"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Answered Prayer

I had just stepped out of the shower when my phone rang. Wrapped in a towel, I grabbed the phone and answered. The caller asked me to share a spiritual thought and/or scripture in a meeting only a few hours away. She apologized for the lateness of asking me, as things had not gone as planned in her life. I laughed and said that I totally understood and that I could see myself doing exactly as she had done. Yes, if there is a mistake to be made, I am often the one to make it!

Of course I agreed and hung up the phone. Then it hit me that I was not in a very good place within myself. I had been struggling for a couple of weeks with issues that seemed to be spiraling out of my control. I had already had a rough morning. How in the world could I find inspiration to give spiritual food to someone else when I was starving myself?

I dressed and fixed my hair as I pondered and thought about my assignment. I prayed and turned to the scriptures. I played a song that often brings me peace. I listened to it over and over. I puttered at other projects in between the searching and pondering.

I asked Heavenly Father to bless me to speak the words that He wanted me to say. I asked that His Spirit would be able to carry the message that others needed to hear. And I continued to ponder and listen to the music and returned to the Book of  Mormon.

I felt that the very first scripture that I turned to was the scripture that I should use. Then I pondered on what to say with it. Though it is a very powerful and meaningful scripture to me, I needed to know what to say so that others would understand its meaning. Otherwise, I could see them looking at me and wondering, why in the world did you choose that scripture?

Words formulated in my mind and I continued to ask that I might speak the words that Heavenly Father wanted others to hear.

The words of the scripture brought me to tears as I shared them. And I was certain that those who were listening would avoid me like the plague after this meeting for a season. I was certain that embarrassment would be huge for all of us and I prepared to see people look away instead of look at me. I was prepared for them to walk away.

But that is not what happened at all!

Within moments of the meetings end, several people commented on the scripture I had shared. I was asked several times where that particular scripture was located. I was shown kindness and appreciation.

My prayer had been answered! I know that when the Holy Ghost is the teacher, each of us can learn whatever we need to learn through His power, no matter what was said. I give all credit to Heavenly Father and His infinite power for allowing others to learn through His words.

The message I shared was something like this: Unfortunately in our lives bad things happen that can separate us from feeling God's love, mercy, and kindness. When that happens to me, I go to the scriptures and one of my go to scriptures is found in 3 Nephi 22: 7,8,10. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness will not depart from thee." Then I was able to testify of God's mercy, love and kindness."

Maybe everyone in that room needed to be reminded that God is loving, kind and merciful; because in our own way, we are all starving to death spiritually.

This will be my last blog post for a season. It is fitting that I leave this blog with my testimony of Heavenly Father and His love for us. It is fitting that I testify of the Savior Jesus Christ and the power of The Holy Ghost. I believe in them all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mount Vernon - Part One

Mount Vernon is beautiful! As I stood on the back piazza and looked over the lush green lawn into the blue waters of the Potomac River, I could clearly understand why anyone would want to live there. I could see me sitting in my rocking chair looking at the scenery evening after evening, reveling in the scene created by Heavenly Father. I could feel peace settle in my soul as I gazed at God's beautiful world.

The grounds of Mount Vernon were much larger than I imagined. Walking the grounds around Mount Vernon I discovered that there were a wide variety of landscapes. Lush beautiful flower gardens were plentiful as well as a garden that produced food. A seed house, greenhouse, and nursery accompany these gardens. Plush green lawns were plentiful and well maintained. We walked among trees in the woods and down to the wharf on the Potomac. The grounds surrounding the mansion awed me with their size and grandeur.

The grounds were dotted with outbuildings. It was a village with its own blacksmith shop, ice house, salt house, and shoemaker shop. On the grounds was a wash house, spinning house and storehouse.

The kitchen was not in the mansion, but in a separate building and was not particularly close to the mansion house. It looked to be quite a walk to me to carry food from the kitchen house to be eaten in the mansion. It made me tired thinking of all the carrying that must have been required. As I looked into the kitchen house, I thought about the work required to prepare food. Although this kitchen house was probably as modern as it could be, there was nothing there that spoke of ease or comfort to me. The cellar where food kept cool was a far cry from my current refrigerator.

