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







Saturday, August 13, 2016

Answered Prayer

I had just stepped out of the shower when my phone rang. Wrapped in a towel, I grabbed the phone and answered. The caller asked me to share a spiritual thought and/or scripture in a meeting only a few hours away. She apologized for the lateness of asking me, as things had not gone as planned in her life. I laughed and said that I totally understood and that I could see myself doing exactly as she had done. Yes, if there is a mistake to be made, I am often the one to make it!

Of course I agreed and hung up the phone. Then it hit me that I was not in a very good place within myself. I had been struggling for a couple of weeks with issues that seemed to be spiraling out of my control. I had already had a rough morning. How in the world could I find inspiration to give spiritual food to someone else when I was starving myself?

I dressed and fixed my hair as I pondered and thought about my assignment. I prayed and turned to the scriptures. I played a song that often brings me peace. I listened to it over and over. I puttered at other projects in between the searching and pondering.

I asked Heavenly Father to bless me to speak the words that He wanted me to say. I asked that His Spirit would be able to carry the message that others needed to hear. And I continued to ponder and listen to the music and returned to the Book of  Mormon.

I felt that the very first scripture that I turned to was the scripture that I should use. Then I pondered on what to say with it. Though it is a very powerful and meaningful scripture to me, I needed to know what to say so that others would understand its meaning. Otherwise, I could see them looking at me and wondering, why in the world did you choose that scripture?

Words formulated in my mind and I continued to ask that I might speak the words that Heavenly Father wanted others to hear.

The words of the scripture brought me to tears as I shared them. And I was certain that those who were listening would avoid me like the plague after this meeting for a season. I was certain that embarrassment would be huge for all of us and I prepared to see people look away instead of look at me. I was prepared for them to walk away.

But that is not what happened at all!

Within moments of the meetings end, several people commented on the scripture I had shared. I was asked several times where that particular scripture was located. I was shown kindness and appreciation.

My prayer had been answered! I know that when the Holy Ghost is the teacher, each of us can learn whatever we need to learn through His power, no matter what was said. I give all credit to Heavenly Father and His infinite power for allowing others to learn through His words.

The message I shared was something like this: Unfortunately in our lives bad things happen that can separate us from feeling God's love, mercy, and kindness. When that happens to me, I go to the scriptures and one of my go to scriptures is found in 3 Nephi 22: 7,8,10. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness will not depart from thee." Then I was able to testify of God's mercy, love and kindness."

Maybe everyone in that room needed to be reminded that God is loving, kind and merciful; because in our own way, we are all starving to death spiritually.

This will be my last blog post for a season. It is fitting that I leave this blog with my testimony of Heavenly Father and His love for us. It is fitting that I testify of the Savior Jesus Christ and the power of The Holy Ghost. I believe in them all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mount Vernon - Part One

Mount Vernon is beautiful! As I stood on the back piazza and looked over the lush green lawn into the blue waters of the Potomac River, I could clearly understand why anyone would want to live there. I could see me sitting in my rocking chair looking at the scenery evening after evening, reveling in the scene created by Heavenly Father. I could feel peace settle in my soul as I gazed at God's beautiful world.

The grounds of Mount Vernon were much larger than I imagined. Walking the grounds around Mount Vernon I discovered that there were a wide variety of landscapes. Lush beautiful flower gardens were plentiful as well as a garden that produced food. A seed house, greenhouse, and nursery accompany these gardens. Plush green lawns were plentiful and well maintained. We walked among trees in the woods and down to the wharf on the Potomac. The grounds surrounding the mansion awed me with their size and grandeur.

The grounds were dotted with outbuildings. It was a village with its own blacksmith shop, ice house, salt house, and shoemaker shop. On the grounds was a wash house, spinning house and storehouse.

The kitchen was not in the mansion, but in a separate building and was not particularly close to the mansion house. It looked to be quite a walk to me to carry food from the kitchen house to be eaten in the mansion. It made me tired thinking of all the carrying that must have been required. As I looked into the kitchen house, I thought about the work required to prepare food. Although this kitchen house was probably as modern as it could be, there was nothing there that spoke of ease or comfort to me. The cellar where food kept cool was a far cry from my current refrigerator.

The Mansion looked spectacular to me as we walked towards it for a tour. The outside looked just as I had seen it in pictures. Careful records were always kept at the instructions of George Washington. An accurate inventory of each item and each room allowed the interior to be restored to the way the house looked in 1799, the year that George Washington died. The rooms were decorated with original furnishings, period pieces, and replicas.

The first room we entered was beautiful and opulent. It was decorated as a 'show room' for entertaining guests and diplomats and dining. Mount Vernon was bustling with dignitaries and large formal dinners. During some years, Mount Vernon's New Room hosted guests more than sixty percent of the days in the year.  The New Room was also the location of George Washington's permanent picture gallery.

I was fascinated by each room in Mount Vernon. But none of them was as elegant as the New Room. They appeared well appointed and comfortable, much as I would have expected them to look like in the 1700's. Quilts and furnishings were lovely - but more casual and every day looking to me.

End of Part One

Mount Vernon - Part Two

Slave houses for men and women also stood on the grounds of Mount Vernon, reminders of the men and women who worked behind the scenes. The burial grounds for slaves was quiet and peaceful, set in a copse of trees. These reminders of slaves caused me to reflect on the way of life and the political views of the days in which George Washington lived. He struggled with slavery, but in his will, George Washington left instructions to free all 317 of his slaves, a courageous act for a man who had owned slaves since he was eleven years old.

I loved being at Mount Vernon! It was a wonderful day. But I also learned a great deal about the man who made Mount Vernon what it was. George Washington was a hard worker. He was a man willing to learn and work for the success of the plantation. He expanded Mount Vernon to over 6,500 acres. He learned about crops and diversified into a variety of cash crops including tobacco and wheat and worked to build up other industry including spinning, weaving, and milling. Mount Vernon was the home of a very successful herring industry. The barns, paddock and stables are reminiscent of the his success with horse breeding.

He began his career as a surveyor at age 17. He worked hard and often lived in very primitive conditions. He surveyed over 60,000 acres.

George Washington was a great man who devoted much of his life for the benefit of others. He spent much of his life in military service beginning with the French and Indian War. He served as a colonel in the British Virginia Regiment. Perhaps the frustrations he experienced and the lessons he learned in this position helped him formulate ideas of his own regarding a different kind of government.

George Washington attended the First Continental Congress and showed up in military attire at the Second Continental Congress, signaling he was ready for war. He was appointed General by the congress and named Commander in Chief. His service lasted about eight years and was vital to the success of the colonies in their battle for freedom from British rule.

The Father of our country served with devotion as president of The United States of America for two terms, refusing to serve a third. He returned to Mount Vernon, perhaps with a sense of relief, working to make the land more profitable, yet continued to serve military appointments for another 17 months. He died unexpectedly at age 67, buried in a tomb at Mount Vernon.

The nation mourned this great man. But the world also mourned this man who had led his soldiers through death and starvation, defeat and victory. They mourned a man who led this new land, founded on freedom and established a place for it  in the world.

I believe that God ordained that this land be a land of freedom. I believe that Heavenly Father's plan for His children included a land where men and women could believe and worship and live without the strong arm of the government controlling their lives. I believe that George Washington was an important instrument in helping to lay the foundation of God's covenant land. I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of our land, including George Washington.

I believe we all owe a great deal of gratitude to God who ordained this land.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gettysburg - Part Two

The Founding Fathers did not quickly hash out the details of the founding principles of this land. It was a long and difficult process. It required educated men to sacrifice much to create the inspired documents upon which this government was founded. They were guided by God.

Then the fight of a lifetime ensued as they sought the independence required to really build a land of freedom and righteousness. A nation worth dying for was purchased with the blood of those who fought in the Revolutionary War.

But our freedom was also paid for by those who have fought in other wars. The Civil War, though incomprehensible to me, was also a significant battle for God given freedom.

Each side believed they were right. Men stood with their weapons, ready to die for the cause they believed in. Because they believed, they were willing to give their all.

I think that Heavenly Father had a great interest in this war, because this is His covenant land. This country needed to be a land governed with righteous principles in order for His purposes to be fulfilled. I believe God's hand was present in The Civil War.

I believe God wept at the loss of life. I believe He sorrowed over the depths required to rescue His land. I believe it was very difficult to watch, knowing that it must be done.

I loved visiting Gettysburg. But it was also hard for me. It is difficult for me to even identify why it was so hard. I cannot quite put my finger on it yet, but maybe someday I will.

