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







Thursday, September 27, 2012

O Divine Redeemer

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints love temples. Temples are places of peace and learning. Our time in temples strengthens our faith and educates us in the plan our Heavenly Father created for our growth and success. For many who attend the temple, the world is suddenly more beautiful the minute we walk outside the temple doors.  For a time, we may be more paitent, kind, and considerate.  Bit by bit our selfish natures can be changed.

Church members rejoice with the announcement of each new temple to be built.  We may drive by often, if we live close enough, to see the temple's progress or monitor online as it grows. Members and nonmembers alike may flock to an open house to see the finished temple.The dedication of a temple is a big event often preceeded by a celebration by the local youth. 

On Sunday, September 23, 2012 a new temple in Brigham City, Utah was dedicated.  Only those eight years and older who qualify for a temple recommend may participate in the dedication of a temple, where the temple is turned over to the Lord for his work on the earth.  Sacred ordinances occur within the walls of the temples after the dedication.

That evening we were priveleged to attend a celebration of appreciation and rejoicing in the dedication of this temple in Brigham City.  The Utah State Univeristy Institute  choirs filled our hearts as they shared testimony through word and song of the power of temples in their lives. These young adults shed tears of gratitude and joy as they expressed the deepest feelings of their hearts.

Every song was powerful because of the truths that they taught.  Each touched my heart!

Most touching for me personally was the song O Divine Redeemer sung jointly by the Institute Choir and Latter Day Voices.  The Logan Tabernacle was filled with The Spirit of the Holy Ghost as music resonated within its walls and these  words were sung:

Ah! turn me not away, receive me, tho' unworthy!
Hear Thou my cry, behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from Thy throne, haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid,
Thy pity show in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Tho' righteous Thine anger, O Lord!
Shield me in danger, O Regard me! On Thee, Lord, alone will I call


O Divine Redeemer! O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O divine Redeemer!
Night gathers round my soul; fearful I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord! Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry, Save me, Lord, in Thy mercy;
Hear my cry! Come and save me, O Lord!
O, divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
And remember not, O Lord, my sins!
Save, in the day of retribution, from Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O, divine Redeemer, have mercy! Help me, my Savior!


These words are so powerful, as they are the pleadings of  my own soul.  I cannot imagine that anyone else could have sung this song any better or with more faith and testimony than did these young adults who sing because they love it and because the believe it.
   
Thank you to my son who sings with these choirs and invites us to tag along on his journey of testimony and faith.  You are a blessing in my life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dependability

This week my friend's husband got hurt at work.  His arm has second and third degeree burns from an acetylene torch. She said he wasn't too bad.  She told me that her husband was late coming home from work and she had been so concerned about him because if he is going to be late, he will always call or text her to let her know.  She can depend on him to do that.  He never misses.  She began texting him to try to find out what was going on.  She knew that something had to be wrong.  He would always protect her from worrying.  I could hear the emotion in her voice as she talked.  She was grateful that her husband was going to be fine, but also shaken up by the concern that was caused by the unknown.  Her husband reached her as soon as he was able and of course she understood his inablitiy to contact her.  But that one incident was difficult for her, that one time he didn't call. For a moment, the rug was pulled out from under her feet as her husband's dependability was in question.

It was a glitch. My friend can still depend on her husband.

I had an annoying dependablitiy experience this week myself which has caused me to think about dependability a bit.  On Monday afternoon I was reminded by the Holy Ghost that something with our car insurance didn't seem to have been worked out yet.  I had called our insurance agent's office four weeks ago to make a change and heard nothing more about it.  I figured something had gotten lost in the shuffle since the prompting was clear to call now. So I did. The secretary was certain that it was taken care of but did some checking to confirm that it was done.  To her surprise, it appeared that it had not been done at all.  I was told that she would need to contact an office that was currently closed, but she would call that office first thing the next morning. She told me that she would call me on Tuesday and let me know the real status of our insurance.

