Miya’s Baptism

Elder DeCarlos, Miya, and Elder Fowler

Miya has been virtually meeting with missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the past 6 weeks. On Saturday, June 27th, she was baptized by Jim.

Seth, Miya, Jim, and I

It brought back memories of my baptism when I was nine. Like Miya, I was completely immersed in water in my white jumpsuit, and then received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have always known that if I am faithful, His influence will guide me daily. I did not know what that meant when I was nine, but I understand how acting on the promptings of the Holy Spirit can keep me close to my Savior.

Through Him, we are blessed with certain spiritual powers called gifts of the Spirit. “All these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the Children of God” (D&C 46:26). One of these gifts include the knowledge and truths of the gospel, so that we can bless others.

I am grateful for the gift of understanding people and how the principles of the gospel can apply to my life every day. When new trials come, I can pray and read the scriptures. I love to read: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (D&C 46:17).

One of my favorite teachings is when the Lord revealed, “If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through is diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much more the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:19). The Lord has commanded me in my Patriarchal blessing to ‘learn of Him,’ as much as I can about His work. This is one of my goals this year through this blog; reflections of where I have been and where I need to go, so that I may receive knowledge from the Holy Ghost. I need His Spirit to speak to my mind and heart.
When Jim and I are out walking at night, I look up at the sky and see the moon, some stars and sometimes one or two of the planets. I know that there is a God. Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, wrote, “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motions, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).

In the Gospel Principles book that is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which teaches about God. Since He is the father of my spirit, I call him Heavenly Father. Before I came to earth, I lived with Him and all of you. When He gave me the choice to come down here in a mortal body to learn, grow, and be tested through many trials that make up my earthly life, even though I do not remember it, I gladly accepted the offer and was born to my earthly mother. And I have learned so much already, but still have a lot more to learn about life.

Miya, her mom and sister

Building a temple in Pittsburgh!

President Russell M. Nelson

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 190th Semi-Annual General Conference was my favorite one yet for several reasons. My family and I sat on our couch Sunday evening during President Nelson’s concluding talk. For many. many years we hoped and prayed for the announcement of a temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We didn’t expect this Conference to be the one where those two beautiful words would be added to the eight new temples. I screamed so loud that my dog Buddy jumped into my lap, thinking I was under duress. Jim backed it up so we could make sure we heard that correctly. So many of my friends who still live there were as excited as I was, and we shared our happiness on Facebook.

My mother, brother Billy and his wife, Mirna were attending the Houston, Texas temple several times a month. We took many names on my German grandmother’s side and finished the all of the female ones. I will admit, moving to Pittsburgh was gonna be tough for me. Not because I don’t love it, but the nearest local temple was in Columbus, Ohio. It would have been worth it for my son. Completely. Last week though, the Church announced that they are closing the Columbus temple for two years in August for renovations.

I don’t know when our temples around the world will re-open as a result of the Covid-19, but I was stressing about not having the chance for Billy to finish the last family name on my grandmother’s side, and imagining the planning it would take to attend a neighboring one.

We are so blessed to have a living prophet lead and guide us in these uncertain days, and am grateful to celebrate this Holy Week.

I Will Not Flinch

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I read an old blog post from many years ago tonight. Author Sherri Dew taught me wonderful concepts in her book, “No One Can Take Your Place.” The first chapter discusses how we stood by our Father and His Son in the most difficult circumstance and did not flinch, and how we will stand by Him again throughout mortality.

Flinch is defined as “to shrink from” or “to tense involuntarily in fear.” There are so many things in this world that make me flinch – deceptions, snares, and even distractions which are inspired by Satan to trap and derail me from my safe return home to heaven. He does this by unleashing his fury against all who are determined to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). I have the challenge to stand loyally by God and not flinch now as I did in the pre-mortal life.

That’s not an easy task with all of life’s distractions, such as raising teenagers in today’s world, the internet, and my chronic pain. For guidance, I often study the lives of people who overcome similar challenges. The scriptures provide me with great examples of faithful, committed men and women who did not flinch. Moses’ encounter with Lucifer is a perfect example for me to follow. Lucifer tried to tempt and deceive Moses four times. He said: “Moses, son of man, worship me” (Moses 1:12). Because Moses already had a marvelous experience with God, he could easily distinguish between God and Satan, so he wasn’t fooled. He responded with: “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not. I will not cease to call upon God.” (Moses, 1:16, 18).

Now that I’m older I am better able to tell when the Lord is speaking and when Satan is. The Lord prompts me to do good, while Satan tempts me to avoid doing good or placing unkind thoughts into my mind. Having a less then perfect body no longer makes me angry. Frustrated, yes. But my levels of empathy for people’s pain and struggles have increased significantly because of my years of suffering. The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides the faith I need to keep trying, realizing that He knows me. He understands me.

That’s good enough for me. I will not flinch.

He is Risen

I am one of the Sunday school teachers in my church for the 13 and 14 year old teens. Yesterday I taught about the importance of celebrating Easter.

ComeUntoChrist.org

I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, so I asked my Jim to help me teach my class. I was so exhausted that I had trouble formulating my thoughts. I LOVE videos about Jesus and His apostles and disciples, and found a wonderful one on the LDS.org website that shows a powerful witness of one of my favorite apostles, John, the Beloved. The Apostle that Jesus loved so much that he trusted him to care for His beloved mother, Mary. I believe that they truly felt like brothers to each other, much like I feel about two of my closest friends.

I love watching John’s reactions to the Savior’s teachings, miracles, death, and His resurrection. I can’t imagine how confusing it must have been for these Apostles to witness the power that Jesus had performing numerous miracles and yet not one attempt to save himself from torture and a humiliating death.

We then explained to the class who the Elders were, along with the Pharisee and Sadducee leaders, to help them understand the politics and social norms of those ancient times. We read a small portion of the scriptures and then ran out of time. I was surprised when one of the teenage girls who asked if she could attend my class and then talked to a girl who is often chatty, thanked us for teaching the lesson. I welcome any teenager into my class because my goal is for them to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of the Lord’s Resurrection. And to trust Him who suffered for us in Gethsemane and redeemed us if we will learn of Him, and give Him our hearts and our will. Because that’s really the only thing we can give Him. I’m grateful for this knowledge, to know that the Lord knows me, loves me, and trusts me enough to allow me to make mistakes. He allows me to fall and trusts me to pick myself up with His help. Because of Him I can repent of my sins, and come unto Him.

Always.

Here is the beautiful video: