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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Winter Gratitude

Winter arrived with a vengeance to thwart our plans for Thanksgiving. It was a bit disappointing to not see as many family members as we would have liked, but the fact that they are all safe brought me great gratitude. I would much prefer their safety than their presence. Our twenty pound turkey will last us much longer and we may even get tired of it before it is gone, but that is just fine. Heavenly Father kept them home and off the treacherous roads.

We did spend a couple of days enjoying our son. He brought music and laughter and insight into our lives. He enriched my days and brightened my spirits. His presence strengthened me and brought me joy and gratitude.

And I needed that.

For my week had been fraught with challenges and disappointments and heartaches. It seemed to come at me from every side and I have had a hard time picking myself up again. But the days of Thanksgiving have helped me prepare to go forward with faith.

Tomorrow will be the first day of December. It seems that fall was just a week or so ago. But the stores have been begging for and receiving my money for weeks now as we begin to look towards the Christmas season. I resent the stores that infringe on Halloween with Christmas decorations filling the aisles. I am more than resentful for the stores that suffocate Thanksgiving with their sales and desire to fill their pockets. I am sympathetic to employees who have no choice but to be to work on our national day of gratitude to take care of all of us greedy folks who want it all and demand a bargain. I would love to give up all the expenses of advertising and all the gimmicks. I would love to see merchants give us an honest price for all the things they sell, all the time. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. Frankly I am tired of the game!

Decorations are in place in my home thanks to the joy of a daughter and her son, who were delighted to bring us some Christmas joy. The tree will soon arrive and make its sparkling presence felt.

My house resonated this morning with the Christmas music of a wonderful Program I attended at the Utah State University Institute. It reminded me that Christmas is all about the love of our Heavenly Father who allowed His Only Begotten Son to some to this earth as an infant. He taught His Son how to live and how to love and How to sacrifice. And because His love for me was so big and so rich, Jesus Christ was willing to offer His all for me and for all who walk this earth. His gift is infinite and eternal. It is real and it is incomprehensible.

Because of the love of God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ, I have been able to walk on with faith when bombarded with disappointment and heartache. I have fallen to my knees in both frustration and gratitude. I have picked myself up and walked on with faith when the pathway was dark and dreary. I have felt peace in a world of turmoil.

Winter cold surrounds me but the warmth of God's love fills my soul.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mistakes and Embarassment

Sometimes  we find ourselves in situations that could be embarrassing to us. Something we say may sound different to others. We do something foolish. We end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. We mess up. It even happens that embarrassing moments come to us simply from our lack of knowledge or experience.

I believe that all these experiences are part of our mortal existence. We are only temporarily mortal beings. We are actually children of a loving Heavenly Father and we chose to come to earth to learn and grow. We carry the Light of Christ or The Holy Ghost with us to guide us and protect us. But a large portion of our learning experience requires trial and error. That often means mistakes.

Few enjoy the experience that comes with making mistakes. Usually we do not rejoice in the embarrassing moments. Often we find a reason to blame others rather than ourselves. But if we are humble enough, we can learn much from our mistakes. They can be great teachers in life. Our attitude and willingness to learn can be a huge factor in how successful we are in learning lessons from life experiences.

Recently a dear friend shared with me that her day had been difficult and challenging. She recognized that it was a day of 'training' for her as mistakes littered her path. She had struggled to face the learning moments with courage, so that they really could be experiences that she would not repeat. They would help her to grow and change. Her faith and her attitude strengthened me.

A short time later, I watched a very young woman as she struggled. She was in a very unfamiliar setting. She was surrounded by dozens of people. She knew some of those people well but many were total strangers. It was a situation that could prove to be very embarrassing to her.

But it was not!

I watched those around her rally to her aid, not once but multiple times. No one did or said anything unkind or demeaning. They simply offered her kind words, encouragement and genuine concern. They offered her help and support. I watched from the sidelines as a team of earthly angels turned this moment into one of love and growth. I watched as she willingly received all the challenge and the kindness with meekness and appreciation. There were no signs of embarrassment or frustration. She smiled and expressed sincere appreciation.

I felt the warm witness of The Holy Ghost in those moments of the genuine kindness and love in the hearts of those who served. And I wanted to be more like them.

I also felt the witness of the genuine goodness of the Young Woman who willingly learned from others. Her humility was very evident in her demeanor. She was not only willing to learn, but grateful for the opportunity to be taught. And I wanted to be more like her.

The Plan of Salvation is God's plan for our success and happiness. It is a plan we accepted in the life before this one. It is our chance to learn and grow as we try to become more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Yet, so often we resist those opportunities to learn from our mistakes and our embarrassing moments. We long for a scapegoat to blame or an excuse that relieves us of the responsibility to change. We fight and struggle and resist changing, cuz it is hard. We think we are wiser than Heavenly Father and resist His will and plan for our lives. We are so determined to be in control and do it our own way.

I appreciate the experience of watching these angels who were my teachers. Through their kindness and humility, I was taught by The Holy Ghost some important lessons for me about mistakes and embarrassment. It happens to all of us. I want to be more willing to learn from those experiences and change so that I can return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the eternities.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November Gratitude

The weather has turned cold here and we have had our first snow. The garden has been cleaned out, barren and brown. A few fall raspberries are still hanging on through the blustery wind. Winter is breathing down my neck and I am not sure that I am ready.

Snow is beautiful but cold is not. I am struggling to keep warm as adjustment to the new season takes place. But I am feeling blessed because we live in a home that has a furnace and I can crank it up to ward off the cold. I am grateful for the quilts that cover me in my bed at night and for the warm clothing that I can wear. I not only have pants that cover my legs and shirts with sleeves to cover my arms, but I have jackets and coats. I actually own more jackets than I need. I also have more gloves than I need too.

