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







Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prayer

There is a story in the Bible of a woman who has been ill for twleve years with an issue of blood.  She has spent those twelve years seeking help from physician after physican to cure her illness.  She has spent all that she earned as she searched in vain for healing. (Luke 8:43-48)

I don't know what disease she had or even what diseases could be considered as possiblities.  I don't know how it made her feel physically or mentally or emotionally.  I can only guess that her life was very difficult. 

How does one work when a severe illness of any kind is always present?

How does one keep getting up day after day when all hope is gone?

What is the point of life if one is considered unclean and undesirable by ones community?

I can only imagine how unbearable her life must have been until she sought a miracle.  Because of her great faith, she reached out from among a large crowd of people to touch the hem of the garment of The Savior Jesus Christ. 

Immediately the issue of blood was stopped!  Indeed a great miracle was granted this woman because of her great faith.

This is very old and familiar story.  But I was blessed with great insight recently as I sat in a class of women who had come to a workshop to be taught about miracles. 

The teacher had a very limited time to enlighten us on what she had learned about the miracles performed by Jesus recorded in scriptures.  One of the miracles used as an example was this simple story of a woman with an issue of blood.  This woman had searched and worked for healing for twelve years.  Certainly she had prayed and done all else that she knew to do to receive the blessing she desired.  Then the question that the teacher asked that has lingered in my mind and in my heart.

"What would have happened to the woman with the issue of blood if she had stopped praying after ten years?''

I had never considered that option at all.  What would have happened to her? Would she have ever had the courage to keep living?  Would she have had the physical strength to keep earning a living?  Would she have even cared about the strange man that was teaching among the people?  What would have happened to her soul?

Would she have had the faith sufficient to reach out to touch the hem of the garment as The Savior passed by?

As I ponder the woman with the issue of blood, I wonder at my own lack of patience as I wait for things to change in my life.  I wonder how often I have felt that my prayers were going nowhere and felt like giving up. How many times have I been the one who gave up the quest for the faith sufficient to work miracles?

I may not have the same disease that this faithful woman had.  But I too am sick!  I have my own load of sins and failings.  I carry insecurities and mistakes and injuries by the bucket load.

From this woman, I have learned that I need to press forward until the day comes when I can hear the words, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made the whole: go in peace." (Luke 8:48)

I still hope it is soon!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It Wasn't So Funny Then!

It wasn't really funny to me when it happened so many years ago.  Today I chuckle when I remember, so I guess time really can change our perspective of things in life.

Our family lived in a community that was small and relatively safe.  Our home was in an older, established neighborhood.  We had one small boy and one very large dog and we decided that we needed to put up a fence of some kind across our backyard, which bordered on an alley.  There was not a ton of traffic back and forth along the alleyway but enough to cause us to be concerned for the safety of the little boy and the big dog.

Perhaps the fact that I was also blessed to have the opportunity to retrieve  our very large dog from the city dog pound was very large factor in our decision as well.  Our Irish Setter chewed through the rope that held her steadfast within the confines of our yard and escaped.  When I bailed her out of jail, she was thrilled beyond measure to see me and reeked to high heaven. 

Money being a consideration, we picked a relatively inexpensive fencing and decided that self installation was our best choice. 

My husband, then employed as a very skilled carpenter, was certainly capable of the job, headed out one fine spring Saturday morning to install the fence along our back yard.

Our small toddler broke into buckets of tears as he watched his father leave the house.  Thinking it would comfort him to see his dad out the window, I stood him up to the bedroom window and helped him discover his dad out in the back yard.  The sorrow and tears not only did not slow, they intensified.  Our little son cried lonely tears the entire time his father was in the back yard.

He was inconsolable.

When my husband came into the house again, I thought that he would be pleased to know how much his little son longed to be with him.  I thought he would burst with pride, knowing how much he was loved and missed. So I told him of the tears wept by this little boy as he watched his dad out the window.

To which my husband bitingly replied, "Well, have you ever tried to do anything with him around?"

I was shocked and stunned.  I was speechless. Literally!

Later when my brains returned, I wanted to say something along these lines, "No dear, I have never tried to do anything with him around, except eat, sleep, cook, clean, wash the dishes, do the laundry, shop, drive, shower, dress, go the the bathroom, and everything else I do any and every day."

