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







Monday, June 30, 2014

Another Miracle

The last two weeks have brought a number of challenges to not only myself but to others about whom I care deeply. I know, this is life lesson number one. Life is hard. We get to experience disappointments, heartaches, challenges, and loss. We came to earth for exactly those reasons, to experience hard things so that we can learn from them. We cannot rejoice in the good and wonderful things of life, if we do not 'taste' the bitter fruit. It is only because we experience the opposition that we recognize those things that bring us joy.

It is only in making mistakes, learning from them, making adjustments, and trying again that we come to a place of success. If we make a mistake, throw in the towel, and never try again, we find ourselves in a feeling of failure. That feeling of failure can continue to define us, if we choose. We can build on that failure with failure. Or we can pick ourselves up and continue to work for success. There may be a number of failures before we actually reach success. But in the trying we can learn and tweak the process.

But, that being said, I freely admit that I would often like to choose the smoother path. The road with no bumps, crazy turns, or steep hills appeals to me. I often feel that I have suffered enough, or sacrificed enough, or whatever enough. I deserve a nice, smooth road that meanders through the meadows.

It is even easy to look into the lives of others and assume that they are on a toll free road leading them through the very meadow I wanted to explore. And my heart and mind may even scream, unfair! I may start looking for an off ramp that will get me off the rough road I am on so I can find the way to the other road.

A wise man taught that we often fast and pray for our trials to be removed from our lives. We may go to The House of The Lord and serve in the hopes that our trials might be removed. We may beg, plead, and bargain with God in the hope that he will remove our trials. (I am certain I am in this category, totally!) He also taught that there is nothing wrong with this. But he reminded us that we were not sent here to float down the stream of life in a boat, watching the beautiful view along the shore. We came to work, to learn, and to experience. So, if our trials are removed by Heavenly Father, He will just have to give us some new ones.

Again, I found myself on the rough road of life, facing hard challenges and bitter disappointment. And yes, I was on my knees, begging and pleading with Heavenly Father for a miracle. It seems I am always in need of a miracle, somewhere in my life.

And, the miracle came!

I am profoundly grateful for this miracle! It was really a number of miracles wrapped up together in a package, wrapped in miracles and tied with a miraculous bow.

Now, again I am on my knees, expressing my gratitude and appreciation for the miracles received. Though I may fail, I hope my pleading and begging for a miracle will only be exceeded by my grateful heart and it's expressions of praise to Heavenly Father who is the giver of all good things!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Discleship

Recently I have been listening to the Old Testament. I have enjoyed listening as I have cooked and cleaned. Laundered and sewn. Quilted and puttered. It has been years since I have read many of these words. I have heard some familiar stories as well as some that are not so familiar. But most of what I have heard so far was about laws and sacrifices. Expectations of God and punishments. I freely admit that I do not understand about the different sacrificial offerings. There are many and each has a different purpose. They are explained in minute detail. The sacrifices and the details seem to boggle my mind.

Though I do not pretend to have even a minuscule understanding of these rituals, I do understand their purpose. We are Heavenly Father's children sent away to school to learn and grow and try to become as He is. We were happy with His Plan of Salvation when it was presented in a council in heaven. We wanted to achieve the highest blessings that our Father could offer us. We wanted to live with Him forever. We wanted the chance to become like Him.

But to succeed in this we had to come to a fallen planet where life would be hard, disappointing, and challenging. We would not remember who we are or who Heavenly Father is. We would be placed in a world where we were not familiar with tricks and strategies used by Satan to derail God's plan. We would live in bodies that were less than perfect. We could become tired, sick, and die. We would be surrounded with other people who had also forgotten who they are.

We agreed to come to a world where we would struggle with selfishness, greed, and pride. Money and power would tempt us and beckon us. We would see our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others. We would also be subjected to the unkindness of those we live among. But we would also take opportunities to be unkind. Our lives would be filled with opportunities to learn from natural consequences. But we would also be thrust about by the consequences of others. We would be subject to all manner of discouragement, fear, and heartache.