But I am so grateful that I walked along Little Round Top, saw the field of Pickett's Charge, peeked into Devil' Den, and saw the Peace Memorial. I am grateful that Heavenly Father watched over this land. I am at a loss for words of gratitude to Him for all His blessings to me. I am also unable to comprehend the sacrifices of those who have gone before me to pave the way for freedom. So many died at Gettysburg.

By the end of The Civil War 618,000 people had died. Though their deaths bought us the land we have today, what great things might these people have done, had they lived a life of peace and productivity? How might they have changed the world for the better with their creativity and drive?

What kind of a world would we be able to enjoy if peace ruled the world and righteousness reigned supreme?

Many of the dead at Gettysburg were buried as unknown. No one identified or claimed their remains. Many were lost to their families, within the blink of an eye. The sorrow must have been overwhelming.

Surely the nation mourned and The God of Heaven wept.

And I ask myself - What are the lessons for me from Gettysburg? Has what happened at Gettysburg changed me?

I think that perhaps there are things that Heavenly Father expects of me. But I am not yet sure what they are. I do feel a need to learn more about His Covenant land and the great men and women inspired to do His work. Maybe I need to pull my head out of the sand and pay more attention to what is happening now. Maybe I need to study the constitution and the principles that Heavenly Father designed this country to be founded on. Maybe there is more that I will come to understand.

But this much I know - I can be grateful!  I can be patriotic and respect the symbols of our country. I can be more aware of the way I speak about my land. I can set a better example.

And I will pray for righteousness to flood The United States of America!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Gettysburg - Part one

The Fourth of July just passed. For us it was a quiet day, included typical Independence Day food and fireworks. We played a game or two and watched "The Music Man," listening to Mrs. Shin sing praises to our country. It is an old family favorite movie, touching on how the 4th of July was celebrated decades ago. But is not deeply patriotic.

As I pondered on my love for this great country I live in, my mind returned to the day we spent with our family in Gettysburg in June. Gettysburg has pulled at me for some time. I have read about Gettysburg and watched documentaries to learn and understand. But so much of Gettysburg eludes me, baffles and puzzles me. I cannot yet keep track of which generals were on which side of the fighting. I cannot keep track of which battle happened when. I cannot keep track of which spot on the battlefield was named what. I cannot comprehend the enormity of it all.

I cannot imagine the face to face combat, the barrage of artillery, the bayonets. The heat of the summer days, the marching, the fear and exhaustion are beyond my ability to grasp. My mind cannot comprehend the death and devastation of human life. I cannot imagine the blood and mangled bodies. How could one stand face to face with a friend or relative and know that one of you is going to die?

Battles have long been fought in this world and in the world before this one. Satan fought against the host of heaven to change Heavenly Father's plan. Nations have fought with each other over land, wealth, and power. Scriptures record story after story of those who have fought to achieve those same things. But often the cause of a battle is to defend against an invading force. Battles have begun in defense of correct and righteous principles. Sometimes the cause of war is for the freedom to believe as one chooses.

I believe that Heavenly Father desires that the land I live in remain free from tyranny. Only in a land where agency is honored and respected can His Gospel thrive. It was to this country that the pilgrims came when they fled religious persecution across the sea. It was in this land that The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through The Prophet Joseph Smith. It was in this land that The Book of Mormon could be translated, published, and placed in the hands of the common man and woman. It was in this land where the building of temples could begin.

Though we may all find much to disagree with in The United States of America - disagreement has been allowed. Death is not instantaneous when one speaks out in opposition. Our nation was founded on the right to speak out, to disagree, and to seek for the best ideas.

End of Part One

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"My Favorite Place in D.C."

A week ago today I walked the streets of Washington D.C. with my family who live nearby. I love this city, so filled with the richness of the history of our country. It is a beautiful bustling city with no end to the things to learn, see, and do. It was a warm, humid day as we hustled along the sidewalks to our first destination of the day.

We parked in the Reagan building parking garage. We have parked here before. It was filled to overflowing. Parking attendants were working their hearts out to take care of all the cars. It was hot and sweaty for them - but they were kind and helpful as they found a place for our car.

We spent much of the day at one of the Smithsonian Museums - Air and Space. It was a fascinating place filled with crowds of noisy, interested spectators. At times it was difficult to navigate the crowds. But we managed to see all that we could in our allotted amount of time.

It seemed like a long, hot walk from the museum to the Reagan building as my muscles began to complain. Getting our car out of its tight quarters was a bit tense but successful. We climbed into the car and headed into the city. I sat next to my 5 year old grandson as we ventured to our next destination - The temple.

I have always loved the beauty of the Washington D.C. Temple as I have seen it in pictures, but this would be my first up close and personal visit. Traffic flowed around us and swallowed us, as our son navigated us out of the city, towards the temple. Twas a bit longer drive than has been expected, but my kind son carried us forward without complaint at the task.

My six year old grandson sat in his car seat next to me in the back seat. This little boy is smart. He can out math me in a minute. We played "Life" together multiple times during our visit. I almost always lost. He kept track of the money and numbers with ease. His mind added like a machine. He was always a mental step or leap ahead of me. He knows a lot about this world he calls home. He is happy to share his knowledge and is delightful to talk with. We spent a lot of time chatting in the car as we drove around his part of the country.

"The temple is my favorite place in D.C," he told me. Then he proceeded to tell me what he knew about the temple. He knew a lot! He told me that he and his sister were not able to go into the temple because they are not yet twelve. But he loved to see the temple. He also told me that he loved the visitor's center. He continued to talk to me about the temple, and I listened, grateful to learn about The House of God from my young grandson, I was also grateful to know that this young man knew about the importance of the temple. My heart filled with gratitude for this experience with this little boy and for his good parents who taught him the important truths of eternity. His words were simple and honest as he told me again that the temple was his favorite place in D.C.


The temple is beautiful!  The visitors center was also a wonderful place to be. My sweet daughter in law helped me learn about the temple in enlightening and appropriate ways. It was a sweet visit to learn from her how she feels about her temple experiences.

Time constraints kept our visit short. But it was truly sweet to see the temple, visitors center, and immaculately beautiful grounds. My testimony of temples and God's Love for us was strengthened that day. I am grateful for my family who continually serve and teach me, as they did that day when we visited our grandson's 'favorite place in D.C."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Patience

I often find myself struggling with the same issues over and over and over again. Sometimes it is me that is making and remaking the same mistake. But sometimes it is the choice of someone else in my set of associations that I am affected by. It tries my patience! Yes, it is true that I am not a very patient person. I am often annoyed by those simple things that try my patience. Waiting in line forever at the store comes to mind. Waiting for a stop light to change when I am in a hurry is another. I can also find my patience being tried by waiting for another person, who fails to show up on time. And yes, that is just a short list for starters. I am not sure why one of my weaknesses is the lack of patience. But I freely admit that I must work on acquiring patience, almost constantly.

While it is true that I am often very good at being patient, there are times when I actually find myself blessed with patience from on high. Truly this is an evidence that I am being watched over cuz I can bridle my tongue and my emotions much better. I need it more often. I can say 'no problem' or 'that's ok' and really mean it. I can get over it quickly and easily and it is soon forgotten. But this does not happen often enough.

The truth is also that I understand my need to learn to be more patient on my own. I really just want it to be a gift. I want to unwrap the beautiful package of patience and have it encircle me and be perfectly patient! And so I get more opportunities to practice patience in life.

Sometimes I do an 'impatient' better than others. I can actually look at the fact that I am impatient and realize that Heavenly Father is allowing me the opportunity to practice - AGAIN! I can even express my appreciation for being allowed the opportunity to try to learn patience. I can truly work through it on my own.

Sometimes I am broadsided by my own lack of patience. It comes from nowhere and I wonder if I have ever learned anything about patience and tolerance. It feels like I am beginning again, from the very start of my lessons.

I wonder sometimes if Heavenly Father feels like I do - will I ever improve?

I may tell myself as I find myself messing up again - "How many times do you have to do this before you get it right?" Or "That was such a dumb thing to do." Or "When will I ever learn?" I can be just as impatient with myself as others. Maybe more so.

Of course there are varying degrees of things that try our patience. It is much easier to be patient with a stranger who accidentally chooses to be rude. But to be patient with the same person who has tried our patience so many times and in the same way over and over and over requires a different set of patience. It is so hard to not say the natural man things that come to mind, "Seriously - how many times do we have to do this?" comes to mind. Or "I really believe I just explained that to you - so were you even listening?" Or "If this was offensive the first hundred times it happened, why would it suddenly become less offensive now?" And more.

Bridling the tongue and thoughts and heart are sometimes so hard for me.

