Sunday, November 30, 2014

My First Adult Sacrament Talk!

A few weeks ago as I was laying in bed TRYING to fall asleep, my mind decided that it wasn't tired at all.  In fact that's every night with me.  The second the world goes quiet and I get in bed and relax, my mind wakes up and I have so many amazing thoughts!  Some nights I can't sleep unless I make myself get up and type it all out.  Sometimes I make it private and sometimes I post it here for anyone to read.  Well that night I kept thinking about one of my recent trials and how I will get through it, and I even thought about how much I've already learned and grown from this specific trial.  I don't really want to get into my most recent trial, but that night I started recalling some of the trials I had in the past.  I started thinking about how hard they were, but also how much I got out of each of them.  I started feeling so incredibly grateful to my Heavenly Father for those trials and it got to the point where I HAD to write down my thoughts- including one of my trials of the year tithing.

Fast forward to last week.  I got the opportunity last week to visit the Temple.  I don't get to go as often as I'd like so when I do I enjoy every moment.  I find the spirit to be so peaceful there and I often get answers to my prayers while I'm there while reading the scriptures, through simple thoughts that come to my mind, or whatever else- it's just a beautiful place.  Probably my favorite place on earth!

While we were at the temple, the bishop asked me if I could give a 10 minute talk during Sacrament meeting.  ME?  You want me to speak to the whole church??  I was kind of freaking out my my head.  He then said, I really would like you to give a talk on tithing!  My mind immediately went to my blog post!  I knew exactly what I wanted to share with my ward!

So I went home and prepared my lesson.  It was really stressful!  And SCARY!!  I'm NOT a public speaker my any means!  I'm kinda of awkward naturally so to talk to a whole ward- pure insanity!  I practiced and practiced, but I couldn't get rid of my racing heart.

The bishop then sent me this email:
Thank you so much for accepting this assignment to speak in Sacrament. As you follow the spirit to prepare your remarks and ask His assistance in delivering your remarks many will be uplifted and inspired to live the gospel more fully.

 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?

Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. (DC 50: 17-22)

I really need that reminder!  I needed to write down those thoughts a few weeks ago for a reason!  I needed to share them in Sacrament Meeting for a reason!  I knew the I could teach by the Holy Spirit and he would guide me!

So today came…
My talk went GREAT!!!  I had so so SO many people up to me after church telling me how much they loved my talk.  I felt so loved by so many!  I know that Heavenly Father knew that someone in that group needed my talk, but I think he knew that I needed it TOO!  I needed that challenge!  I needed to open up to my ward.  I was so grateful to be able to share a little piece of me to the ward.  I am so blessed to be in such a wonderful church!!  I feel closer than ever to everyone in my ward, and just so blessed!  I've been on a spiritual high all day!!  Part of that also has to do with my husband, but that story is for another day. :)

I said it in my own words so it's not word for word what I actually said, but here's the talk I gave:

Good morning brothers and sisters!  I’m Amy O’Neal.  We moved into the ward this last summer.  I’ve got to say that I absolutely love this ward!  I leave every Sunday feeling so edified and ready for the week, because of the great lesson and wonderful spirit here. 

My family has been greatly blessed by this ward and I’m so thankful.

The bishop asked me to a share a little on tithing this morning.  I don’t know if it is a coincident or not but, tithing has been on my mind a lot this year.  Tithing has been a real struggle for me in the past.  I’ve always wanted to be a full tithe payer.  I knew there were blessings that I was missing out on, but for me, personally, until I gain a testimony of something I really struggle at it. 

I feel like I'm starting to figure out how Heavenly Father teaches me personally, I’ve noticed that if he REALLY want me to know something and wants me to know it to
My core where I have a testimony of something… he gives me trials. 

I guess that’s the only way I learn, I don’t know…

When he's teaching me something, it CONSUMES me and every thought I have.  Because it's a trial in my life and for the most part it’s really, really hard and stressful, it's ALL I think about!  In the mist of that trial, I pray and pray for help, I struggle, and I constantly look for answers!  Sometimes I feel like God’s not listening, or that I’m lacking in faith.   It just really difficult.