I am blessed!

When we need to leave our home, we can travel in cars with heaters. I do not have to walk very far, unless I want to. I can ride in comfort, protected from the blasts of winter weather. We may not be considered wealthy by the standards of the world, but I can stop and buy gas for my car, anytime. Last week, I did just that. The low fuel warning sounded in my ears and I promptly headed for the gas pump and filled up the tank.

We have clean air to breathe and plenty of water. I can get a drink anytime I want. I shower every day. Right now my washing machine is cleaning my dirty clothes without my assistance with plenty of clean water.

I am blessed!

Our garden provided us with food to add to our supply. I can cook a meal with things we have in our pantry and our freezer. But I can also go to any grocery store to buy what I need, without much inconvenience. I do not choose to buy lots of the things I see, but I could. No one restricts my choices but me. I have money to buy anything I want to.

Though my body has aged, I can walk and climb stairs. I can run if I choose. I can bend over to pick up things from the floor. I can carry and cook and clean. I have eyes that see and ears that hear. My heart beats without any effort on my part and my lungs exchange air and I never give it a thought.

I am blessed!

My gratitude is huge and immeasurable  to My Heavenly Father for all the things He has provided for me. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to pray and the peace and comfort that prayers are heard and answered. I am blessed to have a testimony and faith that sustains me through life's challenges.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a mystery and a miracle to me. I lean on it and I depend on The Savior Jesus Christ and His gift of the Atonement. His willingness to suffer for my sins is incomprehensible to me. And I am grateful!

I am grateful for The Holy Ghost. Impressions and ideas come to me that I know are from Heaven. I have been counseled and taught and protected. I have spoken words that I know were not mine. I have said the words that were given to me and finished by saying these are not my words. I am not that smart.

I have been able to succeed more, learn more, become more because of the miracles of life provided by these three Heavenly individuals in my life.

I am blessed!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Personal Revelation

Thinking about personal revelation a bit lately, well really much of my life. It is a life long quest for me to come to understand how revelation comes to me specifically. I have learned a great deal from making mistakes. Not my proudest moments to be sure, but they really have been teaching moments to help me refine the process of listening to the still small voice of The Holy Ghost.

The longer I live on this planet that is really not home to my spirit, the more I have come to understand that learning to listen to The Holy Ghost is vital for me. I am far too human and easily prone to my own weakness. I am too easily swayed by the 'arm of flesh.' But in thinking about the mistakes I have made I realize and appreciate the opportunity to learn for myself how to interact more effectively with The Holy Ghost.

I am constant in my prayers to ask for the companionship of The Holy Ghost. I feel a great need for His power and presence in my life. I need the strength, the insight, the comfort,  and the peace that come with His influence. It is hard for me to navigate life with the lonely, dark, fearful feeling that swallows me up when The Holy Ghost is not near.

Sometimes I have a hard time recognizing why I am feeling so lost and alone or why the world has suddenly taken on a more sinister appearance. I find myself wondering, 'what is wrong with me?' Then the realization comes I am in need of being more aware. It may be that I have done something to offend The Spirit and He has left me alone. It may be that for a few moments (or hours or days) I must walk alone relying on my own light. Totally scary! But sometimes I have recognized that for me, this dark feeling or the feeling of being lost, or the sense of fear is really warning me of danger ahead. It is a clear signal to be more alert.

I experienced this warning within the last week. I felt that heavy feeling at an odd time and place. I was in no danger. I was doing something very good and worthwhile. I was in the middle of serving others. It made no sense to me. I felt the darkness begin to invade. My heart began to feel heavy. I attempted to shake if off, to talk myself out of it. 'Stop it!' I said to myself. But the uncomfortable feeling persisted for many hours. Then the situation occurred that caused me to struggle. It came at me with no warning and found me unprepared. I felt broadsided. Then the learning came. I had been warned. The Holy Ghost had been teaching me to be alert.

I had missed the warning!

So often that has been the case. I have been aware of the danger in a situation, but ignored it. When the disaster hit, I realized I had trusted in the arm of flesh, again. Though it is disappointing to not choose well, I have tried to learn from those experiences, how to listen better.

Sometimes I just plain resist the promptings of The Holy Ghost. The idea may seem crazy and impossible. The inspiration may simply be something I really do not want to do. Sometimes in my heart I know I must obey, but my mind says, 'It does not make any sense!'

A few months ago I had a really hard struggle with accepting inspiration and acting on the instructions that came clearly from The Holy Ghost. It was crazy and seemed impossible. And I did not want to do what I was told I needed to do. And to this day, it till makes no sense to me at all.

I struggled and resisted. I procrastinated and whined. I avoided obedience and tried to talk Heavenly Father out of this unreasonable idea. But The Holy Ghost would not allow me to feel any kind of peace until I obeyed. My soul was in a state of torment as I wrestled with obedience. After I completed step one of the thing that I knew I was to do, peace came in an instant. I fell to me knees in gratitude for the Lord's patience with me and promised to follow each step ahead on this path as best as I could.

I am still walking along this path on a journey I had not wanted, expected, or looked for. But though it has its own set of challenges, it has been a journey that has been good. I have learned and grown in unexpected ways. I have developed skills and talents lost to my sight. I have grown to know and learn about others I had never met. I have found gratitude fill my heart for this journey, most days.

I walk this path, knowing I am on a journey for Heavenly Father. When I struggle with situations, I am firm in my conviction that I am where He has placed me. I know it is where I am supposed to be at this season. I do not know all things and I am not sure exactly why I am on this path, but I know how I ended up here. It is because I was willing to put away my pride and selfish nature long enough to obey the promptings of The Holy Ghost.