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







Monday, October 31, 2011

The Truck

"I traded in my truck," our son said casually in the middle of his list of things happening in the lives of his family.  I was sure that I hadn't heard him correctly.   He loves that truck!  I couldn't imagine that he would ever trade it in, until it was nearly dead or he reached sudden wealth.  It was a green, two seater so that he could take his whole family in the truck. They went fishing and hunting in that truck.  The went gathering chokecherries and huckleberries in that truck.  Max, their  large, black, hunting dog rode in the back of that truck to our home more than once.  He drove that truck to graduation when he received his pharmacy degree. We had loaded up that truck with boxes, clothes, and toys when they moved just two short months ago.

He loves that truck!

I think I am weird.  I don't emotionally attach to vehicles quite like most people do.  Yes, I do like them to look nice and new and shiny.  I do have some favorite colors of cars and no, I don't really want to drive a vehicle that is put together with wire and duct tape, but mostly I just want to get into them, start the engine and go and do what I need or want to do.  We have done the undependable car thing to death. I don't want to do that anymore.  But the truth is I don't fall madly in love with vehicles.  But I knew that our son had a very deep and personal relationship with his green truck.

When he finished his list of mostly ordinary, everyday happenings, I asked about the truck, certain that I had misunderstood.  I had not.  He had traded in the truck on another vehicle more than a week previous.  Why, I asked him.

He simply explained that for about two weeks he had the feeling that something was going to go wrong with the truck. No idea what, where, or when, just something was going to happen and it was time to get rid of the truck.  I can only imagine the sense of mourning and loss that must have accompanied those impressions. 

He loved that truck!

When he explained these feelings to his wife, she suggested that maybe they should consider having their friend, mechanic take a look at the truck and see what was going on.  Maybe it wasn't so bad.  Maybe it could be fixed.  Maybe it wouldn't be too expensive.  Though it was a good and logical idea, he simply could not ignore the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  He told her that the way he felt, he would never feel comfortable driving the truck again, no matter what the mechanic found.  He just couldn't.

So he traded in the truck and moved on.  We will never know what would have gone wrong with the truck.  We will  never know the annoyance or expense of whatever may have come.  Perhaps it would have been worse than inconvenience.  It might have been tragic or even life threatening.  But we will never know.  Heavenly Father sent information to him through the Holy Ghost.  It wasn't loud or shrill.  But it was powerful.  Our son had his agency to ignore the feeling that came to him or to obey.  He could have put it off for weeks or months, until it was too late. 

No, we will never know what happened to the green truck.  We will never know when, where, or how something will go wrong. But it doesn't really matter does it. You know, it makes a mother so proud to know that her son listened and obeyed the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Because, he loved that truck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do You Ever Feel like Job?

Do you ever feel like you could relate to Job in the Bible?  I guess that there are times when it feels like I have given my all, everything I could possibly give, to make something work out well. Maybe I even gave more than I was asked or maybe more than I even felt was reasonable to give.  Knowing that I had given all I had to give, it seems reasonable that whatever I have invested my time into will go really well. 

And then it doesn't. 

Sometimes these things happen when no one knows that it has happened.  Whew!  At least I don't have to add embarrassment to this disappointing situation. Occasionally other family members or friends will be aware that somehow, things went way wrong.  Well, the hope is that they love me enough to overlook my current disaster.  Or perhaps they are just so used to my 'current' disasters that they shrug it off and just add it to the list of things I am already accumulating..

Then on occasion there are those so very public, humiliating, and embarrassing situations.  Maybe you know which ones I mean.  The ones when I wished I could disappear into thin air or fall into a hole into the floor.  Sometimes moving immediately to a new town even seems like a totally reasonable solution.  The last thing I want to do is to talk to anyone on sight.

Running to the closest exit is the best one can do to escape. 

I don't think I am really a total coward, but who needs to have other people remind me of what went wrong.  I don't need to see the laughter on their lips or even the sympathy in their eyes if they think that I am totally pathetic.  Tears are already close to the surface.  Any reaction from anyone from horror on one end of the scale to sympathy on the other will cause tears to leak from my eyes. 

Who needs that in public?

