Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Feels




I love this one! We held his hand the whole time in the NICU and now our beds are right next door and we looked over and his hand was outstretched towards us.


Luke has been home now just over one week. I have developed a constant rock and find myself swaying back and forth even when not holding him. The late night feedings and the earliest mornings of my life haven't been the overwhelming struggle I imagined, but have been small sacred moments with my boy full of purpose.

Becoming a mom has showed me my own personal strength and power (beyond my own). Also, the capacity we have as humans to love and bigger glimpse of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. 

Every day since having Luke, I have felt immense gratitude to the women, leaders, sisters, aunts and friends of mine who have taught me what it means to be a mom. I have such a stronger love for my own mom and gratitude even though we are so far away.  I cant wait to see her in June and give her the biggest hug! <3

We love our little Luke and so grateful for my little buddy to explore this crazy city of Tokyo together and life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Member Mission Plan Talk

Member Mission Plan: Everyday things, everyone can do to share the gospel
By: Riley Stevenson /May 6, 2017 / Stake Conference 

A few days ago, I found myself sitting in the neonatal intensive care unit just after midnight. I was gazing at my new baby boy who was only a couple hours old. I had just seen my sweet wife go through the hardest thing I have ever seen anyone go. And now I was watching my little boy hooked up to monitors, respirators and tubes laying in a small little plastic incubator box.

My emotions were spent and my body exhausted. I was scared for my boy and wanted him strong. As stress, fear and anxiety filled my mind I then began to look around me. I was surrounded by other tiny, newly born babies. By nurses who carried themselves with a quiet, peaceful confidence tending to the babies. As observed this tender state, my heart began to fill with love and with a peace that things would be alright. I knew that these were all Heavenly Father’s children and that he loved them and never lets them out of his sight. As I looked around at my son and the other babies, I got a glimpse of how God sees them. For a moment I really felt how, like it says in the scriptures, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”. I truly was in a sacred place that night.


Please forgive me for sharing personal information our little boy is progressing everyday now and will hope to be out soon.  The love that I felt that night in the NICU has lead me to speak just that, love. The theme which I’ve been given to speak on is “Member Mission Plan: Everyday things, everyone can do to share the gospel”. I believe in order to talk about sharing the gospel we need to address the “why” of sharing the gospel before we address the how. To me, it’s the root of the subject and the ways we share are just the branches.

The Savior has commanded  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” The Savior also teaches, “If ye love, keep my commandments.”

So we have been given the commandment to share the gospel, and if we love the Savior, then we will keep his commandments.

I’d like to spend a few minutes speaking on how we can foster and grow that love for the people around us.

Elder Renlund says,
“I now realize that in the Church, to effectively serve others we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul. Only then can we sense the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Only then can we sense the Savior’s caring concern for them. We cannot completely fulfill our covenant obligation to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort unless we see them through God’s eyes.3 This expanded perspective will open our hearts to the disappointments, fears, and heartaches of others. Only when we see through Heavenly Father’s eyes can we be filled with “the pure love of Christ.”

I believe that when we see others as Christ sees, them, as we feel and know that the worth of their soul is great, then our desire to share the gospel will increase.  As we earnestly pray to see others as God sees them, God will answer that prayer in simple, quiet ways through experiences we have, or people we meet. But I believe that a lot of God’s teaching and enlightening is done in simple, quiet ways.

It is when we are turned inward, that we miss a lot what God is trying to teach. It is when we turn outward to serve other people that we put ourselves in position to be taught and then can see others how God sees them. We will never feel a deep love for the people around when we are consumed with ourselves.

Love is the underlying principle and reason behind what we do. So if our desire and willingness to share the gospel is not there or is lacking, I suggest we turn back to most powerful emotion that we humans feel, love. Pray to feel love. Sincerely desire to see the good in others around us. It is only when our thoughts and feelings change, will our actions change. As we feel God’s love for others we will want to help them and give them the blessings of the gospel. As we go about our everyday lives, there are simple everyday ways that we can share the gospel. I will not share a long list of activites and ideas but just a few ways that can help see how sharing the gospel everyday can be simple.

I would like to clarify that simple, does not necessarily mean easy. Simple can be hard and sharing the gospel can be hard. Someone I looked up to once said, “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone”.

Meaning, if you expect to feel completely comfortable and at ease sharing the gospel with our friends, I don’t think we will all the time. I think at times it will be a little uncomfortable at first and that is okay. I think it is meant to be that way. That is how grow. We will never grow to be the people that heavenly father wants us to be by never taking a step outside of our comfort zone. And when we do, that step of faith is usually rewarded.