So many of you have great stories of how tithing has blessed you, I’d like to share my story…

A few months ago we were really struggling with money, like really bad!  We had just moved here and things weren't going well.  Chris had just left the Army and he couldn't find a job, I wasn't booking any photography sessions, we couldn't find a place to live (especially since we had no income-- the list goes on.  I’m so thankful for my sister and her husband who let us live with them and helped us in any way they could!! 
It kept coming to my mind that I needed to pay my tithing, but paying tithing was just SO overwhelming! 

I had tried to be a tithe payer in the past, but I would always forget to bring the money to church, then I would forget to set it aside.  After awhile I would just become overwhelmed, give up. 

I always knew I WANTED to pay tithing and I knew I should, but I would just start later at a more convenient time… 
I didn’t have a testimony of tithing.

But then the trial came.  The more I struggled, the more tithing came to mind, the more I wanted, even needed to learn!  I started reading everything I could find on the subject.  I looked up every talk about tithing I could find, I asked all my family members and friends about tithing, I had so many questions!  But I was still overwhelmed and scared to start again and then fail. 

On a LDS FB page, someone shared an easier way to pay tithing straight from your bank through a "payee" account!  Basically I could pay my tithing right on my computer without leaving my house!!  I had no more excuses.  And I KNEW what I needed to do..

So that day I made a commitment that I would pay my tithing the DAY we got paid before anything else... and guess what?  The miracles rolled in!  I started booking sessions, Chris got his job, and we found out THAT day that Chris was going to receive VA pay every month.  It all changed!  And through that, I was blessed AND I gained a testimony of the importance of tithing.

I don't necessarily believe that if I pay tithing that we'll always prosper in funds.  I do think he rained those blessing on us to specifically teach us that lesson.  But I DO believe that as long as I pay my tithing first thing, before I use the money for anything else, even food or bills, that Heavenly Father WILL take care of us.  Maybe not necessarily financially, but the windows of heaven WILL be opened to us.

I don’t think that all the blessings from being a full tithe payer are always immediate or even that obvious! 
Elder Bednar Said,
Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain, as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant

Sometimes the blessing of tithing isn’t financial help, great pay, or great job opportunities, sometimes through paying tithing you instead gain a grateful heart!  Or you may learn to do more with less!  Heavenly Father knows each of us and knows what blessings we NEED the most to come back to him.

Elder Bednar also said
Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10).
I testify that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives.

I have grown to love paying my tithing.  It used to feel like a hardship or a sacrifice, but now I truly feel blessed every time I pay my tithing!  Not only do I get to go to the temple, but I also feel closer to my Heavenly Father every time I pay my tithing.  I remember the day I went to finally get my partial temple recommend renewed and Brother Farclough asked me if I’m a full tithe payer- I truly felt so happy to finally be able to say YES, I am a full tithe payer!  In a week or two I will get to say that same thing to the bishop at tithing settlement and I can’t wait! 

I tried so hard to be comfortable in my sin.  I made excuses after excuses of why I didn’t pay tithing, but as I stand here I can see that I was BLIND!  I couldn’t see the blessing and happiness that came from a VERY SIMPLE commandment.  Through keeping the commandment, my life has completely changed and this year I have seen that same change in my family. 

I am so blessed to have the knowledge that Heavenly father cares about us SO much!  He basically asks us to live fulfilling lives and make good choices and in return he SHOWERS us with so many blessings!  I have always felt blessed, but the amount of blessing I have seen in my family’s lives and my own life these past 4 years and have been innumerable…

I know that Heavenly Father knows me my name and loves me.  Through this last year I know the importance of tithing in my home.  I know that as we pay our tithing, we will come closer to Heavenly Father, become more grateful, and the windows of heaven will be opened to us! 

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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