Monday, September 14, 2015

A Beginning

Wow.  It has been a while.  I am grateful to write again and under such different circumstances.  I have seen much over the last seven years of my life.  I have been brought to the lowest of lows and then brought even lower. 

It started with the loss of my sweet, gorgeous, perfect 7 lbs 6 oz baby girl in labor.  What commenced from that was a journey of heartbreak and a long road of grief balanced with sweet tender mercies and precious memories.  A little over a year later a different heartbreak surfaced.  While pregnant again my husband at that the time was forced to leave the home and he never came back.  The journey that ensued from this experience has reached far beyond any pain scale that has been calculated. 

Dark days and even darker nights enshrouded around me as I fought desperately to cling to the light of what was promised from earthly and heavenly blessings. I found myself struggling to go to church and was confused as to why people who used to talk to me longer did.  I wondered why fingers were being wagged angrily in front of my broken hearted and traumatized children's faces instead of having arms wrapped around them in love.  I ached to have a man by my side when talks were given about marriage and the roles of Mother and Father when I was now to serve both.  I cried when I saw my children cry on Father's Day when they bravely stood before the congregation and sang "I'm so glad when Daddy come home..." 

I hoped every Sunday with six children in tow that THIS would be the day that I would not come home in tears.  I wanted church to be the place where I felt uplifted, strengthened, ready for my week.  I would instead come home drained, judged, and again confused.  Why did I feel this way in a place that should be the complete opposite?  I remember a particularly hard Sunday I was determined to only come to the first hour of church from then on.  My children were struggling too much and it hurt too much to see them go through more pain.  I prayed to my Father to let him know that I just could not do it any longer.  The very same day I received this email. 

As I listened to Ammon and Tyler bear their testimonies on Sunday, it is obvious that they have been well-taught.  Their testimonies are sincere and deal with feelings that mean a lot to them.  They are thoughtful about what they say.  I'm sure it's gratifying to you.

It will be neat to see Ammon passing the sacrament, won't it?

I'm grateful that my family is surrounded by other families who work to make sure their children know and love the Gospel.  We live in a great ward!

Thank you!  You are awesome!
Coincidence, I think not.  I trudged forward One.  Foot.  In Front. Of. The. Other.  I walked passed every Sunday the picture of a woman holding her baby in her arms with a wagon devoid of men behind her walking to what must have been an unreachable goal.  I took courage from her.  I also began to look at my circumstance differently regarding my attendance in church.  Where I had blinders on before I now tried to view my position with different glasses. 

Those who worked with my children did love them, but the kids needed a different love.  They needed mine.  Once they realized that they could have my love at any time DURING church they became a different animal. They no longer pushed so hard against their teachers. 

There were ANGELS in my midst in my ward.  There were many who knew nothing of the situation that would purposely sit on/by my row to lend a hand. (Why they would do that and not be able to listen is beyond me... :) )  There were those who would constantly answer their phone when they saw it was me on the caller id and would know why I was calling... I needed help again... And they would help... Again...

For all the tears of bitterness I cried for the perceived judgement I FELT were overwhelmingly counterbalanced by those people who selflessly gave time and time again of their time, resources, and love to the sometimes unlovable state of me and my children. 

This all culminated in a section in the "Daughters of My Kingdom" book when President Monson said,

Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.
It then dawned on me, I do not have the corner on the market for pain or hardship.  The very people that I felt were being judgmental could be the very people that I needed to help.   So I tried it out.  Putting my pride behind me I served.  I served everyone even those that I THOUGHT were judging me.  Whether they had judged or whether they hadn't it no longer mattered to me.  They were fighting a battle that no one knew about so maybe I could lend a hand too.  It not only changed my perspective but I also gained deeper friendships with people that I wouldn't have if I hadn't have reached outside of my comfort circle. 

