March 30, 2014

Be not grieved... for God did send me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:5)

This last week has been a great one. I have learned a lot about my weaknesses, and my strengths. I have realized that I am only strong when I am humble and meek. And to top it off, today in Sunday School we talked about trials.

We talked specifically about Joesph in Egypt. And I don't think that I have really ever taken two days to think about his story, and relate it to my life. Thankfully I didn't have brothers that wanted to kill me, or an employer's wife that wanted to commit adultery, and I haven't been unjustly incarcerated (or thrown in prison at all for that matter).

No, my life has been pretty darn good. I really have no complaints at all. I have a beautiful and wonderful wife. I have a very handsome and healthy son. I have a good job, I'm healthy, and we live in a wonderful area. So you might ask yourself, "Why does the author think that he has a terrible life?"

Simply because there are times that I am selfish and only look at the negative. Not all the time, but it happens. It's usually when there is a lot of stress, or only a little bit of sleep. Which could both easily be avoided.

Looking at Joesph's life has helped me realize the following:

- Even though things were frequently terrible in his life, he still was about doing the Lord's work (Gen 39:9,12; Gen 40:8; Gen 41:16)

- He never murmured or was doubtful that the Heavens were aware of his situation. (Genesis 39:2-3 says that the LORD was with Joseph... and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in [Joseph's] hands; See also Gen 39:21-23)

- There never really was a time that Joseph was lazy, he was constantly working (See previous verses)

- Joseph never sought for power or glory (Gen 41:33-42 - Some might take it that he was in these verses, but it is a personal belief of mine that he was simply advising Pharaoh what was needed to be done. Fortunately Pharaoh searched for someone "whom the Spirit of God is")

- 20 years after his brothers sell him to slave traders, Joseph forgives them and helps them realize that what they did was a good thing (Gen 45:7) I'm not going to lie, I don't know how I would have handled all of those things. I don't know how I would have reacted to brothers that constantly hated me, and then they find me 20 YEARS LATER!

And we know the rest of the story. He saves all that come and partake of the grain and goods.

This is such a testimony builder for me. This helps me know that Heavenly Father is constantly watching over my life as well.

I've been reading the book Weakness is Not Sin. And my perspective has been changed. This is what I have learned so far (First Chapter):

Whenever we start getting discouraged (about something we aren't doing well, or if we are going through something) we choose one of two ways to continue. First we can choose to give in to the depressing advice of Satan (thus leading to a darker path). Or: Second, we can pray to Heavenly Father for an added measure of Grace to get through the trial or difficulty. 

Think on this next time you get discouraged. Make the conscious effort to choose the higher and happier path. 

One word of advice. When you pray for that extra measure of grace, don't lie in your prayer. If you aren't grateful for the trial you are going through, say so. If you aren't happy with yourself, say so. But after you are done having a "real talk" with Heavenly Father, make sure that you listen. So many times Heavenly Father talks to us through the Holy Ghost, but the whispering is so soft and sweet that we don't hear it. I would recommend having a piece of paper or journal next to you so that when you finally hear His comfort through the Holy Ghost you will always be able to return to that journal entry. 

I have experienced this, I have prayed honestly, and I have received so much comfort. 

You and I can get through anything. We can have the determination to make clear and correct choices. We can get off of a path that is disrupting our relationship with Heavenly Father. We can tell Satan to leave us alone. We can get through all things, through the power of the Atonement and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through those two things we have power to overcome an obstacle or trial, no matter how long or difficult the path is. 

February 23, 2014

"...Fathers are to preside... in love and righteousness..." ~ The Family: A Proclamation to the World

I'm sitting here next to my beautiful wife and my tiny son, and I was just reflecting on what it is like to be a father. If you are one, you have probably thought about what I have, and you will most likely know what I am talking about. For those that aren't fathers, let me explain. 

When I married my wife I was sure that I knew what love was. I wanted her to be happy, taken care of, and safe. I feel of her love everyday, and I am so grateful to have such a companion in my life. 