Because Heavenly Father loves us infinitely, His desire is for our success. Sometimes when we are surrounded by life's stuff, we forget that and feel alone. We feel we have failed and may want to give it all up. But God believes in us. His plan included a Savior to rescue us from our own sins. He has already paid the price for it all. Incomprehensible as it is to me, He loved us enough to die for us, so that we might not have to suffer.

All these sacrificial offerings were intended to help prepare hearts to recognize and receive the gifts of the Atonement. They were to teach people about Jesus Christ and His mission on this earth. They were to remind them of who they were and what God wanted them to become. They were teaching tools.

I have been struck by the long list of requirements for these sacrifices and been grateful that my earthly task does not include these, but instead asks of me discipleship.

That is my lifelong quest, to be a disciple of The Savior Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to me to strive every day to remember Him and who He is and what He has done for me personally. It is miraculous to believe that someone loved me enough to try to save me from this lonely, sometimes cruel world. How wonderful it is to go to my knees when I am lost and broken and talk to Heavenly Father and feel Him there.

Though my path is littered with lots of stuff along the way that I do not want, I can go to the scriptures and read the words of prophets for counsel and help. I can offer as many prayers every day as I want. There is no limit. There is not take a number and wait line. There is no busy signal or back in thirty minutes sign on the door. Though to others my need may not be urgent, God listens with urgency.

I am grateful to be on the path of discipleship, trying to learn who Christ is and how to become who I should be. My progress is slow and small, but I am grateful to know that Heavenly Father is not in a hurry. Because He loves all His children, He has provided us with enough time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Perspective

Last Sunday we had a wonderful day with our son and his family, who live in another town. We spent the night before and arose semi-willingly to eat the wonderful breakfast our sweet daughter in law prepared. We usually eat cold cereal at our house on Sundays. Our son had to work so it was a very busy morning to prepare her four beautiful children for church. I helped in very minor ways. This mom is used to getting herself and her three daughters ready for church. Her son, dressed himself and even combed his own hair. They looked scrubbed and glowing as we headed out to church.

They live in the country and we were slowed on our trek to the building by a motorcycle and truck who seemed to be in no hurry to get anywhere. But we arrived at the building where they attend meetings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints every week. We found plenty of empty chairs in the cultural hall behind the chapel and settled in for Sacrament Meeting. This particular day was also Father's Day and the birthday of the youngest member of the family we were visiting. She turned one!

Of course this new one year old quickly needed a diaper change, desperately. Perhaps because it was her birthday, or just because she was tired, or perhaps because she did not want to be in this meeting, she did not last very long sitting in the cultural hall, even with a clean diaper and snacks. Her mother quietly removed her a second time.

My husband and I were just fine with our grandchildren. There were a few trips to the drinking fountain and the bathroom. Seemed perfectly normal to us. Then the Ziploc bag of goldfish crackers spilled all over the cultural hall floor. Slightly noisy and plenty of crumbs but not a problem. Every single cracker had landed on the floor, but was quickly allowed to swim safely into the bag. Then it was time for the marshmallows to spill. Again, not convenient or messy, but more quiet than the goldfish had been. They too were retrieved and returned to their home. Once again, marshmallows escaped their bags and I found myself bending over in my chair to gather them a second time.

It was then that things began to unravel. Our daughter in law had brought a number of craft items to display for Relief Society. She will be helping other ladies create similar crafts next weekend so they want to see what they are making. One item had not been tucked safely in the bag with the rest. I had carried this into the cultural hall myself. It was a glass jar on a pedestal, filled with gumballs. It was colorful and cute as the dickens. It had rested undisturbed under my chair the entire meeting, until about five minutes before the meeting was to end. One grandchild carefully opened the glass jar, by removing the lid and removed a gumball. Not a sound was made and I helped him replace the lid as I continued to rescue run away marshmallows. Another child suddenly discovered the need for a gumball if a sibling could have one and removed the lid a second time to retrieve several gumballs. I saw what was happening but was not quick enough switching from my marshmallow rescue mission, when there was the loud sound of the glass jar hitting the cultural hall floor. I am sure it echoed and everyone in the cultural hall and chapel heard the sound of the jar as it broke free from its pedestal. But it was so quickly followed by the sound of dozens of gumballs fleeing the jar and rolling across the floor that it is hard to be sure.

