Valentine’s Give-Away! *Enter now!*

Every year I have at least one give-away for my Lemmony readers and friends! But I have to admit that this one takes the cake and I’m SUPER excited about it.

Several months back I was asked to write about my favorite or most cherished temple experience (that I felt comfortable sharing) and include which temple meant the most to me. I’m honored to have been chosen to write for this book compiled and photographed by the amazing Scott Jarvie. It’s now a published work that is showcasing the temples that scatter the United States, giving readers a glimpse inside these beautiful walls through diverse stories, experiences, and testimonies.

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Because I love this book so much and Scott’s photographs are nothing short of stunning, I want to give a free copy ($60 value) to one of YOU as well as showcase YOUR favorite temple memory here on my blog. What better day to give away this book then Valentine’s Day, where we celebrate love and all those cozy feelings? 😉

All you have to do is submit your favorite temple memory to me in essay form, poem, song, *you name it*–and I’ll choose my very favorite, feature it on my blog, and send you your signed copy of “American Temples” by Scott Jarvie.

Submit your temple memory now to kayla.lemmon@ymail.com by February 12th.

I look forward to hearing from you and reading through all of the amazing testimonies.

The temple has changed my life. And I want to hear how it’s changed yours too.

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Why I chose to be a Latter-day Saint: And not a Mormon

I still remember the smell of the chapel as I sat down five years ago.

It was a scent l I hadn’t smelled before–a scent that I’ve since gotten used to. The walls were bare except for some paintings of Christ and people I didn’t recognize and I wondered briefly where the crosses were. I remember touching the broken spine of a hymnal and only recognizing one or two hymns inside.

It was different. Somewhat strange. It was my first time in an LDS chapel and I had just turned 19.

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But I like looking back at that day. It was that day–before I even read the Book of Mormon–that I chose to be a Latter-day Saint. Already coming from a Christian background, I had done my time and served my sentence of confusion and wondering where the pieces fit. It was that day that I had my first realization that the missionaries seem to glow…for lack of a better term. It was that day that I realized how exciting the stories are in the Book of Mormon. And better yet–how they speak truth. It was that day–in mid summer–that I heard the first hymns I’d ever hear and my eyes filled with tears at “Lord I would follow thee”.

And I often go back to that day to remind myself that THAT is who I chose to be. A Latter-day Saint.

Not a Mormon.

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I know the terms are interchangeable, and I often use the term Mormon, just like you probably do. There’s no harm in that and I’m not splitting hairs. But for the purpose of my story I would venture to say that those two terms mean totally separate things. From being in the church only 5 years, I already would bet my life on it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in being Mormon. Even for me. And that’s because we all start as Latter-day Saints and then get plunged into a culture that demands so much. Pinterest-inspired Relief Society invites, canning activities, the details behind missionary preparation *and God forbid, any hesitancy to go*, The Princess Bride, John Bytheway, short engagements, Stake dances, *and my personal favorite* “So when are you going to have a baby?” after a month of marriage.

I’m not saying all of the culture is bad, because it isn’t. But when you are more immersed in the culture than in the foundation of the church itself–the very reason I stepped into the baptismal font and cried at “Lord I would follow thee”–that’s when you become Mormons instead. That’s when you become a member of a club rather than a disciple of a master.

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And that bothers me.

It bothers me because I still retrace my steps five summers ago into the chapel for the first time and I still remember opening the Book of Mormon and seeing Alma at the top of the page for the first time. I still remember how it felt to learn about forever families— and to not just vainly repeat, “Families are forever” or nail a pretty sign that says the same thing above a door frame. I remember how it felt to really let the message sink in and to cry into my hands when I realized, without a doubt, I’d see my uncle again who died just a month before I learned about the church.

I remember how it felt to say for the first time, “This church is true” and to not be able to go on with what I had to say because it overwhelmed me how true the statement was–and how it changed my life. It wasn’t repetition. I didn’t say it to fill time or to keep up with the standard. My heart just knew it.

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It bothers me that so many of us have forgotten who we really are because we’ve exchanged it all for a lifestyle made out of old habits. There are those who stray from the culture–the women who work two jobs outside of the home and the single dad; the young man who decides to wait a couple years to serve a mission; the young woman who celebrates 30 years old without a ring on her finger; the couple who can’t have kids; the wonderful stay-at-home mom who is so over-exerted she sees a psychologist every week; the kid with autism who doesn’t fit in. There are thousands–maybe millions–of Latter-day Saints who are forced out of a gospel they fit into because a culture whispers to them that they do not.

