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







Monday, April 29, 2013

Will I Willingly Give Up My Sins to Know the Savior?


A few weeks ago I read some words that sank deep into my mind.  Perhaps they struck me with such force because it is exactly what I needed to learn at this moment.  As I have pondered these words, I see myself so clearly in procrastinations, rationalizations, excuses, personal pride and judgmental thoughts.  
No Iam trying to plant them into my heart.  I have so much work to do on me!
May these words spoken by Elder Robert C. Gay guide, direct, instruct, and bless you in your quest to come unto Christ.
"The Lord loves our righteousness but asks of us continued repentance and submission. In the Bible we read that it was a commandment-keeping, wealthy young man who knelt before the Savior and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. He turned away grieved when the Savior said, “One thing thou lackest: … sell whatsoever thou hast.”
Yet, it was another wealthy but worldly man, the chief Lamanite king, the father of Lamoni, who also asked the same question about eternal life, saying: “What shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit[?] … I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.”
Do you remember the response the Lord gave the king through His servant Aaron? “If thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.”
When the king understood the sacrifice required, he humbled and prostrated himself and then prayed, “O God, … I will give away all my sins to know thee.”
This is the exchange the Savior is asking of us: we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances.
Brothers and sisters, remember that this charge is more than just not doing bad things. With an engaged enemy we must also act and not sit in “thoughtless stupor.” Taking upon the countenance of God means serving each other. There are sins of commission and sins of omission, and we are to rise above both."

Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Would it Hurt?

Many years ago I sat in a Temple Preparation class in the home of the teacher. He shared a conversation he had recently had with a co-worker, who strongly questioned his membership in The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The quesitons were many and pointed and the conversation was long.  Eventually this frustrated man told his co-worker that the Gospel of Jesus Christ taught him to be a better person. He told him that he is learning how to be a good husband and father. He is being taught to be honest and loyal.  He spends time reading the scriptures and trying to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.  He is learning to work hard and be a good provider.  He has opportunities to serve and to sacrifice. Then he said he asked the man that should The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints not be true, considering all the good his membership was bringing into his life, What Would it Hurt?

He concluded with a heartfelt tesimony and the conversation ended.

What would it hurt is a question that applies to so many things.

As we drove along a very littered stretch of highway I wondered - What would it hurt if everyone on the earth cleaned up their own garbage?

Then my mind got carried away.

What would it hurt if everyone was kind to everyone else?

What would it hurt if everyone was respectful to eveyone they came into contact with?

What would it hurt if everyone kept their promises?

What would it hurt if everyone was on time for their commitments?

What would it hurt if everyone accepted responsiblity for cleaning up their own messes?  That means the messes we create when we hurt someone or disappoint someone or let someone down. That includes so much more than physical messes.

What would it hurt if we were truly sorry when we messed up and said so and fixed it?

What would it hurt if we shared our time freely?

What would it hurt if we gave all our excess to care for the poor?

What would it hurt to give up selfishness?

What would it hurt if we were more friendly?

What would it hurt if there was more love in our homes?

What would it hurt if we were honest and loyal?

What would it hurt if our conversations were more uplifting and less negavtive?

What would it hurt if we read the scriptures more?

What would it hurt if we were more helpful?

What would it hurt if we listened more and talked less?

What would it hurt if we turned off the tv more?

What would it hurt if our prayers were more meaningful?

What would it hurt if we were all good neighbors?

What would it hurt if all movies, television, books, and music that are being created were clean and wholesome?

What would it hurt if we were more supportive of others and their needs?

What would it hurt if we included others in our lives in postive ways more frequently?

What would it hurt if we didn't find ourselves telling others how busy we are?

What would it hurt if pornography disappeared?

What would it hurt if we were more courteous?

What would it hurt if we were more diligent in becoming more like the Savior Jesus Christ?

The Shock Collar

Max is a beautiful, well trained black lab.  He is a hunting dog and that is what he lives for.  He is obedient, almost always.  Max is friendly and comes to greet almost anyone who enters his domain. He is lovable and good with children.  He is strong and powerful.  Max lives on a farm. Max loves to run and to explore.  His nose is a powerful hunting tool.  He follows his nose as he roams through his territory.  Max has a friend that lives several farms away.  She often comes to see him. Occaionally Max goes to check on her.