The tears on Sunday grew less and less and true happiness began to grow in its stead.  I learned that the greatest need my children had was to have ME in their corner.  I decided to start living life not reliant on anyone else for providing stability or means for my happiness.  The new lenses provided a means for escape out the darkness that held me bound. Light began to permeate and trickle through my surroundings like the sun through new budding leaves. 

This drop in the bucket experience provided a critical foundation that was needed to help me keep my head above water.  That foundation is this.  Life is hard.  Life will be hard, not only on me but all of my "fellow travelers" along my journey in life.  As I choose to look outside of my situation and serve I become happy.  Perspective comes into view and I realize that my journey brings growth if I allow it to come.  I am grateful for a living prophet that provided words when I needed to hear them.  I am grateful for change that allows me to become who I am supposed to be.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Brushstrokes


It's been a little rough here lately.  Things that used to come easy are taking more effort.  Things that were hard may even be a little harder.  On the other hand, I see change and growth occurring that one might even call it miraculous.

One thing that has been a little difficult lately has been family scripture study.  We had been doing really well for quite some time.  We had fun, we learned a lot, and had some great discussions... And before you think that this was most of the time, it would probably be more the exception not the rule but we were consistent.  I absolutely love David Bednar's talk "More Dilligent and Concerned at Home" when he said,
Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.
It made me realize that if an apostle of the Lord had experienced the same thing that is a daily occurrence in my home, than I must be doing something right! I have been worried however at the lack of response and even interest that was being given so that I began to have study less and less.  And then more contention began happening.  Of course I did not correlate the two until I was fed up and was driven to my knees to ask what I might do to bring unity back into the home.  The answer?  You guessed it.  It came in many ways actually.

First, a single thought.  Read scriptures together daily.

Second, a reminder of President Hinckley's promise.
"I promise you that if each of you will [read the Book of Mormon], regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
Third, from the same talk from David Bednar (not realizing it was the same talk!) the thought of brushstrokes.  When looking at a painted field of wheat when looking at the whole field of wheat, one may not realize the time spent in creating that field.  When zoomed in and closely inspecting the field, one begins to realize that each strand of wheat needed to be painted.  That is a lot of brush strokes!

So, armed with new resolution, I would hold scripture study.  Things did not go well, friends.  Not well at all, I am afraid.  Sure, there were good moments, but often my patience was worn so thin that wouldn't even be able to get through a few verses before I had to be done for the night.  How was I to receive the promised blessings if this were to be the state of our studying?!  I would then repeat the mantra, "Brushstrokes.  Brushstrokes."

I continued on determined.  We still weren't as regular as I would have hoped but we were better.  I thought of a message by another modern day apostle of the Lord Russell M. Nelson.
 "Don't demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement.  As you let the Lord help you through that, he will make up the difference."
Okay.  I can do improvement.  I asked around for ideas that might be able to spruce up our reading together.  I realized that I had a family full of readers now!  Minus the youngest, I now had the majority of my kids able to read even if painstakingly slow!  It was time to change my game plan. 

One of the ideas that settled in the quickest was to start reading with a bowl of candy.  I would then start of the reading and then randomly call a name to continue the reading.  If the reader could pick up right where the other left off, they would get a piece of candy. 

In all honesty, I was told this idea a while ago... Haven't quite implemented it until today.  And all because of some prickings I received at our Stake Conference today. A meeting that I was determined not to go to because frankly, sitting in one spot for two hours, by myself with 6 children, is pretty much torture on my patience.  I went anyway.  

I went because I needed a little bit of heaven's help and I couldn't as well ask for it if I wasn't willing to follow His commandments.  And you know what?  It went great.  It really did. And above that, I was reminded of the blessings that come when I leave my nets and follow the Savior and go where He wants me to go.  I was reminded of the blessings that come when I read scriptures together.  Tonight became the night that the candy came out.  

A little bit of a side story...

Sometimes I have a tough nut to crack in my little family.  Often times, he is the one that doesn't quite make it into the family circle for prayer because he has some things he is struggling with.  I will take what I can get and will by no means force him to do anything that he does not want to in regards to these things.  Of course I long to have him with us, but I believe in agency!  