And that has to stop. We need to regain footing of who we are and the beautiful gift we’ve been given.

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When I chose to be a Latter-day Saint I chose that “I would follow, thee”. I chose that I’d spend my whole life telling people about the book that changed my life in a week.  I decided that I’d dress modestly not because everyone is forced to out of tradition, but because I represent Him. Five years ago I learned that the prophets from long ago told the truth and their sacrifices made way for me to find out about the good news–and I can’t forget that. It was my decision to leave it all behind–old beliefs, friends who no longer wanted to associate with me, comfortable familiar church buildings, and songs I learned as a toddler–for an unfamiliar gospel that I somehow KNEW was true. And nothing convinced me of it other than Him. Not culture, not tradition, not anything else.

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Our culture has lots of good, don’t get me wrong. And if we remember why we do some of the things we do the spirit will come back to it. But don’t let it make you forget. Don’t let it deter a soul who has just heard “Lord I would follow thee” and doesn’t know yet that families are forever.

Choose to be a disciple. Choose to be a saint.

Everything else is meaningless.

8ways2: Be a missionary without realizing it

There are so many ways to be a missionary. This blog sums it up nicely, I think.

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Sweat dripped down my temples as I walked under the blazing African sun, 10,000 miles away from home.  I reached into my back pocket, grabbed my handkerchief and patted my forehead dry.  Elder Mohale and I guessed the temperature as we walked to our next appointment. The humidity and heat was all worth it because we were on our way to help a man with his smoking addiction.

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This is missionary work that goes hand in hand with a name badge and two years away from home.  But the type I’d like to talk about is the missionary work you can do right now. Every single day.

Here’s 8 ways to be a missionary without even realizing it.

1. Be a good friend

The other day I was talking to a friend from a different church.  I’ve known him for a couple months and had never asked about his religious beliefs.  I felt the time was right and asked him about his faith.  I showed…

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Everything I didn’t gain on my Mormon mission: A word from Mr. Lemmon

I found this sitting in my e-mail today. I thought it was too good not to share.
It’s a short but sweet truth from Mr. Lemmon himself.

 

I’m sitting here filthy sick, and I have been for 6 days now. Coughing has become as involuntary as breathing and it’s made me contemplate. Sometimes I wonder what the benefit of getting sick is. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s to humble me, to get me back on track. I’ve found myself thinking the most about what I’ve gained from my mission and what I didn’t gain. I’ve realized that what I haven’t gained seems the most important in the long haul.
1. I didn’t gain constant Health.
From 2008 to 2010 I served in multiple townships and cities in South Africa and Swaziland (ever heard of it?) I got tick bite fever, I got struck by the flu at least a few times, and I tore 2 ligaments in my right knee which threatened my early return. Contrary to popular belief we’re not protected by a constant bubble of safety, but subject to the dangers of the world. It’s how we react to the adversity and how we find joy through physical, mental, or emotional pains that ultimately shapes us.
2. I didn’t gain a testimony. Now let me explain before you judge. I didn’t gain a testimony of the gospel out on the mission field. I gained my testimony from 19 years of preparation. From primary, to Sunday school, to serving in the priesthood, reading the scriptures with family, going to seminary faithfully and standing up for what I believe in on countless occasions. Testimonies grow on missions, of course, but how much more effective would a teacher be if fully prepared? Would a soldier go into battle without the necessary weaponry and tools?

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3. I didn’t gain any glory. Before I went on this great adventure I imagined myself as a powerful spiritual warrior who would convince anyone and everything that Jesus is the Christ and I would return home with praise and applause. How selfish and ignorant was that initial thought? All of the glory goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this is His work and I am His servant. I love this scripture:
I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
-Alma 29:9

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4. I didn’t gain anything

That’s the point, really. Serving as a missionary is meant to be a selfless endeavor. It’s meant to be the time in life where everything that’s given isn’t expected back in the least. You’re God’s hands for two years–tirelessly working, serving, and expecting nothing.
Let me assure you, serving a mission was the most productive and truly joyful 2 years of my life and I encourage all worthy to go.
If it is not an option for you I encourage you to serve in other ways.

Be selfless.

Stop thinking about yourself.