The Mansion looked spectacular to me as we walked towards it for a tour. The outside looked just as I had seen it in pictures. Careful records were always kept at the instructions of George Washington. An accurate inventory of each item and each room allowed the interior to be restored to the way the house looked in 1799, the year that George Washington died. The rooms were decorated with original furnishings, period pieces, and replicas.

The first room we entered was beautiful and opulent. It was decorated as a 'show room' for entertaining guests and diplomats and dining. Mount Vernon was bustling with dignitaries and large formal dinners. During some years, Mount Vernon's New Room hosted guests more than sixty percent of the days in the year.  The New Room was also the location of George Washington's permanent picture gallery.

I was fascinated by each room in Mount Vernon. But none of them was as elegant as the New Room. They appeared well appointed and comfortable, much as I would have expected them to look like in the 1700's. Quilts and furnishings were lovely - but more casual and every day looking to me.

End of Part One

Mount Vernon - Part Two

Slave houses for men and women also stood on the grounds of Mount Vernon, reminders of the men and women who worked behind the scenes. The burial grounds for slaves was quiet and peaceful, set in a copse of trees. These reminders of slaves caused me to reflect on the way of life and the political views of the days in which George Washington lived. He struggled with slavery, but in his will, George Washington left instructions to free all 317 of his slaves, a courageous act for a man who had owned slaves since he was eleven years old.

I loved being at Mount Vernon! It was a wonderful day. But I also learned a great deal about the man who made Mount Vernon what it was. George Washington was a hard worker. He was a man willing to learn and work for the success of the plantation. He expanded Mount Vernon to over 6,500 acres. He learned about crops and diversified into a variety of cash crops including tobacco and wheat and worked to build up other industry including spinning, weaving, and milling. Mount Vernon was the home of a very successful herring industry. The barns, paddock and stables are reminiscent of the his success with horse breeding.

He began his career as a surveyor at age 17. He worked hard and often lived in very primitive conditions. He surveyed over 60,000 acres.

George Washington was a great man who devoted much of his life for the benefit of others. He spent much of his life in military service beginning with the French and Indian War. He served as a colonel in the British Virginia Regiment. Perhaps the frustrations he experienced and the lessons he learned in this position helped him formulate ideas of his own regarding a different kind of government.

George Washington attended the First Continental Congress and showed up in military attire at the Second Continental Congress, signaling he was ready for war. He was appointed General by the congress and named Commander in Chief. His service lasted about eight years and was vital to the success of the colonies in their battle for freedom from British rule.

The Father of our country served with devotion as president of The United States of America for two terms, refusing to serve a third. He returned to Mount Vernon, perhaps with a sense of relief, working to make the land more profitable, yet continued to serve military appointments for another 17 months. He died unexpectedly at age 67, buried in a tomb at Mount Vernon.

The nation mourned this great man. But the world also mourned this man who had led his soldiers through death and starvation, defeat and victory. They mourned a man who led this new land, founded on freedom and established a place for it  in the world.

I believe that God ordained that this land be a land of freedom. I believe that Heavenly Father's plan for His children included a land where men and women could believe and worship and live without the strong arm of the government controlling their lives. I believe that George Washington was an important instrument in helping to lay the foundation of God's covenant land. I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of our land, including George Washington.

I believe we all owe a great deal of gratitude to God who ordained this land.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gettysburg - Part Two

The Founding Fathers did not quickly hash out the details of the founding principles of this land. It was a long and difficult process. It required educated men to sacrifice much to create the inspired documents upon which this government was founded. They were guided by God.

Then the fight of a lifetime ensued as they sought the independence required to really build a land of freedom and righteousness. A nation worth dying for was purchased with the blood of those who fought in the Revolutionary War.

But our freedom was also paid for by those who have fought in other wars. The Civil War, though incomprehensible to me, was also a significant battle for God given freedom.

Each side believed they were right. Men stood with their weapons, ready to die for the cause they believed in. Because they believed, they were willing to give their all.