Now this is not a life and death situation.  But when she told me she would call me on Tuesday, I took her word at face value and expected her to do so.  When Wednesday came and I had not heard from the secretary, I wondered if there could be some holiday I was not aware of.  Perhaps the office she needed to contact was not open for some reason.  I decided to wait until Thursday to call.  The secreatry seemed to be rather surpised at my call and really didn't offer much of an explanation. Only that they were working on it.  I thought I could hear annoynace in her tone of voice.  I casually explained that she had indicated she would call me after she reached the other office by phone. She made no response to that so I sheepishly wiggled my way out of the conversation and got off the phone.

Now, how hard would it be to pick up the phone, dial a few numbers, and tell me what was going on with our car insurance?  How long would it really take?  If you tell someone you will call them back - why wouldn't you?

What has happened to dependablity?  I grew up hearing that a man's word was his bond.  I think that applied to everyone.  When did that become old fashioned, unimportant, and unneccesary?

If you tell me you will do something - do it!  If you tell me you will be somewhere - be there!  If you say you will call - pick up the phone and call! If you can't be on time - tell me!

I know, it sounds like my soapbox is getting pretty tall - but really, what is going on with us that we can't go a little bit out of our way t to be dependable.  And when emergencies crop up - and they do - pick up the phone and call.  Leaving someone waiting is so rude and inconsiderate.  Why is the irresponsible person's time worth more than the person who is waiting or wondering or worrying?

Perhaps I needed a dependability reminder myself.  I don't want to be like the secretary in the insurance office.  I need to look closely at myself and make some changes and corrections because -

I want to be someone that others can count on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sense of Humor

I am the first to admit that I don't have a very good sense of humor.  I think I once did, but it got chased away by life and its challenges. No one to blame but myself!  I used to try to be funny, but my husband didn't laugh at my jokes or humor.  My children also let me know that I was not allowed to be funny.  So for the most part, I have just quit trying to be funny. 

I appreciate the sense of humor that others share with me. I appreciate a good joke as much as the next person I think. I just don't often repeat a good joke.  I know that I am not funny. I have already been told by word and by the rolling of the eyes that no one thinks I have anything to say worth even a minor chuckle.

Many people use humor to mask other things.  Because they say something hurtful in a funny manner, they can get away with it.  Or they may deliver a really unkind remark, followed by a 'just kidding' and so that means that you can't be offended by it.  Sarcasm sometimes drips like water and people just pile on the pain.  But remember, it was funny so you can't be hurt by that.

None of that is funny at all to me.  I don't care how you package an unkind remark, it is still unkind when you open it.  Making an insult funny doesn't lessen the fact that it is an insult.  Being rude is still rude whether you can laugh at it or not.  Why do we think we can hurt other people and then laugh at it afterwards? 

Does it hurt less when someone says, "You know that I was just joking don't you?'

I just don't get it. 

Either we are kind or we are not.  We are rude or we are not.  We meant to hurt them or we did not.  I just don't see the gray area in there.

I have a friend who has a terrific sense of humor.  She loves people.  She is always cheerful and  loves visiting with others.  She wants to put them at ease.  She cracks a lot of jokes - but I have never heard her crack a joke at the expense of another person or their feelings.  I appreciate that so much.  We can laugh and giggle, but not at the expense of someone who might not appreciate being the butt of another's joke.

She has no problem making a joke that may allow others to laugh with her at her expense.  Because it is her joke and she is laughing right along with us, there is no harm involved. She is the life of every party and every conversation.  That doesn't mean that she hogs all the attention - just that she keeps the conversation light and moving.  She really does put others at ease.

I visited with her today and she was really quite sad because her sister passed away a few days ago.  Tears lingered near her eyes as she talked about her sister's illness and passing.  She is sad for herself, but not for her sister who has been released from a body that was wracked with pain.  She recognizes that there is a time for each of us to go and often returning to Heavenly Father is a great blessing.

But in her sorrow, she was cheerful, happy, and laughing. 

My friend told us that her daughter had told her that she wasn't buying anything for my friend for Christmas this year.  Her daughter got her a kit from Dr. Kevorkian last year and she hadn't uesd it yet.  "Why would I buy you anything this year for Christmas?" Her daughter asked, "You didn't use what I gave you last Christmas!"

I thought she would bust a gusset laughing!

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Best Definition of Love

The word love is used all the time.  I hear it and I say it without even thinking about what I am saying.  I love chocolate.  I love this movie. I love that recipe.  I love your new haircut. Thank you for the gift, I love it! 