And in turn, you will gain more than you can imagine.

 

 

To read more from Mr. Lemmon visit  –> the8ways2.com

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You won’t save a single soul: The truth about missionary work

I got a message just the other day from a dear friend of mine who is currently serving a church mission.

She’s a wonderful missionary, I can tell. I knew she would be. But as I was reading the note that she left in my inbox, I could also tell her heart was breaking. She asked for my advice–telling me that those she’s teaching aren’t following through or keeping commitments. In essence, the people she’s on her knees for every night aren’t seeming to latch on to the only reason she’s out there.

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“What did your first missionaries do that helped you when you were learning about the gospel–and when did you know it was true?” she asked me. I could almost hear the desperation in her voice. And that’s because her heart is filled with love.

No matter what religion you are, no matter what culture–you’ve most likely been there. You want to save a suffering soul. You want to push them to God or whatever it is that you believe in with all your heart and open their eyes and celebrate the fact that they accepted the same Savior that accepted you long ago.

I struggled writing back to my friend because the answer didn’t seem nice. But it was true. “Sister,” I wrote, “You won’t save a single soul.”

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With those words, it all came back to me. Memories I haven’t even thought about in years, rushing into focus.

It was 2008. It was around midnight and I had class in the morning. My family had been asleep for a few hours, but there I was in the quiet of my bedroom, scriptures open, tears drip-dropping on the open pages. The missionaries had left hours before, the buzz of conversation and lessons and questions had died. It was just me, the Word of God, and a prayer in my heart that I’d know what’s right. That without anyone else around me, I would know for a fact. And sure enough, with a Heavenly hug that brought peace and with tears that wouldn’t stop, the answer was whispered to my heart. Just like that. The spirit brought me truth. Christ saved my soul.

There are times, just like with my sweet missionary friend, that I forget about that night. I sometimes forget that my missionaries, my friends even, were merely the ones who urged me to look for truth. They were the ones set apart to supply me with the “textbook” in a manner of speaking that I’d have to crack open myself. They were the ones who brought the calm, sweet spirit that would linger long after they left my home–the same spirit that would remind me that this is MY journey. My time to come to the Savior and learn. They were the ones to hand over the compass and remind me of which direction I’d find my destination. They were my examples.

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All too often I see people from all religions fight to win souls. I see comments under pictures or videos that say things like, “Read the Bible! I urge you to know Jesus while you have time!” or “Well, so and so, that kind of thinking isn’t what Jesus would do. Read this verse, this verse, and this verse and repent.”

And it goes on and on and on. Even outside of online interaction, some of the most heated arguments, even within families, are wrestling matches over souls. Most of the time it’s not because of the need to “be right”. It’s because everyone feels the weight of responsibility to show others the way. And that’s a noble desire, but it’s not exactly how it works.

You’re called to simply open the door. To hold the hand of the one who is blindfolded and be the voice they can trust. Elder Holland, a leader in my church, once said: “With all that there is to do along the path to eternal life, we need a lot more missionaries opening that gate and helping people through it.”

Every day I am converted to truth. I’m converted when people from my church visit hospital rooms, make dinners for a sick member, or crochet socks for a new baby. I’m converted when a friend from work offers a hug because they just “feel” like I needed it. I’m converted when I open my scriptures to a verse I’ve read a million times but it suddenly teaches me something completely different. I’m converted when I see young missionaries trek through the rain with their heads down, stopping nonetheless to talk to the woman sitting alone on a bus stop bench. The spirit–shining through people, through words, through average every day things–is the only one that converts.

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That’s why missions are served– So beacons of light can fill the world. That’s why we’re responsible to be good friends– so at any moment, God can say what he needs to say through us.

Sister, Brother, Elder–whoever you may be. It’s easy to get frustrated or hurt or sad when your message isn’t received. I know it is. But you’re called to open the door. You’re called to be an example of faith. No matter who you are, live what you believe and turn your face toward the direction others should walk. You’re called to be on your knees in the dark of night for God’s children and then arise and stand tall for God’s children to see and look up to.

I know there were prayers for me that night when the spirit whispered truth to me. I know there were missionaries staring at a dark ceiling, asking God to help me know. I know that there were spiritual warriors who influenced my heart in ways I can’t even remember now.

And I know that none of them saved my soul that night when the world was asleep. But they were there all along to quietly remind me who can.

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