FYI: This blog is being taken care of by Sister Martin's mom Sharon Martin - She is posting emails and pictures that I am sending to her each week.

Monday, 13 October 2014

"Faithening My Strength" And Expanding My Waist!

Speaking of expanded waistlines: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Eh!?!

Today is a beautiful day! Why? Because as soon as I finish writing this email, I am off to Preston to have a big, fat turkey dinner at the carvery with 4 of my favourite American sisters! :) My American friends have been very supportive of my desire to celebrate this year (who wouldn't be supportive?!! If it meant an extra turkey dinner than I would be game too! Lets be honest!). I didn't get Thanksgiving last year, so I was extra determined not to miss two in a row!! Bring on the stretchy skirts and full belly! 

Heads up: this email is a little short of experiences of my life. We have been sick with the flu all week so life has been a bit quiet and boring for us! 

Flash Mob: Babushka Style!:  
Before I start this story, my disclaimer comes from my favourite "I'm A Mormon profile"  (watch it! You will laugh and this will suddenly make sense!): "Hold on to your Babushka's!"....literally!

Our assistant ward mission leader is a wonderful man! But my favourite member of his family is not him! It is his 90-something year old mother-in-law (Nana) who lives with them! She says the most hilarious things and is the old lady I dream of being one day! She can say and do almost anything, just because she's old and can get away with it! My dream!

We were at their home for tea after church and the most hilarious thing happened. We were chatting in the lounge with Nana before tea until we got called to come into the dining room to come eat. In response to the dinner call, Nana-- who was lying reclined in her chair-- suddenly kicked her leg literally straight into the air, and by doing so, was completely flashing us all (she was still wearing a dress from church). Her son-in-law in shock, told her to put her leg down and stop flashing her granny knickers at us and her unashamed response:

"Sorry, I forgot I wasn't wearing trousers" (picture it being said in a frail, old lady voice)

She had obviously put her leg up to help herself build momentum to be able to sit up to get out of the chair. So there was a valid reason for the random 90-year flashing, but oh boy was it funny! 

I can't wait to be old so I can do anything I want and have nobody care! That is the true meaning of happiness!

Sister Cross is allergic to me:
Since yesterday Sis. C has been sneezing up and down the wazoo! It didn't start until I walked up to her yesterday morning to ask her a question and as soon as I was next to her she sneezed about 7 times in a row. She has been in sneezing fits since! So we have concluded that she is allergic to me! Poor her! What a tragedy to not be able to be near me all the time ;)

Random English Fact of the Week:
There are no crows in England. I think I have seen about 10 crows in the entire 16 months I've lived here! 

Spiritual Thought of the Day: How To Faithen Your Strength!
So anyone who watched conference I'm sure chuckled when that poor man got tongue-tied in his prayer and asked that we could have our "Strength Faithened" (instead of having our faith strengthened). So I thought, why not make a spiritual thought on that today!

But seriously! We so often focus and obsess on how to strengthen our faith, but how often do we reverse the process? Do we often enough seek to use our faith to increase our strength?

Well to understand how to "faithen our strength" I first need to explain the base of how we strengthen our faith-- because you cannot easily do the first until you have done the second. 

Followers of Christ on a daily basis do the small things to strengthen their faith: pray, searching the scriptures, repenting daily, keeping the commandments, serving those around them, learning at church etc etc etc. How do these things strengthen our faith?? Whats the big deal about it?!

Well-- to start-- all of these things are actions that require a risk-- the risk is that we are following Christ's example, even though we do not have perfect physical evidence that He is literally there. According to logic and common sense, we could easily be wrong and the Bible could be the world's most successful and sensational fiction ever written! The scriptures describe it well: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Christ doesn't literally walk with me as he did in the times of the Bible. My choice to follow him is one of complete faith. I trust and have confidence in the written witnesses/testimonies in the scriptures of those who saw him for themselves. I hope that it is true. As I act on that trust and hope over a long period of time-- hoping that these testimonies are true-- eventually (change rarely happens overnight) I will see my heart changing. I will feel the spirit of God grow stronger within me. I will develop a deeper desire to do good to all my brothers and sisters. I will become more like Jesus Christ (his follower). 

That change in myself then becomes the evidence that he is real! The things that I hoped for (my hopes that these teachings of Christ will help me to be be a better overcome my struggles etc.) will turn into sure faith: My changed life becomes evidence that Christ's promises and teachings are real! He promises I can change, that my sins can be forgiven, that my weaknesses can be overcome through Him etc. I act on that promise and indeed I change. 

This is the cycle of faith.

So what about when we have diligently strengthened our faith! What a waste to just let it sit there! 

Too often, we forget to use that faith to help ourselves work through the bigger things! We get so caught up in the routine of doing the small daily things to build faith, that we forget to use this reservoir of faith in times of need! 

How do we use faith to strengthen ourselves?

We act! 

Now I just said that action was how we strengthened our faith, so what is the difference between strengthening our faith and using faith to increase our strength?

The answer is simple.

Daily faith building is not too strenuous or scary or difficult. A simple prayer, a few minutes of reading the scriptures, a small act of kindness for a friend here and there, and taking the sacrament on a Sunday. Normal, everyday things that are not too hard.

When we aim to use faith to increase spiritual strength, we are dealing with heavier loads. We do something that we didn't think we could ever do before! Maybe some serious self-reflection and goal setting will be involved. Major change is about to happen. You will be shocked how far your faith can carry you beyond your limitations! Whether you struggle with patience, have fears of reaching out to others due to shyness etc. Whatever it is, we do something that is one step out of our perceived range of ability. That built up faith will give us the needed stamina to push. 

Just like when you go to the gym! You lift 10 kg for weeks and weeks and eventually that weight is easier to carry. The same with faith. You build and build your faith, but eventually you will plateau. Your strength will stay at the same level. You will get no stronger until you use all that previous work to go to a new level (to increase your weight/load)! As you increase the load (step out of that comfort zone), the weight will be heavier and more uncomfortable at first, but you will be surprised that you are able to lift it!! Weeks earlier this would have not been possible! Your faith has caused you to become stronger! 

Elder Bednar's talk on spiritual traction is another version of what I have just talked about!  His analogy is simple, but teaches how we "faithen our strength!"

So moral of the story! If you faith has not been strengthened enough yet, go out and do the basics you currently aren't doing! Do you go to church? Do you pray daily? Read the scriptures everyday? Do you LIVE Christ's teachings? (not just believe them).

And if you faith has been strengthened and you are not struggling through trials, then you are ready to "Faithen Your Strength". Take that built up faith and CHANGE! Become stronger! Become better! Push yourself a bit! Pick a bigger thing that you haven't tackled yet! This is what life is all about! Your goal is that by the end of your life, you have experienced huge changes-- changes fueled by the small stuff! That is the beauty of the gospel!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all!

Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
Sister Martin

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