Crying at a funeral or as one shares sacred testimony seems totally acceptable.  I would just as soon not of course, but it doesn't seem to add humiliation to the list of indiscretions. 

Some years ago, I played the piano for a couple to sing a duet in Sacrament Meeting.  They worked so hard on their song.  I recorded the accompaniment so they could sing to it over and over as they traveled in their car. We spent several hours rehearsing in my home as well for their 3 minute offering.  As they sang their song in my home the last time, it was really beautiful. They had learned it so well and their voices blended in wonderful notes of harmony.  I was so proud of their accomplishment.  They were too.

Later that day as they sang in Sacrament Meeting, this sweet, tenderhearted sister fell apart.  She succumbed to fear and could hardly sing a note.  She stood there and cried. Giant tears of terror spilled down her face.  After the meeting she was surrounded by the loving, sympathetic arms of friends and neighbors.  Again, her tears streaked across her cheeks. 

I guess my recent disaster in public really doesn't stack up to the trials of Job, but I wonder why it happened.  I wonder what lesson I can learn from my experience.  No one has said a single word about my mistake and certainly I am grateful for that, because I too would have shed bitter tears of embarrasment.

And who needs that in public?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spanish Miracle

I have a wise friend who is 93 years old.  He frequently teaches as I visit with him.  He isn't trying to teach me, it just happens as he shares the stories of his life.

Today as we visited he shared a miracle with me.  He didn't say, "Let me share a miracle with you"  or anything like that at all.  He talked about how many members in his family had served missions in countries where Spanish was the language spoken. Four of his five sons served in Spanish speaking missions as well as many of his grandchildren. 

Then he told of the miracle.  He couldn't learn the Spanish language.  It seemed to be impossible for him.  He tried and worked and struggled, but the language did not come.  He wrote to his mission president and told him that he felt that he needed to be assigned to another area where English was spoken because he was not capable of learning the Spanish language.

His mission president wrote to him asking him instead to read Nephi 1:7 every morning and every night for two months and then to write back with his report.

My friend read "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  He read it again and again, night and morning until he wrote back to the mision president in two months that he could speak Spanish fluently.

My friend completed not only this mission, but a second mission with his sweetheart many year later in Puerto Rico.  She, by the way, never did learn to speak Spanish.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Do You Spell L-o-v-e

What is it that means Love to you?  Is it a shiny present with a huge bow?  Maybe it is words spoken in kindness.  Love may thrive when you hold the hand of that special person in your life or in any gentle touch shared with another.  Do you feel love when you read a poem or a thank you card written by a friend, a child, or a sweetheart?  Perhaps you recognize love when someone demonstrates their feelings by doing something for you that requires a sacrifice of their time.  It could be that phone calls, texts, and emails speak words of love to you. Maybe love feels like lots of little things done everyday by someone you care about.

Many years ago a busy mother of many children was asked by her spouse what she wanted for Christmas.  Her reply was immediate and simple.  "I want my oven cleaned."  On Christmas Eve, her very skilled, successful, well paid, professional husband had his head stuck in her oven scrubbing away.  My friend felt loved.

My sweet sister once told me that her husband put a bouquet of flowers in the shopping cart as they bought groceries.  He told her that they were for her as they landed in the cart.  She said that she wanted to just throw them in the garbage.  To her it showed no forethought.  It didn't feel like love to her.  Perhaps it was the way it was served!

Recently a  friend shared this wonderful story.  "My husband did something so sweet for me yesterday. He had the day off and had a few projects he wanted to do. He got them all done in the morning and I asked him what he was going to do with his afternoon? He said he was just planning to watch movies and enjoy a rare day off. I was pleased that he could relax and not have to think about anything. He rarely has opportunities for that. When I got home after work, he was very excited to gauge my reaction to his afternoon's work. He had mowed the lawn. He knew I had been planning to do it after work one day this week as it had been neglected for a couple of weeks. I was touched that he would do that for me when he could have just relaxed. Sometimes it is demonstrations like this that show love. I would rather he had done that then to give me flowers any day. It reminds me that love can be shown through even everyday actions. Showing love for others does not require grandiose demonstrations."

One of the challenges of this life is to learn that we don't all feel loved in the same ways.  It is a learning process to understand what it is that speaks the language of love to us.