Today I am grateful that Heavenly Father has infinite patience. He is watching over me and helping me on the quest to become. His Son Jesus Christ has Atoned for my weakness in patience. His Gift is my only hope to overcome the world and return to live in heaven.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Memorial Day

I grew up celebrating Memorial Day with my family. It was an important day! My grandmothers and my mother prepared in advance for the day. They did not purchase flowers to decorate the graves with. They grew their own. So as Memorial Day approached, they would look at their flowers and decide which were the most beautiful to decorate the graves with. The beautiful bouquets of flowers traveled in buckets of water with us to the cemetery. Also we toted chairs and equipment to clean up around the headstones. It was a day to honor those who had gone before us. It was a day to remember.

It was a long day for me. It seemed that we were there all day. My grandmothers reveled in greeting and visiting with old friends and family who had also come to spend the day at the cemetery. Family members from out of town flocked to visit with cousins and aunts and uncles. It was often the only time all year they had seen each other. In many ways it was the social event of the year. It was exhausting for both of my grandmothers - so they sat in between visits. I wandered the cemetery, looking at flowers and headstones.

I have tried to carry on the tradition of Memorial Day. We rarely spent more than a few minutes at each headstone, but we took flowers. My children did not particularly enjoy Memorial Day. There were few to visit with and in the heat of the sun, their enthusiasm wilted. But we went anyway. One child however reminds me of my grandmother's and my mother. She loves Memorial Day. She would be here if she could. She sent me a text this year - asking if we visited the cemeteries.

She remembers!

Memorial Day was beautiful. The wind was ever present and my sweater was a welcome companion. But we had other companions this year. It was such a treat to have my sister and her husband with us as we remembered our parents and our grandparents and our cousins, aunts, and uncles. We found familiar headstones quickly and easily and spread out in search of others. We shared memories and experiences. And we missed our ancestors.

We visited five cemeteries that day. We stopped long enough to grab a bite of lunch and then carried on. We gabbed and shared our stories, our time, and our lives with each other. We laughed at silliness and sorrowed over past tragedies. And we walked among the headstones - a lot!

My ancestors did not have an easy task to navigate this life. There were hard things. They faced their own brand of trial and adversity. There were broken hearts and broken promises. There were fires and storms to contend with. There were precious crops and herds that were lost to disease and weather. There were human frailties and human suffering.

But they did the best that they could!

Within the hearts of many of my ancestors burned a testimony of the Living God and His Beloved Son. There were miracles of faith and courage as they faced life's hardships armed with only their testimonies. They left a great legacy for me to honor, respect, and revere. Their sacrifices bought me a better world. The fire of their faith planted within me my own budding testimony of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Their lives laid the foundation for all that I am and could ever hope to be.

It is a blessing to remember! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Gratitude

As I awoke this morning, it occurred to me that I had not sat at the computer for several days. I had a slew of emails to delete or respond to and I had not even thought of writing a blog. Life has swallowed me up for a brief season, and many things have been left unattended. But today is the last day of this particular season and tomorrow begins another change.

Frankly I am exhausted! My body aches and my head is foggy. My voice is croaking and cracking and temporarily fades from time to time. I have lost hours of sleep caused by stress and exhaustion. My soul is complaining in weariness.

But I know that I will make it through this one last day. I know this, because I have made it through all the hard, challenging, exhausting days that have already gone before.

It has been a season of stretching. It has been a season of tears and sorrow. It has been a season of inequity. It has been a season of unfairness. It has been a season of unkindness. It has been a season of trials.

But it has also been a season of learning. It has been a season of faith.It has been a season of kindness and appreciation. It has been a season of expanding my circle of friends. It has been a season of patience. It has been a season of service. It has been a season of hellos and goodbyes.

It has been a season of learning to trust Heavenly Father.

The path I have walked was guided by His hand. I promised that I would do all that I could to do my best on this path. And I did.

But He also did all that He could for me. No matter how tired I was - I was blessed to be able to do whatever was required of me each day. No matter how hurt my feelings were - Heavenly Father carried that burden so I could return day after day to do what He had asked me to do. When I needed to be silent - God shut my mouth. When I needed to speak - God gave me the words to say. When I needed greater physical capacity or mental understanding - The Almighty was there for me. During this season, Heavenly Father lifted, carried, dragged, pushed, and pulled me along.

And I am filled with gratitude to the very core of my worn out weary soul.

As I embarked on this adventure - I knew that I would be asked to make many hard choices and sacrifices. That turned out to be absolutely correct. But because I was prepared, I was able to make those sacrifices and trust in Heavenly Father's wisdom.

It would be unfair if I did not mention that I made lots of mistakes. I was often corrected and teased for my failures. Many days I wondered why I was where I was and why I was doing what I was doing. I felt the frustration and impatience of others. I heard lots of words of criticism directed at myself and others. I struggled to make it through many days. I had to gird up my loins to go back for more on others. It was HARD!

But there were moments of growth in little people that I got to see. I watched little children who learned to use language successfully, and learned to control their unbridled tempers, who learned to practice being patient and who learned to successfully use a pair of scissors and a bottle of glue.

Sometimes my clothes were wet from their puddles of tears or an overflowing sink or a craft project gone amiss. But some moments were sweet with their success and their smiles and their hugs.

And through it all, I felt the enabling power of The Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life.

Though my successes to others may not seem very big at all - I know that they were not my successes at all. They all belong to those on the other side of the veil who have lifted, carried and strengthened me along the way.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gratitude for the Trials I Have Not Had

There are plenty of trials and challenges in this world to go around. Sometimes I really feel like I have received more than my share. It can be easy to put blinders on and see only the things that are hard for me, the insurmountable tasks, the hurdles that seem too high for me to jump. It can become easy to feel sorry for myself and wallow in self pity for a season. This is of course, is not helpful. But it happens nonetheless.

Looking at the trials of others can bring me up sharply. It can remind me of how really blessed I am. I can see others whose struggles would crush me. I marvel at the strength and faith and courage that is present in their struggles. And I feel pretty weak.

But I also feel grateful. Grateful that I do not have the trials that others have to endure. Grateful that I do not have cancer or lung disease or kidney disease. Grateful that I am not homeless. Grateful that I do not have wayward children. And the list goes on.

I have great gratitude for every good day. I am appreciative of the beauty of the world in which I live. I appreciate the sunshine and the rain. I hear the sound of the birds in the trees and delight in the color of the flowers. I look heavenward and see the blue of the sky and the puffy cotton candy clouds. The green of the grass and the majesty of the trees lift my eyes heavenward with gratitude.

I am grateful that my children have roofs over their heads, steady income, and safe transportation. I am grateful that my grandchildren are being raised with love, kindness, dignity, and respect. I appreciate that my children have more of everything to offer their children than I did. What a joy to know that my children are parenting much better than I did. Their vision of family life is so much grander than mine was.

I am grateful that I have a safe place to live, food to eat, and running water. I am grateful that there is money to spend and money to save. I appreciate a car that takes me where I need to go and returns me home again. I am grateful for electricity and a running furnace. Technology is a huge blessing for me. I appreciate listening to wonderful things via the internet, emails and google chat.

Years ago I heard a song written by a woman dying from the ravages of cancer. She expressed appreciation for all the trials she had not had to suffer or endure. I learned a lot from her song. I wondered why I was not more grateful for what I did have and why I spent so much time and energy on the things I felt I lacked. It is a lesson that I learn again and again, as I wander through the circle of attitudes of abundance and lack.

I am indeed grateful for the trials that I have not yet had to endure, and to those who endure them so well to teach me, bless me, and strengthen me.

Gratitude is abundant for me today for a loving Heavenly Father who has given me all I have and for the strength that comes through the power of prayer. I am grateful for The Savior Jesus Christ whose Atonement rescues me, again and again and again. I appreciate the words, feelings, and impressions that come to me through the power of The Holy Ghost to teach me and guide me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Because I live in this mortal world, I seem to get to have plenty of experiences that teach me. In other words, 'hard for me.' Now don't get me wrong; I think everyone gets to have a myriad of difficult experiences in this life. But what is difficult for someone else may not be difficult for me. And one of my last 'learning' opportunities may not be difficult for someone else. The beauty of life on this earth is that is tailor made for each of us to grow and learn in the way that will stretch us uniquely, because we are each unique.

My part time job has been particularly challenging for the last three weeks. I was somewhat warned and prepared for many of these changes. Some days have not been as bad as expected. Whew!  Relief! Some have been as expected, so though stretching, doable. And some moments have tried the patience of all of us.

As I walked into my place of work, the secretary commented, "You came back!" She told me that after the terrible day we had all experienced the day before, she wondered if anyone would come back to work the next day. She had also experienced a difficult day. One darling little child had physically attacked her and verbally assaulted her. Some of the words were unintelligible and sounded very much like a witch's hex. We all wondered what particular spell had been cast upon her. Would she be a toad before bedtime?