So here's a question for all of you who spend the day as full time caregiver to a toddler, Have you ever tried to do anything with your toddler around?

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Holiness Give Me

Inspiration has come to me in a number of different ways over my life time.  Sometimes it has been an idea or thought that seems powerful.  It may be that I need to do something and do it now or it may be that I need to stop doing something immediately.  I may have the words of a scripture come to me.  Then I have to search for the scripture and read it, because there is often more to the scripture than the few words I receive. 

Sometimes it is just a powerful feeling.  These feelings can be good or bad depending on the circumstance.  Impressions is another term I would use for my personal revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes revelation comes as I read the scriptures, a good book, or an article written by someone with more wisdom than I have.

Once, I felt revelation pour into my mind, as if someone had poured it from a pitcher, allowing my mind to receive it as flowing water.

Learning to recognize the Holy Ghost has been an ongoing process for me.  Often I have realized too late that I messed up by not heeding the impression or feeling I had received. Then I have been disappointed in myself and discouraged that I haven't yet learned to recognize when personal revelation has been given. 

So, I keep trying to learn how the Holy Ghost teaches me.

Recently, revelation came to me clearly in the words of a song. Not just any song but a hymn.  I was just stepping out of the shower when these words were given to me by the power of the Holy Ghost.  "More Holiness Give Me.

I quickly went to the book of Hymns published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to read the words of Hymn #131.

More Holiness Give Me

More holiness give me, More strivings within,
More patience in suffering, More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior, More sense of His care,
More joy in His service, More purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me, More trust in the Lord,
More pride in His glory, More hope in His word,
More tears for His sorrow, More pain at His grief,
More meekness in trial, More praise for relief.

More purity give me, More strength to overcome,
More freedom from earthstains, More longing for home,
More fit for the kingdom, More used would I be,
More blessed and holy, More, Savior like thee.

Words from this hymn come to my mind often to remind me that for this season, this is my personal revelation.  This is what Heavenly Father wants me to be working on.  This is who He wants me to become.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Priorities - Part 3

Silence filled the room as my friend and her husband each contemplated their discussion.

My friend's husband finally broke the silence with these words, "I have never made you a priority."

This news was not at all surprising to her.  She had known it for many years. 

But he had not ever been able to see it before. No matter what she had done or said, he had a reason for doing things his way.  No matter how hurt she was, he believed he was right and she was wrong. 

For the first time in many years, he had been willing to listen and understand what his choices had shown her. 

What a tragedy to spend a life time together without coming to an understanding of priorities.  How sad for her to have always seen that other things mattered more to him than her.  Yet, also tragic is what he has lost because of his choices.  It is heartbreaking to think of the pain and loss that these two have felt as their marriage could only teeter on the edge of happiness, never quite able to cross the line and arrive.

President Boyd K. Packer of The Qurum of the Twelve Apostles said this at the last General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children."

Somehow, my friend and her husband had not been able to agree on and live according to this very recent counsel. They had missed the mark.

Finally a day of reckoning had come and my friend's husband had spoken out loud the words that she had lived with and carried in her heart for so long.  I suppose in a way it was a relief to hear him say the words after he had denied them for so long.

I don't know whether finally hearing, "I have never made you a priority," should make her feel better or worse.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Priorities - part 2

In the morning my friend asked her husband if, while he was in a meeting with his employer, he would pull out a book and start to read it. 
"Of course not!  he shouted at her. 
"Why not?" she asked in reply. To which he didn't answer.

Then she asked, "If your supervisor came to your office to observe you at work, and you had a clear understanding that an evaluation of your work would be written based on this observation, would you whip out your sack lunch and start munching away?"
"No!"  he again shouted at her.
"Why not?" she asked again.
To which he responded, "That would be ignorant."

"Could you please explain to me the difference between these situations and what occurred between us last night to me."  She then said.  He answered again with his silence.

Then she reminded her husband that the priority is what you take care of first. "So if you take out a book and read it while sitting in a meeting with your employer, what is your priority?" She asked. 
"Reading the book." He replied.
"Now if your job depends on a good evaluation and you choose to eat your lunch during your observation, what is the priority?" She asked.
He responded, "Eating."

Then she asked him what he thought his chances for continuing his employment would be should he choose to read a book during a meeting with his employer or if his evaluation included that during this time at work, his priority was to eat his lunch.