Gumballs make a lot of noise when they hit and roll across a shiny, hardwood, cultural hall floor. Who knew!

All I could do was laugh!  It took great self control to keep my head down as I grabbed for gumballs along with everyone else near by. I wanted to laugh loudly and irreverently. This was the finale to a comedy of clean up errors. The guilty party wanted to cry. She might have; had anyone paid attention to her. But we were too busy laughing inside and grabbing handfuls of gumballs on the outside. Another grandchild looked puzzled at me. She wondered if my movements indicated that I was crying. She seemed surprised and relieved that it was laughter on my face. It was hilarious to me!

As we left the meeting, I told my husband that I did not think this congregation would be inviting us back anytime soon. We were a huge distraction.

Had this happened twenty or thirty years ago or had it been my children, I would have cried. I would have been so embarrassed. We might have had to move to a new town. But I can see it differently now, because my perspective is different.

As I have thought of this experience it occurred to me that perhaps it is like that for Heavenly Father. He sees things so differently than I do. His perspective is whole. complete, and all encompassing. He sees the beginning from the end. He knows my past and my future.

I wonder if sometimes He finds my tragedies to be hilarious and all He can do is laugh!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Dinosaur

Technology is a big part of life. I use it every day. Every clock in my house is digital, except for the watches we wear. Computer technology controls our microwave, stove, and our cars. We have a cell phone. Though it is many years old and has no camera, it has served us well. Many days this phone goes totally ignored, unused, and neglected but it is our only access to long distance. Rarely do we leave home without it. It provides a good safety net. Many of our adult children own nothing but cell phones. So we talk from cell phone to cell phone. I can text. I just don't do it very often. But I am glad that I can. In an emergency, it is a great way to communicate.

I have an IPAD. Someone wonderful gave it to me. I use it frequently for so many things. I have quick access from any room in my house to the internet for researching information and email. I listen to music, books, and pod casts frequently. I have used the timer, the weather app, and listened to scriptures. Last week I needed to make a trip to a place I had no clue how to find. The map app gave me excellent directions.

But we have a dinosaur in our house. It is not in the best of health and is declining. Our computer is old. It is a dying breed. We have a computer with Windows XP operating system on it. Shocking I know that we would be so slow to jump on the bandwagon of new technology and that we did not upgrade sooner! Now support for out dinosaur has ended. And the search for a new replacement has begun.

It has not been a secret to me that this computer on which I now type is old and slow. It has been the giver of many a frustrating moment, especially in the recent past. That same trip to somewhere I was clueless to find brought with it some computer frustrations. I decided I should print a map with the directions to where I needed to go. Though it was only about a twenty minute drive each way, I truly could not envision where it was or how to get there. A map seemed like a simple, quick tool to ensure that I would not get too lost. I had an appointment to meet someone. Getting lost did not seem helpful.

I went downstairs and sat at the dinosaur and proceeded to bring up a map program that I have used many times. It would not do what I needed it to do without upgrading or adding on new stuff, cuz yes, my stuff is old. I tried another program to get directions and found the same issue. Because my time was now quickly passing, I agreed so I could print the darn directions and leave.

But it did not turn out that way at all. Things began to happen to my computer. It was as if it was possessed. All of a sudden my browser was gone, totally, and a new browser was in it place. That would have been no problem, but this new browser would not access the internet. An error message was all I ever received. It could not access a single website. Now being rather computer illiterate, I was totally clueless what to do. But I had to leave.

I quickly wrote down the directions I needed from the IPAD and found where I needed to be, easily. That problem was solved.

But I returned to a sick dinosaur.

Off on and throughout the day I fiddled with it, trying to identify what in the heck happened and how in the heck to fix it. I researched a few things on the IPAD and by the end of the day, most of the damage was undone and internet access was restored.

Now I realize of course, that many of my family, perhaps even my grandchildren, could have solved my problem much more quickly, but perhaps one of the reasons the computer and I have our moments of struggle is because it is one dinosaur talking to another!