We read in the Doctrine and Covenants in section 88:84:

 “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

I’d like to share a personal story on how taking a step outside the comfort zone has lead to personal growth and an experience that has helped my testimony of sharing the gospel.

Tell the "Prayer Story"

It is through taking that first, usually uncomfortable step that we gain confidence to continue down the road of being missionaries for our Savior. I propose that we can view sharing the gospel everyday in a new light when we view sharing the gospel as not something we say but something we do.

Sharing the gospel is not always sharing the first the discussion to the person at work or at school. But when we show non members what we do, they are more likely to feel the spirit in a comfortable, non threatening setting.

Let me share just a few simple examples of sharing the gospel with others by showing them what we do:
Inviting a friend over to an FHE. Where there is a brief spiritual message, a fun family game or activity and some dessert at the end. This is a comfortable environment where are friends can see the family unit in action.

It can be as simple as inviting a friend to a church basketball event, or any other mutual or ward activity. And it can be as simple as just briefly telling them what we do in our church building on Sundays.

Or it can just be having a goal of have a non member friend in our home for dinner once a month. And I know from my experience with my manager, that something as small as the blessing over the food, will cause them to feel something different.

When we can get are friends around our families, in our homes, or around other church members or in our church building for whatever type of activity it may be, they will start to feel the spirit and will eventually want to know more.

So in summary:
-       Love is at the root of sharing the gospel. When we see other people as God sees them, and realize that the worth of every soul is great, our desire to share the gospel will increase. Pray for that desire.
-       Sharing the gospel can be simple. But remember, simple does not always mean easy. For “there is no growth in the comfort zone and there is no comfort in the growth zone”. We grow when we take the first, often times uncomfortable step.
-       Sharing the gospel can more natural when we realize that it is not so much what we say, but what we do. Getting around friends in comfortable environments where they see the blessings of the gospel in action, will create a setting for them to feel the spirit.

I will close with this quote from Elder Russell M Ballard:

“The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power to bring deep and abiding happiness to the human soul—something that will be valued and cherished for the rest of time and for all eternity. We are not just trying to get people to join our Church; we are sharing with them the fulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But as powerful as our message is, it cannot be imposed or forced upon people. It can only be shared—heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit—by being good neighbors and by caring and showing love. We need to be watchful for one another and reach out to one another. And as we do so, we will radiate the gospel in our own lives, and it will radiate to the people the blessings the gospel has to offer.”

I add my testimony to Elder Ballard’s that this gospel has the power to change lives forever. People want the lasting happiness that the gospel provides.….

I know that we are all on different places on the road of discipleship and I pray that we will all have the courage to take the next step, how ever small or seemingly insignificant that step may be, it is a step in the right direction as we look to be more like the Savior.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017


May 14, 2017: Mother's Day
Luke's first full day home just happened to be on Mother's Day!
Best gift I could ever ask for. So grateful to have this sweet healthy boy home and in my arms finally. We are still getting the hang of each other... but excited for this new chapter of momhood. 







NICU Graduation


May 13, 2017: After almost 2 weeks, Luke graduated from the NICU! It was a long couple weeks, with lots of anticipation and emotions. We are happy to report Luke is very healthy and breathing on his own and eating and sleeping and pooping (all the baby essentials). He has some kidney issues, but should resolve on there own within the first couple years of his life and will be monitored every three months. 

Here are some pictures of his last moments in the NICU and Taxi ride home! It was really a sacred place at the NICU. We really felt watched over and loved. We are grateful for the nurses and doctors at Aiiku Hospital. We are so happy he is home just in time for Mother's Day! 

(Not the best picture of Luke, but check out his PEACE SIGN. . . so asian already!)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Luke Garner Stevenson

On May 2nd, 2017 we welcomed
Luke Garner Stevenson into the world! 
Our little Ohana went from two to three. 
We are so in love with him!



Luke was born during "Golden Week" in Tokyo, Japan. 
Weighing 8 pounds and 21 inches long. 
He was born with a mullet and his dad's finger toes.
He is one week old now, and still in the NICU but is a champ and will be out soon! 
(He is still figuring out the breathing thing but making good recovery). 


We spend every moment we can next to his incubator and think about him all day long.
We cant wait to take this little man home.
We are so excited to be his parents and feel so blessed. 

"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."
































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