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What My Dog Taught Me About the Atonement

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This past summer, my family and I went camping…a lot. And we often took our dogs with us.

On one particular day, we decided to go swimming in the river. The dogs, naturally, came along with us. The only problem is that Cubby, my small, white maltipoo, absolutely hates water. Whether it’s a bath, the rain, or a large body of water, he avoids getting wet at all costs.

I purchased Cubby as a puppy, and I remember the first time I had to give him a bath. He had fleas, so I filled the sink up with water and placed him in it up to his neck. His eyes slightly bulged from his head, and he didn’t stop whining the whole time I scrubbed him down with Dawn dish soap. Since then, there have been multiple times that I have had to pull him out from under the couch at home when he even suspected a bath in his near future.

“Don’t worry, Cubby,” I said, remembering how pitiful he had looked in that sink. “You don’t have to come into the water.” I said it soothingly as we left him and our beagle on the shoreline. My husband, stepdaughter, and I jumped into the river and waded from rock to rock. Cubby watched us, but sitting there, he looked as though he wanted to be with us.

So I decided to do a little test.

“Cubby,” I called out. “Cubby, come here!”

The poor little guy stood up, stared right at me, and began pacing along the shoreline left and right. I could tell that he wanted to be obedient. He wanted to be with me. But he didn’t want to enter that water. It appeared that he was searching for ANY other way that he could get to me but to no avail.

I called him again.

“Cubby. Come here, Cubby! You can do it!”

My husband and I chuckled as he lightly tapped the surface of the water with his paw as if he were testing the water’s temperature. Finally, after touching the water multiple times and whining incessantly, he focused his eyes on me, jumped into the water, and swam to me as fast as he could.

I was stunned as I pulled him from the water, shivering and soaking wet. I pressed his tiny body against me for warmth. I hadn’t really expected him to enter the river. I knew how much he hated water. But then it hit me…he loved me more.

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Cubby after his dip in the water. Doesn’t he just look pathetic? :)

 

I could imagine him saying on the shoreline, “Oh, Mom. I really don’t want to get wet. You know how much I hate water. Please don’t ask me to do this. Isn’t there another way? Why don’t you just come get me?” And then, “Do you promise to catch me when I swim to you? I really want to be obedient. I really want to be with you. But I’m afraid. Still…I trust you. I love you. Here I come.”

My husband wanted to try the test again.

“That was a fluke,” he said. “I bet he wouldn’t do it again.”

I agreed, handing Cubby to him as I waded further out in the water.

“Cubby,” I called him. My husband placed him on a rock where he did his routine again. Whining. Tapping the water with his paw. But he looked at my husband, too, as if he were saying,

“Please take me to her so that I don’t have to go into that water again.”

When my husband didn’t budge, Cubby looked back at me, jumped into the water, and swam to me as fast as his little legs could take him.

I picked him up as soon as he got to me, patted his head, and spoke soothingly to him.

“Don’t worry. I won’t make you do it again.”

His actions touched me. My eyes grew moist with tears. I couldn’t believe that he loved me so much that he would do something he hated just to be obedient and just to be with me.

I carried him back to the shoreline where I rubbed him down with a towel and thought about that pure, innocent love.

Then I realized…

Do I love Heavenly Father the way that Cubby loves me?

I then thought about the times when I received promptings to call someone, visit someone, or simply smile or say “hello” to someone passing by. There were so many times that I dismissed the prompting or told myself that person was busy or said that I was too afraid. Sometimes I pretended like I didn’t even receive a prompting, brushing it away and justifying my action.

Then I thought about the times when God’s will was different than mine. He asked me to do something, and I wanted to do something different. It was like I looked the other way and only focused on what I wanted instead of looking towards Him and trusting Him.

But then I thought about Jesus Christ. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane when he hadn’t wanted to partake of the bitter cup, he took a deep breath, looked up in prayer to Heavenly Father, and whispered, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Even when His very own death stared Him in the face—He accepted the Father’s will…not only because of His love for the Father, but because of His love for us. He trusted the Father. He knew that everything would turn out all right. He knew that His ways were greater and for everyone’s good. And he accepted that and “jumped into the water.”

I had never realized that I could learn such a powerful lesson from my tiny dog and his aversion to water. But I decided right there and then to show my love for Heavenly Father the way that Cubby had for me…with all of my little heart.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:48).

 

 

How to Get Excited Before, During, and After General Conference

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General Conference is coming up, and you’ll probably never find another people anywhere excited to sit and watch talks for 8 hours in one weekend (10 hours for the guys!) If you find you’re dreading General Conference instead of looking forward to it, apply some of these suggestions to make your General Conference weekend meaningful this year!

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Before General Conference
1) Write down some questions you have. Take some time a few days before conference to find something that you need answered in your life. It could be a doctrinal question or a question about your personal life or dilemma you are currently facing. (Examples of questions: “How can I have more faith?” “How can I forgive my friend who offended me?” “How should I deal with the bully at school?” “What should I do about my parents’ divorce?”) There are no “wrong” questions. If you have a question and have faith, the Lord will answer it during General Conference!

2) Make a General Conference notebook. You can find some great ideas here and here. Then take notes in it during all of the sessions. If you focus on a specific value from Personal Progress, you can do this for any Value Project!

3) Watch the #BecauseHeLives video at HeLives.Mormon.org and then take note of the blessings in your life because of Jesus Christ.

During General Conference
1) Take notes. Don’t just write down word-for-word what the speaker is saying. Instead, write down your impressions. Then take note of the talks that specifically touch you so you can read them again later

2) Look for answers to the question you asked. The answers won’t just come during the talks. Your answer could come during the songs or prayers, too. (Note: If you receive thoughts during General Conference while you are listening, you might wonder if they are from the Spirit or just you. If you are trying your best to find your answer and listen to the conference, then you can be assured that because you are doing what is right that they are promptings from the Spirit. WRITE THEM DOWN!!!)