Tonight he was excited to start this new reading strategy and eagerly pulled out his scriptures.  He followed right along and participated.  I also need to add that the WHOLE experience was NIGHT AND DAY better than we have had in a very long time.  We made it through a whole chapter my friends.  Remember me mentioning miracles?!?  

After, we held our traditional family prayer.  I asked my son to offer it.  He did so, and as he was praying, this sweet young man who often has a tough exterior broke down in tears as he expressed his gratitude for the many things that has been given not only to him but to his family.  I don't think I have ever heard such a heartfelt prayer from his lips in a very long time.  The Spirit was there as he continued to speak.  I felt confirmed in this one experience President Hinckley's promise that was quoted before an added measure of love that can only come from the Spirit.  

I am grateful for a loving Father that is patient with his imperfect children.  I am grateful for the many witnesses that lead me to an answer and then the validation when experiences happen through other sources.  

I know the Master Artist who knows my beginning and the end and views my finished painting on a daily basis, appreciates when I lend my own brushstrokes to His plan.  I feel His hand leading mine as I paint Each and Every Brushstroke.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Walk as the Master Walks...

Editor's Note:  For whatever reason, blogger is not letting me have the format I want with the paragraphs, size, etc.  I cannot figure out how to fix it.  I apologize for the schizophrenic sizing, etc!)
 
Tonight I was lying on the living room floor.  Staring at the ceiling and it's shadows from the light with burned out light bulbs.  One solitary light shined.

  I was reflecting on my day and the many things that are on my mind.  My thoughts were swirling together, bleeding one problem to the next.  My mind caught hold upon the personal goal that I had set for myself a few days ago, to walk as the Master walks as challenged by an apostle of the Lord:
“Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”

My  goal is to go through my day and approach each person, problem, or situation how the Savior would.  I asked myself, how my walk was today.  I tried to walk through my day and the string of events.  Nothing stood out as significant.  And then, little thoughts would come into my mind.  Little small, perhaps insignificant details, began to shine. 

I am realizing that the Savior didn't go about with busy to do lists.  Boxes to check off.  He had a mission, there is no doubt about that, but He seemed to be content with the small acts of kindness and even miracle that he encountered throughout his day.  Allowing his environment, wherever he may be to guide his actions.  Take the man he found on the road to Jericho.

    And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartim├Žus, the son of Tim├Žus, sat by the highway side begging.
  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
  And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the ablind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
To Jesus, this didn't seem to take to much from him.  Maybe but a few minutes out of his day.  But what that man received will never be forgotten.  I have been the recipient of many, many, MANY small but significant acts of service from those who took a few minutes out of their day.  That was no small thing for me.
This scripture passage tugs at my heart strings for many reasons.  1 I am blind.  I get blinded by my own will and pride.  When called out on it, I feel a deep desire to plead the Lord for mercy.  And it seems, that this man, had to beg and "[cry] the more a great deal".  Sometimes it might take a while for my pleas of mercy to be heard.  Be patient.  2. The man first received the invitation to Be of good comfort.  I cannot expect the Savior to help me if I am not going to allow myself his peace! He THEN could cast off his garment, rise, and go to Jesus. BUT. He. Could. Not. See.  He had to step into the proverbial darkness and step toward the Savior in order to be healed.  I, like most, like to know where I am headed.  When I don't know, I feel lost and even in darkness.  When I cast off everything and seek Him, I am able to approach the throne of grace with full humility, ready to accept what he has to offer.  3.  Jesus knew for what the blind man came for. But asked him the question anyway.  "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?"  That question is the same for me.  What would I have the Savior do unto me?  My answer is the same as the blind man's.  That I might receive my sight.  That I might see others around me who have a need to fill.  That I might see when one of my children just needs a hug.  That I might see my weaknesses and be humble enough to change.  That I might see myself as He sees me so that I don't sell myself short.  That I might truly see with eyes that see and hear with ears that hear.  4. I would imagine that if one were to get to the point of getting sight where there was once blindness there would be an instant heartfelt gratitude for the new perspective and an immense love for the Savior to be able to heal in such a way.  I have many times been on the receiving end of seeing things in a new light.  It is a humbling and a thrilling experience.  For at that moment in time, I saw that my faith was sufficient.  I was made whole.  He immediately received sight, and then followed Jesus in his way.  THAT is the part that I must remember.  It is not enough to live off a few experiences and expect that my sight will always be there.  It is not enough to expect constant revelation to flow without the constant checks and balances against the obedience that I am showing to his commandments.

