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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Everyday Miracles

I believe that I fail to recognize the everyday miracles. My eyes are more trained to watch for the big ones. No one taught me that or said that was the way to view miracles specifically, but I think I created that thinking over my lifetime. For several years I have tried to retrain my thinking processes and have prayed that my spiritual eyes would be opened so that I could see the miracles more readily. I have worked at looking for the miracles more often in my life as well as in the lives of others.

But recently I have let other things cloud my vision and I have not been exercising my spiritual eyes to look for those miracles enough. And I think that I need to change that. It is difficult to be grateful for things we do not recognize. I want to recognize the hand of the Lord in my life as well as in the lives of those that I care so much about.  But it is not about Heavenly Father tapping me on the shoulder and telling me that I just witnessed a miracle. I have not yet once received an email or snail mail notification that a miracle has occurred. That is not the process.

The process is also not about testing God. You know the 'if I see the miracles, then I will believe.'

I believe the way the process is intended to be is instead, first I believe and then I look and watch and pray and wait for the miracles to come.

What kind of a test of faith would it be for me, if I only choose to believe after the miracle comes?  That is a test for God, not me. God is already complete. He has already passed the test. He is infinite in wisdom, power, and knowledge. The test is for me, not Him.

So I am trying to be more diligent in this test. I know I have a long way to go. I believe in miracles. I believe they surround us without our recognizing them or appreciating them.

And I ask myself what good is a miracle if no one notices?

Parents do so much for their children. They do if out of love and because they want their children to be happy, safe, and successful. Most parents also want their children to have more opportunities, more stuff, and more of everything than they had. For example, my children grew up in times that were very hard for us financially. Sometimes we had no money for food. Food really was a luxury at times, as was gas for a car, or badly needed shoes. Sometimes we were cold and hungry. From my perspective, my children have had enough experience with financially difficult times. I do not feel that they need to learn and experience anymore from those kinds of situations. I want to take away their financial tests and trials. I want them to sail financially through life in ways that I could not. I want things to be better for all of them and their families.

But financial struggles comes to them. At times they are expecting it and prepared. But it often broadsides them, just as it does me. And I am hurt along with them and wonder why?  They have already been there done that in our home. Why do they have to face it again and again and again?

And I watch and I pray and I fast for the miracles to come.

Waiting for the big miracles can be a slow process and at times frustrating. My patience wears thin and I wonder why - again!

But when I 'practice' looking for miracles, it can be amazing to see the things that are just hanging around, waiting for me to notice.

Food is no longer a luxury!  That is a miracle!  Though we are still careful what we buy, we always have access to food. I have food in my fridge and in my pantry and in my storage. Until yesterday, I also had food in my garden. Because I have lived with so much less, every day that we have so much food really is a miracle.

I can fill up my gas tank, anytime I need to. Though the price of gas nearly gives me a heart attack at times, I simply fill it up. Another everyday miracle.

It is miraculous to me to stand under a hot stream of water in my own shower, in my own warm bathroom in my own house. For many people around the world, access to water is miraculous. Add in the fact that we have central heating and our own structure to live in and I think some might even be jealous of me. They too are miracles that I take for granted every day.

If I were a pioneer, how would I feel about hot water, central heating, and a home to live in?  I try to be grateful for those things, everyday. For anyone who crossed the plains or who has been homeless, they really are miracles.

Though I am still weak in ability to recognize all miracles, I do have the desire to be more aware, more grateful, and more patient in waiting for the miracles. Because Heavenly Father provides me with so many miracles, I want to be more grateful. So to all the world and all of Heaven today I say, "Thank you for the everyday miracles!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Blessing of Music

I am a huge fan of good music. Always have been. Always hope to be. Music can change my mood in a matter of moments. Sometimes for the good and sometimes not so much. I have appreciated music as long as I can remember.

