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







Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Blessing of Temples

We sat side by side, quietly chatting as we waited for a meeting to begin.  We had very recently become friends and what she shared surprised me.    

I don't remember how the conversation even began, but Gina bore her testimony that Heavenly Father teaches in the temple. And the she shared a personal experience.

Gina told me of a time when she was really struggling.  She found herself not feeling much happiness and certainly no joy.  She was discouraged and disappointed and it had become such an effort just to carry on with normal life that she found herself slogging through life.

My new friend seemed so happy, cheerful, and positive that I was rather surprised to hear of her struggle.  She always smiled and seemed filled with self confidence. I had not seen any of this in her at all.  But then I also know that we try our best to wear a happy smile and pretend that life is wonderful even when it was not.

Gina had not really been able to identify what was really wrong - only that something was.

One day after she and her husband had attended the temple, her husband told her that he knew what was wrong.  Gina was stunned!  As far as she knew, he wasn't even aware of how she felt or that she was struggling.  She had not told him.  She had tried to carry on as if everything was just fine.

"What?" she had asked him wondering how he had come to understand that something really was wrong.

Her husband proceeded to tell her that Heavenly Father had told him that she was struggling and why, while he was in the temple.  Gina's husband then told her that she was struggling because she was not receiving any appreciation for all the things she was doing in her life.  Not receiving any appreciation from anyone had beaten her down and now her self esteem was really low.  She didn't feel that others valued her and so she was no longer valuing herself either.

As soon as Gina heard the things that her husband said, she knew that it was absolutely true.  She thought about all the things that she did and who there was that was expressing appreciation for her and she realized that there was no one.  She could clearly see in just a few moments what she had not been able to see before, she needed to feel valued and appreciated by others.  She needed to feel valued and appreciated by herself too.

Gina's testimony of the power that is available by participating in temple work strengthened me.  I felt the Holy Ghost bear witness of her words to me. This inspiration changed her life.

What a blessing to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and be able to attend the temple and be taught by Heavenly Father.

Recently I read this quote which added a prophet's voice to validate Gina's experience with feeling unappreciated.  "Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil." - President Gordon B. Hinckley

I have pondered my friends's experience a great deal. Can we ever be to appreciative?  Can we ever say thank you too many times?  How do I show my appreciation to others?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

As long as I can remember, I have celebrated Memorial Day at the cemeteries with my family members.  As a child, we gathered flowers from our yard, containers of some kind, a large container of water and our grandmothers, and headed to the cemetery for the day.  We also had folding chairs, wire hangers, clipping implements, hats, and such other supplies as were needed. 

This was an important day.!

We honored our loved ones who had returned to live with Heavenly Father by our presence.  We talked about them and their life experiences.  We cleaned up the headstones and added our flowers, often in an old jar or tin can.  These were anchored into the grass with wire coat hangers. 

My grandmothers were there to visit with other family members and friends that arrived to pay their respects.  They would sit on a lawn or folding chair only while they waited for someone else to visit.  Both of my grandmothers blossomed on this day.  They  may have been too ill to do anything much for days before, but on Memorial Day, they were dressed and pressed and at the cemetery.

I had lots of time to wander the cemetery and look at headstones, flowers, and people.  I felt safe there and meandered freely, looking at grave markers that had intricate carvings of temples and wildlife.  I read names and quotes and even saw some actual pictures of the people buried beneath.

I remember Mrs. Eppers whose husband was buried close to my Grandpa Wilcox.  She was also there for the day.  She spent much of her time putting out her artificial pink roses that carefully outlined her husbands entire grave.  I looked at the angel statue that was also close by.

I can easily find our family's graves.  A large tree shades the headstones of my Mother and Father as well as my Heiner Grandparents.

As an adult, I have continued to make the trek to the cemetery on Memorial Day to pay tribute to those who made it possible for me to live where and how I do.  My children also have been to the cemetery with me.  They can also find the headstones of their ancestors.  Some of them love this special day.  Some of them do not.

This year, my trek to the cemetery will not be on Memorial Day.  I will be helping one of our sons and his family move instead.  I am happy to be there to help them.  They are special to me just as my ancestors are.

I hope that in some way, my life has honored my parents and my grandparents by the choices I have made and the person I am trying to become. 

Perhaps that kind of honoring is even more meaningful than the flowers I will place at their graves.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The End of the Year

We again traveled to Logan to hear our son sing with the Utah State University Institute Choir.  It was their last fireside for the year.  Our son, in his kindness, did not pressure us to come at all to attend this fireside.  We went because we wanted to.  We love him.  We are proud of him.  We want to support him as much as we are able. 