We throw the word love around all the time and attach it to almost anything.  Clothing, jewelry, food, activities, cars, books, hobbies, sports, and the list can go on and on.  It has almost become a generic word, casually spoken and attached to ordinary, everyday things.

Even when the words "I love you" are spoken it may not mean the same thing to everyone.  The person who says I love you and the person who hear those same words may not even interpret it the same way. The speaker may really be saying," I love you because you did something for me that was kind".  The listener may have heard instead, "I love you and may want to take this relationship to a deeper level."

I love you could mean I am so grateful that you are the kind of person that you are and that you are my friend.  Or it could mean, wow, you really saved my hide on that one.  It could mean I am just having a super good day and I just love everything and everyone, today. Maybe it means thank you for listening to me and supporting me when I needed a friend. 

I think some people throw the word love around in this manner.  I love you really means I love the things that you do for me or I love that you don't expect me to do too much work. It may even be said this way, I love that you let me walk all over you.  Or perhaps, I love that I can yell at you and take out my frustration on you. I think it could also be interpreted I love that I don't have to put anything into this relationship.

I have pondered the word love a bit and even looked it up in the dictionary. There are dozens of synonyms for the word love so I understand how we can use it so freely and in so many ways. It can mean many different things.

But I found the best definition of love last week as I was reading in the Book of Mormon that I think I have ever heard.  It is truly my favorite.  I hope to memorize it and remember it always.  I hope to incorporate it into my life more fully.  It speaks to my mind and to my heart.

"For, behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.  He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world: for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him."   2 Nephi 26:  23-24

Those words are so profound to me, that because of love, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ do nothing that does not benefit the world.  Because they love me, they don't do anything that doesn't benefit me! 

What if everyone in every relationship the whole world over lived that philosophy?  What if we all looked at every life situation through the eyes of love that see that we do nothing that isn't for the benefit of the world?  What if we live that kind of love in our families, always?  What if I looked after my neighbors with what is best for them in mind.  What if that kind of love ruled my marrage? 

Would it change our hearts?

Would government look different than it does today?  How might our community look if nothing in our community was done that wasn't good for everyone?  How could education meet the exact need of every student? Would anyone be homeless or hungry?  How often would the jails and prisons be used?  Would anyone be careless driving a vehicle?

Would we feel more safe?

In a world of turmoil, disagreement, and strife could the Lord's love be the healing balm we all need?

I believe that His kind of love change the world?   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Savoring the Scriptures

We had the privilege of having one of our sons home with us this summer.  I am fairly certain that it was hard for him in many ways.  Having been your own boss in a world of college students, classes, and activities makes our lives seem so very dull and ordinary. But for me it was truly a blessing.  Just having him around is a great joy for me.  It was really hard to let him go back to Logan, but it is what is best for him.

He taught family home evening for us while he was here.  He had taken a class taught at the Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about studying and marking scriptures.  He shared with us many of the things that he learned. What a blessing! I am reading my scriptures with new eyes and heart.  I am anxious to read my scriptures instead of feeling guilty that another day has passed without me opening them at all. I read with a red pencil in my hand all the time, really trying to focus on what is there for me to learn at this season of my life.

My mind has a huge tendency to wander all the time.  It floats in and out of what I am doing into the trees of what I would like to be doing, or what I should be doing, or what someone said, or something that someone did.  It perches for a moment and then flutters to another branch.  On occasion it flies back to what I am really supposed to be doing for a few fleeting moments. 

Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a gnat!

Many of the things I do are rather mundane and ordinary so mental flights of fancy are not a big deal.  I don't have to concentrate all that hard to run a vacuum, load a dishwasher, fold the laundry, or scrub the bathrooms.  My mind needs to wander as I do the same chores I have done hundreds of times before.  I am happy to let it wander to happy memories or problems to be solved.  I can listen to music to my hearts content or ponder on the daily news. I love listening to books on CD or a good talk over the internet as my hands scrub and polish.  My mind can soar anywhere and it really doesn't matter.

However, there are times when actually paying attention is a really good idea.  Driving a car is one of those.  I have often driven past my turn or even my destination before I realize that I don't even know where my mind was wandering.  I chastise myself and promise to pay better attention to what I am doing  - next time.