By now some revelation must have come to him as he realized that his job would not last long if he chose behavior that he himself had called 'ignorant' to those he worked with. Yet in his mind, this type of behavior was totally acceptable with his wife.

To Be Continued

Monday, April 16, 2012

Priorities

A friend and her husband have disagreed on the definition of priority for years.  They have also disagreed on what their priorites were and how they should actually be handled.  Unfortunately it has led to some major difficulties and disagreements over the years.

My friend even looked up the word priority in the dictionary once. She thought she understood it better now, so she shared what she had learned with her husband.  But he read the meaning so differently and carefully pointed out to her why she was incorrect in her thinking.  He clearly explained to her how it really worked, over and over, day by day, and choice by choice

Neither one of them seemed capable of understanding the others perspective or willing to budge on what they believed to be true.  But this difference of opinions cankered their relationship.

My friend came home from a meeting recently, needing and wanting to discuss something with her husband who promptly changed the subject to something that was of more importance to him.  He showed no interest at all in what she needed to talk about.  Instead he pulled out a book and started talking about it to her. She couldn't believe how quickly he had changed the subject.  She listened to what he had to say and then she quitely left the room.

Crushed, my friend tried to carry on as normally as possible through the remainder of the day.  But her hurt feelings eventually brought a small trickle of tears. 

Upset at her being offended, her husband began to point out why this situation was her fault and that she was making a mountain out of a mole hill. 

Perhaps he was right.  She tried to get over it again and again as the argument continued and escalated.

Finally, after accomplishing nothing, a fitfull night was spent.

To Be Continued

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abandoned

I wonder how people who do not believe in Heavenly Father and prayer make it through this life.  I don't say that to belittle or judge anyone who doesn't share my beliefs in any way. Everyone has the right to choose what they believe in.  I say it because there are times when that seems to be all that gets me through some pretty tough moments and days.

It has been one of those weeks.  I know that we all have them. They broadside you with disappointment and discouragement and heartache.  One piece of bad new follows another and another and yes, even another.  The downward spiral sucks you in and before you know it, the emotional bottom is looming closer and closer until is is staring you square in the face.

There is always the hope that some external force will stop the spiral and help you pull yourself out of the negative spin.  You wait for the email from a friend who cares enough to see how you are.  You hope for the piece of good news that will stop the cycle.  You grab the phone when it rings, knowing that someone is there wanting to listen to your ranting.

But they may never seem to come.

It is disappointing to feel that the help isn't coming and so the spiral continues downward as the feeling that 'no one cares about me' climbs on the already loaded cart of disappointments.

At these moments, I turn more frequently to prayer.  I turn to Heavenly Father for strength when I am weak and courage when I am afraid.  When it truly seems that life is hopeless, I can turn to Heavenly Father to ask for hope.

When the email doesn't come or the phone doesn't ring and it seems that there is no one to talk to, I can talk to Heavenly Father, and I feel less alone.

It may still be hours, or even days or weeks before my world rights itself, but even though I feel lonely and perhaps even abandoned, I am not alone because Heavenly Father will still be there to listen to my pleadings and my discouragement. Tears of sorrow are not viewed by Him as weakness. Questions don't drive Him crazy.  His answer is not something along the lines of  'could you wrap this up, I am in a bit of a hurry' or 'just stop letting it bug you.'

There is never a busy signal when I pray nor do I have to remember a password.  I don't get an error message or reach my limit of prayers during a 24 hour period.  I can pray anytime and anywhere.  And I have.

I don't often hear the answers I receive in specific words or ideas.  Sometimes it is just a feeling of peace.  That is enough to carry me on for awhile, just to restore the inner peace that has been shattered. It may be that the darkness inside is replaced by light for a time.  It may be that I just feel of His love and concern for me.  It may even be that I feel He is really listening to me and to my heart.

Today, I am profoundly grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who freely offers me the gift of prayer in good times and in bad.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Forgiveness

I guess it is time for another true confession.  The day before the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which took place recently, the whisperings of the Holy Ghost told me that I needed to work on Forgiveness.  This was not a surprise at all to me.  But when one says that to others, there is no guarantee how they will react.  That may make it sound like you intentionally hold grudges and look for revenge.  They may think of you as mean and divisive.  They may even think you are just plain dumb!

