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







Thursday, March 28, 2013

Families - Part Two


The Savior Jesus Christ taught that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  I can honestly say I find each of these behaviors unpleasant.  I don't like to feel someone has not been honest with me.  I don't want to hear someone in my family pick every one else in the family apart, and I really dislike being kept waiting for someone who has made a commitment with me.

Katie Couric told the world on her talk show that she is always late but is working on improving because she realizes how rude it is and understands that when she leaves others waiting for her, she sends the message that her time is more important than their time.

Way to go Katie!  It must have taken a great deal of courage to admit to the rudeness of your behavior and recognize that leaving others waiting is not only rude but also belittling to those left waiting.

My  friend’s experiences made me so sad for this whole family. These are supposed to be mature adults but maturity doesn't come when we reach a certain age.  Maturity comes when we look past ourselves to the needs of others and learn to live in society with respect for all mankind.  We see evidence of maturity when someone like Katie Couric recognizes that personal behavior is not acceptable and offends other people.  She openly admitted her error and is taking necessary steps to correct her behavior.  

We see maturity when we accept responsibility for our actions and apologize to those we have offended and seek to make things right.  We see maturity in forgiving those who have offended us, even when they have never said, "I am sorry."  We see maturity when we bridle our tongue and instead of bashing others, find kind things to say or say nothing at all.  

We see maturity in compromise, cooperation, and appropriate communication. Growing up is manifested in kindness, courtesy, respect, trust, and dignity. These elements need to be cultivated in our relationships if we want to be able to harvest them.

Appreciation is also an indicator of maturity in my mind.  Selfish people often believe that the world owes them special treatment.  They expect and demand a lot from their associates. Because they feel a sense of entitlement, they have no genuine appreciation for the service and sacrifice of others. They are only receiving what they deserve and expect.

Selflessness and sacrifice are also signs of maturity. But that does not mean we are expected to tolerate behavior that is not acceptable.  Sometimes it is so hard to locate the demarcation line between charity and being someone’s punching bag.  But right is right and wrong is wrong and charity does not expect us to tolerate behavior that is just plain wrong.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints said, “While we must practice respect and tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs, including their right to explain and advocate their positions, we are not required to respect and tolerate wrong behavior.  Our duty to truth requires us to seek relief from behavior that is wrong.”


To Be Continued.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Families - Part One



Many years ago we were involved with family members in a few business dealings which taught me some very painful lessons.  Not only did we find ourselves on the short end of the money stick, we found ourselves being treated in ways that were unkind and hurtful.  The revelation came to me that if these relatives were our friends, we wouldn't choose to keep them as friends any longer.  Over the years, rude and unkind behavior from some of these same people helped to cement this feeling and I wondered then why we have to endure behavior from family members that we would refuse to accept from friends, acquaintances, or even strangers.

Years have passed and I have moved on, but these thoughts have returned as I ponder the experiences shared with me by an acquaintance regarding incidents within family relationships.  I am again asking myself why we treat our family members with such disrespect and unkindness.  Some of the incidents within this family were also business related.  One person felt that another family member had tried to take advantage of another in a business deal, changing the deal after it was agreed upon.  It appeared that money was more important than family or integrity.

Seriously?  Why would one dig a pit for a neighbor, let alone a family member.

Some incidents just involved plain old rudeness.  It would seem that some members of this family are very proficient at criticizing other members of the family freely, openly, and unkindly behind their backs.  My friend told me that it was very unpleasant to listen to.  Of course if someone within the family is stabbing other family member in the back to you, one wonders just what do they say to others about me when I am not around.

Where is the loyalty? If creating loving relationships is my goal, why would I choose to carve up my family members with cutting words?

Some other incidents of behavior included being quite late for appointments, chores, and meals. Ignoring phone messages and deadlines were also issues. While my friend and family, who were starving, waited for more than an hour at the restaurant for their guests to arrive, they wondered at the safety or emergency that kept this family from being on time.  There was no emergency and no phone call.

Now we don't live in pony express days.  Most people can access a phone somewhere, if they choose to be courteous enough to call when something unexpected comes up. I waited once for someone who was quite late.  Since I had not received a phone call, my assumption was that no phones were available. I made a comment indicating that assumption to be informed that there were many phones available and for free. 

Funny thing that often happens.  When someone is rude or unkind, a very common result is that it causes offense to the person who is the recipient of rudeness.  It always amazes me how the person who was rude in the first place becomes angry and blames the other person for being offended.  I do not understand how that works.

A relative told me this over thirty years ago, "I can say anything I want to and treat you however I want to and if you get offended, that's your problem." She believed it and she meant it. 