But when my son was born, that is when I truly started to know love. This little one cannot express his feelings. He cannot say, "I love you" (yet). He cannot explain why he is crying. He can simply cry. This can be a little frustrating at times, simply because I don't know the answer until after trying the usual things (patting his back to burp him, checking his diaper, helping my wife feed him, or just rocking him to sleep). There have been some times that when my wife and I are trying to calm him down we say, "We/I can't wait until you can talk, then you can tell us exactly what's wrong". 

Being a dad has also helped put my relationship with Heavenly Father into a greater perspective. Since I was small I would always sing a song titled I Am a Child of God. I always knew that I was a Child of God (literally) but I never really thought about what it was like to be a Father to so many spiritual children. 

There have been times where when my son is crying that I think, "How many times have I just cried and prayed to Heavenly Father for help? And how many times has he come to my aid and helped me get through my trial?"

When my son is sick. "How many times have I been physically ill and thought I wasn't going to be comfortable again? How many times has Heavenly Father sent someone to give me a Priesthood blessing? Or sent me to the correct doctor for a solution?"

When my son is happy. "How many times have I been happy and just given thanks to Heavenly Father? For all that He gives me?"

These are just a few of the lessons that I have learned from being a dad. I know that I am going to learn so much more like:

  • Is this what Heavenly Father feels like when His children blame him for something that went wrong?
  • How can I help my child choose the right? (Notice the help part. He will never force us to make a decision)
  • How can I help my son live up to his potential that I see in him?
  • How can I lead my family in righteousness?
Along with so many other questions. How many times have we truly reflected on our relationship with our Heavenly Father?

Now, a word to those who are searching for a relationship or a stronger relationship with Heavenly Father or Almighty God:

There is nothing wrong with you. So many times when we feel like our relationship with Him is lacking it is because we might not be living the best that we can (please don't stop reading). I mention this only because I know that He is constantly reaching out to us. It is us that (figuratively) put him on hold. What ever your "hold-line" is, you can always pick up the phone and continue the connection again. 

But there are two "voices" that will come when we think about re-connecting. One will be Satan. He will tell you a couple of things, "You don't need him, you've thought through everything already"; "He doesn't want to talk to you"; "You aren't clean enough to talk to him"; "You can talk all you want but He won't be listening". These are all lies!

The other "voice" will be the Holy Ghost, encouraging you the whole time to continue to pray. He will provide comfort, relief, peace, or any other feeling that you have been lacking in. It is a little different to talk out loud when you might not see someone there, but I know that there have been so many times in my life that I am so grateful I said a prayer. I'm grateful that I was able to communicate my true feelings to my Father. 

I know that we are all Children of God, every single person. I know that He listens and guides us. I also know that no matter how imperfect we are in this life, that if we repent (truly repent) and keep His commandments, we will be able to live with Him once more. How wonderful will it be to get a hug from Our Father? Our Perfect Father. 

February 2, 2014

Personal Potentials, Mistakes, and the Only Way to Be Better

"Falling is what we mortals do. But as long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path toward the spiritual goals God has given us, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier as a result." -- PRESIDENT DIETER F. UCHTDORF

Yesterday we moved into a new apartment, and with that a new congregation for church. It's always a nervous feeling that you get when you move into a new ward (term for a congregation boundary). You never know if you will fit into the ward, or if you will have to force yourself to fit. 

As I sat in the chapel with the rest of the congregation a thought came to me... "Cleave, are you living up to your full potential? Are you being 100% Christlike every second of your life?" Of course the answer is no. But there isn't any reason to beat myself up about it. No being that was ever on this Earth was perfect, except for one: Jesus Christ.

Stop and think for a moment. The Son of God came down to Earth to obtain an imperfect body. He went through many trials to be an example for every single person on the Earth. He went around serving and performing miracles, all so that people would be able to recognize Him as the Savior. 

