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







Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Peaches

We have very nice neighbors who share our fences. I feel very grateful that we are so blessed with neighbors who are kind and friendly. We watch over each other from time to time. When a stranger is in the neighborhood, someone is often aware and spreads the word to be watchful. We greet each other and visit when we see each other out and about. We can visit about common lawn and garden problems and solutions. We have been known to share flower starts and garden produce.

We have not always had kind neighbors to share fences with. There have been many experiences with unkindness and harsh words. I have felt very threatened personally on occasion by these neighbors. I have kept my children in the house in the wonderful summer months for their safety. I think at times, we have all been somewhat nervous and even afraid.

We have also tried to be good neighbors. We have tended cats and dogs. We have watched over our neighbors homes and property. We have provided rides to school and activities. We have tended neighborhood children.

The neighbors who share the back fence with us do not speak much English. And I speak almost no Spanish. So communication has been difficult. As the little boys have grown up, we have talked a little more. I have tried to be friendly with these little boys as they have played in their yard. Occasionally a ball or other toy crosses the fence. It is returned quickly to them. I have not wanted them to fear us. We have taken them treats at Christmas. We have shared garden produce with them. They have shared fresh cobs of corn with us. Though the language barrier is present, I have felt that we had a neighboring relationship.

A few weeks ago we had small visitors with us. We returned from church and our guests changed their clothes and hustled outside to play. I threw together lunch.

One of the small guests did something that upset our kind Spanish speaking neighbors. I do not believe he realized that what he had done was wrong or would upset anyone. I think for him it was just play. I truly believe that there was no malicious intent at all. Just a little boy and his thinking. A younger sibling followed suit.

I did not witness the event. But was troubled when I heard of it from a witness. My concern increased when the door bell rang and the two neighbor boys reported the incident to me. They felt that the peaches on their tree had been threatened.

As we ate lunch I wondered how to handle this situation to mend the breach in the fence with our neighbors, but also to help these two little boys learn from their actions. I mulled options and ideas over in my mind. I prayed for guidance. And I watched the little boys closely as they played, fearing another bump in the already rippled afternoon.

As the promptings of The Holy Ghost settled in my heart, a plan formed and I privately chatted with the instigating child about the situation. He was open and honest and seemed to see the situation with more grown up eyes. We talked about how he might feel, if he were on the other side of the situation. Genuine sorrow filled his eyes and together we created a plan. Willingly he carried out his part of the plan, on his own without any supervision. And together the two boys and I walked to the house of the neighbor. No one was home, so we left our repentance offering and hoped it would help heal the wounds.

I was so proud of these little boys who walked and talked with me to try to make it right and my spirit felt lighter. And I continued to pray.

I had not seen the neighbors since that day until two days ago. In a hurry I hustled to the garden looking for a few more small cucumbers to fill up my pickle jars. When I saw the neighbors in their yard, I hesitated for a brief moment. But it was time to see how they felt about us.

And then he began to visit. He talked about the small cucumbers I was picking. I was happy to explain that I was making pickles so wanted them small. He noticed we had many yellow squash and I gave him three, happily. I wanted him to have them. Then he carefully selected and picked three peaches from his tree and said he wanted to trade them for the squash.

My heart was so touched by his sharing of his precious peaches, for the renewal of good relations, his offering of forgiveness, and for the answered prayers from Heavenly Father.

Friday, August 28, 2015

How Can it be Fall?

I cannot believe that the Fall Season is knocking on my door!  Where did the summer go? I know that we were busy and the days just seemed to fly by, but seriously, summer is over?

School is back in session. A definite sign of fall's arrival. The Cassia County Fair and Rodeo has passed. Yup, that is kind of the last local hurrah for the summer season. We attended the parade and found the weather good and the parade as per normal. Not hard to pick up and leave when it was over.

We also headed to the fair grounds to watch the horse races for a couple of hours. I know nothing about the betting and have no interest in learning. But the horses were beautiful. They were also fast!  My husband and I each picked a horse to win in each of the five races we watched. Criteria? Who knows. I picked one horse because I did not like the names of the other horses. In that race, the horse I picked was dead last. My husband, on the other hand picked the winner. I picked one horse that won a race. Funny how I cheered him on, when I could see he had a chance to win. So we each picked a winner and many losers!

Between the races, we walked among the food booths, eyeing all the goodies we should not eat and did not want to pay for. We did sample some corn crunch that was delicious, but contented ourselves to skip its purchase. We both knew we would gobble the stuff up, immediately!  We looked at the 4-H entries and I looked at the quilts. I did not recognize a single name among the quilts. In the open class entries, I saw the prizes of some friends and acquaintances. Way to go to all the winners!  And also way to go to those who just plain entered. If everyone followed my example, there would be little to see at the fair!

