Saturday, February 8, 2014


Southern California has been in a drought and the snow pack this winter is nearly non-existent.  This drought has caused many of my plants to whither and die.  My backyard looks like it has been scorched by fire.

Last month Latter-Day Saints were asked to pray for rain during our monthly fast this month.  Many did fast and pray for the relief of rain.  Last Sunday during Sacrament meeting many bore testimony of the blessings given by Heavenly Father when we are obedient to his commandments. 
Heavenly Father promises temporal and spiritual blessings when his people keep His commandments.  Israel was commanded to keep His Sabbaths and to reverence His Sanctuaries with blessings attached to those commandments:
"Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary:  I am the Lord.  If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit."
Leviticus 26:2-4
Besides keeping the Sabbath day holy, there are other commandments that bring forth abundant blessings.  Paying an honest tithe and a generous fast offering bring forth blessings.  We have been promised so much that we will not have room for it.  We have also been promised that we would not be burned if we pay our tithing.
Blessings come when we hearken to the counsel of our leaders.  Submitting to the counsel of our leaders to pray for rain shows obedience to the Lord's counsel and shows forth a sign of faith.
In Chapter 5 of Moses the Lord had commanded Adam and Eve and their children to offer the firstlings of their flocks.  Abel obeyed, but Cain heeded the words of Satan and offered the fruit of the ground.  The Lord did not accept Cain's offering because it was not done in the manner that was prescribed by the Lord.
"If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted.  And if thou does not well, sin lieth at the door"
Moses 5:22
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:  "Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock.  Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith.... Shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man ... was the plan of redemption;... and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised...; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not faith, is sin" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976, 58).
The Saints in Southern California humbled themselves and exercised faith in the counsel given by the Lord's servants to pray for rain.  The rain began slowly for us in Oxnard, California last Sunday as we attended our meetings.  The rain has continued off and on this past week.  Truly a blessing from the Lord.
This morning, Victor and I travelled to the Los Angeles Temple.  I observed the clouds continuing to gather and knew that we would be blessed with more rain.  After worshipping in the Lord's Sanctuary we travelled home to Oxnard and again noted the darkness in the sky as the gathering clouds grew thick with new rain.  As I type this blog there is a soft sprinkle falling from the sky.  The leaves and petals of the plants, shrubs and flowers in my front yard are quietly rejoicing as they are being cleansed and nourished this night.
We rejoice in the Tender Mercies of the Lord.  He hears and answers our prayers.  He knows our needs and grants us blessings when we are obedient and when we are willing to sacrifice our time, talents and means to bring about his great purposes.

Monday, January 21, 2013


(excerpt from Tender Mercies journal)

As I have reflected today on some of my experiences over the past year I realize that the Lord has always been with me.  To remind myself of His great love for me I need to ask myself the question:

"Did I see the hand of the Lord today?"

Today, I saw the hand of the Lord when the High Counsel speaker extended the following invitation from the Stake President:

  1. Attend the Temple regularly; participate in all Stake and Ward Temple nights.
  2. Commit to the study of a particular book of scripture; study as a family.
  3. Bring Souls unto Christ.
At the beginning of the year; while sitting at dinner we discussed as a family the things that we need to do better; what we needed to do to help Alex and Evan prepare for missions; and how to be a more righteous family.  As a result we have begun reading the Book of Mormon together as a family.  I am helping Evan and Alex on Sunday afternoons to gain a better understanding of the Gospel by studying together out of Preach My Gospel.  Victor and I attended the Temple last Friday as it was our stake's temple night.

My personal and family goals are the same as the invitations from the Stake Presidency.

This affirms to me that what we have decided to do as a family is right and that we are doing the will of our Eternal Heavenly Father.

I have shared many times my thoughts and feelings about counsel from our leaders.

It is, when we hear the counsel of President Monson, the apostles, our stake leaders and bishoprics we experience one of two events.  We either validated and have received affirmation that we are headed in the right direction; or we are chastened.

When we are in the position of being chastened we react one of two ways:

1.  We recognize that we are being chastised and we decided to make corrections in our lives, or
2.  We react as Laman and Lemuel would and we murmur - stating that it is too difficult and why are we required to do so much.

I would much rather be humble and obedient.  The best position to be in is to know the will of the Father and to be humble to act as he would have us act.

Have you seen the Hand of the Lord today?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


"O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!"

"O that though mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!"