Now I am not saying that it's perfectly fine to be ok with making mistakes, it's just that we shouldn't beat ourselves up over them. How many times do we think that if we spill a bag of popcorn kernels on the floor that it's the end of the world? That we are klutzes and we aren't good for anything?! (Dramatization I know). My point is there are times where we just make ourselves feel so inadequate. Where we get into a downward spiral over a small problem. At least I do. There was something else that President Uchtdorf said in his talk ("You Can Do It Now", Oct 2013):

"...our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward."

That is so true. I have been thinking about this a lot today. Why do we waste time thinking about how we could have done something better? Doesn't the Lord say that once we are forgiven that it isn't remembered anymore? Do we really have trust in that promise? Do we truly believe Christ and his words: (Paraphrased) That no matter what if we take the full advantage of the Atonement and do our best to follow the Savior's example, truly repenting when we make mistakes, that we will be able to return with Him and Heavenly Father again?

Please don't think that you, or anyone else is lost. Everyone has a chance to be able to feel love and confidence from above.

I am sitting here typing this with my 2.5 month old sleeping on my lap. I think of what he is going to be like in all aspects of life! There are so many things that I want to teach him, and help him with... but then I realize that because of where he is in life, I am going to have to slow down and wait for him to actually be able to say "Daddy" or "Mommy" until I can really start teaching. 

But most of all if I can teach him one thing in his life, it will be that the Atonement of the Savior is the only way of really being truly happy. Because it is, being clean of mistakes and sins is the best thing that has ever happened for all mankind. 

October 13, 2013

...that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world...

I want to put out a disclaimer for what I am about to write. I do not in any way shape or form want to write and have it taken as an "I am more Holy than thou" post. I have simply been contemplating a lot on what I am about to write about.

As most of you know my wife and I are expecting our first child and we have talked on and off about certain things that we want to teach our children. One of those is proper Sabbath day worship. We both agree on the same things and I am grateful that I have a wonderful companion in my sweetheart.

Now again this topic (and post) is very opinionated, and there hasn't been too much said on the subject as to what we can/cannot do on the Sabbath as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Through modern-day revelation however the Lord has said the following (D&C 59:9-10):

"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;"

Elder L. Tom Perry gave a talk based on this scripture and said the following:

"As we consider the pattern of the Sabbath and the sacrament in our own lives, there appear to be three things the Lord requires of us: first, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world; second, to go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments; and third, to rest from our labors."

Those three things are the most important things to do on the Sabbath let me give my opinion why. 

1. To keep ourselves unspotted from the world. 

I don't know if anyone else feels this way but I don't really regret not watching TV or sports on Sunday. I really don't. I grew up in a home that if we wanted to watch the television on Sunday we would have to watch Inspirational Church Videos or Family Videos. That is what I did every single Sunday if I did do that. There are a lot of crazy shows out today. I am actually pretty happy that we don't have cable in our apartment, that would be such a large distraction and waste of time. 

But not only are the shows getting more and more interesting, the commercials are even worse! How many ads have some type of immodest clothing on it? Can we really choose what comes out of the screen or the speakers when we turn on cable? I think that when it was revealed as "That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world" it was preparing families for a time that the worldly things can easily enter into the home. 

2. To go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments. 

Every Sunday members of the church partake of the sacrament to remember the Savior and His sacrifice. We believe that when we partake of the sacrament we renew our covenants that we have made with Him, or promise to keep those covenants more fully. The Savior gave that example at least twice. Once with His Apostles in Jerusalem (Matthew 26:26-28), and again with his disciples in the Ancient Americas (3 Nephi 18:7-12). 

Another good (but definitely not as important) reason for going to church on the Sabbath is for the interaction that we get with other members. Although we are all different, and have had many different experiences in life we can all benefit from reading and teaching the scriptures together. Today was what we call "Fast and Testimony Meeting" where people share their testimonies (or beliefs) of the Gospel. This can help boost the faith of both the person sharing their testimony and those listening.

