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







Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Reverence is Love"

Recently I started thinking about love and what it really means to demonstrate love with actions.  We don't all demonstrate love the same way nor do we all receive love in the same way.  We don't all love the same people nor the same things.  We use the word quite randomly and freely like I love chocolate or my dog or my car.  But do we love those things the same way we love people?  I eat up chocolate really quickly.  But do I quickly gobble up my pet or my car?

There is the love of nature and the love of sports.  Some love to read and some love to sew.  Some love the feeling of peace and contentment while some may love to stir the pot till it boils over.  There is the love of money, time, success, and appreciation.  For some they love the idea of ownership and control.  Some thrive on complements.  They love hearing their own praises sung.

I hear that some people really love their job or their career.  They devote a lot of time and effort there.  But do they mean that they love the work that they do or do they love the pats on the back that they get.  It may even mean that they love the money that they earn.  How does the love of a job stack up against the love of another person.

What about the love a parent has for a child.  What is a mother willing to do for her child?  What will she sacrifice willingly so that her child may experience life to the fullest.

Someone may say that they love someone and then treat them with unkindness.  Is that really love?  Maybe they didn't mean to be unkind.  But maybe they did.

One might hear the words I love you from a friend who never has time to listen or help or support.  Or maybe they are a true blue friend, until something or someone better comes along.  I have had friends like that.  My children have had friends like that.  Maybe you have too.

I am wondering what love looks like, sounds like, and feels like.  How do you describe the way it feels? 

This songs talks about the love we have for Heavenly Father and His love for us.  But maybe there is more to be learned from this song about how we should love each other. I think that these word sung by little children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints say a lot about love.


Reverence is Love
 Reverence is more than just quietly sitting:
It's thinking of Father above,
A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.
I'm, rev'rent for rev'rence is love.


When I'm rev'rent it shows in my words and my deeds.
The pathway to follow is clear. 
And when I am rev'rent I know in my heart
Heavenly Father and Jesus are near.
      Children's Songbook page 31.

If we really love somone, do we treat them with reverence?  And again the question comes to mind - What does reverence look like, sound like, or feel like?

I wonder!

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Because of the Love of God"

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon last week, I was really struck with some verses in 4th Nephi.  "And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people."  4 Nephi 1:15

What would it be like to live in a land where there was no contention?  How would our country be different if everyone could agree to live in peace and harmony? How much money is spent in our country to prevent and protect others from contentious behavior?

I have often wondered what our society would really look like if all our resources - yes all - were used for good and worthwhile purposes.  For example if there was no dishonesty, theft, murder, or crime of any kind.  How much money would be freed up to feed the poor or house the homeless.  If there were no need for a military force of any kind - would anyone really suffer from want?  True there would be police and military personnel who would be making a living another way - but if there were no greed or political desire for power - would there be jobs for everyone?

Would more mothers be able to stay at home and raise little children?  Would the quality of education be amazing?  Would we have more time to take care of each other?
 
"And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely a there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God."  4 Nephi 1:16

This sounds so good to me - to live in a place where everyone was happy because there was peace and prosperity. A place where you can believe in and trust in everyone.  A place where all have what they need and because we care so much about each other we would really stop comparing and competing with each other. 

Everyone would be friends with everyone!

In this land, no one would need to lock the door to their house or car.  Anyone could walk the streets anywhere and anytime and be safe.  Imagine the change in prices of commodities and services since there would be no shoplifting or taking advantage of a neighbor.

No one would be hungry or homeless!

Imagine children being able to go the the playground or the park and there would be no bullying.  The schools would be a safe haven where all could learn in their own way without fear of being made fun of.  None would be left out. 

All would be included!

The work place would be filled with cooperation and kindness. There would be no gossip or backstabbing.  One would never need to fear that someone was just using them to climb the ladder of success. If you did your best, it would always be good enough.  No one is trying to take your job. 

There is work enough for everyone!

People would still have sicknesses.  People would still get hurt.  Maybe there would still be cancer and Parkinson's disease.  Would our health care system be set up differently?  Would the dollar control access to health care? Could I spend five extra minutes talking with my physician about my condition without having to mortgave my home?  Could I spend the night in the hospital without my insurance company calling my physician to find out why?

Would health care only be available for the rich?

How might the leadership of our country be different?  What would service for our country be? Would greed and power be gone?  Would respect and honnor return?

We could really be proud of our country!

The words of these scriptures have penetrated my heart. 

I want to be different!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Contentment

I am not really sure what the official definition of contentment is.  Perhaps I should open a dictionary to find out.  That may explain why I am not sure what it is supposed to feel like.  But I think I recognize it when it comes to visit me. 