It seems easy to remember the songs I learned as a small child attending primary. Though many of those songs are still sung, I do not often hear them, except in my mind. My Mother sang a lot as I was growing up. I still remember many that I heard her sing. Some of my favorites were probably famous once, but not anymore. I loved to hear her clear soprano voice as she sang Baggage Coach Ahead, Stay in Your Own Backyard, Two Little Boys and my favorite, Grandmother's Old Arm Chair.

My Grandmother Wilcox sometimes sang the same songs. That was also wonderful. But my favorite times to hear her sing was with her sisters. When those ladies got together, their voices blended in absolute harmony. Their eyes twinkled and danced as the belted out the words, Granny left you nothin' but the Old Arm Chair. I think they enjoyed singing together even more than I enjoyed listening to them.

Christmas music was always a bit magical to me. I loved the tree and the lights and decorations. Certainly the gifts were great to receive. But it was the music that made Christmas special to me. Still does. I have many a favorite holiday tune. One of them is Sleigh Ride. I remember how different, peppy and joyful it sounded to me when I first heard it. It seemed a delightful contrast to the more sacred Christmas songs.

From the time our children were very small, we played music for them and around them. At night when they were tucked into bed, a cassette player provided them with music to fall asleep to. Each of my children learned to play the piano. They did not all want to, but they learned. Some enjoyed the piano. Some enjoyed other musical instruments. We were exposed to flutes and saxophones. We attended band concerts. We attended orchestra concerts too. We had violins and one son also played the cello. We attended choir concerts too. I loved that my children liked to sing.

I hope that music enriched their lives, because it has enriched mine!

In recent years I have become acquainted with the music of Rob Gardner. It was one of our sons who introduced us to this music. I find much of his music to be beautiful and truly reflects what I am feeling in my heart. The words and music of some of my favorite Rob Gardner music tell the story of The Savior, Jesus Christ. I have listened over and over and been strengthened by the message of his music.

"Hosanna, Hosanna, Sing praises to God." That is how I feel. I want to sing praises to God The Eternal Father for all He has done for me. I also want to sing praises to His Beloved Song, Jesus Christ. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only hope that I have to return to live with Heavenly Father when this life is over. I am a flawed and imperfect being. I make mistakes every single day. Only the Infinite Atonement can cleanse me from all that is amiss in my life.

Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Rob Gardner's words teach of Christ, "He that believeth in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live." 

These words feel true to me. I believe Christ is the only way. He is my Savior and my Hope. My heart sings, "Hosanna, Hosanna and blessed He'll ever be called. Hosanna, Hosanna sing praises to God, our King our Deliverer, our all!"

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Glimmer of Faith

Some weeks are just more difficult than others. We all have them. Sometimes we may have an inkling that one is coming. Little warning lights or bells signal, "danger ahead" and we brace ourselves, preparing for the onslaught. At other times, there is no warning and we feel like life has broadsided us again. In our naïveté we are totally unprepared and caught off gaurd as we find ourselves again, knocked to our knees.

It may not matter which way the rough patch comes, with or without warning. It is still a rough patch. The nature of our lives does not allow us to walk both paths, to the end, and then come back and select which one we feel has worked out best for us. Truth is, when we reel from one problem to another, there is usually not even enough time to think about anything. The only thing I know to do is to hold on, until the path finds a smooth spot.

At times I find myself broadsided from multiple angles. There may not be a resting spell between some of those patches.

It happened again a few months ago. I felt like I was reeling to and fro, at the whims of others. I felt like a pin ball in a pin ball machine, knocked back and forth, aimlessly. My life was spinning out of control. Some of what came my way was not deliberate, I know that. But some of it, not so sure. But either way, it has been a rough time and my recovery was a bit shaky.

I often know things that will help to heal my soul. Experience sends me to those tools that bring peace. But there are times when I have to look a little harder and dig a little deeper. My heart has hardened. I feel it as a rock, heavy in my chest. I long to shut out the world and the pain of unkindness and disrespect. And again I dig a lttle deeper.

What a blessing to be able to go to my knees. When feeling alone and abandoned, Heavenly Father will be there. It may take many trips to my knees before the peace comes. It is wonderful that God does not keep office hours!  He is always there and available.

