Well, I am not quite ready to throw the proverbial towel in on this blog and remake it into a Mormon Meetup site, as we are still having a fabulous year in terms of doom and political intrigue. But I will pass along your information to her, if you are in a dating mode. No creepers....lol Just leave a comment with your info (I will not publish) and I can pass it along. She comes from incredible stock whose pioneer stories I have published on this blog - so I can guarantee a good outcome in any kids that may result from my match-making efforts. Her uncle was my wife's Stake President when we were dating and I met him years ago at our reception 25 years ago.
Here is her talk. I really liked the dam spillway analogy; appealed to my inner engineer:
OBEDIENCE BRINGS BLESSINGS
For those of you who don't know me, it's because I'm currently serving the young women. For those who do know me, you know I'm that crazy lady that lives on the corner of Spencer and Nielson. I'm usually pretty happy. And the reason I love life so much - even with the ups and downs - is that I find I am so richly blessed.
Doctrine & Covenants 130:21 reads, "And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated," or in other words it is by obedience to that law upon which it is based on.
Preach My Gospel says this about the Christlike attribute of Obedience:
"Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom." That's pretty amazing that from doing one thing - obeying - we receive 6 blessings of increased faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection and freedom.
President Monson said this, "when we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear and we will receive [God's] promised blessings."
I think my first experience with obedience was learned in the home. I learned that when I did as my parents asked, they were a lot happier. I also learned that when they asked me to do something, they didn't mean in a few minutes, or when I was ready, it was right now. It's that Nephi - I will go and do attitude. And to be honest that takes awhile to really figure out. Even now I sometimes struggle with obeying the Lord or the Spirit immediately.
When I first heard about the Dam in Oroville, California, my interest was piqued because of the danger of flooding thousands of residents. And of course when I think of flooding my mind casts back to the flooding we had in our own neighborhood a few years ago. So those of you who experienced flooding in your home knows how devastating it can be.
About 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, Lake Oroville is one of California's largest man-made lakes, and the 770 foot tall Oroville Dam is the nation's tallest. On February 12, over 188,000 people were ordered to evacuate. While the dam had not given way, the emergency spillway, which prevents the water from overflowing, was discovered to have a hole in it and it was eroding. If the structure failed, it would result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters.
As you may recall, California had been in a drought for several years and there was no thought that there would be any danger with this particular dam as the waters had receded during the years. Recently, however, California had some major storm systems come through that deluged many areas with a lot of rain in a very small period of time. So the result was just like the primary song we like to sing, "the rains came down and the floods came up."
At that time California Governor Brown said, "I've been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend, and it's clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing."
The California Department of Water Resources said it was releasing as much as 100,000 cubic feet per second of water from the main damaged spillway to try to drain the lake. The spillway was rated to handle 250,000 cubic feet per second, but the spillway began to show weakness and unexpected erosion sent chunks of concrete flying and created a 200 foot long, 30 foot deep hole that was growing.
Crews began working around the clock to reinforce the two damaged spillways at the Oroville Dam before more storms came in. Here are some of the resources involved in the repair effort:
· More than 125 construction crews
· 40 truckloads of aggregate rock
· 1,200 tons of rock deposited in eroded or damaged areas per hour
· Two helicopter drops of rock, concrete and other materials every minute and a half
· A California National guard Black Hawk helicopter also assisted with drops
Scott Cahill, an expert with 40 years of experience on large construction and development projects on hundreds of dams explained how this crisis was easily avoidable. "The points of failure in Oroville's infrastructure were identified many years ago, and the costs of making the needed repairs was quite small - around $6 million. But for short-sighted reasons, the repairs were not funded; and now the bill to fix the resultant damage will likely be on the order of magnitude of over $200 million."
Now you may be asking yourself why I'm giving you this information on the Oroville Dam and what if anything does it have to do with obedience. I have been thinking about how the Oroville Dam is much like our own lives. There are a lot of routine things we do or can do on a weekly and daily basis like attending church meetings, keeping the Sabbath day holy, reading scriptures, serving in callings, saying prayers daily, going to the Temple, serving others, treating others with kindness, repentance, forgiveness and so on. I like to call these types of things the $6 million dollar repairs. It takes work, discipline and practice.
I like to think of the water in our lake or reservoir as the many blessings that we have in our life - that lake of increased faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection and freedom. Things like that. But as life tends to happen, sometimes a lot of pressure builds up in our lives and if we have not kept up on our $6 million routine maintenance, we are likely to run into trouble. What happens when there is sin or trials or lack of faith that cause erosion? We start to lose some of those blessings and we even sometimes cause problems for those around us who may have to evacuate. The damage in our lives starts to lean toward the $200 million bill for damages. It's not impossible to fix, but it takes much longer and can be a lot harder.
The lesson of the Oroville Dam is found in Doctrine & Covenants 58:32: "I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing." And remember President Monson's words that "when we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated." What a contrast to Governor Brown's words that the situation was complex.