Max loves life.  When his family rides on the four wheeler, he runs with gusto along the way.  It appears that even though everyone is having fun, it is Max who enjoys it the most.  He is never left behind along the trail and often runs ahead to explore.
Occaionally he takes a diversionay path and a simple calling of his name brings him running.

Max is an escape artist. I had heard this from his family and though I believed them it was not until recently that I actually witnessed it.  Max came with his family to visit us.  He was assigned to our fully fenced back yard. Our fence contained our dog.  As long as the gate was latched, Sophie did not escape.  On occasion it also contained other dogs.  We came home more than once to find a strange dog in our yard.  They got in - but could not seem to find a way out.  Max did.  More than once and in more than one place.  But when I called his name, he returned.

Over the last few months, I have learned some important lessons from Max.  Even though Max knows where he belongs, sometimes he wanders too far away. Sometimes he cannot hear his name.  The next retrieval method for Max is a whistle.  If he can hear it, he will come.  But sometimes Max gets so far away that he cannot hear the whistle.  So Max wears a shock collar.  He will turn on a dime and return.

As I watched how obedient Max is to the shock collar's call, I thought about our loving Heavenly Father.  I believe that in His infinite power He could have given each of us something similar to the shock collar that Max wears.  He could zap us the instant we were too far away from where he wants us to be.  He could zap us the moment we said an unkind thing or did an unkind deed.  He could zap us if we fail to read our scriptures or say our prayers.  He could zap us even for our thoughts.

He has the power to train us to be obey as Max obeys the electric shock.  

But He does not.

We had a conversation once about the value of a shock collar for Max. A very loving father commented that having a similar device for his own children at times had a great deal of appeal.  I agree that it sure sounds good on the surface.  The electric shock has the potential to change behavior.  Probably fairly quickly too!

But it doesn't change the heart!

Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to give us our agency - the right to choose. He gives us commandments, counsel, guidance, and inspiration so that we may learn for ourselves if we want to obey.  Of course He wants us to obey!  But what would be the cost of forced obedience? What would we learn? What would we become?  What would be the condition of our hearts?

All that we have is already owned by God.  It is His.  He gives us all and only asks for our hearts in return.
 
It seems like such a small price for so many gifts, yet at times I am so resistant.  hy is that?


Monday, April 22, 2013

Testmony of Jesus Christ

Today my faith in the Savior Jesus Christ is stronger!

My soul was fed by the music of young men and women who shared their testimonies of Jesus Christ with me yesterday.  As they sang their testimonies of Christ, I felt my faith swell.  I think it was perhaps the most stirring fireside I have ever attended in my life.  There was no doubt in my mind as they sang that they believed that Jesus is who He says He is and He will do as He has said He will do. They believe!

I too believe in the life and mission of Jesus Christ, my older brother who came to this earth to do the will of His Father.  He suffered in the Garden of Eden as He carried the weight of sin and sorrow for us all.  His suffering was so enormous that drops of blood fell as sweat.  This agony is incomprehensible to me. He willingly gave up His life on the cross.  No one could take it from Him.  He had the power to save himself, but He did not. It is impossible for me to understand the physical agony that came with Christ's crucifixion.  It is also not possible for me to understand how it must have felt when Heavenly Father withdrew from Jesus's side.  My limited understanding cannot grasp the dark, empty, feeling of being totally alone.

My experience has also been to walk alone from time to time.  It is dark and I struggle.  Sometimes I cannot recognize what is wrong quickly and then it comes to me.  I am not feeling enough of the influence of The Spirit of the Lord in my life. It may be that I need to change or correct some things in my life.  It may be that I need to walk alone so that I can be more appreciative of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  It may be that I need to learn more about recognizing what causes The Spirit to withdraw.

Each song that I heard taught me something that I needed to learn.  I was reminded that I must draw near to Christ in order for Him to draw near to me.  I must invite Jesus into my life.  I must make time in my life for Him and room in my heart for Him.  It is up to me.

