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







Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude

As the day our country has chosen to give thanks approached, I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for all the blessings that Heavenly Father has provided for me. My heart swells with gratitude for the good children that blessed my life, for their spouses, and for the grandchildren who joined their lives. I adore them all! Each one is unique and special to me. My only wish is that we could spend more time together.

I am profoundly grateful to have a husband who works to provide so much for us. We are truly blessed! We have a roof over our heads and food on our table. We can purchase fuel for cars that take us where we need to go.

I am profoundly grateful for my parents who paved the way for me, sacrificing daily that I might have opportunities that they did not. I am grateful for their parents and the generations going back for their contributions to the quality of my life. I am grateful to pioneers who crossed the plains of this land so that religious worship could be a part of my life. Also I feel immense gratitude for founding fathers, rebellious soldiers, and faithful principles who started this country, blessed by God.

I appreciate modern day pioneers and soldiers who serve and explore the current world, striving for excellence, knowledge, truth and freedom.

I am so grateful for eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that can feel. I am grateful for my mouth that tastes and speaks and for my respiratory system that allows me to breath. I am grateful for legs that I may walk and hands that allow me to feel, hold my grandchildren, and to write words. What a blessing it have a mind and the ability to think, learn, and problem solve.

I am blessed by technology every moment of my life. I appreciate indoor plumbing and central heat. I adore clean clothes provided so readily by my washing machine and dryer. I appreciate a freezer and refriferator that store food. I have lived without both. It is much better this way. I love my stove, oven, and microwave, which I use daily.

I use a computer or a portable device and the internet, almost every day. I would be lost without them.
I appreciate telephones, emails, television and radio. I listen to music on CDs, mp3s, and over the internet almost daily.

I am grateful for my siblings who continue to teach and strengthen me today.

I am profoundly grateful for my testimony of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ and the influence of the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for scriptures and modern day prophets. I am grateful for technology that allows me to access and use words by ancient prophets as well as President Thomas S. Monson who is God's living spokesman. I am profoundly grateful for the ability to pray anytime, anywhere, and as often as I would like.

I know this list is incomplete, but that does not mean my gratitude is not deep, sincere, and heartfelt!









Friday, November 21, 2014

The Goldfish

A recent experience taught me a lesson that was perhaps only applicable to me. As I pondered this experience, The Holy Ghost taught me a little bit about goldfish. Over the years we have had a number of different fish in our home. Sometimes we had more expensive fish but often we had goldfish because they were inexpensive. We could afford to buy one for each child that wanted one for a small amount of money. We always intended that they survive. We tried our best to provide the proper care for them. We tried different containers and different foods. I cleaned the bowl regularly. I always de-chlorinated the water. I never let the bowl run dry. I did everything that I knew to do to keep them alive. But eventually, one by one, they would be floating at the top of the bowl.

They all died!

The Spirit told me that though I had done the best I could, I really had not provided them with the environment that they needed. Goldfish are actually considered to be a fairly hardy fish. In the appropriate environment, they can grow to be very large, as much as a foot long. They can also live as long as 43 years. But not at my house.

But the lesson for me was the need for the appropriate environment for a goldfish. Without the appropriate environment, the fish did not have a chance to survive. Chlorine in the water can be deadly to a fish. Fresh water fish do not do well in salt water. Feeding fish what they need and when they need it is also essential to their survival.

A goldfish needs to be continually encircled with the right kind of environment.

So to it is with us. We need to be encircled in the right kind of environment for our survival. For us the environment is not water, but the principle is still the same. We must choose to surround ourselves with things that will keep us healthy emotionally and spiritually. A little salt can be absolutely poisonous to a goldfish. It does not take much.

How much of an emotionally or spiritually polluting substance is poisonous to a soul?

How much can we absorb from these pollutants?  How do they affect us? How long will we pay the price for taking in the things that will poison our souls? How many swear words compare to a pinch of deadly salt?  How many acts of unkindness compare to the microscopic amount of chlorine?

When we think of surrounding ourselves in an appropriate environment for our spiritual and emotional health, what does that look like?  Does it look like a rain shower trickling drops of water here and there over us, hit and miss? Is it more like a bathroom shower where we still get sprinkled, but have some control? We can move around to make sure that all our spots get touched by the water. We can even identify the most needed spots and give them a little extra. Is it like sitting in a tub. Some of us is surrounded. But then some of us is not! 

When I think of being surrounded in the appropriate environment, like a fish, I think back to swimming in a pool. I was never a terrific swimmer, but I did enjoy the water. At times I swam mostly underwater, but it was difficult to really stay under very long. I also rolled myself  into a ball and did underwater summer saults. That too was short lived.

But these experience are a good visual for me to remind me what it means to surround myself in the appropriate environment spiritually and physically. They also remind me that I have a very long way to go.

Thankfully because Heavenly Father is still teaching me through the power of The Holy Ghost, I must not be a hopeless case. He must think I am still capable to learn and change and grow. Because He wants me to have every opportunity to return to live with Him, God has also provided me with a Savior who atoned for my sins.

But it is up to me to give more thought and effort to choosing the environment I surround myself with.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Big Miracle

It seems that I am always in need of miracles! Maybe everyone else is too. I do not know because I have very little conversation with others about their miracles. I guess maybe I should! It just seems that often our miracles are more personal and private and we choose not to broadcast them among the world.