Mistakes just happen when I am sewing, mending, or any similar project as my mind flutters around the room, focusing on anything and everything except what I am supposed to be doing.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am so good at unsewing!

Reading a novel is also not a good time to let the mind roam - yet I often do.  I may read the same paragraph or page several times before I realize I just as well put the book down and do something else.  What a way to slow down reading a book.

But reading the scriptures requires more attention than I have been willing to give.  I have known that.  I just didn't know how to do it differently.  I have tried keeping a scripture journal somewhat successfully. I intend to do that more - soon.  I have tried different times of the day to read. I set a goal of how many chapters to read each day. I have set the timer to discipline myself to a certain amount of time.  All of these things are good, but they haven't trapped my wandering mind.

I could read the words for hours a day, but if I get nothing out of them because my mind is everywhere else, what have I really gained?  Certainly I am creating a habit.  Nothing wrong with that of course, but is it enough?  Yes, obedience to a command is a good result, but again not the only desired outcome.

What a blessing to have someone teach me and hand me tools to change my heart and my mind!  My children might get me raised someday  (I hope!)  I am profoundly grateful for the wisdom that my children have and share with me.  I learn so much from them all.  Today I am especially grateful for this particular son, who is my teacher.  I think he even knows who he is.

What a gift to perch on a branch of the scripture tree and taste of the sweetness of the fruit and discover how delicious it is.  Today I intend to savor every soul satisfying morsel!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Plan of Salvation

Two of my friends have passed away in the last month.  It is a time of reflection for me as I remember them and the things that I learned from them.  Each of them blessed and enriched my life.  I believe that they helped me to see things differently.  I hope that I am a better person because of their influence. 

Both of these friends were much older than I am.  I have benefitted from their knowledge and their life experiences. Each seemed to be glad to see me and they always treated me with kindness.  And I will miss them.

For many, the death of a friend or family member is nothing short of horrific, as they struggle to say their final goodbye to someone they expect they will never see again.  For some the thought of this permanent loss of association is so unbearable that they will go to great expense and make every possible effort to prolong life.  They simple cannot bear to say goodbye.

Truly there is sorrow attached to every death.  Sorrow flows as our hearts miss someone for whom we care so much.  Sometimes a death seems so unexpected, happening very quickly or occuring in a tragic manner.  We are in shock and grief overwhelms us.  We cannot understand and so we question.  We may even shake our fists and cry out in anger at the whole world and even that God who created us.  Wounds of the soul are deep and heal slowly as we work at coming to grips with the bitter pill we must swallow. Years may pass as we continue to feel grief, sorrow, and loss.

Truly death is hard to face and accept but I believe both of my friends were ready, prepared, and waiting.  Each carried within a fervent testimony of life after death  and knew that they had family members waiting for them on the other side of the veil.  They were prepared because of their faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement.  The plan of salvation was deeply embedded into their souls and they knew who they were and why they were here and where they were going.

Each of my friends has earned their diploma for life experience and graduated to a world that is better where they are no longer bound by aged, failing bodies and minds.  In many ways they have been freed from the physical prisons that held them captive. For them there is no more pain.  There will be no need for walkers, wheel chairs, or caregivers.  Now they can soar!

The plan of salvation is an evidence of Heavenly Father's love for us.  He allowed us to choose to come to this earth to learn and experience all it has to offer.  He provided us with scriptures and prophets to teach and lead the way.  He knew that we would make mistakes and so He provided us with a Savior who willingly atoned for all mankind, giving us the opportunity to choose to follow Him.  He has done all that a loving parent can do to give us our agency so that we might become as He is.  All of this and more He has done because He wants us so badly to return to Him.

Because He loves us!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Litter

The world is so beautiful!  This morning the sky was so blue and cloudless and the green of the grass and trees stands out in stark contrast to the sleekness of the morning sky. Yet, I found myself struggling to look up and see the beauty of the world because of the trash that seemed to clutter along the streets and sidewalks where I was.

I live in a relatively small town in southern Idaho.  Population is somewhere around 9,000 people.  We have very limited shopping resources, limited industry, and are somewhat removed from heavy freeway travel.  I live in a very residential area.  Where I walk I pass no industry of any kind.  I typically walk past one elementary school and two churches.  I pass no vacant lots, farmers fields, or apartment buildings.  I walk past single family homes.