3) Join the #ldsconf discussion on Twitter
-Make sure to follow the hashtag #ldsconf and tag all of your own inspired posts with the hashtag
-You might be surprised at the uplifting conversation that is going on behind the scenes of conference, and you’ll probably catch more than you would on your own (including the colors of everyone’s ties…haha)
-Some great accounts to keep an eye on during conference: @SISTASinZION, @22AlFox, @PowerofOneGirl, @CelestialMagz

After General Conference
1) Review your notes, looking specifically for the answers to your questions

2) For the next 6 months, study a General Conference talk per week, starting with the talks that stood out to you while you were listening.

3) Create picture quotes of your favorite quotes from GC and then #sharegoodness on social media

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Still not excited? Watch this video by Nic Fitzgerald of the Church leaders singing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and just try not to feel happy!

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Easter is coming, and this new video released by the Church couldn’t have come at a better time to remind us that Jesus Christ lives!

Share with the world on social media where you see Christ in your own life by taking a picture with the “He is Here” marker and using the #BecauseHeLives hashtag located at HeLives.Mormon.org

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The Restoration: Cups Style

For all you future sister missionaries…

If you’ve ever wanted a fun way to teach about the restoration of the Lord’s church on the earth, here it is: the “Cupstoration.” These sister missionaries didn’t only have perfect pitch, they taught a great lesson that the world needs to hear! :)

 

The Parable of the Stolen High Heels

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Once upon a time, there were twins girls who dreamed of the amazing pairs of shoes that they would wear to the Prom. After watching Cinderella and admiring the infamous glass slipper, they were sure that the perfect shoes could make a magical difference.

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They went to the mall together one day with the perfect shoes in mind and money in their purses. Deciding on a meeting time, they went their separate ways to find their perfect shoes.

The first girl started her search for her perfect Prom shoes at the first store she could find in the mall. There were stilettos and high heels, ballet flats and boots, but she couldn’t find anything like the glass slippers that she desired.

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After a few stores, she grew so frustrated and tired of trying on shoes and not finding what she wanted that she picked up a pair of light blue high heels and decided,

“Perhaps that perfect shoe isn’t out there. I guess that these will do.”

She turned the price tag over and gasped. It was WAY more than she was planning to spend. She would have to save her wages from her job for an entire month to pay for them.

“But why should I pay for them if I’m not even sure if I’m going to like them?” she started to ask herself. “What if I buy them and take them home and wear them for a few days, and I decide to take them back anyway? I would have wasted an entire month’s salary on them just to end up with nothing.”

She weighed the shoes in her hands as she weighed the thoughts in her mind.

“So…maybe I will take the shoes home and try them out. I can make sure that they’re comfy and that I like them and that they go with my Prom dress. Then, if they work out, I can come back after I saved up the money and pay for them then!”

She was pleased with herself and her reasoning. Her mother always did tell her that she was a smart shopper. She slid the shoes into her purse and walked out of the store…without paying for them.

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The second girl wisely made her way to the mall directory and decided on three shops that would be most likely to carry the shoes that she was looking for. She searched the stores high and low for the shoes she wanted and even asked the clerks if they had anything similar. They shook their heads, and she left the mall empty-handed.

But the second girl’s shopping wasn’t done. She headed home and to the computer, searching numerous stores online and even searching Amazon and eBay for those shoes that were in her head. She looked at reviews and researched the most comfy shoe. The whole while, she looked at her sister fawning over her shoes and wished that she could be as happy, but knew that she needed to take her time to find just the right shoes. Finally, after days of searching and with only a few days left before Prom, she found her shoes online! They were in her budget and would arrive in the mail just in time!

The night of Prom, the first girl ended up wearing the light blue satin high heels (although she was still disappointed that they weren’t the glass slipper look-alikes that she wanted—she liked her sister’s shoes much more) and had a decent time, but she realized that the shoes really didn’t make her happy as she had hoped.

During one of the dances, she accidentally slipped and scuffed the shoe on the floor, leaving a black mark smudged against its satin side. And then later her date spilled a cup of Sprite on her other shoe.
At the end of the night, she sighed as she slipped off her shoes and looked at the black scuff mark and sticky mess. She scoffed.

“Good thing I didn’t pay for these,” she said. “They’re ruined. Now they won’t do anyone any good.” She shoved them under her bed. It was probably best to forget that the whole thing ever happened. But for days and even years later, it was hard for her to ignore the fact that she had stolen shoes still hiding under her bed.

The second girl, on the other hand, was so happy with her glass-slipper-look-alike shoe purchase that she showed everyone at the dance the shoes that she had found, walked carefully so as not to scuff them, and even role-played losing one slipper to her date and posted a picture of it on her Instagram account (1000 likes!)

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 Photography by WGates Photography
Dress from Virtuous Prom


 

If a parable is “a symbolic story that teaches gospel truths by comparing them to earthly things,” what do you think that this parable represents and is trying to teach us?

The shoes =
Trying on shoes, researching, or looking online =
Stealing shoes =
Buying shoes=

Consider these questions:
Which girl was most happy with her purchase?
How did her shopping habits lead her to treat their shoes?
How did each of them feel after Prom?
How can it be dangerous to “settle”?

Use those gorgeous brains of yours and let me know what you think the story means in the comments below! It can have different meanings to different people! I will post the actual meaning in a few days, but I have a feeling that you will inspire me first! :)

Have your own parable that you’ve written? We want to read it! Send us your parables at submissions@cshinemagazine.com