Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sacrament Talk: Living Life On The Edge...

I spoke in church on Sunday and my bff Kimme asked for me to send my talk.  Such a sweet friend I have!  I decided to post it here so I can share my testimony to my kids in our blog book.  

In college I lived to ski.  Much of my time was spent at a resort above Provo called Sundance where I ski raced and instructed.   One beautiful January morning I was skiing with a group of friends who liked to push the limits on and off the hills.   In search of untracked powder we decided to enter an out of bounds area.  This area was roped off with signs reading “Danger: Hazards exists including avalanches, unseen cliffs, and disorienting terrain…enter at your own risk.”  I struggled to keep up with my friends on this run and my skiing became sloppy.  Going way too fast I followed my friends over a small cliff.  I didn’t make the landing and tumbled down the hill.  My ski polls bent both my thumbs back and I immediately felt a throbbing pain.   I had to go home and explain to my parents that all my friends were jumping off a cliff and I did too.  I tore both ligaments in my thumbs and wrists and spent the next month with them wrapped up.   I’ve been reminded of this instance a lot lately, because changing a lot of diapers flares up this old injury.
The talk I was asked to speak on was from a past general conference given by James E Faust about living on the edge.  Just as skiing in the out of bounds area proved to be unsafe and unwise, even more detrimental is when we put our souls in dangerous territory. 
George Albert Smith said,
There are two influences ever present in the world. One is constructive and elevating and comes from our Heavenly Father; the other is destructive and debasing and comes from Lucifer.We have our agency and make our own choice in life subject to these unseen powers.
There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord's territory from Lucifer's. If we live on the Lord's side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord's side of the line.
Just as my friends and I we were enticed by the untracked powder, Satan would have us believe that happiness comes only as we surrender to his enticements.  He is committed to our destruction and offers us freedom to “do our own thing”—the freedom to smoke, drink, misuse drugs, look at pornography, and break the commandments.
Satan’s program is “play now and pay later.” He seeks for all to be miserable like unto himself.  
We need only to look at the shattered lives of those who violate God's laws to know why Satan is called the "father of all lies" (2 Nephi 2:18).
Some sinful behavior may bring temporary, worldly pleasure, but such choices delay our progress and lead to heartache and misery. Righteous choices lead to lasting happiness and eternal life. True freedom comes from using your agency to choose obedience.
 The Lord’s program is happiness now and joy forever through gospel living.
It is a straight and narrow path but can be thrilling and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ… a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”  In courageously pursuing such a course, we will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and we will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if we build we cannot fall.
Many people in this ward have moved several times.  I want you to think of this scenario if you had to interview a moving company:
 The path from your old house to your new house involves perilous roads with cliffs on one side, where you can easily fall off the edge. 
As you interview the movers, the first one says he can drive within one foot of the edge.  The second says he can drive so close to the edge that he can get half his tire off the edge and still make it through the road. The third says he’ll stay as far away from the edge as possible. "Which moving company would you choose?" 
I would be thinking of my antique china from John’s grandmother and stay as far from the edge as possible.
President Faust says:  “As Latter Day saints we need to avoid even the very appearance of evil.  We need to live the higher law." In our recent conference Elder Holland said,
Some people want gods who don’t demand much.  Gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.  However, God is not a comfortable god… Jesus preaches that not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
President Monson Councils:
Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off the tv or change the song on your ipod.  If you have any question about whether a particular form of entertainment isn’t appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate.
Our Heavenly Father has counseled us to seek after “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13.) Whatever you read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on you.

One of our favorite family activities is to go to the Drive-in movies in Tomball.  One Friday night we had a perfect parking spot on the front row.  We were all camped out and comfortable in front of our car with blankets, lawn chairs, and our baby was strapped in and asleep in the stroller.   After the first ten minutes of the movie John and I both knew that it was inappropriate and that we should leave.  We debated for a short time what to do because we didn’t want to disrupt others’ moving watching but decided to pack up and leave.  Looking back I am glad we made that choice and don’t have the images and crude jokes in our minds.
Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed—the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny.
The prophet Mormon tells us, “The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.”  
The Holy Ghost will work as a warning sign to help guide our decisions.  It is impossible for us to do wrong
and feel right.  Just like Newton’s third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Every choice we make will have an associate consequence or blessing.  If we eat well, exercise regularly and get appropriate sleep we will have a strong body.  Consistent scripture study, prayer, and church attendance will strengthen the mind and spirit.  Drugs and other addictions destroy our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.  While we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences.  
Shortly after John and I became engaged we went on a vacation with family to Zion’s National Park in Southern Utah.   One afternoon we set out on a popular hike called Angel’s Landing.  Before the steepest part of the hike there is a warning sign with a man falling over a cliff.  I googled the sign to recall the actual wording.  It reads, “Falls from cliffs on this trail have resulted in death.  Stay on the trail.  Stay back from cliff edges.  Observe posted warnings.”  John felt uneasy when we saw this and insisted that he and I should turn around.  I reluctantly followed him despite peer pressure from my brothers, and the promise of a fabulous view at the end.  As John and I headed down the trail we began discussing some standards for our future together.  John told me, that if we were going to get married he didn’t want the mother of his children risking her life in dangerous activities. We also discussed raising our family in the gospel.   From that point on, we have lived more conservatively in every area of life, including our activities, finances, and striving to live the gospel.   Over the years I have gained a solid testimony that joy, happiness, and peace come by living in accordance with the prophets teachings.  I feel like my life hasn’t been any less exciting, but the opposite.  I know I have received blessings according to the righteous desires of my heart.   I know if we stay on the straight and narrow trail, avoid cliff edges altogether, and follow the warnings of our prophets we will obtain the greatest blessing of all:  eternal life.   “The Lord is voting for me, Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts.” 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tommy's Blessing Day...

Tommy was blessed by his father and uncles in church on May 25th during our Memorial Day visit in Oklahoma.

Tommy's Blessing:
Thomas Lane Gregory, your family is ecstatic to have you join them.  We are blessed with your presence in our home.  You will be blessed to do those things which you strive to do which are right.  You will be blessed you with the power of the Priesthood and with your own family.  Learn from your brother and sister.  Recognize the promptings of the Spirit.  Your father and mother love you as does Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

John and I were looking through the blog and realized that we have not posted Clarissa's blessing.  Clarissa was also blessed in Oklahoma.  She was blessed by her father, Grandpa Gregory, and uncles on November 18, 2012 during our visit to celebrate Thanksgiving.  She is such a cutie.

Clarissa's Blessing:

Clarissa we bless you with the Spirit of the Lord.  Remember your Heavenly Father and Jesus and what he has done for you.  We bless you to feel the Spirit's promptings and to do the things that please your Heavenly Father.  You have a loving family here on Earth.  Your grandparents love you and will guide and help you.  Clarissa we bless you with a recognition of the love of the Savior.  You will grow in wisdom and health.  Remember your Savior and look to your family for guidance.  You have a wonderful mother who will guide and teach you.

Special thanks to Grandma Gregory for her shorthand skills so we will always have these special blessings.  

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