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







Friday, January 30, 2015

Children

Raising children can always be an adventure. So many unexpected things happen. Children play in the water, the mud, the flour, and anything else they can find that is messy. Crayons magically draw on the walls and floors and furniture. Gum can appear in mysterious places. So can food. Shoes get worn out too quickly and it seems impossible to keep holes from growing in the knees of a new pair of jeans. Children who are just too full to finish their meal always have room for a treat. The minute the dishes are done, someone is hungry or thirsty. The best way I know to encourage children to play with their toys is for a mom to spend hours organizing and sorting through the toys, leaving them neat and tidy. Within minutes, the toys are again a mess and little children are happy as clams.

Children see the world with eyes of wonder and amazement. They have not yet been beaten down by life's challenges and frustrations. For some curiosity is huge and uncontrollable. They just want to see how everything works. It is almost impossible to stop them. No punishment, lecture, or amount of control can stop the tides of some children's curiosity. Children climb onto anything and everything. They climb under and into anything and everything. The world is meant to be explored and experienced.

Children are resilient and forgiving. Much more so than I am. They quickly forget a tiff or a tussle and return to life's adventures. They love easily, even those who have offended or hurt them. They are such good examples!

My 93 year old friend laughed as she shared a recent experience in her family. It involved a child, her great grandson. It reminded me of the innocence of children and the way it can complicate our lives. It made me really miss the years of having my children small, surrounding me, challenging me and loving me.

Her story made me laugh too. Her grandson was left to entertain himself for a few moments in the families living room while his dad took a quick shower. His mom had run to the grocery store for just a few minutes. This was not a particularly unusual circumstance and Sam had always managed things just fine, until the doorbell rang.

Sam, being the little man of the house, answered the door very politely. A gentleman stood at the door and asked, "Is your daddy home?" Sam politely responded, "Yes he is."

The man asked Sam if he would be able to speak to his dad. Sam Politely responded, "Uh huh, come with me."

So the man followed Sam, who proudly escorted him into the bathroom where his dad stood naked in the shower, merely separated from the rest of the world by a clear glass door.

Everyone was surprised!

My friend laughed and laughed at her innocent, polite grandson and the predicament that these three found themselves in. Sam's father handled the situation well, she told me. I do not know how. And I was reminded of all the times I did not handle things as well as I should have. I have many regrets that I was not a better mother.

My children turned out to be very wonderful people, in spite of me, not because of me. It is a reminder that they came into this world with who they are. They brought their glory with them to teach me. And I adore them all!

Obedience

Been thinking about the value of obedience a lot for months. The scriptures and the prophets who guide members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teach about obedience. I had a really good discussion with a couple of family members about the importance of obedience. But I have also learned that obedience means different things to different people.

Each of us is unique. We may choose, act, and even talk a lot like other people. But it is usually in a very narrow way, on some subjects, that we may think like others.  I learned a long time ago that I simply do not think like most of the people I interact with. That does not mean that I think better than they do or that they think incorrectly. It also does not mean that I am always correct and that other people think weird. We just do not think the same.

I have been in many a situation where a paragraph has been read by a group of people. Guess what - if there are five people, there will be five interpretations of what the paragraph actually says. In a class with thirty people, there will probably be thirty ideas thought about almost any subject. Each individual will not be brave enough to express their opinion, but it does not mean that they are not thinking about things in their own way.

One of my favorite stories about obedience took place many years ago. A Prophet of God spoke to the young women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in a very large setting. His instructions were that one pair of pierced earrings were appropriate, and only one. I heard of young women who immediately reached up to their ears and removed any additional pairs of earrings, as The Prophet continued to teach.

That is a clear example to me of obedience!

As I stood under the lovely warm water this morning in my shower, I found my mind receiving instructions from the Holy Ghost about obedience. I was reminded of an experience I read many years ago. A single mother was preparing to send a son on a mission. She found herself totally in a state of panic regarding her ability to provide for her family on her own AND providing funds for a missionary son. She could see the figures on paper. She knew that each month the money ran out before the month did already. How in the world could she possibly pay for a missionary son, when they were just barely getting by?

She fasted and prayed for answers to her dilemma. Her answer from The Holy Ghost was very clear. She was instructed to turn down her hot water heater, whenever her family did not need hot water. She understood that if she was obedient, there would be enough money to pay the expenses for her family and also support a missionary son.