I was reminded of the everlasting kindness and mercy of Jesus.  I have thought of the hours and days and weeks in my life when I lean so heavily on Him.  Times when I have felt friendless, weary, discouraged, powerless, and afraid.  He has listened to me when there were no other ears to hear.  He has given me courage when I had no courage left.  He has strengthened me when I was weak. He has been there to comfort me in my sorrow.

Every day I have all that I need because of the Savior's goodness to me. Heavenly Father has given me all that I have.  The very air that I breathe, the water that I drink, the food that I eat are already His. Often I have failed to rely and trust enough in my Heavenly Father and the Savior and have leaned on the arm of flesh, only to be disappointed. I want to believe and trust.  Oh Lord, help mine unbelief.

His redeeming power is also incomprehensible to me.  How does it work?  How can the sacrifice of Jesus Christ cover all my sins, mistakes, and errors.  How can the Atonement heal my wounded heart and make me feel whole again?  How can His redemption become mine? How can His forgiveness help me to forgive? I really don't have to know how it works.  Only that it does.

At times when I feel so fallen I sing the words to "O Divine Redeemer" to myself, pleading for His strength and His mercy.  The power of these young adults filling the Logan Tabernacle with this song reminded me that He will never turn me away. He will rescue me. I now that He will.

My voice did not echo through the hall but my spirit joined in hymns of praise and gratitude to My Heavenly Father and My Savior Jesus Christ for all that I have recieved.

I too "Know that My Redeemer Lives!"





The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Sometimes, even though I am not proud to admit this, I have found myself, troubled by the parable of the prodigal son.  I have been like the older son.  I totally understand his resentment at the huge party given in honor of the son who spent his life in riotous living, then returned home in poverty.  I am quite certain I would have thought those same things, why did you not do that for me?  I may not have been able to speak those words out loud, but I am certain I would have seathed with anger and hurt.

This parable takes on new meaning as life carries me along.  It meant something totally different when someone I cared a geat deal about returned.  This person had made some different choices and chosen a path that concerned me.  But in time, my loved one returned.  I too rejoiced. We did not kill the fatted calf but we no longer think about the time our loved one spent wandering.  It is as if it did not exist.

Someone I know has watched someone that they love very much chose a path that led in a different direction.  They have watched, and prayed, and supported. Sometimes very close and sometimes very far away.  They have suffered and agonized as they felt their hands were so tied to promote change.  Many times they prepared, knowing that one day their loved on would return.  Each time something stopped the return, they were disappointed.  But they continued to pray, support, and serve.

The choices that this person made were not illegal or selfish.  Instead, this person was in a relationship with someone who was not kind and respectful.  They feared this relationship was destructive and unsafe.  But they also understood that as an adult, they must respect the choices that their loved one made. And they prayed, and they supported, and they listened.

My friend drove some distance to attend classes to help her understand what was happening for her child.  She wanted to learn how to help her better.  And she wanted to learn what to do when her loved one needed help.  She went with her child to meet with an attorney.  She could see the end drawing near.  And then something changed and the brakes were applied.  So she backed away to watch from a distance for another season.  And they prayed.

Very recently I went for a brief visit to see my friend. All of her family were there, some from far away. So I visited longer than I had planned, catching up on their lives.  And then I talked to their loved one, in whom they had invested so much concern.  She had come home to stay.  She would never go back to her husband again.

I have thought of the parable of the lost son.  It means something huge to this family I think.  They have given all that they could to their child, including their patience, waiting for her to choose for herself.  They have tolerated behavior that they found intolerable for the sake of their daughter.  They have bitten their tongues and restrained their tempers.  They have prayed and loved and served.  They kept the door to their hearts and their home open.

And when she returned, they embraced her with all that they have to offer.  They offered her their home, their love, their support, and their protection. And they are grateful. Their prayers have been answered.

We are all prodigal children rebelling and pitting our will against God's will.  Often we are too proud to listen and obey because  we think we know more than Heavenly Father does.  We stumble and struggle along uncharted paths instead of being obedient and living as Jesus Christ lived. We may fall over and over again before we are willing to go to God for help. We think we can make it on our own.