Church shouldn't just be another place where people "hang out". There are other activities throughout the week, but on Sunday more than any other day it should be a day of learning and reverence. 

3. To rest from our labors. 

There are many different interpretations of this, and some will disagree with me on this particular part as well. 

I am super busy throughout the week. Honestly there are some days during the week that I see my wife at 7am when we wake up and then at 10pm when we go to bed. My weeks are pretty stressful: working full-time, school part-time, church callings to juggle, and then I have some time for "us time". Now, I'm not complaining (maybe just a little) but I tell  you all of this because I know that I am stressed and am trying to do as little that I can sometimes. 

Sunday is truly a day for me to serve in the church and then to go home and rest with my family. Tonight I was able to spend time with my wife and talk with her about how she is feeling. We were able to counsel with each other on a couple of subjects and then we made dinner/dessert together. When I get done with this post we'll spend more time together. It has been a very peaceful afternoon/evening. 

There are somethings that need to be done. If someone is sick and needs medical attention: Go to the Doctor, and get the needed medication. If you have a flat tire and know that it would be detrimental to it to drive it around, at least get the spare on there. Some might say otherwise. I believe that those are important to take care of when it happens. I know that personally I have made a promise with Heavenly Father that I will not do homework on the Sabbath. And each person really needs to remember that how they worship is really between them and Heavenly Father. 

So you might be thinking to yourself right now, "Ok Cleave you're starting to beat a dead horse here" and I don't mean to. I simply know that is so nice to be able to follow the counsel that has been given to us through Prophets and Apostles across the ages. I invite you to take time to think about how you could strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father by keeping the Sabbath day holy. I know that I have been blessed by doing that.

September 8, 2013

“Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” ~ Thomas S. Monson

This weekend has been great, I have been carrying a couple questions around with me as we have been going to Stake Conference and I thought I would share some of them with everyone:

1. How can I be a better husband?
2. How can I be more faithful in my calling?
3. How can I be a better employee?
4. How can I be a better student?

The biggest counsel that I have received is to have a Christ-centered home. I was able to have multiple examples given from people's personal lives, as well as feeling that I can be better about reading the scriptures, serving my sweet wife, and preparing to be a loving father.

What does it mean to have a Christ-centered home? Does it mean that it has to be immaculately clean? That hymns are playing on the speakers 100% of the time? That only Mormon Messages are played on the computer? Personally, I don't think so.

I give that answer because of a meeting that we had this morning. One of the brethren from the stake presidency made a statement that we can still exercise the priesthood righteously even if our house isn't in order. As long as we are trying our best we can still feel the spirit.

Another quote that I like from President Monson is:

"When the Lord speaks, and a man follows, that man will always be right."

That is probably the best counsel I have heard. And it is truly that simple. As long as we are doing our best to be obedient to what Heavenly Father and the Savior want us to do, repenting when necessary, we will be taken care of just fine.

That is some of the greatest news that we can ever have!

August 4, 2013

In the kingdom of God, greatness begins with humility and submissiveness. - Richard C. Edgley

I want to start with a disclaimer, I am in no way stating that I am a humble person, and what I am about to write is not a "look at me I am sooooo righteous" post. Because I'm not.

I have had a good lesson in humility this week/weekend. I have been praying to be humble and working through things as much as possible, especially when it is not the most comfortable. I have been having an issue of pride in the workplace, and I have been catching myself.

I think it's interesting how simple it is for Satan to catch us with Pride. I have a theory about why. I think we all know that Satan was prideful before we came to the earth. Hence the decision to rebel against Heavenly Father, a Supreme Being. He thought that he knew better, and wanted to show that. So he proposed a plan that was contrary to Father's plan. I don't think it was because his plan was wrong that he was cast out of Heavenly Father's presence. I think it was because he couldn't stand the idea that he was wrong. So he left, along with all of those that supported him.