So amidst the chaos of the workplace I found myself assaulted by another unpleasant challenge to face. Seriously????? Is this not enough? I certainly felt like it was enough for me to deal with already. I went home discouraged, wounded, offended, angry, etc.

The natural man took over.

"I do not have to return to work," I thought. "I do not ever have to see the people that I work with again," I said to myself. (At least not the ones with whom I was struggling) I wanted to vent, complain, etc.

"I AM DONE!"

But driven to my knees, The Holy Spirit began to teach me. And I began to see things differently. I did not like what had happened at all. I despised what had been said. I did not condone the actions of others at all. But my anger, offended feelings, and wounded pride were clearly not serving me or anyone else. So I knew that I was really not done and had to 'work the problem.'

I continued to pray, seeking not only guidance but strength to let the ugly go, do the right thing, and carry on.

And it came. Within twenty four hours things were very different. Resolutions came. Humility replaced my pride. And I felt incredibly better.

But there was more to be learned. One little puzzle piece took a bit longer to fall into place. The person whose words had so hurt me had not been involved in any of the resolution phase. Nor would she. She would never hear how hurt I was by her words. She would never know what transpired to resolve a situation that she created. She was entirely absent and I felt that there was nothing I could do about it.

And I thought I had let it go. But two days later, clearly the impression came from The Holy Ghost. I was to send her a text. I heard the words in my head or perhaps I felt them in my heart. I knew exactly what to say. No accusing words!  No unkind words! Nothing but kindness flowed through my fingers. Within the words of the text were words that clarified and spoke truth about the situation. My name had been cleared simply, with kindness. It was over.

I was elated!  I felt such joy to feel that truly God had guided this situation. My heart swelled with gratitude for Heavenly Father's love and guidance. I was able to let it go , completely at peace!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Weaknesses

This week I have been clearly reminded of my weaknesses, again. And it is only Wednesday!

Tis so disappointing to feel that I am working so hard to be better, to improve, to be more of all the things that I think that I am supposed to be and to find I have again fallen short. Being patient with myself in my failures is such a trial. I have also seen the weakness in myself of impatience with others and their weaknesses. Again!

Several someone else's in my life have brought me up short with their choices and have for a season left me feeling very weak, insecure, and very much a failure. I have been knocked to my knees again seeking forgiveness for my weaknesses and also forgiveness for my anger, frustration, and unkind feelings towards those with whom I am currently struggling.

It is hard to accept that no matter how hard one tries and no matter how much one serves, sacrifices, and remains silent; it is just never enough to be able to please in some situations. As I have pondered on these particular experiences, I have wondered, what more could I have done? How could I have done it differently? What was it that you really expected of me? And much more.

I have visited with Heavenly Father about these situations and also asked Him these same questions. I have also asked what it is that He would have me learn. Those answers will come, but perhaps not immediately or easily. But I expect to receive insight and inspiration that will help me on my quest to become a disciple of Christ.

As I have pondered my current trial, I have been inwardly drawn to think of The Savior Jesus Christ. I have wondered about my own attitudes and behaviors. I wonder if perhaps He is reminding me that I do exactly these same things to others that have been done to me. Is this a reminder that if I do not like it when it happens to me and that I need to be more careful as I interact with others?

Though Christ is perfect, without blemish, flaw, or weakness; could I seem to Him as those who have offended me? Could He sense my impatience and my need to be reminded of His patience?

Could I also need to be reminded that Jesus Christ gave all He had and all He is to the mission of Redemption? Could I need to be reminded that many of Heavenly Father's children also never feel like they receive enough no matter what is given and what is sacrificed? How much whining and bellyaching and backbiting do I return to Heavenly Father as He continually blesses me? 

Am I really that much different than those with whom I am currently feeling resentment?

Perhaps the big question for me is now, How do I respond and go forth in the situation? More simply, How would Jesus handle this one?

I am well aware that I am completely dependent on the mercy and grace of The Redeemer, even Jesus Christ who is mighty to save. Today I am leaning heavily on that grace as I strive to go forth and face the dragons of my world. I am counting on the help from Heavenly Father as inspiration comes to me through the Power of The Holy Ghost. I am pleading for spiritual strength and stamina beyond my own and I am tuning my spiritual eyes and ears towards heaven.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gratitude

Tis a good day to be grateful! 

Many days are not perfect, perhaps even most days. There are moments of challenge, disappointment and discouragement in almost every day. During any one day so many things can happen that one can easily experience at least a half dozen emotions from joy to fear and everything in between. How long I hold onto those emotions can make all the difference in the world within my soul.

If I hold on tight to fear, it will become a frightening day. If I hold onto the feelings of disappointment, my day will probably remain disappointing. If I hold onto the sweet feelings that come with offering service, those sweet feelings will linger and color my day.

Today is a day of all those things and more. But I choose today, at this moment to focus on gratitude and feel that in my heart. I want to be grateful!

I cannot be everywhere I want to be at the same time this week. I cannot do all the things that are important to me. It is just not possible. Some hard choices and sacrifices have been required. And I could choose to hold onto those feelings of being heartbroken at the loss I feel.

But would it help?

I want to be grateful today that I am so blessed. I am not stranded somewhere in the middle of crossing the plains in the heat of summer or the blast of winter. I am safe, warm and dry in my own home. I have access to water, air, electricity and food. I am just fine.

My washing machine and dryer have served me well today, as I will soon have cleaner fresher clothing to wear.

I am grateful that as we watched dangerous weather systems approach our far away family, the storm faded before it did the serious damage that was expected. Tornado season is just beginning and it brings grave concern into my heart for my family who live among the plains. But I am grateful that each time the tornados have come very close, my loved ones have been protected.

I am grateful that I have things to do that stretch me and help me learn and grow. Though at times these moments of stretching are painful, I recognize that I came here for just such things - to stretch and become something different.

It is a day to be grateful for the beautiful spring season when the world I live in awakens with new life and color. It reminds me of the Resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ who rose from death, conquering that plague for us all.

Today I am blessed with eyes that see and ears that hear. My hands serve me constantly as I work at living life. My legs and feet serve me as I climb up and down the stairs a dozen times a day. I have a heart that beats and lungs that breath. I believe that I take them for granted and rarely think about how easily and automatically they work.

Tis a day to be grateful for the blessing of prayer. I can call upon Heavenly Father often. And I do. I am grateful that I do not have to take a number and wait or schedule a busy appointment. He is always there.

Today is truly a day for me to be grateful!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blessed ByThe Temple

I feel so blessed to have a temple close by so that I can be there in about 45 minutes. The temple stands as a beacon of light for me. Being in the temple brings me a feeling of peace and comfort. As I walk back into the world after temple service, I find that the world looks more beautiful. Colors are brighter and I more clearly see the majesty of God's creations.

As my children grew up and flew away from home, I prayed often for them to live in the valley of the temple, because I wanted their lives to be blessed by the presence of the temple. I believe that the presence of a temple brings goodness and light to all in its midst. It is a symbol of faithfulness and invites God into our midst. A temple takes a stand against the adversary. At this season, all of my family live within a valley of the temple. Some are closer than others. Some are in seasons where temple service is easier to squeeze into busy lives. And I am grateful that Heavenly Father has answered that prayer, for this season.

As I looked at my list of things to do a few of weeks ago, it registered that I had an unexpected day off from work. What a treat! The long list of possibilities began to trickle into my mind. And as the trickle began to turn into a raging torrent, the impression came that I should attend the temple. I have many family names prepared and waiting for the opportunity for me to serve them in the temple. So, I tucked that idea away as the days passed, planning on spending some of my day in the temple.

But the day before, I began to have second thoughts. First thing in the morning as I started my car, the check engine light came on. Again! That was the first flicker of 'maybe I should not drive to the temple tomorrow.' Was it safe to drive the car to the temple? 

The second and slightly louder flicker came as I realized that I had a very sore neck. It hurt a lot. It felt like a stiff and immovable object. I considered it could be unwise to be driving if I could not turn my neck to see other vehicles on the road. And the excuses continued to pour into my mind. So many things to do and so little time.

The final thoughts that poured into my mind came as my husbands schedule for that day changed and bought more fluctuations. I climbed into bed that night, certain that I would stay home instead.

But upon awakening, again the impression came that I needed to be in the temple. I did not know how it would work out. I did not know if my attending the temple would interfere with my husband's day as it was stacking up. It appeared that there was a chance he would only be at work for part of the day. If he came home early, would he want to go to the temple too?  Should I wait, just in case? Would he be too tired?

But the impression came again and I packed my bag before he left and told him I was seriously considering attending the temple. There was simply no way for him to know what his day would bring and so I filled the gas tank in the car and headed to the temple. In my mind I had a plan of what I needed to accomplish in the temple that day. The plan worked!  Not exactly as I had mentally mapped out, but I was able to accomplish the goal impressed on my mind.