And when we finally come to our senses and open our hearts to the Savior and His mercy, His arms open for us to come to Him.  Just as the father in the parable of the prodigal son, there is rejoicing and celebration when we return.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Value of Work

The truth is that I believe I am very lazy by nature.  It takes effort for me to work.  Sometimes I think I spend way too much energy avoiding what I should be doing.  Instead of diving in head first, I struggle with convincing myself to get busy. Thank heavens I had good parents who believed in the value of work.  They did all that they could to help me learn.  We cleaned the house every Saturday for years.  We washed the kitchen table and chairs from stem to stearn.  I polished cabinets, furniture and plants.  We washed windows regularly. I scrubbed the bathrooms and vacuumned the floors. I learned to operate the washing machine and dryer and became well acquainted with the iron.  In spite of many fiascos, I learned some cooking skills.

My mother was rarely idle and worked to instill that in me.  She tried her best to teach me to keep busy and be productive.  I learned to knit (which I really do not enjoy) and crochet.  I spent many a tearful moment siting at a piano and a sewing machine.  I picked many a raspberry and filled many a canning jar.  I scrubbed floors and pulled weeds until my knees were worn.

I was expected to leave my bed made, my room clean as well as load the diswasher and clean the kitchen before I left for school each morning.  I did that faithfully because my mother told me that she would come collect me from school to complete my tasks, should I fail.  I knew she would.  Older siblings had already had that experience.  I may not be the brightest bulb in the fixture, but I was totally willing to learn from them.  I did not need to test it out to be sure.

Sometimes I wonder if we still value work in our world today.  Some months ago one of our young family members wanted to do something quite badly.  It cost money.  His wise parents told him that he would need to earn half the money by doing extra chores at home, and then they would pay the other half.  He was thrilled and proceeded to work hard for his share.  Some visiting friends seemed shocked by the cruelty of these parents who actually expected this little boy to work for a share of the  money.  They were even more dismayed to learn that each child had regular chores and responsibilities that they did every single day.  "Why would you do that?" they asked.

In our world where so much is so readily available to so many so easily that is a very good question.  Why would you teach your children to work?

Many years ago when I was a freshman at college, I had five roommates to share an apartment with.  Many of these girls did not learn how to work in their homes before they came.  I knew because they told me.  I also knew because I could see it.  Don't get me wrong, I was far from perfect, but I could clean up after myself.  I could clean a bathroom and do dishes and sweep a floor.

One day I planned to sit at the desk to work and pulled out the chair to sit down. A brown paper sack sat innocently on the chair so I picked it up to find a huge pile of white, wriggling maggots beneath.  It was disgusting! A roommate had gathered some walnuts somewhere and plunked them in the sack and left them in the chair. I had no idea how long they had been there.  She probably didn't either. They were just a normal part of the mess she created.

I am very appreciative when I watch my grandchildren, who are being raised by their parents who love them, learn to work. Each family has different circumstances and so their tasks are not all the same.  But I have grandchildren who make their beds, every morning before school.  Some empty the garbage and clean the bathrooms.  Some tend babies and change diapers. Using the vacum and  sweeping the floor are common tasks for others.  One family has animals who need to be fed and watered.  These children tend the lamb, cats, and chickens. For some the chores include yardwork and gardening.  They fold clothes and put them away. Many love to cook and willingly clean up the kitchen.  They are learning to work. To each of you I say thank you.

None of us loves all tasks.  Many tasks are monotonous and repititive.  But they must be done for our homes to function.  Someone must pay the bills.  For me anyway, that is work.  Someone must keep things in sufficient order to avoid a visit from the health department.  I don't just love to spend a day canning but I sure love the way it looks when it is done.  No one will have clean clothes if no one is willing to do the laundry. There will be no food to eat if no one has provided dinner. Many ordinary tasks are essential and working together as a family can create much happiness.