And I see trash and garbage strewn all along my way!

Now we don't live in an area where we have to personally burn or bury our garbage.  Within the city limits, we have the opportunity to pay to have our garbage collected.  It is not cheap, but is really rather convenient.  The city provides us with a large, black, unnattractive dumpster complete with a lid and wheels.  The lid lifts easily and in goes garbage.  It is rather a simple process.  Once a week, on a designated day, the dumpster is wheeled to the curb where it stands, ready and waiting for a large, noisy, smelly truck to drive up.  The truck has a fork like arm which grabs the dumpster, lifts it up into the air, and empties the refuse into its open belly.  The dumpster is then returned to the curb, ready to be pushed from the street and filled again.

Of course this system is not perfect.  On occasion when the truck drives away, garbage is strewn about from the automatic dumping system.  So, some garbage may be left in the street.  No one hops out of the truck to retrieve said garbage, so residents are responsible to collect missed garbage.  This job, though not pleasant, is not particularly time consuming or difficult.  Sometimes a kind neighbor will clean up garbage that may actually not be theirs, so they don't have to look at it sitting around the street.

This morning when I saw garbage on the street, I knew that it was not the fault of the garbage truck because today is garbage day.  I was out before anyone woke up the truck and took it out to work.

So who is it that is responsible for cluttering the world I live in with garbage?  I guess it is all of us!  We all create garbage.  We throw things away every day.  We fill pails and cans and bins and dumpsters with scraps and pieces of our lives that we no longer need.

I wondered as I walked today how Heavenly Father feels about our lack of concern for His world when he sees us drop our trash carelessly.  I don't appreciate it so why would He?

I asked myself how grateful we are for His gifts, if we drop a gum wrapper here or a cigarette wrapper there.  Burger wrappers and soda cups strewn along the road don't seem like the actions of someone who loves God's creations.

When I have just cleaned up a room in my house and someone just dumps their stuff, it really doesn't make what I do see important.  Does Heavenly Father feel similarly?

Could it be that some of the rain that falls like tears is a reminder of sorrow Heavenly Father feels because we show so little gratitude and appreciation for all we have.

I wonder.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Miracle

On January 3, 1933 my friend was seriously injured in a car wreck near Ely, Nevada.  He was a member of the basketball team for his high school.  The team members were traveling home late at night after a game when the accident occurred.  He was the last person removed from the scene of the accident.  Everyone thought he was dead.  After all his friends were long gone to the hospital, my friend was pulled from a snowbank where he had landed on impact of the car.

He was in critical condition with broken ribs, a broken leg, and various other injuries.  For a time, no one expected him to survive.  As the days passed and he began to improve, recovery seemed possible.  But the right leg was in serious jeopardy. The femur had multiple fractures and for three months doctors strongly advised his parents that the leg must be removed.  For three months the leg would not heal.  Every day for those three months, the doctors pleaded with my friend's parents to allow the removal of his leg to his hip.  It was the only way that they had hope for survival.

Every day for three months my friend's father flatly refused to allow the amputation of the leg.

Francis R. Lyman, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, traveled to preside at a stake conference in Ely, Nevada.  He gave a priesthood blessing to my friend.  Within two days, bone began to form and the leg began to mend.

This friend graduated from high school and attended pharmacy school at the University of Utah where he graduated with the first class of pharmacy school graduates from that institution.  He married and raised six children who also married, raising families of their own.  His children were all sealed in Holy Temples and have also raised children who are faithful followers of Christ as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  

This friend was 93 years old when he first told me of his miracle.  He showed me his leg, now weak, and almost useless with age.  Two large, deep holes remain in his leg from ice tongs used to hold his leg up in traction as it healed.  

My friend shared more than his miracle with me.  He shared his faith and his testimony in the power of the priesthood.  He shared his testimony in a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us, takes care of us, and blesses us with miracles.  My friend believes in the Savior and His atonement.  He believes in life after death and waits anxiously to see his sweetheart who went on before him.  My friend is a true follower of Jesus Christ, believing in the Savior's promises.

I too believe!