As I served my ancestors in the temple, I realized that my neck was no longer stiff. I could move it with ease. As I drove home from the temple, I realized that it not only moved easily, it no longer hurt at all. I wondered if it would begin to hurt again as days passed. But it has not.

My second blessed miracle for the day occurred as I started my car in the parking lot to return home. The check engine light did not come on. Nor has it since.

My time in the temple was sweet and wonderful and everything worked out. Even though I was not certain where I needed to be and what I needed to do with my day without work, Heavenly Father did. Thank heavens He is patient with me and told me more than once!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Had an interesting experience with a person that I work with. We are friendly, but we really do not know each other well at all. We interact with each other only at work and that is limited because our job responsibilities are not even in the same part of the building. I think she likes her job quite well, but has expressed a few times that it does not provide for her needs as well as she would like it to. I also know that she has turned down another job because that employer wanted her to start immediately and would not allow her to give a two week notice. It sounded like it would be more money for her as well as having additional insurance benefits, if she had ben willing to take the job. I admired her loyalty. She expressed her frustration that things had not worked out well. She wondered how the person who wanted her to immediately leave her current job would feel, if the tables were turned and she failed to give adequate notice before leaving his employment.

One day we ended up in the work room at the same time. The work day was nearly completed and we needed a place to hide for a few minutes because all the other common areas of the building were in use for private meetings. Neither of us belonged in those spaces and we ended up in the same spot, with a few moments to kill.

Suddenly my coworker shared a very personal experience with me. Her grandfather passed away late last year. She has felt his loss keenly. She has missed him enough that she has not spoken much about it at all. It is still too tender.

She shared with me a dream that she had recently experienced. She was with her grandfather.  She spent time with him and he told her that she no longer needed to be concerned for him. He was just fine. He did not want her to feel sad or miss him. She saw him in a setting that was familiar, a place where he would really be on this earth. She had seen him there before. He was wearing clothing she recognized. He looked happy. She felt a great sense of peace and comfort.

When she woke from her dream, it felt very real to her, much more real than any other dream. She was wide awake and felt the peace of her dream wash over her. She was relieved and felt that the message of the dream was real.

She shared her dream with her uncle, who also mourned the loss of his brother a great deal. After she shared her dream, her uncle shared a dream of similar nature that he had experienced on the same night that she had. He had also visited with his brother. The dream took place in the same setting. He also recognized the clothing that his brother wore. When he described the jeans, plaid shirt, and hat; my friend was stunned. The clothing he described was exactly the same as what she had seen in her dream.

Her uncle had felt the dream to be more real than any dream he had experienced before. He had received the same message my friend had received. He too, felt the peace and comfort wash over him as he awoke from his dream.

I am not sure why she chose to share her experience with me. Certainly it was a risk to tell anyone of such an experience. We have not talked about our religious beliefs before, ever. We have not talked about life after death either.

But somehow, she seemed to know that I would be interested and believe her. And I do. I told her that I believe in life after death and her experience added to my conviction. I suggested she and her uncle might want to consider recording the details of their dreams, while they were fresh in their minds. I suggested they include the colors and places in details. Write down the feelings and the things you heard, before the memory begins to fade so you can read it as the details disappear.

Sometime, I will ask her if she did.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Looking in the Mirror

What a blessing to live at this time. It is a time of great opportunity and challenge. It is a day of great wealth and great poverty. It is a season of great peace and great turmoil. It is a time of great knowledge and great ignorance. There is much of power and influence among us but also much of humility and kindness.

Many are able to influence and control with wealth and power. But today I am grateful for those who have the ability to influence me with words of wisdom and great counsel, with kindness and peace, with Priesthood Power. I am grateful for prophets of God who live on the earth today. I am grateful to listen to their words and see myself in light of the truth that they share. I am grateful for the technology that allows me to listen and watch within my own home. It is miraculous to listen and read the words again and again, so readily and so easily.

Just days ago I listened to The General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because I wanted to get all that I could to strengthen and guide me, I prepared for weeks with prayer, fasting, and scripture study. I wanted my heart and my mind to be ready to receive. I asked Heavenly Father that I might know what messages were just for me. I asked that I might receive all that was offered with a softened heart. I prayed that The Holy Ghost would teach me.

And then I feasted!

The music and spoken word were like a banquet for my spiritually starving soul. It seemed the time passed way to quickly and conference was over long before I was filled. But I will be able to feast again and again as I listen to and read the words again and again.

I have begun to look at myself through the mirror of the words spoken at General Conference. It is an interesting exercise to attempt to look at oneself armed with truth. One sees many flaws, weaknesses and errors. One sees words that were said that should not have been said. One also sees words that should have been spoken but were not. It is easy to see things that should have been done that were not and also those that were done that should have not been even considered. It is easy to see all the bad.

But if one looks with truth, one also needs to recognize that all is not lost. There is hope yet as one desires and works at making changes. Though it may be a bit like watching grass grow, it is good to see that one is moving forward bit by bit, choice by choice, toward discipleship. For that is my goal: to be a disciple of Christ.

It could be easy to see only those things that are wrong and sink in a sea of doubt. But prophets of God remind us that even when we try, we are blessed. So as I look at the reflection in the mirror, I also see the things that I am working on. I see the times when I have resisted temptation. I can see that there is a moment here and there when I inched along as I overcame my own selfish desires and served another person. I see that maybe there is hope for me yet.

Even as I see the reflection of my failings, I am buoyed along by my faith and testimony in The Savior Jesus Christ and His Infinite Atonement. For though I am weak, He is strong and has power to save. In the mirror, I see Him walking beside me, letting me lean on Him, and I hear His words cheering me along.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter

Easter has passed. It was a day when I was able to ponder on the meaning of Easter for me personally. I studied a bit about Jesus Christ and His Infinite Atonement. I pondered on His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. I thought about Christ's desire to not have to do what He knew needed to be done. Because of who Jesus Christ is, I may not be able to think or feel as He did then, but I thought about myself and wondered how in the world could one willingly suffer as The Savior did? Scriptures describe agony and pain beyond my ability to comprehend. How could I, knowing what was to come, have walked willingly towards that path? Yet, though Jesus did not want to 'drink the bitter cup' He offered  His willingness to follow the plan Heavenly Father had laid out for Him.

Miraculous!

I pondered on His broken heart and spirit as He experienced the trials, struggles, temptations, and sorrows of all the world. How could He carry them all and not be completely broken? I thought about how it must have felt to be kissed by one who promised love and loyalty yet served up betrayal. I think that Christ knew it was coming, yet how painful it must have been to accept this kiss and not shrink. How kind to heal the ear of a Roman soldier when plagued by one's own suffering. How courageous to willing to go with the soldiers to face His fate.

Tis obvious to me that I am not prepared to receive the kind of power that comes with Godhood. I would too readily zap the soldier or the disloyal friend. I might have fried the one who beat me with a few stripes or he who placed a crown of plated thorns upon my head. It would be so easy to wield that power in revenge or for spite.

But He did not!

The Savior of the world suffered in silence.

Sometimes that is not so easy for me to do. I can be a champion whiner and complainer. I can shout with the best of them. I could drum up a string of words to sting and bite and accuse and blame. It is not hard to throw a tantrum and demand satisfaction.

But, because I want to be like The Savior, I try to think of Him in those moments when the natural man has full control and power over me. I picture Jesus standing before leaders of the land who mocked Him and condemned Him to death by crucifixion. I see His quiet dignity and acceptance of Heavenly Father's will. I see His trust in God's Plan of Salvation. I see that Christ's faith rises to the surface to conquer all else.

And I want to be like Him!

Though it is so hard for me to comprehend His suffering on the cross, in my mind I see Jesus asking for forgiveness for those who have mistreated Him so. That is a task that is beyond my comprehension. Yet because of who He is, I know it is so. I think of my reaction to the rudeness of others and wonder why it is so hard for me to follow that example. I wish for strength that comes through the Power of the Atonement to have the desire to forgive, the desire to be silent, to accept with more dignity that which others wish to inflict upon me.

Jesus Christ marked the path and lead the way. I cannot imagine it was easy for Him. But He did it! Each day I pray to be more like Him who suffered it all. I ask for strength to overcome the world and be like Him. Tis always a work in progress for me but is a challenge worthy of my best efforts.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Atonement

It has been a really hard season for me for a few weeks. I have seen my weaknesses and my failures a little bit to clearly. Many things have been hard and not gone well. I have felt a great deal of opposition in my life. There has been discouragement and disappointment. There have been moments of heartache and days of feeling very broken. There have been days when I have just felt like I was done with life and all its challenges.