Work is a blessing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chasing a Dream

Most of us have dreams lurking in our hearts for our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  We ponder on what the 'perfect' world will look like and start to create a plan of how to get there.  We may share our dreams with others who we trust or instead nurture them silently in our hearts.

Dreams come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. It is possible that our hopes and dreams include others.  But they may instead be very private and singular.  There are no one size fits all dreams.  They are unique and individual, as are we.

Some of our dreams and aspirations may seem totally impossible and unreachable.  They may seem small and simple.  They may involve lots of money or recognition.  They may even seem silly.

A family I know is working very hard for their dream and I have been able to watch from the sidelines.  It has been such a blessing for me to see what they are willing to do to make their dream become their reality.  Nothing about creating their dream has been easy.  It has not been cheap.  But they are not discouraged but instead they "couldn't be happier" I heard one of them say.

There have been hours of research and planning, followed by months of hard work.  At times as I have heard what was accomplished in one day, I was weary for them.  There have been many nights of much interrupted sleep and many days of endless back breaking labor. There have been heartbreaks, and disappointments, and even a few tears.

But I have not heard complaints. This is the price they are willing to pay to chase their dream.

I thought of my own dreams of long ago, now faded by years of life gone by.  Many of them I had to let go, realizing that the price was just too high.  Others around us may not see the value of our dreams or may be unwilling to offer any kind of support in our quest.  Some dreams are replaced by dreams that seem to be more important.  Others we may just set on a back burner for a time.  Education may be put on hold because being a parent is more important.  But in the heart lingers the desire for a degree and the hope that someday we can chase that dream again. We may simply replace one dream with one that we may think is better.

Sometimes roadblocks seem to clutter our path as we chase after a dream.  And we wonder why is this so dang hard! I have watched a friend from afar as she has chased her dream.  Often I think this has been her experience.  Yet, she forges ahead, looking for new ideas, new ways, new contacts, new hope to make her dream come true.  I hope that someday the boulders get out of her way and let her run towards her vision of success.  She has earned it with her labor and her persistence.

Once, long ago, someone told me that she had already done everything in her life that she had ever dreamed of doing.  She didn't seem to have anything left that was of interest to her to do.  She was lost.  It was as if for a time her life seemed to have come to an end. She was young and had several children to raise, but for her the spark was gone. And I wondered, what is the value of our dreams?

If we have nothing left to hope for, or wish for, or to work for what then?

I wonder, what is the value of chasing our dreams?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hugs

We visited some of our grandchildren during Spring Break.  Each of them rushed towards us with their arms opened wide to hug and embrace us.  They welcomed us with spontaneous, pure, unbridled joy.  There was no doubt that they were very happy to see us.  It was such a sweet moment and I have continued to think about it and envision it in my mind.  I have relived those loving hugs over and over.

My thoughts wandered to the time when loved ones pass from this existence into the next and I imagined that may be how they are greeted, with pure joy.  I thought of my father and my mother and pictured them being greeted by their parents with this same kind of love.  I wondered at my greeting when I return home.  Will it be similar?

I thought about these young, innocent children and how freely they shared their feelings with me.  I wondered if I was once like that, running to greet others with love and joy, just happy to see them. What happens to us as we grow up to squash that free reigning joyous feeling of being just plain glad to see someone we care about.

Last summer a young boy in my neighborhood always rushed to greet me in a similar manner. I did not always see him coming as he grabbed around my legs and told me he was glad to see me.  Once, his dad was there and tried to stop it.  He said it was not appropriate.  Yet, this young man's pleasure to see me had never once offended me.  On the contrary in this busy world I cherished his expression that I was someone important to him.  I find that plenty rare these days.

For a season, I attended the Twin Falls Temple weekly with friends where I was greeted warmly by many.  I didn't always receive a hug but many a smile and a whispered kind word of welcoming embraced me.  These kind temple workers new my name.  They appreciated my attendance.  I felt like they valued me.  In return, I cherished each of them.  If I was unable to attend, they missed me. I was asked if  I had been sick or if something was wrong.  They told me that I was missed.  I thought of these kind people who made me feel important. And when I couldn't be there, I missed them.