I sat by a struggling friend for awhile in church one day. She told me that she was feeling really restless and could not sit still. Then she asked how I could be so calm. Because of the setting I refrained from maniacal laughter at the irony. I had mentally been desirous to run, screaming, from the room. I let her peek inside my heart and assured her, it was an act.

An adorable, blonde, very curly haired toddler sat with his family in front of us. He was in and out and up and down. He squawked and complained and wiggled. He ran off at every opportunity. He did not want to be there either! Eventually, his behavior became a full blown tantrum. I leaned closer to whisper  to my friend. "I feel just like he does," I said. "But I am just not as cute as he is." She smiled. I think she understood because I think we both felt like having a tantrum.

Yes, I think throwing a tantrum might make me feel better. And sometimes I still really want to. I want to throw something, or yell at someone, or maybe even run away from home. Though I look like an adult on the outside, sometimes I think I am very much like that adorable toddler on the inside.

But instead, I attempt to bridle my tongue and my emotions. I seek for tools to help me deal with sorrow, hurt, and heartache.

I seek comfort in music and the words of scripture. I listen to a favorite speaker. I pray on my knees and in my heart. I search for gratitude and the return of the voice of The Spirit that brings peace. I think of others who endure more than I, as I hold on to one glimmer of faith.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gratitude for Prophets

I love the two days of learning that bless my life during General Conference. Every six months members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gather to listen and learn from wise men and women who have been asked to speak and teach from The Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Because of technology, these sessions come into my home. I just turn on my television and conference is there. I can listen over the internet. I just turn it on and it is there. I can carry my portable device with me and listen in any room in my house. For me it is miraculous.

As I listen, The Holy Ghost bears witness to me of the truth that I hear. I am fed. My hungry and needy spirit is nourished. I hear words that are inspired and come from men and women who have studied, and prayed and fasted to know what Heavenly Father wants to be said. It must be somewhat intimidating to be asked to speak not only in front of this massive congregation in the Conference Center, but also to the world. But I am not able to detect fear or nervousness. I hear words filled with faith and power and testimony. I see  preparation and peace and confidence.

I believe it is confidence in the power of Heavenly Father.

Listening to wise counsel helps me refocus my own compass. I hear a few things that I may be doing fairly well at. I hear some things that I am struggling with. I hear things all over the spectrum in between. I can carry out my own self evaluation. I can see where I need to work and where I need to begin again.

I am reminded of the need for kindness. Jesus Christ was infinitely kind. His kindness had no bounds or limitations based on circumstances that can easily affect my ability to be kind. He fasted for forty days and forty nights and His kindness did not fail. He was weary from serving and teaching others and His kindness did not fail. Even when He was spit upon and scourged, and nailed to the cross, even then, His kindness did not fail.

If I want to be more like Jesus, I need to work on being more kind.

As I listened to Sunday morning's session of conference, I was reminded of the blessing of having prophets. I heard three different speakers talk about prophets. They bore their testimonies of the importance of having living prophets who speak to us today, and teach us the things that we need to know and learn and do. I felt their words sink into my heart. I needed to be reminded that when the prophet speaks, I want to obey.

Because I grew up in a home where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught, I have always believed in prophets. I still remember the shocking news that President David O. McKay had died. He was the only prophet that I knew. I am not sure, but I do not think it had ever occurred to me that a prophet would actually die. But in the order of God's church, a new prophet is prepared and steps up to lead and teach.

I received my own personal witness that President Thomas S. Monson is truly God's prophet on earth, today. President Monson arrived at a rodeo arena, in a golf cart, for the Youth Celebration the night before the Twin Falls Temple was dedicated. As He arrived, the air was charged with The Spirit of the Holy Ghost. And I knew!

I am grateful for the miracles of today that allow me to listen to words of prophets seers, and revelators frequently. I am grateful that technology allows me to participate and learn over and over again.

And I will.