I know that this does not just happen to me. But in the middle of a difficult season, it can be hard to keep one's perspective in place. It can be easy to see all the negative and feel 'picked on' and 'singled out.' It is much easier to wallow in a mud hole of self pity and even roll around in the mud a bit.

It has also been a season of studying more about The Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. I have read about The Atonement. I have listened to the words of those who are wiser than I am about The Atonement. I have prayed and pondered about The Atonement. I have learned a great deal but also realized that my learning is still very small.

For me it will be a life time quest.

I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. I believe in who He is and what He did. I believe in His limitless ability to love, as evidenced by His gift of Atoning for my sins as well as everyone else's sins. I believe He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on a cross on Calvary. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Light, the Life, and the Hope of the world.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. Heavenly Father loved all His children enough to allow us the opportunity to come to earth to learn and become more like Him. But I think God knew we would struggle here. We would not always choose well. We would do dumb things. We would fail and find ourselves in situations we could not handle. Because Heavenly Father loves all His children, His plan provided a Savior. He allowed His Only Begotten Son to come to earth. Christ was perfect. He committed no sin and made no mistake. He had no price that He needed to pay. But because of His great capacity to love, Jesus was willing to suffer and pay the ransom for each of us, if we were willing to submit to the terms of acceptance of His Atonement.

But my testimony of The Atonement does not mean that I have great understanding of it. Though I have studied, The Atonement is still a mystery to me. Though I believe, I am clueless about so much of it. I wish I understood more and knew better how to access the Power of the Atonement. I believe if I understood better, I could do more good. I would really like to be better and do better.

But for now, I will hold on to my testimony of The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will feed it with reading scriptures and learning from prophets and apostles who live on this earth now. I will work to listen more closely to the whisperings of The Holy Ghost. I will try harder to walk by faith.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Opposition

The Book of Mormon teaches that there must be opposition in all things. This is not a new idea for me. I have heard it all my life. Without opposition, there we be no need to choose. Without opposition, there would be no need to take a stand. Without opposition, life would be very different indeed.

I get that I would not appreciate the warmth of the furnace in the winter if I did not experience the freezing cold wind outside or the snow that blows into my face. I would also not appreciate the blessing of air conditioning without the temperatures sneaking towards a hundred degrees. Sweet tastes really good on my tongue in opposition to bitter or salty or sour. I also really appreciate the feeling of safety that comes in opposition to the feeling of fear.

Would I love food as much as I do if I had never ever felt hunger? But for me hunger is such a temporary thing that I wonder is hunger that comes and lives with the impoverished really ever allowed to be a good thing? Do those who have less than I ever get to enjoy the sweetness of being truly filled?

I also understand that no pain feels really awesome when compared to hurting. Sickness passes and the feelings of health are greatly appreciated. It is a tad harder for me to appreciate the feelings that can be described as terror in opposition to the feeling of calm. 

I really do appreciate the light. But would I appreciate it as much without the contrast of darkness? It is really a good reminder for me that Jesus Christ is the Light of World. Thinking of Christ as being Light creates a really stark contrast for me with Satan and his power over darkness.

While it is true that opposition has given me the opportunity to learn a great deal, there are times when I really do not appreciate having opposition in my face. Once again I have been reminded of the trial that opposition can be to me, personally. It tries my faith and my patience.

Opposition seems to often broadside me. This makes no sense since, even to me, when I remember that the Prophet Nephi warned that opposition is a real part of this life, and always will be. So why am I never prepared when opposition strikes me?

Opposition can come from any source at any time. How does one arm oneself to stand firm in the face of opposition? If anyone in the world can help me with that, I hope they show up in my life soon so I can learn from them. Especially if they can do it kindly.

It seems that the more full my to do list seems to be, the more opposition I face. Why is it that when one is lazing around seeking nothing but entertainment and leisure that opposition hides its ugly head and leaves me alone?

Another thing I think I have learned recently is that the harder I try to do the thing that I believe is right and correct, the more the opposition seems to strike me with angry claws. Why is that?

It is unfortunate, but perhaps a reality for many, that with opposition come some of its many companions. The three D's arrive and want to move in: Discouragement, despondency, and depression. It can be so easy to give in to those feelings and just want to quit. In my mind and in my heart I hear the words and feel the feelings of 'I am done.' And I want to be as the darkness envelops me and begins to swallow me whole.

At this moment I am grateful for the blessing of The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I go to my knees again and again. I pray in my mind and in my heart. I seek for the beginning of a spark of peace and comfort to enter into the darkness within and help me fight the three D's.

Where would I be without prayer and hope that come through my faith in God the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ. and in The Gift of the Holy Ghost?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

All is Right with the World

It is a wonderful world we live in. There are so many good things to bless our lives. Technology is exploding faster than I can possibly keep up with. I can hop in my car and drive to a store and buy what I need and be home within a reasonable amount of time. My house is warm, my water turns on, electricity comes at the flick of a switch. I have a dishwasher that washes the dishes we dirty because we are able to eat food which we either grow in a garden or buy at a store. My hamper fills with the clothes that are dirty because I have many available to wear. Then the washing machine washes them and the dryer dries them. I just need a maid to come in and fold or iron them and put them away. I pulled into a gas pump and filled up my tank of gas in the car. Was a bit annoyed cuz I had to wait a minute or two. Seriously!

I believe it is a season for miracles. I see them and hear about them and even experience them myself. It is a season of abundance in my corner of the world and perhaps even a season of the expectation that much is owed to each of us, because of the abundance that is available. It is a season of hard work and sometimes also of playing hard. It is a season of stretching and growing as I attempt to learn new things and accept new challenges and opportunities. It is a season of happiness, peace, and joyful moments.

But amidst all the good are seasons and moments and days of hard things, of disappointments and discouragement. Sometimes one can see or feel them coming. But then there are those moments when one is broadsided.

Last week really was quite good in many ways. But then there were those moments. I made a trip to the post office on Monday morning to mail a very important first class, over sized envelope to a family member about two and a half hours away from my house. I arose very early in the morning to prepare this important oversized letter, so I could make that special trip to mail it. A week later - who knows where it is? It never arrived at its intended destination. Nor has it come home to roost. Disappoinment! Along the way the week ambled with other minor inconveniences, pressures, and struggles.

Then Wham! Friday the door slammed. Literally! After feeding my husband lunch, I prepped for work and headed to the garage to drive to work. But lo, the magical electric door would not open. Oh yes, it tried, but it stuck again and again. I pulled the rip cord on the door to heft the beast of a door open so I could make it to work on time. But no budging the door. I could clearly see the huge broken spring and realized that I was stuck!

I called for help and was only ten minutes late for work. How unfair was this? I rarely park in the garage. On Thursday afternoon as I returned from work, a very large black pickup sat parked in front of my house, hogging the whole parking place. So I snagged the garage. Retribution was quick.

By night the car had been freed from its temporary prison at the cost of an enormous ransom. I swallowed pretty hard when I wrote the check. I don't think it cost that much to install the door and opener in the first place. But tearing down the garage seemed an unwelcome task.

Saturday brought a whole lot more disappointment for me. The unreasonable actions of others sometimes are such a bitter pill for me to eat. And then, as I stood at a volunteer assignment, my watch fell at my feet, band broken, perhaps beyond repair. I found it rather symbolic of my life that felt a bit broken.

But the kind words of a stranger struck my heart. I do not suppose I will ever see or speak to this person again. Would I even recognize her if I saw her. Was she a messenger from the other side to remind me that all is not lost. These are just temporal problems, bumps along the road of life. Eternity is what matters. Heavenly Father has not forgotten who I am or where I am or what is surrounding me.

It was a miracle for me to be reminded that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Holy Ghost

When a child is born into this world, it is completely dependent on others for all of its care. Others must proved everything for this child. Food, clothing, protection and diaper changing are things that a newborn cannot do. A newborn eats when fed, cries when uncomfortable, and evacuates from its digestive system what it does not need. Each baby grows and develops day by day. Soon the baby can make sounds and eye contact deliberately. The sound of a baby's cry changes as the baby begins to better identify its discomfort and caregivers begin to recognize the meaning of the baby's different cries.

As a baby grows it learns new things about the environment it lives in and the people who provide its care. The body changes and begins to do new things and it learns that it control some of the things that the body can do. Little hands begin to reach and grasp at anything the eyes can see. That first grab both startles and thrills the baby's mother. Soon tiny hands shove anything and everything into the babies mouth. Rolling over is a struggle for this little tyke to master. But soon the little one rolls from one end of the room to the other, to reach and grasp at anything in sight. Sitting up is a major milestone, followed typically by scooting and rocking on the knees. Unintelligible sounds are replaced by syllables that caregivers interpret as the word 'mama' or 'dada.'  Those first words thrill a parent to death.