Unfortunately I find contentment to be a bit elusive for me.  It is not often that I recognize that I am contented.  It is also very fleeting and leaves rather quickly.  I have been trying for a long time to 'choose' to be more contented. 

I am much better at recognizing when I am not contented.  It looks something like this.  Comparing myself to others is usually a sign of discontentment.  That may lead to envy or even the green eyed monster of jealousy.  Loneliness is usually a pretty good indicator that I am not feeling contented with my life.  Other behaviors that may indicate that I am not contented are griping, fault finding, restlessness, and that familiar old feeling that I will never be good enough or do enough or have enough.

Recently we were able to spend some time with some of our grandchildren.  We spent a couple of hours with them at Storybook Park where Heavenly Father taught me a lesson in contentment.  My two year old grandson went straight to the slide.  Down he went several times by himself.  I saw the look of contentment on his face. Then he took my hand and we climbed the stairs to go down the slide together.  Fortunately it was a wide enough slide that we could contentedly slide together. 

We tried the bumpy slide where he wanted me to go first.  "Ready. Set. Go!" he said.  And I went.  His contentment was replaced with big smiles and infectuous giggles.  Then he beamed as I followed his lead.  "Ready. Set. Go!"  Down he came.  We repeated this process a number of times.  I watched his contented face blossom into pure delight.

When he was ready, we moved to the swings.  These were not baby swings, designed to hold in a two year old safely.  It was a big swing where he had to hold on with both hands. And he did!  My sweet, petite, two year old stayed on that swing for a very long time.  I pushed him gently as the swing would slow and let him swing and swing. 

At first I didn't see the look on his face.  I was always behind him.  I wondered if he was enjoying the swinging or if he had a look of fear in his eyes.  So I walked around the swing to see his expression.  It was then that I saw his look of pure contentment.  Perhaps he didn't know what he was feeling.  But I knew what it was. It as so plain to me.  He had a look of contentment in his eyes that was totally mirrored by his lips that turned up gently at each corner.

Now I watched his face as the swing moved.  His expression didn't change.  Nothing on his little body seemed to be moving except that I knew he was breathing.  And I continued to watch.

What a lesson for me to about contentment.  Just as my grandson could be contented with something as simple as swinging on a swing, I could choose to be contented with simple things. 

So I sat in the vacant swing next to him to swing and be contented.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Routine

I confess that I like to have a certain amount of order and routine in my life.  Maybe it is the security that it provides.  Maybe it prevents me from going quite so crazy when life hands me a curve ball.  Maybe I am just plain weird.

Summer vacation arrives and throws what little order I have right out the window!  We don't ever go to bed or get out of bed at the same time. This wrecks my sleeping so much that I feel like I am just dragging through life most of the time.

There is no schedule for meals.  I feel like I am in the kitchen a ton more.  I am eating out of control. People come and go all day long.  I tumble into bed and feel like I haven't accomplished anything all day long.  I eat more junk food.  I don't manage to get any kind of organized exercise.  Life just seems a little bit out of whack all the time.

I wander around my chaos and wonder why I can't ever seem to get my act together.

At the end of the day I may remember that I never managed to get down on my knees to pray.  I meant to.  I thought about it.  I even stopped something that I was doing so I could go find a place to pray.  But somehow, I never got there.  I may find myself scrambling for a Book of Mormon so I can stuff a scripture or two into my brain that is already too weary to notice.

What is wrong with me?

I don't really feel like I am just wandering aimlessly around my house all day. I am not reading for hours on end nor am I watching tv continuously.  My spouse is home for the summer and he does almost all the yard work.  He does some laundry and dishes.  I have more help than usual - so why do I feel like my life is in constant upheaval?

Don't get me wrong - there are many good things about summer.  The world is beautiful - so why am I not out there to enjoy it?  There is more daylight and sunshine, yet I rarely seem to notice.

Are my expectations of summer just too high?  Is it too much to expect of myself to make time for personal prayer and scripture study?  Am I really a failure when I don't make them happen?

Over the last several months I have read and reread Mormon 9.  I have found a great deal of peace, comfort, and strength in these verses.  I love verse 21 and 27.  They come to mind often.  I also love D&C 6:36.  It is short and I have it memorized.  On days when my scriptures are never opened, I ponder these wonderful words.  I try to stretch my faith with them and trust more in Heavenly Father.  These words bring me a little bit closer to Him.