1 Nephi 2:9-10

Each morning before I leave for work I have my personal prayer and my heart is drawn toward my children at this time.  I express my desires that my children will continue to pursue those things that are righteous and that they always find themselves in the right place at the right time.

I believe it is every good parents desire to have good children.  Lehi expressed these desires when he shared his hope with Laman and Lemuel that they would be strong and dependable in keeping the commandments of the Lord.

I remember countless times when I have gone to the Lord pleading with him to help my children when they have drifted from the path of righteousness.  I remember the tear filled eyes as I have added their names to the prayer rolls of the temple.  Like Lehi, I continue to instruct and counsel my children when I have been prompted by the spirit to do so.

Like Laman and Lemuel, my older children do not always take my counsel.  The hope I have that they will return to the ways of righteousness is fueled by the promises made to me that if I keep my covenants my family will be preserved.  Someday, all my children will be steadfast and immovable in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A similar promise was made to Nephi:

"And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper."

1 Nephi 2:20

Monday, January 7, 2013


I love the new year and the opportunity we have to begin again.
Last week during family dinner we were discussing our plans for the new year and how we were going to become a better family and how we were going to help Evan and Alex prepare to serve missions.
Before family prayer last night we decided that we would all arise this morning at 5 a.m. and begin reading the Book of Mormon together as a family.
We began with 1 Nephi chapter 1.  It took every ounce of energy to contain my tears of joy as my children each took turns reading verses from the first chapter. 
I read the last several verses of Chapter 1 and as I read verse 20 I was reminded how much our Heavenly Father loves us when Nephi states:
"I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
Having faith is the first principle of the gospel and I believe it is the most significant and important principle in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Without faith, we would not be moved to act.  We would not be moved to follow the great example of the Savior.  We would not have the desire to be better than we are.
May you find the faith to know the many tender mercies of our Savior.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


A week ago Saturday, December 22nd, I was asked to give a talk on Baptism.  This was a special day for the Gonzales Family, as we were in attendance at the Baptism of Katie Wolf.  Katie has been attending church with us for the past six months and began taking the discussions at the beginning of the school year.

I have never spoken on Baptism or at a Baptism.  Below are some of the thoughts that I shared during my talk:

What is Baptism?

From a Greek word meaning to dip or immerse, Baptism in water is the introductory ordinance of the gospel, and must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete.

As one of the ordinances of the gospel, it is associated with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Faith and Repentance are essential pre-requisites to being baptized.

Faith in Jesus Christ

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son's grace and mercy.  When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings.  We trust Him and what He says.  We know that He has the power to keep His promises.  Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son.

Faith in Christ leads to action.  It leads to sincere and lasting repentance.


The second principle of the gospel is repentance.  Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will.  Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world.  When we repent, we feel godly sorrow, then we stop doing things that are wrong and continue doing things that are right.  Bringing our lives in line with God's will through repentance is a central purpose of our lives.  We can return to live with God the Father only through Christ's mercy, and we receive Christ's mercy only on condition of repentance.

Baptism, Our First Covenant

Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.  An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.

/God has always required His children to make covenants.  A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between God and man.  God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him.  God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject.  Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.

Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God.  To keep our covenants, we must give up activities or interests that prevent us from honoring those covenants.  For example, we give up shopping and recreational pursuits on Sunday so we can keep the Sabbath day holy.  We should desire to receive worthily the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them.  Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives.  By keeping the commandments and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins.

Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism.  These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority.  Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.  As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being born again.

Baptism has always been practiced whenever the gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth and has been taught by men holding the holy priesthood who could administer the ordinances.

Baptism symbolizes death, burial, and resurrection, and can only be done my immersion.

Baptism is not optional if one wishes the fullness of salvation.  Jesus said a person must be born of water and of the Spirit.  (John 3:3-5)

When he sent the twelve apostles forth to teach the gospel he told them that whosoever believed and was baptized would be saved; and whosoever did not believe would be damned.  (Mark 16:16)

Jesus himself was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness."  (Matt 3:15; 2 Ne 31:4-11).

Baptism in water has several purposes.  It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom; it is also the doorway to personal sanctification when followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost.

Baptism is a most sacred ordinance, which a person, having received it, can remember throughout life as a reminder of the personal commitment to Jesus Christ.  Its symbolism is beautiful, and its consequences ever so desirable.