And so it goes as the child grows up to live in this temporal world.

Each of us is born with The Light of Christ within our souls. It is that spark of divinity that each little one has. It comes with us from heaven. It is a gift from Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to return to live with Him when life on this earth is through. How strong is this spark of divinity? I think it is often very strong. Parents and siblings can 'feel' that sacredness of the newborn child. Fresh from heaven, we wonder what this infant could teach us about life before this earth.

How long does that spark of heaven last? I think that can depend on so many things that happen in the temporal world. But I think that Heavenly Father intends for it to last, to never diminish or die. I think that His desire if for us to feed and nurture that spark until it becomes a little flame. Then as we treasure and care for that little flame, it can grow and grow. We can choose how big and how powerful we want that Light of Christ to become.

Baptized embers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost when they are confirmed. This gift is also from heaven. It is a wonderful blessing to be cherished and nurtured. It is more powerful than the Light of Christ and very fragile. The Holy Ghost can be a treasured companion. He can testify of truth. He can warn of danger. He can bring peace and comfort to a troubled soul. Heavenly Father wants us to walk with the presence of The Holy Ghost in our lives, daily.

But learning to listen to the promptings of both The Light of Christ and The Holy Ghost is also a learning process. It requires effort to pay attention. It requires practice to learn how we' hear' and 'feel' the messages offered to us. It comes a little bit at a time. It is not always easy. Sometimes it is slow and difficult. Sometimes we struggle.

Just as learning to live in the temporal world is a slow and difficult struggle for a tiny infant, learning to interact with the Voice of the Spirit in the Spiritual realm can be slow and challenging. It takes effort to 'hear with spiritual ears' and to 'see with spiritual eyes.'

Learning to live in the temporal world is a new experience fraught with trial and error. Sometimes things go really well, but sometimes they do not. We make mistakes as we learn to eat, and sit, and crawl. When a little one attempts to stand, there is a good chance that the toddler will fall. No one slaps him silly and tells him he is a failure. Instead we cheer him on, hoping that he will try again. His first unintelligible syllables are greeted with excitement and encouragement to do it again.

But are we as patient with ourselves as we struggle to interact with the spiritual world? Do we see our mistakes when we missed the message of The Holy Ghost as a learning process or do we berate ourselves for our mistakes and consider that we have failed?

And just how patient are we with others who are on their own journey. For them it is also a life long quest to learn to interact successfully with The Voice of the Spirit. When they falter and fall, do we berate and belittle or do we instead cheer them on, pick them up, and help them along their way?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Temple Open House - Part 2

My family drove in multiple vehicles to Provo to participate in the open house of the Provo City Center. We had all spent the night an hour away. Our caravan headed out shortly after 8:30 am. Getting us all ready and out the door was miraculous! Our son and our four year old granddaughter rode with us. It was delightful to listen to them visit in the back seat. They have not seen each other for years, yet they sounded like old, cherished friends.

My heart began to swell as we approached the beautiful temple. I pointed it out to my granddaughter as quickly as I thought she could see it. We had tried to point out temples along the Wasatch front as we passed them but it was difficult to see them in the smog and distance. We had passed The Bountiful, Salt Lake, Draper, Oquirrh Mountain, Jordan River, American Fork, and Provo Temples.
But suddenly the Provo City Center Temple was up close and personal.

Tears began as we drove into the parking garage and I saw all the volunteers who were serving with a smile in the cold, early morning temperatures. I knew that they wanted to be there. I felt their joy in service and their appreciation for the opportunity. This temple meant the world to them and they already loved and cherished it.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints knows how to take care of a crowd at a temple open house. They are experienced in welcoming and moving the masses. Towering heaters kept the garage and outdoor spaces from freezing us. Tents protected us as we traveled towards a large theatre to view a short film about the purpose of temples. White plastic shoe covers on our feet protected carpets and floors.

Joy filled my heart as I walked into the temple holding the hands of two of my precious grandchildren. I read the words to them as we entered the door, "The House of the Lord." "Holiness to the Lord." Neither of these little ones could read the words, but I knew that they could hear, understand, remember, and feel the Spirit of the words. I wanted the message of the temple to sink deep into their tender hearts.

The Provo City Center Temple was stunningly beautiful!  There was so much to see and we tried to drink it all in. With reverence our grandchildren asked questions. With reverence we attempted to answer their questions. Faith and testimony were blossoming before my very eyes. Little hearts drank in the beauty and peace of The House of the Lord. Little eyes noticed details large and small.

Faces peered into the baptismal font, resting on twelve oxen while a loving dad explained briefly about the purpose of the font. He taught about the oxen. Children listened with reverence, asked questions and made appropriate comments about the font. We wanted to linger longer, but the crowds were large and we needed to move on. It was a sacred moment!

The physical beauty of the temple filled my soul. Being with my family who had made sacrifices of time and money to be here filled my heart with love for these people who bless my life. I could not stop the tears of gratitude from flowing as I contemplated Heavenly Father's love for us all and His miracles that orchestrated this experience for us.

For some of our family, a temple open house was a brand new experience. One family had driven sixteen hours for this day. It really was miraculous. It was a day of great rejoicing and gratitude.

Heavenly Father loves us all. He wants us to return to live with Him when this life has passed. His plan is for families and He wants families to be able to live together forever with Him. He has provided a Savior to Atone for our sins and temples where families can be sealed forever.

I felt Heavenly Father's love wash over us all and tighten the ties that bind us as we entered The House of the Lord.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Temple Open House - Part One

Heavenly Father loves us all. I believe that. Even though sometimes I feel I am pretty unlovable, deep in my soul, I believe God has an infinite capacity to love us all. That does not mean Heavenly Father is never disappointed in us and our choices or behavior. I think He is. But God's love is big enough to look past our mistakes and failures. His love is big enough for us all. Heavenly Father provided us with a plan to return to Him. That plan is evidence of God's love for us. He wants us to come home and dwell in His presence, when our education on earth as been completed.

Heavenly Father's plan includes things to help us along our way as we attempt to navigate the adventures of mortal existence. He provided a Savior to Atone for all the things we do that are not acceptable in God's sight. His Only Begotten Son came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross at Calvary for each one of us. For me a this is still a totally incomprehensible gift.

God provided us with the Holy Ghost to guide and direct us in our every day lives. The Holy Ghost can teach and testify of truth to us. He can warn us of danger. He is a comforter and brings peace.

Heavenly Father has provided scriptures to guide us. The words of ancient prophets can sink deep into our hearts and help us want to change. We have prophets who live today. These prophets also speak words that motivate us to change. They provide wisdom and direction for all who will listen. They warn of the dangers ahead and also remind us of the need for course correction in our lives.

Temples are another tool that Heavenly Father has blessed us with. Within the walls of temples, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints learn more about God and His plan. Within the walls of dedicated temples, sacred ordinances are performed that bind families together. The temples provide a place of instruction, sanctuary, and peace.

Last weekend many of my family participated in the open house for the Provo City Center Temple. Twenty five of us, dressed in our Sunday best, waited in line with thousands of others to walk through the newly renovated temple. It was beautiful!

In December of 2010 fire destroyed much of what was once the Provo Tabernacle. The wisdom and foresight of living prophets turned that tragedy into beauty from ashes. The interior of the tabernacle was gutted and the remaining shell was raised on stilts and the tabernacle was transformed into a temple.

Before a temple is dedicated to the Lord, anyone can attend an open house to walk through the building and see what it looks like. Once a temple is dedicated, only member of the church with recommends are able to enter. A recommend indicates that a member has chosen to live standards that make them worthy to enter a dedicated House of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thinking of My Friend

My friend is gone this week to be with her aging mother. It is a hard season for them both. Her father passed away last year and it required much adjustment and support from each of the family to take care of the needs of their mother. The family home had to be sold and the possessions sorted the taken care of. My friend went many times to help her mother sort through the memories of her life. It was emotionally and physically draining. An apartment was created in the home of another daughter for the mother. She needed to have some independence but also immediate access to help and company. The family have communicated regularly and worked together in harmony to take care of their nearly blind mother.

I have watched as this season has challenged and stretched my friend. She has gone whenever she was needed. She has gone when The Holy Ghost has prompted her to go. She has accepted her assignments and seen that they were completed. She has offered support via telephone to both her mother and her caregiver sister.

As I have listened to her concerns and struggles, I have been reminded of the hard season that this can be for everyone involved. As the physical and mental health of a love one fails, it can be difficult to identify the needs and direction that life needs to take. Family members may not all agree on the appropriate course of action to take. Personal interests may override the desire to work together on the plan that serves the aging loved one. It can stretch family members to the breaking point.