There are always things in my life that need correcting.  Just as contact lenses or glasses help to bring vision into better clarity, I am the process of doing a deep cleansing of my own lenses.  I was struggling to know how to do that in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord.  From the counsel of Holland, I was reminded that as I walk as the Master walks.  When I do as he does, I find that it is on that journey that clarity comes.  From the small acts of kindness that are all around me, perspective comes into view and I can see just how powerful walking in His way can be. THEN as Holland says, He "will give you answers to your prayers. [He] will give you rest to your souls.”

I will "Let [my] light so shine before men, that they may see [my] good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  That is my goal.  To give the glory back to the Father who gives me everything so that I can see a little more clearly on my way, have answers to my prayers and rest to my soul.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Storm

Last  night I traveled through some pretty crazy weather.  I was on unfamiliar roads and the night was pitch dark except when illuminated by the bright lightening.  At many times I felt a sense of panic as I could not see through the covered windshield where my wipers were not good enough on their fastest settings.  The sense of responsibility of carrying my precious cargo weighed heavy upon my ability to handle this storm we found ourselves in. 

As I navigated the streets and highways to get to my final destination I could not help but parallel my journey to that of those in Lehi's dream.  I found myself in utter darkness clinging to the markers that were placed before. 

As I followed the cars and trucks in front of me, I thought of the chaos of water that got kicked up from the large semi's as they navigated their way through the water logged streets, spraying cars that dared to get close.  As I passed them I held on for dear life as the water became almost too much for me to handle as I couldn't see anything.  As soon as I passed these monsters of water, there was calm on the other side.  Many cars were lining up behind these trucks seeking safety only to be showered with even more water.  "Many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from [my] view, wandering in strange roads." (1 Nephi 8:32)

How many times do we get stuck with something that we can't get over?  Someone offended you, a point of doctrine, a trial that we don't want, sin and weakness... Are we drowning in the over spray without the desire to take that blind step forward where the water is most intense to find the peace on the other side?  

As I came off a major street and on to a highway I could scarcely see in front of me.  I could barely make out the massive signs that pointed which lane I should be in so that I would not get lost in unknown roads.  I found myself very grateful that the roads were familiar to me, that I had traveled here before.  As I made it onto the highway that would ultimately take me to my destination I felt determined to make it safely there and to do the best I could.  And then I realized the true danger I was in!  I could not rely on my abilities alone to weather through this storm.  There were so many things that were out of my control.  The severity of the weather, the ability of other drivers to journey safely, the road conditions... All these things were not in my control.  As I realized these things, I caught hold upon a few things.  One.  My Father in Heaven knows where I am.  He knows what I am facing and He will not leave me alone.  Two.  The Spirit has been my companion now for a long time.  He will warn me and guide me.  Three.  I have traveled these roads before.  It was familiar to me.  Four.  Although my whole body was tense with adrenaline, I felt peace.  Five.  Sometimes, you have to let go and trust.

Earlier in the day as I was preparing for this little trip I was prompted to get an extra set of contacts as I wear daily disposables.  Dismissing it as a silly thought and wondering if it were a true prompting, I did not heed the suggestion.  Shortly into my day, it became very apparent why I was prompted.  Both contacts had tears in them.  Throughout the day I dealt with the consequences of not listening.  It was uncomfortable, painful, and not pleasant.  The real problem was when my contacts clouded my vision with my already blurred windshield.  I again was reminded.  Listen and follow promptings no matter how small or silly it seems.  It was not a small thing when my family's safety was in jeopardy.