Another  challenge is to recognize how we serve love to others. 
How do you spell L-O-V-E?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Power of Choice

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10  In this Bible verse, the Savior Jesus Christ promises us a life filled with abundance.  That means more than enough, ample, and plenty.  How did I so easily slip into believing that there is never enough to go around?  When did it happen? 

For me the bigger question now becomes, how do I change it?  How do I stop thinking scarcity and start thinking that I have enough of everything?  How do I come to a place in my soul where can I truly trust and believe the words of the Savior?  How do I place fear and insecurity on the altar and let them disappear, being replaced with faith?

Scarcity thrives on competing and comparing.  I am smarter or taller or thinner or richer than you are.  I could do it better than you.  Scarcity rejoices in criticizing.  Why did you do it that way? And scarcity loves to listen to us whine and complain.  Do I really have to do that? 

Stephen R. Covey calls these behaviors cancer; complaining, competing, criticizing, and comparing.  If that is true, than I am sick indeed.  I may be so sick that I am in need of emergency surgery.  These need to be radiated out of my heart and mind. 

I think it would be easier to call a physician and hand him a scalpel to cut out all these tumors.  Unfortunately that is not the process of changing ones heart.  I must be the one who irradiates these cancers from my own soul. 

Recently I was asked to take dinner to a family who was struggling with an illness.  As I arrived with food, the entire family was lounging around, watching me carry in the meal I had spent many hours preparing.  My mind started to complain.  Why did they need this meal?  There were at least three healthy people there who could open a can of soup or something.  Then I recognized what I was thinking.  I was not proud of my thoughts.  I was asked to provide a meal, that was all.  I was not asked to deliver it with a load of judgement and criticism.  My attitude changed immediately and I gained minimal control over my thoughts.

What a challenge it is to control ones own mind and emotions.  How unruly they become at times. 

"The power of choice is the key to moving from scarcity to abundance," said Stephen R. Covey.  Those words feel powerful to me.  But how do I do that on a moment by moment, choice by choice, day by day basis?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Scripture Reading

As I bustled around my kitchen molding a loaf of French bread this afternoon, I realized that I had not yet read my scriptures today.  I had been out visiting teaching and was anxious to return to one of my myriad of uncompleted projects.  I started heading towards a quilt in my basement thinking that now was a perfect time to take a few  more stitches before it was time to finish cooking dinner.

Again, the impression came that I had not yet opened my scriptures today.  As I started to brush the thought from my mind, I remembered my prayer from earlier in the day.  I asked Heavenly Father to help me to do better at daily scripture reading.  I also asked for help to pay closer attention as I read since my mind frequently wanders from the printed page.  I also prayed that I would find greater understanding as I read from His words.

I turned away from the quilt and turned towards my Book of Mormon.  Sweet words of Nephi caught my attention as I read of his vision of the tree of life.  I read of Mary and the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.  I read of Christ's baptism and His life teaching  among His people.  I read that He would perform miracles among the sick and unclean.  Nephi talked of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. 

I came so close to missing those moments with my scriptures today.  The Holy Ghost reminded me that if I prayed for things, I had to do my part.  I clearly understood that it would do me no good to ask for Heavenly Father to help me with scripture reading if I was not willing to pick up the book and open it for myself. 

After I closed my Book of Mormon and set it down, I wondered how many times would I be prompted to read my scriptures, if I was unwilling to do my part.  At least for today, I don't need to know the answer.  Yet, I still wonder.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helmet Safety

Help promote helmet safety.  Check out this facebook page.  Come sign the banner or like them on facebook.  One click can make a difference!

facebook.com/tuckitinthebucket

Monday, October 10, 2011

Enough and to Share

Last year our garden was a bit pathetic.  We ate all that we picked ourselves because it was so sad.  Even the usual overabundance of zucchini eluded us. I always wish that we could plant a half of a zucchini plant.

I reminded myself that at least we had followed the council of the prophet to plant a garden. 

Because of weird spring weather, our garden was planted way late this year and we wondered at our foolishness to plant at all. Our cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash have nearly overrun us a few times and we have searched for recipients (or is it victims?) of our bounteous crop.