Today I canned some pickles. Our garden was handicapped from the start. It was planted very late. But we have shared our summer squash freely. Our peppers and cucumbers are also producing. My husband dug a few Yukon gold potatoes yesterday. We have eaten a few tomatoes. The corn is tasseled and the little ears are forming. I am grateful for all we will harvest!  It is a blessing. We purchased our plants for dirt cheap cuz it was so late. The potato seed was free!  Yes truly free!

I feel truly blessed that Heavenly Father has watched over our little patch of ground in this corner of the world and blessed us richly. God is my friend and my strength. I lean on Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, daily, hourly, and minutely. The Atonement of The Savior Jesus Christ is my only hope for life eternal. I plead for constant guidance.

With this change of seasons, I have found myself in a new set of circumstances. A new challenge has come to me and I embrace it because I believe it was orchestrated by Heavenly Father for me. It is not yet comfortable in any way, but I trust and believe that it will become a great opportunity for me to learn and grow. It is also an opportunity for my faith to grow, as I lean on His arm, instead of my own.

Just as the harvest of my garden is coming in due course, I trust that the harvest of this season of my life will come as I work, struggle, and plead for God's Grace in my behalf.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Faith

Reading scriptures every day is a priority, or at least I work at making it be important. Some days it is trickier than others to make it happen, and on those days, it may be less time and less scriptures. I really do try to never miss a single day. I need the strength that comes from scriptures. I need the lessons that I can read and apply to me in the scriptures. I need the peace that comes when I read the scriptures. I ponder on the things that I read and some verses or phrases or words really seem to leap off the page at me. I just finished reading the Book of Mormon again, And I began again. I have no idea how many times I have actually completed the Book of Mormon. But I sure have read 1st Nephi a lot! 

One year I decided to start reading in 3rd Nephi just so I did not start with 1st Nephi and fizzle out there. 3rd Nephi is one of my favorite books. I am struck by the love that Jesus Christ brings to the American Continent after His crucifixion. I appreciate all He teaches. He allows every single person to come and see and feel the wounds in His hands and feet and side for themselves. I cannot imagine how long that must have taken. In my mind, I see His eyes; filled with love and concern for each soul who came unto Him. I do not see any impatience or selfish concern of "I have to be someplace so could you move it along."

The Savior healed the sick, the blind, and the lame. How many came looking for a mental healing? How many needed an emotional healing? And perhaps all needed some form of spiritual healing. I long to feel the healing that comes only through The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Christ gathered the little children unto Him. He did not send them away with words of "you are in my way." He did not say "get away from here." Though He may or may not have been tired, the record makes no mention of it at all.

And Jesus prayed for them all.

And Jesus wept.

I read other stories in the Book of Mormon about great prophets. I read about Nephi and Jacob. Mormon and Moroni. Enos and the brother of Jared. I long to be faithful as these men were. I long to feel the depth of their testimony and the strength to endure it well. I have endured many hard, challenging, and painful things - but probably I did not endure them well. My teeth were gritted and I groaned with complaints.

I know that there is a price to pay for this and I do work at trying to see with the eye of faith. But I have so very far to go.

Daily prayer is also a must for me. My plan is to have at least two kneeling prayers every day and most days that happens. I find that on my knees, I really am more humble and teachable. But I have prayed in many places and under many circumstances. When I need to pray, it does not really matter where I am. I can pray in my heart and in my mind. I believe God will hear my prayer, not matter my location.

I cannot comprehend how God is able to hear all our prayers. I also cannot understand how difficult it is for Heavenly Father to take care of all of us with our constant demands and needs. I also do not think it is always easy to say "no" or "you must wait" or "rethink your plan."

But I am trying to grow my faith. And a portion of that process is to jump into unknown situations and experiences with trust that Heavenly Father knows me and my needs. Each day that I get out of bed and go forth with faith is an exercise in trusting Him and His love and His wisdom and His kindness.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pioneers

Pioneer Day has officially passed as it was celebrated on July 24th. But I am grateful for the brave men and women who picked up from their homes to cross The United States of America and settle in the west. Many of the pioneers had fairly 'uneventful' journeys. But it was still hard. Many suffered terrible loss on their journey. Some lost their health, their family, their possessions, even their lives. My mind tells me that each and every single pioneer who crossed the plains made a certain amount of sacrifice.

I honor them all for their choice to leave behind so much and to go forth with faith to an unknown future. I admire their courage and tenacity. I admire their physical and mental stamina. I appreciate how they banded together as a team to take care of each other and share with each other. They were amazing people.