As I traveled these dark and misty roads I caught hold upon the promptings and feelings that were guiding me. I was listening and heeding as I sped up to pass the chaos trucks or slowed down because of the water on the roads.  As I continued "pressing forward and caught hold" upon the promptings and peace that I was feeling despite the treacherous conditions, I realized that I was going to be okay.  Whatever the outcome, I was being watched over.

I made it to our exit and gratefully navigated home.  As I tucked my children into bed, I was relieved that we had made it through an intense storm and I was safe inside a sheltered home.  As the storm still raged outside and pounded on the windows, I tasted of the fruit of knowing that I made it to the end.

Life will continue to pound upon me.  It is not a guess.  It is a promise.  Even as I weather, "Mighty winds, yea [the] shafts in the whirlwind, yea and when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon [me] it shall have no power over [me] to drag [me] down to the gulf of endless wo, because of the rock upon which [I] am built, which is a sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman. 5:12)

I will continue to do things that make following promptings and obeying familiar things like reading my scriptures and saying earnest prayer.  When the time comes to travel familiar roads but with a massive storm beating upon me, I will still be able to navigate through.  When I can't see, He can.  When I don't know what is up ahead, He does.

The fruit I tasted when I got home was delicious.  It was that of sleeping children, tucked safely into their beds.

Remembering

Anyone who knows me really well knows that I do not have a good memory.  I often called Dory from the movie “Finding Nemo”.  I can re-read a book and it could be brand new for me.  My kids find this trait of mine quite awesome and use it to their advantage…

I use a variety of techniques to help me remember.  I have a calendar on my phone and write all of my appointments in there.  I write things on sticky notes or make lists.  Sometimes objects help me remember like daisies, pinwheels, or music.  But those things for a different reason for remembering.
 
On April 25th 2008,nearly five years ago, I had the privilege of holding an angel.  She was perfect.  She was pure and she was silent.  While in labor, my sweet daughter passed away.  I don’t need a reminder on my phone to tell me to remember my Rebecca Phoebe.  I don’t need sticky notes on my computer or a list to write down.  She is forever etched into my heart.  The remembering that I do for her is much more  eternally deep place.  I will never forget her.

Every Sunday we as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have the privilege of renewing our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.  We are commanded to always remember or Savior Jesus Christ and in return we will always have His Spirit to be with us.  Is the Savior etched deep into our hearts?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “The sacramental prayers confirm that one of the central purposes of the sacrament as instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ is that we might “always remember him”.  Remembering the Savior obviously includes remembering his Atonement, which is symbolically represented by the bread and water as emblems of His suffering and death.  We must never forget what He did for us, for without His Atonement and Resurrection, life would have no meaning. With His Atonement and Resurrection, howver, our lives have eternal, divine possibilities.”   
 
We covenant to always remember our Savior and to keep His commandments and in return we will always have His Spirit to be with us.  Let’s talk about the opposite of remembering.  Let’s talk about forgetting our Father’s mighty hand.

In the Book of Mormon we are constantly reminded by Nephi’s faithfulness to the commandments that he and his family were given.  As some of his family were desirous to return back to the wicked Jerusalem Nephi said this, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us.. Yea and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do ALL THINGS according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him.  Wherefore, let us be faithful to him. “

I have noticed that it is pretty easy to go with the flow and not count blessings as much when life is going well and perhaps forget the daily blessings that are given to us.  What are you forgetting that the Lord has done for you?  It is easier for me to get through the trials of my life when I remember the small and simple things that I have been given and to remember that the Lord is involved in the details of our lives.  Even to the smallest of details.