John the Baptist had the single most honor among all men to take the Son of God into the water and baptize him, after which he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus Christ.  By being baptized Jesus obeyed the law himself, and set the example for all mankind.  (Matthew 3:13-17).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I was speaking with a good friend today who has been burdened with the weight of being a single mom who worries about how she will continue to provide for herself and her son.  My heart was full of compassion and understanding as she expressed her desires.  I understood the fear and concern that many of us face in this world.

While we were talking I felt prompted to share with her some of the things that I have come to know during my search for peace and security in this life.
I shared with her that she did not need to be afraid because:
"I believe events in our lives are divinely orchestrated.  I also believe our deepest desires come to fruition when we believe that we deserve the best for ourselves and our loved ones."

She acknowledged her faith and devotion to Christian beliefs, yet has felt that it has been difficult to solely rely on God and his divine love.  She has felt that she should be able to survive all on her own.

I told her:  "God has a special love for his daughters.  He will not let you be left alone and without means to provide for yourself and those you care for.  He also listens to the pleading hearts of those who love him and trust him."

She shared with me her desires and what she really wants in her life.

I said:  "Then that is what you pray for."

When we find ourselves in the same place as my friend, we sometimes don't see the hand of the Lord in our lives.  We expect him to show us what we should do or where we should go.  When we don't see the expected results we feel that God is not there.
My counsel to her:  "You may have to find the perfect situation yourself.  Heavenly Father likes it when we figure things out for ourselves.  He actually expects us to do some work...  When you have found what you need you ask him to make it possible."

Because we are divine daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us we have the assurance that he will provide for our needs and wants in this life.  As righteous daughters we have also been promised that we will prosper in this land as long as we remain obedient to his commands and counsel.
I am grateful for the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father.  I am grateful for the unbending knowledge of his great love for me and my family.  Heavenly Father's love for his daughters is a divine tender mercy that brings peace and security to the weary soul.

May you know the tender mercies of the Lord toward you.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics.  While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect".  The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.

In his lecture at Einstein's memorial, nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer summarized his impression of him as a person: "He was almost wholly without sophistication and wholly without worldliness . . . There was always with him a wonderful purity at once childlike and profoundly stubborn."

Albert Einstein was a noted scientist.  He was considered the most intelligent individual.  The scientific community hoped to discover the source of his intellegence by studying his brain.  He is often quoted in lectures, science books and many movies - sometimes mis-quoted.

One of my favorite quotes: 

"It has become appallingly clear that our
technology has surpassed our humanity.
I hope that someday, our humanity
 might yet surpass our technology."

I could spend time writing about what I think Einstein was trying to say and I could be wrong.  I do know what it means to be humane and I know what we can do to develop our humanity that it might surpass our technology.

When speaking to his people, King Benjamin, gave counsel that should inspire us in developing our humanity:

1.  Teach your children.
2.  Share with the poor.
3.  What your thoughts, words and deeds.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find their roots in the teaching of children by fathers and mothers" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 79; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 60).

When instructed to care for the poor and the needy, King Benjamin did not specifically spell out what we should do.  There is no single right approach to helping the needy.  We should remember the principles taught by King Benjamin and seek the guidance of the Spirit in each situation.  The Lord has established ways in which we can help the needy.  When we give fast offerings or donate money, goods, time, or other service to the Church, we can be confident that our contributions are being used wisely.

King Benjamin taught us that we should do all things "in wisdom and order."  King Benjamin taught his people that to avoid sin and maintain their commitment to God, they must watch their thoughts, words and deeds.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

"Christ says, Give me All.  I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work:  I want you.  I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.  No half measures are any good.  I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down.... Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked, the whole out-fit.  I will give you a new self instead.  In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 167.)

When we take upon the name of Christ at Baptism we are also making a covenant or accepting a contract with our Lord in heaven.

After Alma taught the people who had gathered at the place of Mormon he invited them to "come into the fold of God, and to be called his people..."  As members of that fold we commit to:

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life."

Christ has always asked for just us.  In St Mark chapter 10, Jesus counsels a rich young man:

17 ¶And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none agood but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit aadultery, Do not bkill, Do not csteal, Do not bear false witness, dDefraud not, eHonour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and agive to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and bfollow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

I think when we prize our possessions, education, accomplishments, etc. above the simple sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ we have allowed "technology" to surpass our own humanity.  When we decide to take our covenants seriously... those made at baptism and those made in the temple we will find that our humanity has surpassed our technology.  And we will find that there is singular peace and solice in our lives.