listen for His voice."

I used to wonder why it is that I can’t have more children. I was able to have my daughter, so why couldn’t I give my husband a child. Did I do something to deserve not being able to have children? I constantly remind myself, that I did nothing wrong, Heavenly Father just has a different plan for me. As I listened to Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk in conference, and again as I read his words in the Ensign I was reminded how much he loves each and every one of us. How much he loves me, and how he has a plan for everything. We are so blessed to be able to be a part of the adoption world. Even though we haven't been chosen by a birth family yet, I have faith, that someday, his plan will be made known, and we will be chosen, and we will have the chance to raise our miracle baby. Not to mention, already I have made some amazing friends in all parts of the adoption triad, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings us.

I'd like to close with one final thought from President Uchtdorf, he says, and this is perhaps my favorite part,

"How clearly the Savior spoke when He said that every other commandment hangs upon the principle of love. If we truly learn to love our Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul, and mind—all else will fall into place."

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