Logic tells me that forgiveness is the best answer.  My mind reminds me that not being willing to forgive is like 'drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.'  When someone has offended us and we continue to be wounded by their choices, they aren't hurt in any way.  They don't even know that we are offended.  They may or may not even care that we are offended.  It only hurts me!  I know that!

Yet my heart sometimes isn't so quick to understand.

I really appreciate having prophets to teach me.  It is such a blessing.  During General Conference I was reminded that it is not just a good idea. or something to consider, or wise to forgive.  It is a commandment.  Not only that, but we will be forgiven in the same manner that we choose to forgive others.

OUCH!

I really appreciate President Dieter F. Uchtdorf''s counsel to Stop It!  Then he kindly reminds us that he knows that it is hard to stop holding grudges and taking offense.  It is hard to stop judging, gossiping, and being unforgiving.

But that doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to do it.

Maybe none of you who read this have anyone in your life who has given you the opportunity to practice forgiveness.  But maybe some of you have, and have been very successful in the process of learning to forgive.  I hope so, because I am sending out a call for help.

If you have any great (or even good) resources that you would be willing to share on forgiveness - please share them with me. 

If you have some encouraging words, I need to hear them. 

If you have some amazing experiences that can strengthen me, I plead for them.   

I need to Stop it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

General Conference

I love General Conference weekend!  I look forward to its arrival every spring and every fall.

What's not to like when I get to stay home and listen to the words spoken by Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.  Other wise church leaders have prayed and fasted as well to prepare timely messages that speak to my mind and my heart. 

I have tried to prepare myself to receive what Heavenly Father has prepared just for me.  I have prayed for all who will teach to be inspired through the power of the Holly Ghost for weeks.  I have also prayed for my own heart to be softened and ready to receive.  I have come with concerns to learn about and a desire to learn.

Just the day before The April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began, the Holy Ghost whispered to me something new to study and learn and work on. Sure enough, that particular need was addressed by several well prepared, inspired speakers.

As I listened to General Conference, I was struck with awe and gratitude for the day in which we live.  As we started our family, we lived in an area where sessions of conference were only available over the radio or in Stake Centers.  Our children really paid much better attention when dressed in Sunday best and sitting in front of a large screen so they could actually see who was speaking.  But it took effort and seemed inconvenient. 

I know that sounds so silly doesn't it!

Technology is amazing!  Resources abound so that many around the world can listen to or watch General Conference as it happens.  By the next morning, talks are available over the internet to watch or listen to.  Within a few days, printed transcripts are avaiable as well.  I can listen over and over again.  I can read them again as often as I want.  In a few weeks, I can have the talks in my hands in the Ensign and take them with me wherever I go.

All of this is available with just a click of the mouse at:

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2012/04?lang=eng

For me this is nothing short of miraculous!

And I am grateful!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Temple Miracle

This week brought some difficult and disappointing news to a family very near and dear to me.  It was totally devastating.  The kind of news that brings one to the knees first in shock and disappointment and then searching for peace.

And it did!

It was difficult to look into their eyes and see the sorrow, frustration, and disappointment that was so obvious there. It was difficult to know what to say.  There was nothing that could take away the pain and perhaps nothing I could say would even soften this heartbreak.

Somehow life works out.  I think we all believe that long term it will be okay.  But often the challenges and disappointments mask hope so thoroughly that we feel there is simply no way that things will ever be right again.  We feel lost and alone and sometimes our faith begins to waiver.

I remember saying that I wished I knew where to find the miracle that they needed to make it all seem right again.  In response tears glistened just around the corner of their eyes. 

I meant it - where does one go to buy a miracle?

The wife went to the temple.  She knew where she needed to go for the miracle that would strenghten her during the difficult season ahead.  She spent the evening preparing her heart as she asked her loving Heavenly Father what it was that she needed to pray for.  And the next day she drove with a friend to the temple.

I saw her again and her countenance had changed.  Her circumstances were no different. But she was
She told me that she had received her miracle in the temple.  It was too tender and sweet to share with me, but she was strengthened and ready to face what lay ahead.

I think someday that I will hear the miracle.  But if not, it really doesn't matter. For me it is enough to know that Heavenly Father is aware of this precious family and that he will take care of them.  I rejoice in the knowledge that he blessed this priceless daughter with the exact thing that she needed to receive to be strengthened.

I am grateful for this temple miracle!