She obeyed, consistently turning her hot water heater down whenever hot water was not needed. And true to the word of The Holy Ghost, her family was taken care of and there was enough to provide for a missionary son for two years.

Logic can quickly tell us that turning down the hot water heater would not in and of itself save enough money to support a missionary son for two years. But add in this faithful sisters obedience and A Loving Heavenly Father made up ALL the difference.

As I was writing this blog, I was interrupted by a phone call. My next door neighbor shared her recent experience in working with Heavenly Father to solve a large problem in her life. Her final words of explanation were that this was a clear testimony to her of being OBEDIENT.

Though we may not all agree on the exact meaning of the word obedience, if we do the best that we can do to obey God's word and we understand it, I believe that we will be blessed because God honors our obedience!

Friday, January 16, 2015

God Chose Music

I believe that Heavenly Father must love music a great deal! 

As I sat listening to a wonderful, spiritual Christmas program almost a week ago, I felt The Holy Ghost bear testimony that this is true. Music can lift my sinking spirit and weakening heart. It can chase away fears, sorrows, and disappointments. My own testimony of The Savior Jesus Christ and His mission on this earth grows as I listen to inspiring music. All of this and more came into my heart and mind as I listened to the Logan Institute Choir bear their testimonies through song and word.

Their beautiful music was a very appropriate vehicle for my personal learning. In my mind I thought about the angels that sang when Jesus Christ was born. I suppose with access to infinite power, God could have chosen any way He so desired to announce such a moment in time. It was a moment that would change the course of history for this world, forever. Nothing would ever be the same, after Jesus came to walk this earth. His birth, life, and fulfilment of The Atonement changed everything for everyone else who had and would ever walk this earth.

God chose music! It was a Heavenly Choir of Angels who announced Christ's birth. There was no cannon nor were there any fireworks. The scriptures make no mention of strobe lights or sonic booms. It was a choir of Heavenly Angels who sang God's praises at Christ's birth.

I am so grateful for the blessing of good music in my life. During the Christmas season of each year, I have my favorite Christmas songs that I love to listen to, sometimes over and over. I appreciate when I hear Christmas music on the radio and when we sing Christmas hymns in church meetings. But I also continue to listen to many other good sources of music. I am blessed with internet access and a device that can accompany me around my house as I carry on with life's activities.

I appreciate the inspiration that comes from Heavenly Father to talented men and women throughout the centuries who have created and performed music that has strengthened my testimony and chased away the lonely hours. I appreciate feeling the Spirit of truth bear witness to me as I listen to words of praise and gratitude for Heavenly Father's blessings and His Gift of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, The Redeemer of the World.

I believe that Handel's Messiah was a work of pure inspiration. Still a favorite throughout the world, it has stood the test of time. It's message is profoundly spiritual and uplifting, in any language. But I also find inspirational music being created today, that speaks to my soul. Rob Gardner and The Nashville Tribute Band are on my current favorite non Christmas music list. They teach and testify and add their voices to share with the world the Good News that Jesus Christ is truly the Living Son of God.

The Logan Institute Choir and Latter Day Voices continue to have a profound influence in my life as they introduce me to new composer, lyricists, and musical arrangers. Their performance is worth the drive for me as it kicks off the Christmas season for me with sounds of faithful youth singing, "O Holy Night," "The First Nowell," and "O Come, All Ye Faithful." Their testimonies penetrated my heart and clearly confirmed for me the value of good music.

On the night that Jesus Christ came to earth, an infant destined to change the world, it was this message that the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dishonesty

A couple of months ago, someone lied to me. Of course this is not the first time I have been lied to and I am certain it will not be the last. It hit me really hard! The circumstances made it very awkward for me to deal with. I was very hurt, disappointed, and angry. In fact, I really did not know how to handle the situation at all.

Someone I had trusted, told me one thing, then did the exact opposite of that and bragged about it to me in front of a third person. This person was tickled pink with pleasure at what was done, and I stood, foolishly and sheepishly by, as all those negative emotions began to encircle me. Not only was this person pleased with the result, another person was roped into the lie. I tried to retain my composure, but it did not last long.

Later when I expressed my disappointment at the blatant dishonesty, I of course was wrong to react that way. I heard all the reasons that what happened was not a big deal. I guess I am a just major overreactor. (This, of course, is not news to me.)