That's why it is so easy for him to tempt us. All sin starts with pride. He is an expert in tossing in enough gasoline on the fire (even if it is a little bit at a time). Sooner or later he is going to toss a full 18-wheeler gas tanker on the fire.

When we give into those feelings of pride, and allow that fire to continuously burn, we are truly the only ones that end up getting majorly burnt. You know how there are different fire extinguishers for different situations?

Lake Worth Texas Fire Department 

In his October 2003 talk then Bishop Edgley gives council on how to fight pride. I'm going to refer to them as the spiritual "pride" extinguishers.

The first extinguisher is humility. Bishop Edgley said:

Many of us live or work in an environment where humility is often misunderstood and considered a weakness. Not many corporations or institutions include humility as a value statement or a desired characteristic of their management. Yet as we learn about the workings of God, the power of a humble and submissive spirit becomes apparent. In the kingdom of God, greatness begins with humility and submissiveness. These companion virtues are the first critical steps to opening the doors to the blessings of God and the power of the priesthood. It matters not who we are or how lofty our credentials appear. Humility and submissiveness to the Lord, coupled with a grateful heart, are our strength and our hope.

I know that it is really hard to keep our pride in check, and to maintain a good balance of respecting ourselves and recognizing our strengths and weaknesses. This could be where the submissiveness kicks in. When we are humble we aren't beating ourselves up over what is wrong, we are accepting our weaknesses, and working with Heavenly Father so that we can be better. We are accepting His will to teach us how to become strong with those weak links in our spiritual armor. I also think a big part of humility is to accept everyone else with their mistakes as well. Wether you are on a team, or a companionship, or a marriage. We all make mistakes, and that is OK. 

Ok, now time for extinguisher number two: Gratitude. Again, Bishop Edgley says:

And second, in spite of the difficulties and trials of life, [faithful members] are able to maintain a sense of gratitude for God’s blessings and life’s goodness. Humility and gratitude are truly the twin characteristics of happiness.

Before you read any further, take a couple of seconds to list at least 10 things that you are grateful for. Let me help you do that before you read any further. 

10. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here. No seriously. Do it.)
9. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
8. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
7. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
6. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
5. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
4. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
3. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
2. (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)
1. Last one! (Insert a thing you are grateful for here.)

Ok so now that you have done that, did you think at all about something negative? I am very grateful for a wonderful wife that goes through that exercise with me when she realizes that I am not feeling very well. I think that is also something that I need to work on. Just thought of the phrase, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." To me there should also be one that says, "When the going gets tough, the tough get grateful". 

Honestly, taking a moment to think about what is truly important in life helps my life so much. Just now I am thinking about how peaceful my life really is. What happens at work, home, school, church, etc. one day should not define how I feel about it the next day. 

Submitting our will to Heavenly Father's doesn't mean that we walk around and say, "I am so grateful for this terrible experience that I am going through." The Savior, when suffering in the garden of Gethsemane didn't say, "I thank thee for this experience." He said, "if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." We likewise can tell Father how we are truly feeling, but the key is to be humble. Then it will be easy to recognize and submit ourselves to Heavenly Father's will. Then when we are able to see with His eyes, we will be grateful for what he is trying to teach us. 

So before you step outside, I invite you to examine your spiritual pride extinguishers. If needed make sure that you use them throughout the day. They never run out as long as you work on filling them up and maintain their pressure.  

July 21, 2013

You may be what you will to be....

Today we had a high councilman come to our sacrament meeting, and at first I was taking care of some administration of the young men on my tablet, when I really got a feeling that I needed to pay more attention to what he was saying. He was talking about covenants, and covered it in a really interesting way.

Instead of giving examples from the scriptures about covenants (which are important, I know) he gave examples of covenants through his life, and through the lives that he has seen first hand. He talked about the covenants we make as members of the church and as members that have callings, and also about covenants we make when we are sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.