 Again, how long would I want to keep these people as my friends?


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Priorities

Sometimes we wear our 'busy'ness like a badge of honor. Because we are so very busy, we are so very important.  As we tell others we are too busy to do this thing or too busy to participate in that activity, in essence it could be interpreted in this manner, "You may not have as many important things to do as I do so you have time for that, but my time is more valuable than yours."

'Busy'ness can easily used as an excuse to avoid anything we simply don't want to do. Certainly I have used it myself on so many occasions.  I hear it often too.  I am too busy to help with the funeral luncheon.  I don't have time to be a good neighbor.  I am just to busy to vote in the election.  I am too busy to exercise.  I don't have the time to do whatever.

I think we are so busy convincing others of our 'busy'ness that we start to believe it ourselves.

On more than one occasion when I was faced with decisions that seemed hugely important and significant to me, I found myself brushed aside by others from whom I had sought advice.  Sometimes by an attitude of indifference, but also I heard this excuse, "I have too many important things to think about and I can't make time to give that any thought."  I am not sure how others would interpret that, but it didn't sound kind or helpful to me.

Years ago I listened to a man teach about 'busy'ness.  He talked about how we use that as an excuse rather than telling ourselves the truth about what our priorities are.  Instead of telling ourselves we are simply too busy to do something, we should tell ourselves that it is simply not a priority.  No need to make excuses or use any kind of justification for our behavior if we just admit to ourselves that we choose not to do something simply because it is not a priority to us.

I found his words to be profound for me then and often times since.  For example when I have told myself I was too busy to read my scriptures, was I really too busy or did I not make it a priority?  Was I really too busy to read my children a bed time story and listen to their prayers or was I that I had not made it a priority.   Was I really too busy to sit with my children and listen to them practice the piano?  Was I too busy cooking supper to listen to my child?  Was I too busy to call my mother and visit with her when she was lonely?  Was I too busy to run to the store for something important for my spouse?  Was I too busy to be a friend to a lonely neighbor?

For many years, his words impacted my decision making.  I found myself also thinking about my 'I am too tired excuse as well.  Was I really too tired to be a mom or a wife or a friend?

I think we all have days, weeks, and seasons when we are very busy and very tired.  Sometimes we have to say no to things that are really valuable and important but maybe we need to be a bit more honest with ourselves when we decide that we can't or won't do something or be somewhere.  Maybe we need to be a little more honest when we are thoughtless or unkind and instead of saying, "I was too busy to call you and tell you that I was going to be late," admitting that it just wasn't important enough to pick up the phone.  When we are too 'busy' to listen to someone who needs a willing ear, we might be more accurate to say, "It just isn't important to me to listen to you today."

There is much for me to learn as I find myself thinking and saying I am too busy.  I was reminded of my own weakness as I read this:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Charity

I am certain that I do not have enough charity in my heart. I really want to open my front door one day and find a beautifully wrapped package sitting there just begging to be opened. I would carry the package into my home and open it. Inside would be the gift of charity.  The gift would be mine and I would be the kind of person that I want to be and think I should be.

Charity can be defined by the world as benevolence or goodwill.  Some think only of giving to the poor as charity.  Charity carries a negative connotation to some who are impoverished and refuse to accept charity from others.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints often define charity as the pure love of Christ.

The Book of Mormon teaches, "...pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of His Son Jesus Christ..."  Many years ago when I read these words, I did just exactly what it said to do and prayed for charity.  I was not sure what I expected to have happen, but my life became a tutorial.  I had numerous opportunities to deal with unpleasant situations and people.  I began to clearly see how little charity I had.

Charity wears many faces but is always kind and considerate.  It is unselfish, respectful, and courteous.  It is not jealous or vain.  Charity endures patiently and forever.  As I began to deal with these challenges, I could see that I really wasn't very good at many of these things.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded me that the only person who got charity right is the Savior Jesus Christ.  He did it perfectly, and “loved the way we are all to try to love.” He is our guide and our teacher as we strive to reach closer to love less selfishly and with more kindness.

Elder Holland taught more about our Teacher. “In all that Christ was, He was not ever envious or inflated, never consumed with His own needs.  He did not once, not ever, seek His own advantage at the expense of someone else.  He delighted in the happiness of others, the happiness He could bring them.  He was forever kind.”

As I read these words, I wonder what kind of a world would our children inherit if we began to fill it with this kind of love.  It might take many years to combat the pride that fills our lives with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.