As I stand in my hot shower every morning, I think of them. I imagine how they would have loved even just one hot shower along their journey. Imagine having shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion. Imagine a clean towel and a warm place to dress. For me these are every day things. But to them, I think they would be luxuries.

Yet, these pioneers who left so much behind, also left behind the ugliness of The Civil War.

I have come to appreciate this great blessing. The Civil War was the means of uniting The North and The South within The United States of America. That may not have happened any other way. But it was a brutal slaughter of so many men. It affected so many lives. The war wiped out cities and farms and families. It pitted brothers against each other. It decimated so much of the land used as battlegrounds.

Perhaps there was no other way to unite the nation. But it was a high price to pay.

But Heavenly Father removed the pioneers from the battlefields. He lead them to The Great Salt Lake, where they planted crops, built homes, created, a city, and built a temple. They had to begin again with whatever they had left on arrival and whatever they found in the valley. I cannot imagine it would have been easy at all.

In my mind, I imagine the tired eyes that rested on the desert land that was deemed the right place to settle. What did the valley look like to them? There really was nothing much there. The Great Salt Lake provided no usable drinking water. There was no lumber mill, no dry goods store, no dairy, or produce market to stock up at. There was no railroad to deliver supplies.

But these were people who were faithful and determined to succeed. And with the help of God Almighty they did. Again they rose to the challenge they faced with courage and a willingness to work together to create unity and prosperity.

But what might have happened to all these Saints if they had not moved west? How many would have been affected by The Civil War? How many would have been left to build up God's Zion? Who would have survived to begin building the temple?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Currently reading a book about the Battle of Gettysburg. It is a tough read and has taken me a long time to get through. I want to read it and I want to understand it better. It is filled with unfamiliar names and places. I have a hard time keeping them all straight. It is a time with which I am very unfamiliar so keeping the North and the South straight in my mind is nearly impossible. I refer to the included maps often to help me.

This book is really focused on day three of the battle. It is a brutal battle, called a slaughter by some who were there. Men are cut down on both sides by use of weapons that were then available. I am struck by the comments made by those who survived. Some survivors from the North commented on the precision and dignity of the advancing enemy. They had seen none who looked more prepared and uniform in their march. But march they did, nearly 15,000 soldiers fighting for a cause they were willing to die for.

Certainly the South wanted to win this battle. They expected to and walked with dignity to their deaths. They honored the flag of their cause. When a flag bearer fell, another soldier would immediately lift their colors and carry on, sometimes for only a step or two before they two would be hit. Then the colors would be rescued by a nearby soldier and carried forward with pride.

The North also wanted to win the battle on July 3, 1863. They too expected to win. Many preparations had been made for this battle. Soldiers were placed behind walls and barricades created for their protection. They were armed and ready, waiting to fight for a cause they believed was worth fighting for.

The three day Battle of Gettysburg cost nearly 51,000 men. Most of those were dead, but some were wounded, missing, or captured. Of that number about 28,000 were soldiers in the army of the South. It was a devastating defeat for the South, turning the tide of events in such a way that the South would never fully recover. This bloody battle did not end the war and the South had other victories, but it was a critical win for the North.

I cannot comprehend the loss of life during the three days of The Battle of Gettysburg. I am struck by the families affected by that huge loss of life. I think of the sons and daughters who lost their fathers. I imagine the grieving widows. I think of those who lost a son or a brother and my heart weeps.

The Civil War of The United States is probably not one of the proudest moments in the history of our nation. It cost our nation the lives of 620,000 men. Again, how many families, communities, farms, etc. were touched in some way by this war. How many great minds and ideas were lost to this land? My heart is heavy when I think of this season of war.

I am no expert about The Battle of Gettysburg or The Civil War. I know very little. But I have come to learn enough to appreciate the need for slavery to be stopped in this land. I understand enough to believe that The United States of America is a covenant land, blessed by Heavenly Father to be a land where freedom was honored and expected. I believe Heavenly Father had great purpose for this land and citizens and leaders were not creating the land He needed this land to be. Freedom and slavery could not co-exist. They are opposites. I also believe that His Plan of Salvation could only be implemented in a land where God was really honored and men were free to choose.

Both The North and The South believed that they were right. Each wanted to live the life that was comfortable to them. Many were willing to die for what they believed in. And many did. The entire nation paid the high price for this war.

But the side supporting God's plan had to win, for God is in charge of His world.

War continues to rage between good and evil. Today and every day, Satan attacks us all on every side. I know that Satan cannot win this war. But again, there are many casualties.

God will win and I want to be on His side!