Mosiah reminds us in Mosiah chapter 2 of the things that maybe we take for granted.  He said:  -I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning and is preserving you from day to day by lending you breath that ye may live and move and do according to your own will and even supporting you from one moment to another- I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.  AND BEHOLD ALL THE HE REQUIRES OF YOU IS TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS… for if ye do, he doth IMMEDIATELY BLESS YOU.
This verse hit me with a lot of force shortly after I lost my daughter.  Anyone who has lost someone dear to their hearts knows how precious even breathing can be.  Even living one more day.  There have been many times as I have been crumpled on my knees, too weary to carry my heavy load any longer and I choose consciously to keep his commandments more fully and I receive immediate blessings and peace spoken to my soul.  Remember His hand even in the small things.

I would like to shift from the forgetting the Lord in our lives to two other things where it may be hard to always remember him.  Those two things are afflictions and sins.  Sometimes you have afflictions because of your own choices and other times because the choices of others.  Either way, the Lord gives afflictions so that we may come back to Him. 

In 1 Nephi 17:41, it says:
“And he did straigten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straigtened them because of their iniquity.  He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.”

We all have fiery serpents in our lives that our scary and devastating.  We all have the simple antedote to the bites of life.  It is to look to the Savior and live.  The Lord saves the righteous! Then the righteous may forget.  He straightens them because he wants them back.  Sometimes the straightening is severe.  But the way back is simple.  Look and Live!  The Lord understands the human nature of cycles.  Be gentle and humble yourself when you see yourself straying.  There is power in faith and obedience. There is always peace and healing to be had after trial and sin.  All you have to do is look.
 In Jacob 3:1- But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.  LOOK unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause.

  “Look” has the imagery of turning away from what concerns you and turning to God with firmness and not getting distracted by the trial at hand.  When you do that He WILL console.  I have had experiences where I consciously chose to LOOK and was immediately blessed.  Remember to LOOK!

I love reading about Lehi’s son Jacob.  Even the preface of what Lehi gives him gives an indicator at how much more Jacob understands because of afflictions that he was born into.  1 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my afirstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
 2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine aafflictions for thy gain.
FOR IT MUST NEEDS BE AN OPPOSITION IN ALL THINGS.  If not so, my first-born in the wildernss, righteousness could not be brought to pass.. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness
If we didn’t have opposition, whether it comes in the form of sin or affliction, we could experience no happiness for we wouldn’t know the difference. 

In 3 Nephi chapter 27:14-15 it says “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
“And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works”

I firmly believe that we all have our own cross to bear.  Maybe it is illness, financial difficulties, wayward loved ones, loss of loved ones, being single, or the inability to have children.  The list can go on and on.  It has been in my own gethsemanes where I have learned the most.  Those times where you feel utterly alone and that no person can truly understand what you are going through.  Those times when you wish you could pass on that bitter cup.  I am coming to realize that when I passing through my intense sorrow and grief, heaven is never closer.  When I lift my eyes, mind and heart and remember Him you lifted himself on the cross for me, do I remember that he bore all things so that he may know how to succor me.  This is where the Sacrament promise to always remember him can come to my rescue because as I remember, I remember the hope that is the Savior.    

To those who are weary with trying to continue to provide the necessities of life remembering this scripture can bring the rest that you may need- Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Wherefore, do not spend money for that whish is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.  Hearken diligently unto me, and REMEMBER the words that I have spokem; and come unto the Holy One of Isreal, and FEAST upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness

As I carry my own cross through life, I am not alone as the Savior was. In the Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith experienced his own Gesthemane, we read of incredible words of strength and courage given to Joseph Smith.  Here is what the Lord said to Joseph in Section 122

5 If thou art called to pass through atribulation
 6 If thou art aaccused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to bprison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like cwolves for the blood of the lamb;
 7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the apit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the bdeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to chedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of dhell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee eexperience, and shall be for thy good.
 8 The aSon of Man hath bdescended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
All these experiences shall be for our good.  And the Savior experienced them all.  Most readings of this passage ends on the “Art thou greater than he” but the next sentence to me seals the deal. 
 9 Therefore, ahold on thy way!