Many of the words of Elder Holland are profound for me personally.  I have read and reread his words. I have pondered them, seeking to learn and plant them deeper into my heart.  I need more charity.  I want to feel, live, and become more like the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I copied this quote from Elder Holland and it is pasted on my mirror as a reminder of who I should be becoming and the relationship I should be creating with my eternal companion.  I think of it often to remind me of changes I need to make.

“In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, who is constantly critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without having the person who is supposed to love you leading the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy.  In this person’s care you deserve to feel physically safe and emotionally secure.”

One day as I pondered on this quote The Spirit taught me with the words of Elder Holland that this was not only a pattern for marriage, but for all members of a family.  But there was more for me to learn.  This short quote is also a pattern for how we should treat everyone.

It was a profound learning moment for me.  Everyone is struggling with something or many something's in their lives. Everyone of us is wounded and broken in some way.  Everyone needs to be loved.

There was no beautifully wrapped package on my doorstep that day, but instead I was blessed with another loving tutorial in my quest for charity.


PS  If you would like to read Elder Holland’s talk, please let me know.  I am very happy to share. Let’s spread the word around the world.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring!

It is a beautiful world! Walking amid the creations of God this morning lifted my heart and my soul.  The brilliant blue of the sky and the warmth of the sun filled my heart with gratitude for Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ.  My ears perked up at the chirping of the birds and my eyes followed them in flight.  I spotted a pair of chattering squirrels on a power line, vying for territory.  Buds are appearing on tree branches and flower buds are peeking through the soil.  Majestic evergreens reach with all their might toward heaven.

The world awakens from snow and ice and to me it is truly a miracle. It just happens. I can't flip a switch on a control panel.  The birds just know when it is time to return to our town. I am  always reminded of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ who willing died for all mankind and rose again.  It is the greatest miracle of all.  I thought of this today as I was bathed in the wonders of spring.

This world was created for us to enjoy and appreciate.  The scriptures teach us that all the things that God created also testify of Him and the Savior Jesus Christ.

Yesterday we experienced loud claps of thunder shouting at bright bolts of lightening.  Rain pelted my windows, then, as the wind subsided just poured to the ground.  This to is evidence of God and His majesty and power.

And His love.

Today, I missed Sophie, our Irish Setter. She would have loved to walk with me today.  Her nose would have reveled in the smells and she would tug at the leash, attempting to chase anything and everything.  Her shadow puzzled and appeared to threaten her.  She would have filled the back yard with barking as she responded to the chattering squirrels.  Her tail, wagging, high in the air in triumph as she possessed her territory.

She was my friend when I was alone.  She stood at the door, wagging her tail, motivating me to venture out for a walk.  She sat at my feet and by my side.  As a faithful companion, Sophie too is one of God's creations.  Her failing body became a prison, and her eyes told me that she did not understand why she could not do as she once did.

Today, I envision her barking and chasing butterflies, birds, cats, and anything else that moves as she romps in a lush meadow of greenery and wildflowers. I am certain that her world in heaven is even more beautiful than it was here.

Whatever else you have on your agenda for today, make sure you leave some time to enjoy the world that our loving Heavenly Father created for us to enjoy.

And be grateful.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lambs

Recently the size of our family increased when one of our little families acquired a couple of bum lambs.  It was instant love.  The girls named the tiny female Chloe and Darth Maul was chosen for the male.  Initially Chloe took to the bottle best and seemed to be stronger than Darth Maul.  Our adorable three year old granddaughter picked up, cuddled, and loved these little lambs, fearlessly.  Her older siblings seemed a bit more timid about packing around the tiny lambs.  But they loved and fed the lambs willingly.

Things quickly changed and Darth Maul became an eating machine and Chloe struggled.  New to lamb raising, no one new exactly what to do. My sweet daughter-in-law tackled the situation, involving the vet who provided Chloe with antibiotics to control an infection.  But Chloe was not interested in eating.  Dehydration being a major concern, this pregnant mother arose every three hours through the night to force liquid into this sick little lamb.

I was heartsick, and the tears stung my eyes at the news that Chloe was not doing well and might not pull through.  I had never met this little lamb.  Yet, I loved and cared about her so much.  One night as I lay in bed unable to sleep the words of hymns about Shepherds filled the corners of my mind.

             Little lambs so white and fair 
             Are the Shepherd's constant care.
            Now He leads their tender feet 
            Into pastures green and sweet.

Chloe and Darth maul both thrived for a season, delighting us all and we believed that Chloe had turned the corner.

Again Chloe began to falter. Everything that could have be done to save this lamb was done by this family as again the vet provided antibiotics and advice.  My, now exhausted daughter in law continued her round the clock care.  She did not give up.  But Chloe died anyway.