I think that Heavenly Father had a great interest in this war, because this is His covenant land. This country needed to be a land governed with righteous principles in order for His purposes to be fulfilled. I believe God's hand was present in The Civil War.

I believe God wept at the loss of life. I believe He sorrowed over the depths required to rescue His land. I believe it was very difficult to watch, knowing that it must be done.

I loved visiting Gettysburg. But it was also hard for me. It is difficult for me to even identify why it was so hard. I cannot quite put my finger on it yet, but maybe someday I will.

But I am so grateful that I walked along Little Round Top, saw the field of Pickett's Charge, peeked into Devil' Den, and saw the Peace Memorial. I am grateful that Heavenly Father watched over this land. I am at a loss for words of gratitude to Him for all His blessings to me. I am also unable to comprehend the sacrifices of those who have gone before me to pave the way for freedom. So many died at Gettysburg.

By the end of The Civil War 618,000 people had died. Though their deaths bought us the land we have today, what great things might these people have done, had they lived a life of peace and productivity? How might they have changed the world for the better with their creativity and drive?

What kind of a world would we be able to enjoy if peace ruled the world and righteousness reigned supreme?

Many of the dead at Gettysburg were buried as unknown. No one identified or claimed their remains. Many were lost to their families, within the blink of an eye. The sorrow must have been overwhelming.

Surely the nation mourned and The God of Heaven wept.

And I ask myself - What are the lessons for me from Gettysburg? Has what happened at Gettysburg changed me?

I think that perhaps there are things that Heavenly Father expects of me. But I am not yet sure what they are. I do feel a need to learn more about His Covenant land and the great men and women inspired to do His work. Maybe I need to pull my head out of the sand and pay more attention to what is happening now. Maybe I need to study the constitution and the principles that Heavenly Father designed this country to be founded on. Maybe there is more that I will come to understand.

But this much I know - I can be grateful!  I can be patriotic and respect the symbols of our country. I can be more aware of the way I speak about my land. I can set a better example.

And I will pray for righteousness to flood The United States of America!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Gettysburg - Part one

The Fourth of July just passed. For us it was a quiet day, included typical Independence Day food and fireworks. We played a game or two and watched "The Music Man," listening to Mrs. Shin sing praises to our country. It is an old family favorite movie, touching on how the 4th of July was celebrated decades ago. But is not deeply patriotic.

As I pondered on my love for this great country I live in, my mind returned to the day we spent with our family in Gettysburg in June. Gettysburg has pulled at me for some time. I have read about Gettysburg and watched documentaries to learn and understand. But so much of Gettysburg eludes me, baffles and puzzles me. I cannot yet keep track of which generals were on which side of the fighting. I cannot keep track of which battle happened when. I cannot keep track of which spot on the battlefield was named what. I cannot comprehend the enormity of it all.

I cannot imagine the face to face combat, the barrage of artillery, the bayonets. The heat of the summer days, the marching, the fear and exhaustion are beyond my ability to grasp. My mind cannot comprehend the death and devastation of human life. I cannot imagine the blood and mangled bodies. How could one stand face to face with a friend or relative and know that one of you is going to die?

Battles have long been fought in this world and in the world before this one. Satan fought against the host of heaven to change Heavenly Father's plan. Nations have fought with each other over land, wealth, and power. Scriptures record story after story of those who have fought to achieve those same things. But often the cause of a battle is to defend against an invading force. Battles have begun in defense of correct and righteous principles. Sometimes the cause of war is for the freedom to believe as one chooses.

I believe that Heavenly Father desires that the land I live in remain free from tyranny. Only in a land where agency is honored and respected can His Gospel thrive. It was to this country that the pilgrims came when they fled religious persecution across the sea. It was in this land that The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through The Prophet Joseph Smith. It was in this land that The Book of Mormon could be translated, published, and placed in the hands of the common man and woman. It was in this land where the building of temples could begin.

Though we may all find much to disagree with in The United States of America - disagreement has been allowed. Death is not instantaneous when one speaks out in opposition. Our nation was founded on the right to speak out, to disagree, and to seek for the best ideas.

End of Part One