Hold on thy way!  Keep putting that one foot in front of the other.  Hold fast to the teachings and commandments that are given to us.  Put your faith in the Master who knows the intimate corners of your heart.  Remember him!  Remember him that we may have joy.  Because after affliction comes joy.

Now for the how. 

Remember that scripture I read earlier about the fiery serpents.  Where those who were bitten just needed to look and live?  Our “how” is the same.  Very simple.  Very effective.

D. Todd Christofferson said:
We should first put in place the things that make it possible to always remember Him—frequent prayer and scripture study, thoughtful study of apostolic teachings, weekly preparation to partake of the sacrament worthily, Sunday worship, and recording and remembering what the Spirit and experience teach us about discipleship.

In short, to “always remember him” means that we do not live our lives in fear. We know that challenges, disappointments, and sorrows will come to each of us in different ways, but we also know that in the end, because of our divine Advocate, all things can be made to work together for our good.  It is the faith expressed so simply by President Gordon B. Hinckley  when he would say, “Things will work out.” 4 When we always remember the Savior, we can “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power,” confident that His power and love for us will see us through.
May we always remember Him—“that [we] may always have his spirit to be with [us]”   I bear my witness of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I bear witness of the reality of the living, resurrected Lord. I bear witness of the infinite and personal love of the Father and the Son for each of us, and I pray that we will live in constant remembrance of that love in all its expressions.” 
I love that phrase, “Things will work out.”  Keeping that in your head and the Savior in your heart, you cannot fail. 

My experience with my precious Phoebe is one that I would never trade.  The veil was so thin those few times that I was in her precense.  I had a taste of what heaven must be like even through my intense sadness and grief.  It is difficult traveling through this world without her.  It would be even more difficult without the atonement that was made to make it possible to see her again. 

As I always remember my savior I am able to see his mighty hand in my life even through some of life’s toughest challenges.  As I LOOK and LIVE I am healed from life’s stings.  As I remember and hold on my way, I am saved to be lifted up at the last day.  Just as the Savior was lifted up on the cross, I too will be lifted up because of his redeeming love. 

 I miss my daughter, but I don’t need a reminder to remember her.  As I remember my Savior I am carried through the afflictions of this life to grow and experience joy that I have never felt before.  I am not forgotten even if at times I don’t always remember him.

1 Nephi 21 it says, “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the [daughter] of her womb?  I will not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. 

How grateful I am that I am safe in his hands.





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Plight of the Bumblebee

I was getting dressed and I heard the very loud unmistakeable buzzing of a bee.  He was flying to the top of my vaulted ceiling constantly bumping his poor nose trying to climb higher. 

I watched for a few minutes and decided to open my window (it has no screen) to see if it would notice the flux of air that entered the room.  After a minute or two it went to the closed side, then flew a few inches away from its freedom, then flew back up to the top of my ceiling.  In a way I sensed the bee's frustration as logically it makes sense to push higher to find freedom.  It even kept trying to navigate the only danger in the room, a rotating ceiling fan, to see if that would find relief.  Of course it did not and sometimes the bee found itself hurtling towards the glass. 

I continued watching the plight of this bee, willing it to go towards the window.  He got close one more time and then zoomed back towards the ceiling.   After watching for several minutes, I needed to get on my way, I still found myself thinking of how often I must do exactly as this bee.

I often logically want to do things that make sense to me.  Sometimes, it works.  Other times, I find myself doing exactly what Einstein tells us not to do when solving a problem.  He said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  I am often insane!  Just like the bee I keep bumping my head on the ceiling trying to find a solution to my problems, when in reality I can tell it's not working.  

After bumping along it can be tempting to drift toward the dangerous fans of life.  To let down my guard a little bit and "take a break"... I deserve it.  I find myself being tempted to solve my problems by the world's standards then I too find myself hurtling towards a place I don't want to be.  

How many times do I receive inspiration and am inches away from being free of a problem that weighs me down and then I zoom back to what I was doing before.  My faith not any more stronger than when I started.  