It is easy to attend these firesides for us, because they fill up our souls.  It is as if Our Heavenly Father literally pours healing balm into our hearts and then adds a generous serving of peace and joy.  We are fed to full and overflowing as we hear the hymns that testify of Our Savior Jesus Christ and His life and Atonement.  We rejoice as we hear the testimonies shared by these Institute students of the joy they have received as they have participated throughout the year with the choir. 

Some of these students are quite shy.  For them it is difficult to speak the words that testify of a Loving Heavenly Father and His goodness.  So they sing with all their hearts and souls!  It is evident that the music really means something special to them as their faces radiate with love and goodness.

The two choirs reminisced with us about the past year.  We remembered other firesides we had attended with them.  We thought of the new converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who told of the changes that had come into their lives as they learned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They shared their new blossoming testimonies and their overwhelming joy.  The Spirit of the Holy Ghost was powerful that night!

We remembered the Christmas Concert where so much beautiful Christmas music filled our hearts.  We heard stories of Christmases past and Christmas miracles.  It was truly a celebration of the birth of Our Savior in a very large and very full venue.  We shared that evening with a number of our family members who had sacrificed to be there and then rejoiced that they had.

Our son gave us a CD with all the beautiful Christmas music from this concert to us for Christmas.  I have played it a number of times since then - when I needed to feel peace.  I played it last week as I drove to Utah.  I played it today as I struggled to feel The Spirit with me.  It doesn't matter that it is not Christmas.  It makes me feel better!

Joseph Smith was the topic of another evening where I heard the most beautiful and stirring rendition of "Praise to the Man" that I have ever heard.  The Spectrum is a large arena, often echoing with the sound of sporting events.  This night the roof raised as the testimonies of these institute members filled the air with this moving song.  It is possible that angels from heaven joined in the choir that night testifying of the restoration of the Gospel.

I loved every song I heard at this final fireside and was thrilled to hear "Praise to the Man" again swell withing the walls of the Logan Tabernacle.  Again, the Spirit testified of the power of prayer and the faith and accomplishment of a young man who grew up to become a prophet of God.

It was an amazing evening and I am grateful to have been there to have my soul healed and filled.  I am grateful to all those who make these opportunities available not only for I who come to be fed, but also for those who are well taught and prepared to provide the food.

And once gain, my soul was touched as I heard their last words, sung with meaning and love, "Go Ye Now In Peace."

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Miracle of Water

My sister told me this story.  I have never heard it before or since. 

It is a story my Grandmother Sarah told her.  I hope I tell it at least as close to accurate as possible. I wish my grandmother had told me!

When Sarah's ancestors arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the land was still a desert, very dry, and without water.  I don't know how many people there were in this community, but it was decided that quickly acquiring water was a necessity.  And so the people began to fast and pray for the miracle that they needed. 

Water!

Then the men of the group took their shovels and other implements and began to dig the ditches for the water to fill.  I don't know how long it took them to complete the ditches.  I don't know anything about the size or configuration of the ditch system  that these men created but it must have been just right.

When they completed the ditches and waterways, coupled with their faith, prayers, and fasting, the ditches filled with water.

What a miracle!

I love this story.  I wish I could find it in print somewhere because there are so many lessons that I can learn from it.  I wish I knew for sure when and where it happened and more specifically who was involved.  I want to know more.

What a great example of faith to clearly identify a need and begin to fast and pray for that need to be met.  But that is not enough.  Then the work begins.  It reminds me of hearing throughout my life that I should pray to Heavenly Father as if everything depends on Him and then work as if everything depends on me.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints taught that faith is an action word.

Heavenly Father loves us and desires for us to be happy and successful.  He didn't send us here to fail.  But we must put forth the effort to work out our own salvation.  He cannot usurp our agency and force us to choose Eternal Life or become something we don't really want to be.  There are laws that govern heaven and earth.

It is Satan's plan to force and coerce and control.

These faithful me believed that Heavenly Father would provide them with water, but they didn't just sit in their rocking chairs and watch and wait for Him to send it.  They did all that they knew to do to prepare for the water when it came.  I don't know how quickly the water came either.  My guess is that they continued to fast and pray until the water came.  It may have been hours but it may have been weeks.  Another lesson from this experience, persistence. 

Sometimes I want to give up!

Elder Bednar taught that sometimes we have to walk into the dark a ways before we can see the light come to meet us.  We don't always know when or how things will work out for our good.  He reminded us that as the Israelites fled to the Jordan River, they had to step into the water before the water parted.  They walked through on dry ground.  But, he said, "The soles of their feet were wet before the water parted."

There are so many lessons for me to learn in this miracle.  But -

Sometimes, I just don't want to get my feet wet!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day - part 2

I have 13 amazing grandchildren, very soon to be fourteen.  They are each unique individuals with personalities that light the stage of my life with shades and hues of color on a regular basis. Each has their own temperment and can be totally unpredictable. 