And this person was not very happy with me because I question integrity in this situation.

As I worked at processing this situation and all the reasons I heard that made it all seem okay, In my mind I envisioned a little child who sneaks a cookie from the cookie jar. When questioned about the cookie he is holding in hand, and licking the crumbs from around his mouth, the child asks, "What cookie?" But then I realized this experience was not really like that. It was instead like this. In a discussion with the child, he clearly promises that he will not take a cookie from the cookie jar, then a short time later, with cookie in hand, the child finds me. Proudly holding the cookie in his hand, he announces that he has taken the cookie from the jar, completely satisfied with his choice.

But it still was not quite like that, because I was not dealing with a child!

And a third party, who was completely unaware of the bold braggart's lie was unwittingly acting as accomplice.

As I struggled to make sense of this situation, I prayerfully asked Heavenly Father what He would like me to learn from this situation. I began to see things differently. My perspective did not change in regards to the dishonesty. Though I was told I was wrong, I still think the lie was incorrect. In my mind, I could find no reasonable reason for it to be a good experience. In my brain cell process, I could find no explanation that justified the choice of another; or made me feel any better.

But I began to see that I too am not as honest as I should be. I became aware of my own weakness. I too have made many mistakes in truth stretching and slight of words, used to misconstrue the truth. I do hope I am improving. I really believe that I have worked hard at improving my own honesty throughout my life, but this became an opportunity for me to do some evaluation of my own choices.

I want to be honest! I want Heavenly Father to trust me. I want my family to trust me. I want to be trustworthy so that I can be trusted. I was also reminded that everyone does not feel the same way that I do. Maybe trust is just not important to some people. Each of us is unique, with different ideas and goals. It was another opportunity to be reminded that comparing and competing is not a happy-making process.

If someone does not value honesty, they have that right.

Truth is that this experience still haunts me from time to time. I am not happy that it happened. But I am grateful that Heavenly Father answered my prayer and allowed me to look inward as a result of the experience. It fanned the flames of my desire to be more honest, with myself, my God, and my community!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year

Another year has passed. It was a very good year. It was a very hard year. It was a year that stretched my faith, my brain power, my talents, and my patience. It was a year of challenge and disappointment. Discouragement was also smattered among the moments of success and accomplishment. I shed a few tears and I laughed at myself. I succeeded and failed. I worked hard and I did not work hard enough at all. I felt bored and overwhelmed. Time was both a friend and an enemy. At moments I felt rich beyond my needs and impoverished as well. I felt I learned a lot, yet did not learn enough.

It was a year of struggle and blessing. At times I felt surrounded by friends, yet there were bouts of loneliness and isolation. Sometimes I felt that I served other a great deal but also I am certain I did not serve enough. I was given turns to sacrifice and also received the kindness of others. Sometimes I found myself enjoying the normality of life while other moments pushed me to escape the ordinary.

I think it was probably a very ordinary year in many respects, yet also very extraordinary year in others. I achieved some goals which I set for myself. I also failed to achieve other goals. While pleased with achieving success in accomplishing goals, it is also a discouraging feeling to have failed as well with unsuccessful goal achievement.

Through it all, I hope I have pleased and honored Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ at least a portion of the time. I hope that They have witnessed at least some growth. I am sorry for the things that they have witnessed that I know would not please them. I know there are many, because many of my choices, experiences, and behaviors did not please me.

Through it all, I am profoundly grateful to feel the presence of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost in my life. I am grateful for the miracles and blessings, seen and unseen by me. I am grateful for the strength, hope, and courage that came from Them.

I am grateful for my family members who saw me through another year, and cheered me on. I am grateful for their faith, examples, and prayers.  I am grateful that I too, have been able to pray for my family members and watch the grow. It is very, very hard for me to watch their struggles, hardships, and disappointments.

I am grateful for my faith and testimony. Though at times I find it in a state of starvation, it has increased as I have studied, prayed, and fasted with more diligence. I am grateful for moments of peace and joy and the blessing of a grateful happy heart. I have tasted the sweetness of a happy heart and hunger for more of God's happiness.

I have not yet chosen specific goals for this new year, yet. Unusual for me. But they will come. And in the meantime, I am carrying on with many of last year's goals, business as usual, in search for spiritual growth and change, in the hope of someday being able to return to live with Heavenly Father.