I wonder if the Father watches me with all my vigor, strength, and energy that I put into my day bouncing around, doing my best to soar for the day, and he is willing me fly to the open window of faith.  Of true prayer.  

My current plight is my lack of faith in prayer.  Can it really help me?  Can it really make that much of a difference in my day?  I am ashamed to admit that I have felt those promptings that it can and I haven't truly acted.  I believe then I echo that of the father with the crippled son, "Help thou my unbelief".  

In our broadcast for Stake Conference on Sunday, Tad Callister mentioned an analogy that stuck with me.  In racketball, if you hit the ball slowly against the wall, it will come back slowly.  If you drive the ball to the wall, it will drive back at you with almost the same velocity.  So it is with prayer.  The Father wants nothing more than to bless you with his choicest blessing.  It's my effort that is standing in the way. 

Don't get me wrong.  I pray.  I pray all the time.  In my heart, with my children, with my family.  I have many conversations with my Father in Heaven and I feel Him directing my life.  The prayer I am talking about is the deep, soul searching prayers that seem to come only when my heart can't take anymore.  I don't want to have to get to that point to have those kinds of prayers.  

So.  Back to the bee.  I left and shut my bedroom door behind me hoping that the bee would find it's freedom.  When I came home he was gone.  I don't know that kind of effort that finally went into his "Aha" moment but I do know that he finally escaped.  

Am I running faster than I have strength because I am trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?  The Father is willing me to my knees, to my open window to freedom of these heavy burdens.  He can make them light.  I just need to stop bumping my head.     

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two sides to every story

Today I wanted to make the whole day about the kids.  We needed some good quality time together.  We forgot the chores and went out for the day.  I have a lot on my mind and plate so sometimes it's nice to set that aside.  I was able to do that until I over heard a conversation at the park.  I didn't mean to, but it was right next to me.

I was sitting enjoying the sunshine when a father and two children showed up.  I heard the way he tenderly took care of his young son and the encouragement he gave to his daughter.  As they ran off to play, he took a phone call. 

The bits and pieces that floated to me was what sounded like the conversation one would have when trying to settle a divorce.  Not wanting to pry, I really tried to dive into my smart phone.  Well, it didn't help.  Our paths kept crossing as our little ones wanted to do the same thing. 

I developed a mental picture of this family's situation all I heard was his side.  I heard someone who was very calm.  I heard him validate, what I assume is his wife, her concerns and then voiced his own.  Throughout the conversation I heard him very calmly and rationally handle what I was imagining an emotional and upset tirade on the other end of the line. 

All through this time, I imagined myself on both sides.  I am more emotional and imbalanced than I want to be so I can definitely relate to the upset woman on the other side.  I could also hear the sound reason coming from the struggling father.  I can relate to that too.

So why this post?  Why write about someone's heartache?  It made me sad.  It made me think about all the marriages that I know of in my small life that ended up in "failure".  What brought them to this point.  What selfishness and pride brought the both of them and others to the point of tearing the family apart?  I ache for those kids.  I ache for the parents.  I ache for the dad who seems like he is trying his best.  I bet she is too.

It made me reflect on the things that I have in my control that can make my marriage and family life a little better.   How is it that Satan can grab such a hold of hearts and twist them till there is no blood left to bleed?  When that happens willpower and strength are gone.  Hope is replaced with darkness and fear. 

How do I combat this?  How do I muddle through the dark murky water that seems to be surrounding me?  How do I find the strength to fight even harder for my family? 

I realized in watching this family disintegrate before my eyes how important it is to put your family above everything else.  To let the little things go.  It's not worth the suffering on the other end. 

There is hope in the Savior Jesus Christ.  His plan is the plan of happiness.  There is a way back no matter what.  Repentance is real and the atonement was made for every sin, but more importantly for every heartache, suffering, grief or sorrow.  For every disappointment, trial, and times of loneliness and abandonment.  I want him to hold my heart and give it life. 

He he knows both sides of the story can heal each side.