Does this count as scripture study?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Washing Machine Miracle

My washing machine has not been well for over three years now.  Symptoms appeared one day unexpectedly as I could not seem to get the lid switch to engage which meant that the washing machine would not run at all.  Experimentation taught me that a number of tricks encouraged this switch to engage and I could wash our clothing.  Large heavy books set on top of the lid, near the switch worked well for a time,  But eventually I had to move on to other means of discipline.  Pounding on the lid of the machine, literally, worked for a time as well.  I even climbed onto the lid and sat there until the switch engaged for a time. 

It was an interesting season for me.  For months I not only beat my washing machine into submission, I vacuumed my very unfinished, plywood, kitchen counter tops on a more than daily basis.  Any kind of cleaning item I tried, dishcloth, sponge. etc. was immediately torn into shreds by the splintering wood. Each of these tasks was repeated multiple times nearly every day. Sundays they both received a well earned rest.

Eventually I was no longer able to convince my washing machine to fulfill the measure of its creation.  I made the difficult decision to call in a repairman, who recognized that the switch was a problem, yet never mentioned that replacing the switch was an option.  He suggested that we continue the daily beatings of the washing machine, increasing the level of force.  Slamming the machine lid with extreme gusto was also suggested as an option.  In all our discussion, we got the understanding that replacing the switch was just impossible.  So we could live with it until replacing the machine was our choice.  He did replace the failing water pump.  

Perhaps this strenuous activity helped me with stress management.  Who knows!  But I really think it created far more than it ever relieved.

So for a year I continued to coax and browbeat my washing machine into doing our laundry.  At times I had mountains of laundry begging for attention, waiting for the switch to submit and engage. I tried to praise and appreciate my machine, in its presence regularly, loudly so it could hear.

When I could again no longer convince the washing machine that I was the boss.  I chatted again by phone with the repairman who suggested by phone that the switch could be replaced. 

Your kidding!  I thought to myself.  Why didn't we do this before I asked.  By now I had fought, physically, with this machine.  No explanation was offered.  The part was not expensive.  But the second house call was!

Three years ago the lid switch on my machine was replaced.  Good news!

Something else was wrong with the machine.  And it is terminal.  Bad news!

The repairman wasn't even sure that replacing the switch was worth the expense because the machine is dying but it is up to me to decide.

I hate these kinds of decisions.  How do I know what is right or best.  My crystal ball provides no information, so -

In a leap of faith, I decided to have the switch repaired.

My washing machine and I are still friends.  It is noisy.  A reminder that it is not as young and healthy as it once was.  But we work well together. Three years have passed and my machine and I still speak to each other on a very regular basis. 


I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has blessed me with this particular miracle. For me it is the miracle of the washing machine. 

And I thank Him.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Friends

Some years ago someone I know had what she thought was a really good relationship with a friend.  They talked a lot and helped each other out often.  They went a lot of places together and tended each other's children.

But the friendship began to unravel.  There was no apparent reason to my friend, but she could see it fall apart before her very eyes.  She struggled as she tried to identify what she might have done or said that was wrong or offensive.  She replayed recent interactions over and over in her mind, analyzing each conversation and nuance.  She tried harder to be a 'good' friend.  Nothing appeared to make a difference.

Perhaps this has happened to all of us. 

People come into our lives and we seem to become friends.  Our lives become richer because of our interactions with these people.  We may see things differently.  Our self esteem may blossom as we are blessed by these relationships. 

They fill a void in our life that we weren't even aware existed.

We think everything is fine and then for whatever reason it is not.  We are sad as we watch a friend drift away and may even feel a sense of grief at this loss.  We may even accept full responsibility that we have damaged the relationship and driven away a dear friend.   It may in truth be something that we did or did not do or something that we said or did not say. 

But we may never know!

For my friend, she learned why the reason her friendship dissolved was purely financial.  The husband of her close friend got a new job with better benefits and a much larger salary. All the things that she had dreamed of doing when she had more money were now possible.  Now she could go out to lunch regularly and shop at upscale stores.  She could afford a babysitter and no longer wanted to take care of another's children in trade.  Her now found financial ability chased away a good friend. How very sad!

Recently a friend has fallen from my life.  Her life has swallowed her up and there is no room left for me.  I know that she does still care about me, but she has no energy or time left over anymore. 

And I really miss her!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Listen

Does anyone out there have someone in their lives that doesn't appear to listen to them very well?  Maybe a friend, a coworker, or perhaps even a family member.

Sometimes it is totally obvious that what you are saying is not important.  The person who is supposed to be listening may turn around and walk away.  Yup!  I would say a dead giveaway - not listening. It may be somewhat less obvious that they aren't listening but still I get the picture when paper shuffling occurs.  Other clues may be things like the listener starting to read the mail or turning on the TV. 