I am continuing to look for miracles of all sizes, shapes, and varieties. I believe that Heavenly Father would appreciate my noticing all the good things that He does for me. I think He wants me to see the blessings and gifts He gives. I also believe He would like me to recognize when my prayers are answered, or my problems are solved, or when my stress is replaced by His peace.

Because I appreciate being thanked by others, whom I have helped or served, I believe Heavenly Father would also appreciate hearing expressions of gratitude from mw. As so many other things in life, this is a continual work in progress. I want to be grateful. I want to express my gratitude more freely, but I am far from perfect.

I really am working on it!

At times, though it seems to be such a huge hurdle for me to be grateful in my trials. My mind wonders so often, how can this be good for me? Or how can this be good for my son or my daughter or my friend. I think of Job who never stopped thanking God for the blessings that were given to him, even as his temporal world was falling apart at his feet. Job never faltered in his faith and praising of God, at least according to what I have read in the scriptures.

Wow! Job and his faithfulness is amazing!

I do not know if I will every come close to his example, but I am really trying to 'practice' gratitude in the trials that life brings. I am strengthened by words of prophets that I listen to and read as they remind me that trials are a part of this life. Some trials we bring on by our own choices, but many trials are just because we live in a fallen, mortal world.

Some trials also come to us because of the choices that other people make. I think these can be some of the hardest trials for me to face with faith and appreciation. The choices of others can cause much pain and suffering. This is hard to bear with a smile. But sometimes they are just annoying or irritating. Either way, I am not very good at this one at all.

The burden that feels so heavy on my shoulders today is one that just comes because of life in general. It is really not my personal trial either, but the heavy trial of someone who means the world to me. I have prayed and fasted and prayed and fasted over this burden and have seen very little movement. At times it becomes way too heavy for me to bear, yet I realize it must be much heavier for the person I am concerned for.  When I feel my faith begin to waver, I remember a Book of Mormon story and ask that God will also help me in my unbelief.

This burden seems really heavy for me now, and I find my faith is not as strong as I would wish it to be. So today is one of those days when I am asking for help from heaven to strengthen me in my unbelief.

I believe in Heavenly Father. I believe in His Son Jesus Christ. I believe in the desire Heavenly Father has for the success and happiness of His children. I believe He sends angels to comfort, strengthen, and light the way for us. I believe God sends blessings and miracles unknown and unseen as well as recognized and appreciated.

I believe!  I believe! I Believe!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Sinking Ship

Someone I know well is currently working for a company that can be described as a sinking ship. When he first went to work for this company, it was very healthy financially. At first the company was growing and making money almost faster than they could handle. Expectations were that this company would last a long time and my friend would probably work there until retirement. As CFO he dealt with sums of money that staggered my imagination. And the company grew and flourished, for a time.

But, it did not last. A few things went wrong here and there. The owners began to bicker and quarrel. Power and money began to separate men who had once worked well together. Soon mudslinging and backstabbing entered the scene. It started to not be very pretty. The employees of this company were majorly unaffected by this power pull for a season.

But it did not last. The owners began to drag employees into the dirty laundry pile of accusations and discontent. This was difficult for employees, to not only see and hear the mudslinging, but to be drawn into it, and eventually to become its victims. The company began to flounder and it was almost always a challenge to meet the enormous payroll. The CFO was often caught in the middle. When there was not enough money for supplies and payroll, he frequently became the scapegoat.

For many months, the CFO could see the handwriting on the wall. He did his best to explain reality to the bickering owners. He worked with the bankers to keep the company doors from closing permanently. And for his efforts to save this company, he received unkind words, disrespect, and blame. He worked longer hours and lost more sleep and became more frustrated. And the owners became more demanding, more rude, more disrespectful, and more critical.

As the CFO reviewd the situation with weary and troubled heart, it became clear to him that this company could only survive, if the backbiting, mudslinging, contenious, selfish behavior of the owners would stop. If they were to cooperate, work together, and reach for the common good of the company, the CFO believed the company and all it's employees could be saved.

But the owners could not play, share their toys, and get along. One day the reality hit the CFO that it was simply not in his best interest or the best interests of his family to continue working for these selfish contentious owners. When another opportunity came along, he jumped at the chance. The owners of the sinking ship were not happy that he was leaving since it 'put them in a bind." Bankers were far less happy since the CFO was the only person they believed that they could trust. But now, the CFO finds comedy as he has listened to these grown men plot and plan to get all the toys and all the bucks.

As I have listened to the story of the sinking ship, I find it quite an education in the tactics of Satan, the architect of contention, back biting, mudslinging and selfishness. Satan uses tools to deceive us all and he uses them well. His tools are irresponsibility, blame, and lack of accountability. Contention never turns out well, because it is one of his favorite tools. His tool bag is filled with many other demeaning tools. Power over others works well. So does bullying, ditching, mocking, and belittling.

These tools can apply in any relationship or any situation. The separate and divide us. They allow us to isolate ourselves and insulate us from the hurt we cause others. They allow us to put ourselves above another as we climb the ladder reaching for recognition. In order for us to be better than someone, we also have to diminish another.

Satan is good and has millennia of practice with his tools. They are counterfeits to the tools of a loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. To achieve Their purposes, they use tools identified as love and kindness, respect, and service. The goal here is instead to unite and build, bless and strengthen.

I have witnessed and experienced many a contentious situation throughout my years, but this real life 'sinking ship' has more clearly identified the results of contention for me. It is so very sad to see how effective Satan's tools have been as others watch the ship, slowly but firmly sinking into the depths of the sea of disaster.