I adore them all!

One of my great joys in life is that each of these children is being raised by their own parents.  What a great blessing that each has a mother who has chosen and been able to stay at home to face the exhausting life of motherhood. 

In this day and age, I believe it is rare!

It is impossible for me to celebrate Mother's Day and not honor these 5 women who mean so much to me.  They are our future, teaching, loving, and guiding the children who will mold and shape another future.  They are the women who go for days on end with little or no sleep while recovering from labor and delivery.  They are the women who sacrifice comfort and need for the greater good of their little boys and girls.

These are women who have chosen to leave behind the fame and fortune of a career for the wet, sticky kisses of toddlers.  They clean up everything that spills from gallons of water to jars of sticky jam.  Laundry is a never ending chore.  There is always a pile waiting to be washed, dried, folded, or put away.  Bathrooms get cleaned and floors get mopped.  Tripping over and picking up toys is never ending.  Dirty dishes multiply on their own and sometimes it is not possible to find a clean glass anywhere.  On the other hand, silverware disappears into thin air.  On occasion a stray spoon may be found outside in the dirt, in a toy box, or in a garbage can.  Acquiring, preparing, and serving food is almost a full time job of its own.

These women will do all this and more today and fall exhausted into bed and then rise to do it again tomorrow.

These are women who may not be able to complete a sentence while conversing with another adult, but will say "get down,"  "please don't do that,"  "No!" and dozens of other short phrases in a single day to try to prevent insult and injury to little people.

Even when her own heart is breaking and there is no one to comfort her, each of these women will be found encircling a broken hearted child, drying tears and offering solace.

None of these women may complete reading a single novel this month or this year, but she will have read dozens of stories, poems, and picture books.  She may have trouble memorizing her favorite scripture yet be able to quote verbatim any one of a number of her children's favorite books. 

These women listen to hours of begging, pleading, and whining, while exercising great control to neither smack the offending child or collapse into her own puddle of tears.

Countless hours are spent every week searching for the lost.  You know the long list:  shoes, socks, toys, coats, keys, blankets, sippy cups, etc.  Isn't it amazing that the favorite whatever is what is so often missing? 

Each of these women can be found driving anywhere and everywhere while her little children strapped into car seats demand drinks, snacks, and potty breaks. Arguments break out frequently over which song to listen to and which child gets to choose what and what we want to do next amidst the ever popular 'are we there yet?' or 'when are we going home?'  Sometimes the confined space of the car is filled with the ear splitting cries of a child who is just plain miserable.

And she drives on with a half crooked smile across her face.

When she herself is exhausted, she will volunteer to tend another mother's children or deliver dinner.  When her house is a wreck, she will clean the house of a sick friend.  When there isn't a stitch of clean clothing in her own home, she will carry home laundry baskets filled with dirty clothes for another new mother.

She will rise every day with the determination to do all that she can do.  She will do the best that she can do.  She will try not to complain or have a nervous breakdown. 

To these amazing 5 women who mother my grandchildren I can only say thank you!  I am proud of you!  I honor you and I pray for you.

We may live far away - but I know you and I know who you are and how much you sacrifice and how hard you work! 

Because each of you is a mother!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day - part 1

Every May we celebrate Mother's Day.  It is a day designed to honor and appreciate the women who mother.  For this year, that day was yesterday.  I hope that it turned out to be a sweet day for everyone who mothers in some way. 

I am not sure how anyone else really feels about Mother's Day.  I have had some wonderful Mother's Days but I have also had some days that were far less than that.  Many a Mother's Day seemed like a regular working Sunday to me.  I cooked and cleaned and tended the children.  I got them ready for church and wrestled with them there.  I went to bed feeling exhausted and disappointed and wondered why I didn't feel special on a day that I thought I was supposed to feel special.  What was wrong with me?

Sometimes I wished that no one had ever set aside a day where people were expected to honor their mothers. Why don't we just honor them always because they are deserving of our honor and respect?

I wonder how single women feel on Mother's Day.  Are they hurt to be reminded that they have not had the opportunity to marry and raise children?  Are they celebrating because they are single and do not share any responsiblity for mothering?

Some married women do not have children either.  Maybe they chose that or maybe they did not.  How do they feel?  Do they feel that they are less than, because they do not mother their own children?  What if they are the best aunt, friend, cousin, neighbor, teacher, etc around - do they mother in other ways that are less obvious?  Do they feel any sense of accomplishment or appreciation for the way they mother?