All are brokenhearted to lose Chloe, but because of their great love for her, they were also grateful to see that she was not a sick little lamb anymore.  They did not want her to suffer.  But tears flowed readily, acknowledging their loss.

I have pondered Chloe's short life and the words to this hymn, thinking of my Savior Jesus Christ, our Shepherd.

      Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, Dear are the sheep of his fold.
      Dear is the love that he gives them, Dearer than silver or gold.
      Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, Dear are his 'Other' lost sheep,
      Over the mountains he follows, Over the waters so deep.

      Out in the desert they wander, Hungry and helpless and cold;
      Off to the rescue he hastens, Bringing them back to the fold.
                                                  Hymn 221

We are all sheep who wander. We make mistakes over and over again.  We are often thoughtless and rude.  Sometimes we are simply oblivious to the needs of others. We wander around with blinders on so that we just don't see.  Sometimes we come quickly when the Shepherd beckons us but often we resist, thinking we know better or that we can do it on our own.

The truth is that we cannot save ourselves!  We are totally hopeless lost without a Savior to rescue us.  Just as our little family did all that they could to save Chloe, Jesus Christ will do all that He can to save us.  Because of His great love for us, He gave all that He had to rescue us.  He will not give up on us but will seek after us whenever and wherever we wander to bring us home to live with Him.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rewards

A young family from our small rural community is taking a trip to Disneyland soon.  While I am certainly happy for this family of four, I can't help wondering about it. In no way am I trying to criticize anyone and their choices.  If you want to take a fabulous trip and you can afford it, then go for it!  I just wonder sometimes about where our future in this country lies from time to time.

The oldest child in this family is two years old.  As a reward for achieving the status of being potty trained, the whole family is taking this trip to Disneyland.

 I am very aware that the process of potty training can be frustrating and even grueling and may not bring out the best in either the parents or the child.  It is not uncommon to resort to some kind of reward system or even down right bribery. But can a two year old child really understand that this trip to Disneyland is tied to the act of potty training?  I don't know what a trip for four to Disneyland costs, but someone I know recently ventured on a trek for three.  They were hoping to keep the cost at two thousand dollars, but feared that might not be possible.

This is not a besmirch of Disneyland either.  I just wondered how any parents can top that kind of reward when a child is older and achieves something greater.  How do you reward greater success?

A single mother of four working in a local retail store recently complained at the ingratitude of her children.  She is the sole provider and her children ranging in age from two to eleven; who each have their own bedroom, television, phone, and gaming system, don't appear to her to be appreciative of what they have She feels that they constantly complain and demand more from her.  I do not know this mother, or even her name.  I can only guess that her salary is not much more than minimum wage.  I found it amazing that she could afford to provide so much for her children on her salary.  It was obvious that the lack of appreciation and respect she felt from her children was a painful for her.

Many years ago, a good friend talked to me frequently about her younger, somewhat rebellious sister. This sister was a risk taker, always chasing a new high.  Because she had so much and had done so many things, nothing seemed exciting enough to her anymore.  What first started out as somewhat normal youthful rebellion grew to the chase of the thrill, with no concern for health or safety of any kind.  Until she was nearly killed in a car wreck. A broken neck put a quick halt to her lifestyle.

We are all so different and driven by such different motivations but most of us are looking for a reward of some kind.  We each thrive on some kind of pay off or recognition.  For some it may be enough to hear a kind word now and then.  It could be either appreciation or praise.  Some of us are totally motivated by the good feeling that comes to us when we have done something right or good. Yesterday I cleaned my pantry, a long, long overdue project.  I really didn't enjoy the experience, but it sure felt good to see it when I was done.  For me, that was the reward.  The way my clean pantry smiled back at me.

Fear can be a great motivator.  No one I know enjoys embarrassment or being made fun of.  Many choices are made to avoid that opportunity.  Great care may be given to what we wear, say, and do out of fear.  Failure is also not a fun plan so we may be motivated to avoid trying new things because of fear of failure.  Even though we like the safety of the box we have created for ourselves, we may long to break out and try something new, yet find ourselves totally crated  in our fear of failure.

Love can also be a great motivator.  We may choose what we say and do simply because of the great love we have for another.  But some may be so desperately seeking to feel loved, that they are willing to take great risks to receive it. That desperation for love may cloud  judgement completely with tragic results.

Some just like to please and make others happy. Seeing the joy on another's face is motivation enough.  The simple pleasure of serving another may be the reward. Money, medals, fame, stuff, and recognition are all part of the reward/motivation system.  We all thrive on some form of reward.  We are all driven by some type of motivation.

But I wonder how in the world do you top a trip to Disneyland when you are two!