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The Winner Is?

I play the lottery.

I never really thought it was a big deal either. I mean, I understand that I’m not supposed to gamble. I don’t go to the local riverboat casinos. Mostly because I don’t like the way they make me feel. They are dark, and smell of smoke. I don’t understand the rules of Blackjack or how to ‘play the tables’ so I have never seen the allure of the Casinos.

I never really thought that playing the Lottery was gambling. Everyone does it.  It's so common place. Every Saturday night, they pick the numbers for the various tickets—LIVE on TV. It’s always been a part of my life and my TV viewing from the time I was young.

My parents always played the Lottery. I grew up with all of us surrounding the TV on Saturday nights, crossing our fingers and toes hoping that we would win the Lottery and be “delivered from our sad fallen state”. My parents are good, but we attended church sporadically. I offer that not as an excuse for what we did, just way of explanation.

Anyway, I have continued in the Lottery playing. For the last twenty years, I have faithfully played the Lottery and I have never, not even once, won. Every week I hold my breath as the balls pop up, hoping beyond all hope that this week – THIS WEEK—will be the week that we finally catch a break.

And every week I miss it by {thismuch}.

As I started studying the Restored Gospel, I realized that the things I was doing went against the teachings of the church. I want to be good. I want to be righteous. But, the lure of the Lottery is strong.

If I could just win one game, my financial problems could be fixed. Or so I thought.

My Bishop had me add up the amount of money that I have spent just over the last ten years. I didn’t think it was that much money—but $5,200 spent foolishly on the hope that I “would win big” was shocking to me.

Five-thousand and Two-hundred dollars essentially flushed down the toilet.

$5,200 would have helped put the new roof on our home. $5,200 would have helped us pay off our credit cards. $5,200 would have paid the deductible for when my son was in his car accident. $5,200 is a lot of money when you don’t make that much money to begin with.

I like to go to the gas station every day to get my $.79 diet coke. It is about the only indulgence that I allow myself. And, every day the gas station attendant that knows my name asks me if I want a Pick 3 or a Powerball.

Every day they ask and every day I struggle to tell them "No". Some days I win and some days the Lotto wins. But, I’m trying my hardest to be better and isn’t that really why we are all here on earth? We are here to learn how to use the Atonement more personally in our lives.

How grateful I am that The Lord will be my personal advocate with the Father. I need Him. I love Him.

I have a problem playing the Lottery and I pray that someday I will be able to walk into the gas station and not hear it calling my name. And, when that happens I really will be the winner. Until then, "I will Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding. I will acknowledge him in all things and he will direct my path for good."

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