My mother was amazing.  She was energetic, beautiful, and accomplished.  She sang like an angel and loved to play the piano and organ.  She cooked, she cleaned, and she sewed.  Mother quilted, knitted, and did crochet.  She was a teacher and a leader.  She helped organize clubs and organizations in the community where she gave years of dedicatied service.  She was a 4-H leader and a social worker.  She took care of aging parents and tiny grandchildren. She was a writer and a painter.  She was educated and she traveled the world. She loved to be involved and volunteered for everything.  She was an elegant lady.

My mother was handicapped!

I don't know if my mother was so amazing because she was handicapped or inspite of her handicap.  But it doesn't matter.  She was a mover and a shaker.

My mother has been gone now for a number of years and I miss her. I learned so much from her and I owe her my life and so much more.  I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the sacrifices that she made for me.  I know that bearing children was hard for her.  I also know that her limitations made raising children difficult for her.

I also know that my mother did the best that she knew how, to be a good mother.  And she was!

Today I say thank you to my own mother but also to all those who surround me and mother me now in her absence.

To Be Continued

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thrown Under the Bus

Recently my sister told me of an incident when she had done exactly what she had been asked to do and when push came to shove, something didn't go quite the way it was supposed to and it turned out differently than expected.  When, in the midst of a follow-up discussion, identifying what went wrong came up (or in other words the finger pointing began) and she found herself the scape goat.  The person who had dropped this responsibility at her doorstep, with pretty specific guidelines, joined on the side of "I'm not responsible" and left her holding the bag.

I don't think my sister liked the way that made her feel!

As I listened to her tell me that she felt that she had been thrown under the bus, I remembered a number of times when that is exactly how I felt.

I know that I have pretty much hated it every time someone left me hanging all alone on a noose that they had tied and carefully placed over my head.  They watched calmly as I hung there dangling, symbolically holding out their clean hands as if to prove their total innocence.

I remember once when someone I knew seemed to be in the middle of many a conflict.  She proclaimed her innocence as loud as a clanging bell, ringing out her total lack of involvement for all the world to hear. 

Funny, someone else described her as the Little Match Girl.

This woman carried a box of matches with her all the time, ready to strike whenever and wherever she had the opportunity.  Start a little fire here.  Start a little fire there.  Start up an argument over this.  Stir up a pot of trouble over there.  See that little puddle of worry - how high can I make the flames reach?  Spread a little gossip here.  Cause a little contention there. 

But if anyone ever asked her about the situation, the box of matches was well hidden in her pocket and she would hold up her hands in dismay.  Who me?  I didn't do anything.  I don't know what you are talking about.  I am completely innocent!

These experiences come to us all, I suppose.  They come in friendships and in families.  They come in the workplace and in volunteer organizations.  Usually they come unexpectedly and completely broadside us,  But on occasion, previous experience warns us to be wary and watchful because it has happened to us before in a similar situation or with a certain person.  We tred carefully, peering around every corner, waiting for the expected strike.

As I have pondered some of my own personal experiences, I have often wondered, what did I do to deserve this?  Why would they do this to me?  What could I have done to prevent or change this?  Did I do something that made me an easy target?  How can I prevent this from happening again?

I have come up with few answers - only more questions. Especially this one:

Why do we do this to each other?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Do You Define Nagging?

Has anyone told you that you were an excellent nagger?  I don't suppose that would sound much like a compliment, would it?

I suppose that it is possible that each of us has taken our turn at being both the nagger (one who nags) and the naggee (one who is the recipient of nagging.)  I am sure that I have done plenty of both. 

But nagging is one of those words whose meaning is elusive.  At what point does nagging begin?

A friend was told by her new husband that she was never allowed to mention anything to him more than once. Ever! That would be nagging and he simply would not tolerate nagging within this marriage.  Period!

She quickly learned that he meant it!

Is that really true?  Is asking a question a second time really nagging?  Is reminding someone of an important appointment or obligation a second time nagging?  Is saying "I love you," a second time nagging?

When does it cross the line to nagging?  Is it the second or maybe the fifth or the tenth?  How many times in a day can one ask for something before it becomes nagging? Or a week?  Or a month?  Or a year?

How do you define nagging?

Sometimes I feel like a ask the same things so often from Heavenly Father that I am becoming a nag.  Does He tire of me repeating the same request over and over?  Is once a day too much or once a week?  When have I crossed the line with Him?  When has it been one time too many and He becomes impatient and irritated with me? 

How long will He endure the same pleas and requests?  Will He have had enough after a month or a year or a decade? 

When does He say to me, "Enough!  Get off my back.  Stop nagging at me?"

In The Book of Mormon I have read, "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint:that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  (2Nephi 32:9)

As I read this, I wonder again about nagging.  When does asking become nagging?  When does seeking answers cross the line towards nagging?  When do reminders become intolerable?

How do you define nagging?