I am pretty good at picking up on these hints that say, "I am not listening."

But then there are these experiences.

After a careful, detailed explanation of something, the person, who appears to be listening makes little or no comment.  May not even nod the head.  I can only assume that my message has been received.  Sometime later - perhaps within minutes - this person asks a question that clearly indicates that they truly didn't listen to a word that was said.

It is obvious because the answer to the question was explained clearly in the information that I had already passed to them. 

And I stand there dumbfounded wondering what just happened and how to reply.  I usually stammer out a response that sounds something like this, "I'm sorry.  I am so sorry that I didn't explain that to you better.  I'm sorry that I did it all wrong."  And then I get to explain it all over again. 

I might even say something like, "I am so sorry that I forgot to tell you that."

Even though I am sure that I already did.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Am I the only one?

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to talk to someone who clearly doesn't want to listen to me anymore.  What is the point!

Now, don't get me wrong.  I understand that I am not a rocket scientist.  Nor am I a Rhodes Scholar.  But I do have a smattering of intelligence and experience in life.  I have even had a few people come to me for advice or help on occasion. 

I don't really think I am a babbling idiot - at least not all the time.

I am really, really tired of talking to the wind.  I don't know how to react anymore.  I am frustrated and annoyed. 

And I don't know how this should make me feel.

What happened to showing people the courtesy of just listening, did it die out? Is interupting or turning around and walking out of the room considered rude anymore?  Is it now considered totally acceptable to watch tv while you are supposed to be listening to someone speak?  Is it ok to carry on with your work at the computer?  Are there any rules left for good listeners?

Is there a way to be heard politely?

Is there anyone out there listening?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blogs and Websites

Someone has requested some suggested blogs and websites that they might enjoy reading.  If you have any suggestions let's hear them!

Here are some I can suggest:

Mormon.org
lds.org

http://yourtruereflection.blogspot.com/
http://paperandparchment.blogspot.com/
http://ldsscrapbook.blogspot.com/
http://audreybandley.blogspot.com/
http://kirsten-bo-birsten.blogspot.com/
http://margaretthinks.blogspot.com/2012/06/anticipation.html


The other blogs that I read are more personal and about family.

What a great idea to share some other good online reading ideas!

Please help me out here!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Do Others Know What I Value?

A few months ago I found myself visiting with a neighbor.  We chatted about a number of things including her job away from home and my choice to still be at home, even though my children are mostly grown. 

I shared the sometimes lonely feel that accompanies spending a lot of time alone.  I commented on the fact that many of the tasks I did were mundane and certainly less than exciting.  There aren't many pats on the back and certainly no paycheck that validates what I choose to do. 

There are perks though, I must admit.  I can be a grandma in a few hours notice if I am needed.  I don't have to arrange for time off.  I can make gifts for my grandchildren, if I choose.  I can talk to my children or my grandchildren during the day.  I have found that joys and trials don't always revolve around a 9-5 work schedule.

I can read blogs written by my creative family members and drool over the pictures their parents post.  I can make a quilt, or mend something for someone.  I can try my hardest to keep my cookie jar filled.

I fix lunch for my husband most work days.  I cook him breakfast, usually.  I can move from task to task if I choose. I can keep his clothing ready for him, clean and pressed. I can spend time with him in the evening when we used to have too many things to do to hardly see each other.

I can ignore things I want to ignore. At least for a time.

I can say my prayers whenever I want to, and sometimes that is multiple times a day.  I read my scriptures when I choose.  I can listen to uplifting music or books on CD.  I can be a volunteer when others are too busy at work.

I didn't really get a chance to tell her about the perks though, because she surprised me when she said that she had been envious of me, because I could be available for my family.  She had not been aware of the loneliness I have sometimes felt nor had she considered the lack of income.  Only that she could see that I had a quilt on from time to time or traveled to be with the little darlings.  She saw that at times my back yard was filled with the happy noises of grandchildren who had come to stay.

Then what she told me surprised me!

She said, "I would never have gone to work if my husband had ever shown that what I did at home had any value to him at all."

Seriously?

Do we forget to tell the people in our lives that what they do matters?  Do we fail to show them that we are observant of their service.

This woman has five children, now grown and moved away.  But she has worked much of their lives because not only did her husband not show her that being a wife and mother was important to him, he never, ever told her that what she did mattered.

What a tragedy! 

But perhaps the same is true of most of us.  Do we take our friends and family for granted?  Do we show them by our deeds that they are important in our lives?  Do they hear it in the words we speak or see it in our attentive gestures?

I wonder.