I thought of the people that I associate with now and wonder if we really care about each other very much. We stand at a distance, waiting for the other to make the first move.  Neither wanting to be the first to speak or reach out in some way.  Somewhere along the line we learned that is the appropriate way to behave. I guess it is not dignified and mature to be demonstrative with our feelings

Then one day as I was out for my morning walk, a neighbor a few blocks away emerged from her house.  She was returning inside when she spotted me, walked toward me, and hugged me. She asked how I was and talked for just a minute or two. It reminded me of an incident that had occurred some weeks earlier in our church building.  I headed into the women's restroom between meetings, finding another sister heading toward the door to leave. I stopped to say hello and asked her how she was.  She turned around and walked toward me and  hugged me as her tears flowed.  We are mostly just acquaintances but she needed someone to care about her. She needed someone to acknowledge her.  She needed to feel like she belonged.

Isn't that what we all really need - to feel like we matter, that someone cares about us, and that we belong.  How do we get past that wall we build around ourselves and open up our hearts to each other?  How do we return to a kind, loving, and caring people?

How do we become the kind of people who not only need hugs but willingly reach out to others, acknowledging their value and worth?  When did we become too busy to really listen and care about each other?

What is the value of a simple hug?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Becoming

I cannot say I have ever enjoyed a spiritual feast more than I have enjoyed the April General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For me, the messages were pertinent, timely, and vital.  I could not now pick a favorite, as they were all significant.  It will take me some listening and reading to identify and internalize these words that can lead to salvation.

As I listened to the spoken words and the beautiful music, the Holy Ghost testified that all that I heard was true.  Though my words matter very little, I testify that Heavenly Father shared His will with me through His Apostles, Prophets, and Church leaders.  And I am grateful.

As the conference was drawing to a close, I felt genuine sorrow that it would soon be over.  I was hungry for more.  What a blessing to be able to access it almost instantly over the internet so I can nibble at it every day.  Bite by bite I can savor the words and plant them in my heart.

It would be easy as well to feel overwhelmed and discouraged as I take stock of myself in light of these words.  I have so much to learn and so much to change. Discouragement can be paralyzing and limit my ability to do anything. Feeling overwhelmed stops me from trying to do anything at all, because it seems impossible to find a place to begin.  I am choosing instead to talk to Heavenly Father, seeking Him to tell me which things are most important for me to work on today. I know that he will help me.

I loved the words of President Uchtdorf who taught that the right place to begin is right where you are.  That applies to everyone.  How kind to hear that we don't need to start where he is or where our friend or neighbor is.  We start where we are and take a step forward.  I can do that.

So much was said about becoming. I want to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I want to have unshakable faith in Him and His Atonement.  I want to become a useful tool to build up the Kingdom of God on earth.  I want to be someone that the Lord can depend on.

I want to be obedient.

I want to be more kind.

I want to have a forgiving heart.

I want to become who Heavenly Father needs me to be.

And I begin today right where I am.

To listen or read talks from The April 2013 General Conference go here:

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2013/04?lang=eng

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Contemplation

There were no colored eggs or jelly beans this year for me on Easter Sunday.  I won't be cleaning up any stray strands of colored grass.  There are no baskets to empty and put away or leftover ham.  No one has a new dress to wear or a new toy to play with.  My Easter was every different this year than it has been for many years and I found it to be a blessing.

Because I was less caught up and involved with the worldly side of Easter, I found I had more time and opportunity to think about what it is really all about for me.  I was able to to spend more time thinking about the Savior Jesus Christ.  I have pondered His life and mission.  I have meditated on His sacrifice and His mercy.  I was able to attend the temple the evening before Easter along with many other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have contemplated the meaning of worship and pondered on my own worship, seeking inspiration on how to deepen my own reverence.

I recognize that I have far to go and much to learn.  My weaknesses are many and my strengths are few, but there have been moments of great gratitude as I recognize that The Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ is the only hope that I have for salvation.  I cannot possibly do enough good works to earn my way back into the presence of God. All I am and all I have is already His. I owe Him everything. I can never get even. I can never get ahead.