The second story I want to talk about is the story of Abraham found in the Old Testament, Genesis Chapter 22. It is here where God tests Abraham to the fullest extent. God said, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
I'm not sure what was going through Abraham's mind. He and Sarah were already well aged by the time they were blessed with Isaac. We know he cherished his son, so this wasn't going to be easy. He also had no idea why the Lord was requiring him to sacrifice his son.
We do know that Abraham obediently took his son, and went to the place God had shown him. He placed the wood and his son upon an alter. "And Abraham, stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him.....And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."
So what a huge relief on the part of Abraham. He not only passes this test of obedience, but he is given a remarkable blessing: "that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;" and then listen to this, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice."
Isn't that amazing? Just think of how God blesses us for the most amazing things we do - - and how God blesses us for the smallest things we do. Blessings are based upon the laws of heaven. Every time we obey the commandments of our Heavenly Father, every time we follow the example of our Savior, every time we obey our earthly parents, every time we obey the laws of the land - we are blessed. And those blessings lead to happiness - - especially if we recognize those blessings. And I've had days when I really have had to sit down to find those blessings. And I've had days when the list of blessings seemed never ending.
If you want to take the blessings of Abraham a step further - think about the blessings Heavenly Father receives as He is obedient. Think about the sacrifice of His only begotten son. Now think about the blessing of His posterity. Surely His seed is as the stars of the heaven and the sands upon the sea - endless. God has created worlds without number. He created this world for us. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and have joy in our lives as He does. And Heavenly Father does that by constant obedience.
For the natural man, constant obedience is something we work towards, because it's just not going to happen in this life. And that's okay. That's why we do our best each day, and seek grace through the atonement.
Unlike the dam in Oroville, California, the dam that Christ created has the highest integrity. (I hope my Mia Maids caught that I just used the word Integrity, because we are working on that in personal progress) Because of the integrity of Christ's dam, it does not bear cracks, nor is the pressure too great for him. He maintains His life perfectly through obedience. Thankfully, Heavenly Father allows us to have cracks, and to sometimes cave in on some of the pressure, because He loves us. And He lovingly allows us to repent and repair - and Christ is the foreman on that job helping us to make our structure stronger. It is that same mercy that Abraham was given to spare his son Isaac from being sacrificed.
Even if that blessing of protection completely fails, and a whole new dam must be rebuilt, little by little, through faith and obedient acts, it can be rebuilt. And that thought, Brothers and Sisters, is pure joy to me. Heavenly Father doesn't care about how much it costs to repair structural damage. He doesn't check to see if you have any insurance that will cover even a part of the cost. He only asks for a broken heart and a contrite spirit from his sons and his daughters. That makes me think about how important it is to partake of the sacrament and why we have been encouraged to obey the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day Holy.
At this point you may be thinking, I've been maintaining this dam that I have built, but I don't feel like I am receiving the blessings. And that's a fair point.
Sometimes while we are doing routine maintenance, we neglect to see the water or blessings that are filling our lake or reservoir. I believe that sometimes we have to take a look back to see our blessings in the proper perspective.
When I was in my twenties I was doing some serious building and maintenance on my personal dam. I fully expected that in so doing I would be blessed with a husband and my own posterity. You can image my surprise that year after year neither of these blessings came to fruition. I was determined to do more maintenance - maybe put in a hydroelectric plant, and maybe add some really cool architecture to my structure. It seemed like regardless of what I did, the result was still the same. No spouse, no kids. This lead to some soul searching. I know that sometimes the blessings we are blessed with are not given to us in this life. I totally get that. However, I still felt like there were blessings I would receive in this life.
I can tell you that I have received blessings for not marrying outside of the Temple. I can also tell you that I have received blessings for not having children outside the bonds of marriage. But I can also tell you that I have received the same blessing of posterity that Abraham was given. I would have never thought this possible in my twenties. I didn't have the foresight.
On my mission I served 9 months at the Naval Base in Great Lakes, Illinois. If you joined the navy, I saw you. I had the opportunity to affect the lives of so many navy recruits and those that were there for additional schooling and training. I met hundreds of sailors. I also met lots of people on my mission and taught them in their homes and on the street. When I came home from serving a mission I found myself in a few different singles wards, where I was able to meet hundreds more people. It was a great experience. I served them, planned activities for them, prayed for them and befriended them. I became an Aunt to nephews and nieces and an Aunt to some of my close friends' children. I have since had the opportunity to serve in wards and stakes. I have been able to teach in primary, Sunday school, served in different capacities in the Relief Society and Young Women. I have been able to plan Girls Camp for hundreds of young women on several occasions. I love it all. Every time I have the opportunity to serve Heavenly Father's children, they become my own children.
To help put this into perspective, consider this scripture in Mosiah 5:7 where we become the sons and daughters of Christ: "And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters."
Brothers and Sisters, you are my posterity. I care about your welfare, I pray for you, I want you to be happy, I want to celebrate with you, I want to mourn with you, I want to teach you and I want to learn from you. Can you see how Heavenly Father blessed me and multiplied my seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore in this life? It is a blessing that is sometimes overwhelming to me. It has taken me a long time to realize the blessings from my obedience to the fullest extent. I'm still discovering them.
There is true happiness in obedience. And as we learn to obey, God will not be able to withhold the blessings, because when "we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.