One day as I delivered a box of surplus produce to a friend I received enlightenment from Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

The last couple of years have taken a large toll on our finances and at times caused me some concern and emotional distress.  I have continued to pray for financial blessings for us and our family and pondered whether it was a season for me to return to work, a frightening possiblity after so many years at home.

One of the phrases that I have used in my prayers is "enough and to share." I have said it often, not so  much that it would seem thoughtless and repetitive, but frequently.  We never know when or how we might be called upon to share, so that phrase seemed appropriate.                             

In my finite mind, that meant money, cash, bucks flowing into our lives more readily and easily.  For months I have waited and watched for this increased cash flow to pour into our lives.  The truth is that I haven't yet seen that happen.  We do have enough to take care of ourselves.  I just spent a small fortune at a local grocery store to stock up on case goods to replenish our dwindling supply.  We have heat, water, and electricity.  We can put fuel into our cars to go where we need to go.  Compared to millions around the world, we are rich beyond compare.

Yet, where is the Money?

As I carried my box of produce to share, the words were clear and sweet in my mind.  Look, you have "enough and to share."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everyday Miracles

I have been trying to change my vision.  I am looking for the miracles and blessings that are part of everyday life.  Somehow I lost the ability to see them, waiting for the big, grandiose miracles that we all pray for. Now I see miracles every day. Some of them are obvious and others smaller, more difficult to see.

Recently a dear friend was asked to sing a sacred song in Sacrament Meeting. She asked me if I would be willing to accompany her on the piano, and because I care so much about her, I gladly agreed.  We met one afternoon to take a look at the four songs she was considering singing. 

We enjoyed the visit, perhaps almost too much, and procrastinated looking at the music until our time together was nearing an end.  I loved visiting with her and learning about her life.  I saw her courage and her faith and felt of her love for our Heavenly Father.  It was great!

Reluctantly we moved to the piano and pulled out the music and began in earnest to decide which would be the grand prize winner.  Generally people have already selected their song and my responsiblity is simply to play for them.  This time, my friend asked my honest opinion in advance, and again after each song she sang.

My friend has a beautiful voice.  It is sweet and clear.  It resonates with power and testimony. 

I was unfamiliar with the first song she sang.   I loved its message and the melody wrapped itself around me.  I wondered if this would be the right song. 

She sang the second song, a stirring arrangement of I Am A Child of God, familiar, yet unique.

The third song was also written for children and spoke volumes about the Savior Jesus Christ.

After my friend sang each of these songs, we talked briefly about them.  I found it interesting that neither of us had a strong feeling about any of the songs.

As I played the last song, the feeling in the room changed.  By the time we reached the chorus, I knew that this was the right song for her to sing.  I was certain. I needed to be careful how I gave my opnion, after all, she would be singing and the decision was hers.

A few moments of silence followed the last song before my friend spoke. She knew this was the right song.  The Holy Ghost had clearly witnessed this to each of us.

I am grateful to a kind and loving Heavenly Father who blesses me with miracles every day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Did You Fill Your Bucket?

The speakers are gone and the music has faded.  How sad it is that the General Conference for The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has ended and we all return to the real world.  For two days we have had the opportunity to dip our buckets into the well of wisdom of Prophets, Apostles and Church leaders.  Some of us may only get a few teaspoonfuls, but others may be lucky enough to fill their bucket over and over and over again.

I visited with three of my sons over the weekend.  Two of them have small children who occupy a great deal of their free time.  Amazingly enought they expressed frustration at the limited amount of time that they were able to listen to conference. I remember well those days.  I was always anxious to receive the Ensign with the conference messages so that I could actually know what conference was about.

Our other son was able to participate more actively in conference and was able to tell me which talk was his favorite. 

We have children who live far away from the center of the church, but through modern technology they are able to receive conference over the internet in their homes.  The blessings of technology continue.  At this moment, my internet is playing conference for me.  With a few clicks of a mouse, I can access any and all of conference in my home over the internet.  By the end of the week, messages will also be available in print. 

What a miracle to have the technology to allow us instant access to the word of God.

http://lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2011/10?lang=eng

What was your favorite part of General Conference?  Please share your ideas and thoughts with me!