We watched a small portion of a tv show describing the celebrations of Easter within some cultures.  I found it bloody and difficult to watch as individuals were nailed to crosses to emulate Christ.  Others chose self flogging. Commentary included that some of these individuals are trying to impress others with their abilities.  It is a matter of pride.  They have something to prove about their own superiority to others.

I thought of my understanding of Christ and what He desires from me.  Instead, I think he wants me to willingly give up my pride and my vanity.  He asks for me to keep His commandments and to be willing to learn and become more like He is. He has asked for a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  Most of these things take place within my heart and soul.  Others may not see anything at all as I work to become more of what He wants me to be.  The world does not  recognize my small successes or my dismal defeats.

But He sees.

As I recognize my complete and total dependence on Christ's Atonement for my Salvation, I often sing the words "I Need Thee Every Hour" to myself, knowing that I really do.  I believe in Him.  I trust in Him.  I lean on Him. I desire to learn of Him and to become more as He is.  I testify of Him.

As the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints approaches, I hunger to hear the words of prophets who will also testify of Jesus Christ. Their teachings help keep me grounded and inspire me to try a little harder and to be a little better.

I have tried to prepare myself to be ready for both Easter Sunday and General Conference.  I have prayed that my heart and my mind will be in the right place to receive the inspiration that Heavenly Father wants me to have at this time. I have read and listened to scriptures to help soften my heart.  I have asked for the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life.

As I listen to prophets, Apostles, and other inspired speakers, I know I will learn. If I am prepared and ready to receive, I will know exactly which talk or talks I need to study first.  The Holy Ghost will tell me as I listen.  We live in a miraculous age of technology that allows me to read and listen to these messages quickly and repeatedly as I need and desire. I can savor each message as a whole or select minute quotes and phrases.

It doesn't matter to me that I don't have a clue how this technology works. I don't know who does what to open up these doors of knowledge and inspiration.   Maybe it is better that way.  Because for me it is another miracle.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Families - Part Three

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said, “Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned."

In today's vernacular, they can dish it out but they can't take it. I have seen this myself on many occasions.

Many years ago a family I know well began to fray at the seams.  Arguments over things began to inflame tempers and angry words were spoken.  This family of 'mature' adults became bitter and angry with each other.  The divisions that were created were never repaired in this life time. As I watched from the sidelines I could not help but wonder how their mother must have felt as she watched the childish behavior of her children from her well earned spot in Heaven.  I know that she wanted better for them.  I know that she taught them better. My guess is that it broke her heart.

What do you say to a relative who ‘jerks’ you around?  How much do you take before you have had enough?  How do you teach an adult that their behavior is not acceptable? 

Years ago, at a family gathering I watched two ‘mature’ adult relatives nearly come to blows over left over hot dogs.  All I could do was shake my head and walk away.  To this day I still wonder: over hot dogs?

Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we believe in forever families.  That is our goal and our hope and what we strive for.  But, how many of us want to spend eternities with those who have been rude, dishonest, and unkind to us? 

For that matter why would anyone want to spend an evening with someone who has mistreated us?

I am no expert in family relations to be sure and I don't pretend to have the answers.  All I could say to my friend over and over was how sad I felt.

As I pondered this friend’s predicament, I thought about Heavenly Father.  I wondered how He must feel as He watches His children, who He loves.  How does He feel when He sees the broken hearted face of a child who has waited for someone to come with anticipation, only to be disappointed?  How does it feel to see the bitter tears fall when one of His children has been zinged by sarcasm?  How might it feel to see two adult children arguing over hot dogs?  How does it feel when He hears one of His own belittle and besmirch another?

If we really want to be part of a family that lasts forever, it is probably time to start working on it now.  If we plant nothing in our garden spot, the weeds take over.  If we never water the ground, the weeds flourish. They grow tall and cover the ground.  Today, even though the ground is still very frozen, the weeds are clearly evident.

So it is in all relationships, especially within families.  When we do not carefully plant and tend courtesy, kindness, respect, and charity, the weeds of rudeness and disrespect begin to take over. 

The law of the harvest is just as real within relationships.  You cannot reap what you have not been willing to sow.