With that said let me give you some background. I have recently been feeling that I haven't been doing well at my calling at all. The summer has been a very laid back one as far as working with the Young Men has gone. The Sunday lessons that I have given don't feel like they have been full of the spirit, and the Young Men are already very sparse (just because of the demographics of the membership). Summer vacations have brought a lot of travelling for everyone else, and I just don't feel like anything is really being accomplished. There have been a couple of times where I hear a little voice in my head saying, "You must be doing something wrong. You just can't do it."

But today, I was able to finally feel like I was doing something right.

The speaker talked about callings, and I very much needed it. One of the biggest things that I got out of this part of the talk was this:

"Our fulfillment of callings isn't measured as the world measures it"

I have heard this multiple times in my life, but it really hit home today. Our service in the church is all about converting ourselves and then being able to help others. When I am in my funk, I am prideful and I am not focusing on the most important things. I am focusing on the tangible, not on helping the young men become spiritually aware of who they are, and the wonderful Priesthood that they bear.

Our fulfillment of our callings is based on the diligence and determination that we have to do our best. That is truly what Heavenly Father wants us to do. He asks that we try to be perfect, yes. HOWEVER, He knows that we will falter and make mistakes (see last week's post).

After talking on this for a while the speaker quoted James Allen. And this quote opened my mind, and allowed me to humble myself.

"Of all the beautiful truth pertaining to the soul, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that you and I are the master of thought, the molder of character, and the make and shaper of condition, environment and destiny. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of our own thought, we hold the key to every situation, and have within ourselves the means of transforming ourselves into what we will."

What a beautiful thought. Too often am I quick to put myself down, and allow myself to wallow in my misery. Instead of being able to learn and move on. Our Heavenly Father has given us the minds that we have to choose what we will do. He has given us Agency to be active in how we will react to things that happen around us.

One more story and I will wrap-up.

On my mission (served in Guatemala) I had a wonderful mission president, and he  helped me learn a crucial lesson for my life.

I was driving in the mission's ford ranger, and I added a fairly large bump on it (although it already had plenty marks of love on it). I felt particularly bad about this one and I asked to speak with him about it. He looked at me after I described what happened, and we had the following conversation (translated to English):

"So Elder, you ran the car into something?"

"Yes Presidente"

"Are you hurt?"

"No Presidente."

"Is anyone else hurt?"

"No Presidente."

"Then Elder Treanor, move on. Everything is ok. Thanks for letting me know."

I was stunned. Here I was someone who had damaged part of the mission's vehicle and I was told just to move on and that everything was ok. I guess he saw how stunned I was because he continued:

"Elder, I say that everything is ok because although the car is important, it isn't as important as you or anyone else. For example, if my family was in a car accident, what would I be worried about? The van, or my family? Don't worry about the small things that don't matter, worry about what really matters and you will be much happier for the rest of your life."

That was and is sound advice for everyone. We need to worry about what matters, what TRULY matters. If a problem is something that you can control, take it the bull by the horns and work on it until you get it in line. If the problem is something you can't control, make a decision to have patience and be calm until the situation is over. And this is something that I am still working on improving. I don't think a day will go by that I have to make a conscious decision to act on that council.

To close, I have been working on quoting a poem from James Allen every time that I get down on myself. It is a very common poem to the David and Tracy Treanor family, and I think my Dad quotes it at least once a month. I never understood what it meant. But I think I am finally catching on. I think it is one of those poems that you have to read when you are ready for it. Otherwise it is just a cool saying.

by James Allen
(from the book, "As A Man Thinketh")

You will be, what you "will" to be.
Let failure find its false content,
In that poor word "environment,"
But spirit scorns it and is free.

It conquers time, it masters space,
It cowls that boastful trickster "chance"
And bids the tyrant "circumstance"
Uncrowned, to take a servant's place.

The human will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless soul,
Can work away at any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.

Be not impatient and delay,
But wait, as one who understands.
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.