I know, because my family has been there.

But through it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly I found moments of great clarity and gratitude. For I was indeed blessed with help from heaven through those difficult years. The Holy Ghost whispered to me in moments when there was not one else to help me. He tutored me and walked with me and strengthened me to be able to do things beyond my own capacity.

And I was frequently blessed with gratitude.

Gratitude in this season was a straight up gift from heaven. Sent through The Holy Ghost as He helped me see how good we had it and how blessed we truly were. He reminded me that some older people actually become quite unmanageable or even violent. The Holy Ghost reminded me of my uncle who increased in slapping and shoving anyone without provocation. I was so grateful that was not our story to live.

As I struggled with the personal needs of my parents, I was reminded that we were so blessed to have indoor plumbing. They did not have to make the trek to the outhouse or suffer the indignity of the chamber pot. But many of those who have gone before did exactly that. What a blessing things like depends and febreeze were to me. They made life easier for my family as well.

What a blessing to have electricity. The television was a favorite companion for both my parents. They sat in their recliners, side by side and watched television, holding hands. They could eat snacks and snooze to their hearts delight, together. Early in the morning when they woke, they cuddled together in bed to watch their favorite shows. I wondered then,  what did the aging population of days ago do without television and electricity?

Having a washing machine and a dryer on site was such a miraculous gift. I did not have to use a wringer washer, a scrub board, or hang clothes on the line. But a few generations back that was required.

So many things that we take for granted today, would have been miraculous to those who died crossing the plains and for generations to come. The Holy Ghost reminded me to be grateful for meals on wheels, grocery stores, cars, insulin, doctors and hospitals and so much more.

Though the years of aging can challenge one to the very core, as I think of my friend and her family as they care for a mother in her declining years, I am grateful for the miracles of living in the world God has allowed me to live in. I am grateful for Heavenly Father's blessings to me and the gift of gratitude He sent me during that season of my life.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weaknesses

The list of faults and weaknesses I carry around with me every day is long and overwhelming. I become very frustrated when they rear their ugly heads. Some of them I have worked on for so long. I have felt like I had made such good progress that I patted myself on the back. And suddenly they are back, staring me in the face and taunting me. I cannot believe it. How did that happen, I ask myself. But it happens again and again. And then I am disappointed in me. Disappointment and discouragement can quickly halt my progress if I let it. My mind and weary heart want to say, who cares!

Sometimes it has been easy for me to see my weaknesses and faults. But sometimes it has shocked me when the realization came. Seriously, me? I really have this character flaw? But it is true, that I do. Heavenly Father in His wisdom and desire for me to become allows me to see the things that are in need of CHANGE.

But to be downright honest, I really do not like to see my faults and weaknesses. It is hard to admit to them. It would be much easier to hide from the.

Someone I have known for many, many years recently said something to me that I have pondered over and over. It will leave me for a bit and return again and cause me to think. What was said was hauntingly and brutally honest. In talking about this person's birth family, it was said that for whatever reason his family members were incapable of seeing beyond their own needs. They were so consumed with taking care of themselves that they could not see the needs of anyone else around them.

I do not think that this was meant as a compliment!

They were words spoken with feeling and deep meaning. It was courageous to say, because it also indicated the realization that this described the person who said this/ The speaker was also recognizing being so concerned for self that others needs were invisible.

Frankly I was stunned by the words I heard. Too shocked to speak, I said nothing. But the words were true to the one who spoke them. And as I have pondered on what I know about this person's siblings, I think that they really are true. I have pondered on the experiences I have had over the years with this family and the truth of these words resonate within me. They are often very unkind to each other and to others around them. It has seemed that a lot of collateral damage was left behind in the wake of many experiences with their sharp tongues and witty words.

It was a great lesson to me to see this person accept responsibility for flaws and weaknesses. It must have been a challenge to see the possibility of being self consumed. To accept it would have been an insurmountable task for me. But he not only accepted it of himself, he accepted responsibility for it. Then he came to an understanding that it was a weakness shared with siblings.

This bold honesty has touched my heart and helped me see my weakness. It is hard for me to face my flaws and accept responsibility for them. It is hard to say it to myself and almost impossible for me to admit them to others. I am lacking in the courage that I saw in this situation. It is a very good lesson for me.

I am grateful that Heavenly Father in His wisdom shows me the things I need to work on. I am grateful that He is kind and patient in showing me weaknesses so that I can overcome and try to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is a miracle that I have The Atonement of Jesus Christ in  my life to help me as I struggle to become who I want to be and who Heavenly Father sent me here to become. Life's lessons are often challenging and overwhelming, but with Jesus Christ as my Savior, all things are possible!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Holy Ghost

Awoke early and started my day in an ordinary way, a bit frustrated that I did not sleep as long as I desired. Was putting ingredients in the crock pot to make a pot of turkey soup for tonight's supper. A simple, quiet reminder of an ingredient I had not remembered to add came to mind, gently reminding me again of the blessings that have come to me because of the influence of The Holy Ghost in my life. This was not a big deal. No one's life was in danger. It did not involve lots of money or lots of time. It was a reminder that I needed to retrieve the forgotten item from the downstairs freezer and add it to the soup.

Often for me this is the kind of reminder that I receive. Simple, quiet and perhaps not a big deal. But I am grateful for each of these messages that I receive. They help remind me that Heavenly Father is aware of me. Each reminder is a little package of love from heaven that helps me strive a little harder to be obedient. But each of these also helps me as I practice to learn how to listen to The Holy Ghost better. And I hope that as I learn to listen better, I also learn to obey better!

But there are also moments when the impressions of The Holy Ghost are more important. A few days ago as I puzzled over a problem that had been handed to me, I felt completely helpless. I had no idea where to turn. I felt lost and clueless. But as I pondered, the impression came. It was a person I needed help from. I resisted that urge for a small moment then forged ahead.

It was exactly the right information for me. By the end of the day major portions of light had flooded the darkness that had surrounded me. The impossible was suddenly doable. The knowledge from this person has continued as I have forged ahead on my path of faith. This problem has not been solved. It is a long term situation with a huge learning curve. But I had no idea how to begin or what direction to turn. That one name opened the door and shoved me through.

I have pondered on the blessing of inspiration through The Holy Ghost often, but perhaps not often enough. His counsel sends me to do things I would never have considered. His counsel leads me down roads that bless my life. The inspiration settles my nerves when I need to be calm. He moves me to action when I had not planned to do anything along the lines of His whisperings.

In moments of life threatening situations the calm has also been accompanied by instructions of what to do and when to do it and how to do it. The inspiration of The Holy Ghost has prevented huge mistakes from happening at my hands.

His counsel has led me to be in places and to do things that are clearly beyond my own capabilities. I have studied hard to learn and then leaned on Him to help me remember. I have succeeded in college classes that have been beyond my ability, because The Holy Ghost has been my teacher.

I have felt inspiration flow into my mind as water flows from a pitcher. Inspiration has come so swiftly that my hand could not write fast enough to put the words on paper. His influence is sometimes the gentle feeling of peace that flows amidst my world of chaos. I have awakened in the night to receive instructions that were vitally important. I have felt the quiet, gentle voice in my mind and in my heart.

Today and every day, I am grateful for the Gift of The Holy Ghost in my life. I continue to pray that I will hear His voice. And that I will be obedient!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Miracles

Winter has a fairly strong grasp on the world where I live. The light of day fades early as the storm clouds cast their shadows across the sun. Cold winds blast my face and hands as I brave going outdoors. Early morning darkness penetrates the landscape when I arise from bed to face the day. It is truly cold. There are days that seem dreary and downright gloomy. This can be a hard time of year for many who struggle with the dreary season of cold and snow and darkness. The loss of sunlight can quickly wrap one in a depressive spirit. It can be a challenge to survive.

But is a season of miracles despite the sometimes oppressive doom and gloom. Where I live the snow is vital. This dry desert climate is dependent on snowfall for the water that feeds the farmland and allows our food to grow. Agriculture is a huge driving force in our local economy. We need the snow to fill our mountains and our rivers and our aquifers. Without the winter snow, there would no chance for crops to grow. Domestic water would be scarce. Drought is a very real possibility. Snow is a miracle!

I weary of the cold. My lips chap and my skin is dry and it takes me a long time to get warm when I escape from the biting wind. But the cold is also a miracle. Without the season of subzero temperatures, summer insects multiply unencumbered and become intolerable in the warmth of summer. Mosquitos, flies, and so many more make the outdoors challenging. But also small nuisance critters thrive unabated with a mild winter season. Voles, mice and such beasties arrive en masse to destroy the land and crops.

Also a miracle for me are things I take for granted. I am so grateful to have a working furnace that keeps my house warm. It is truly a blessing to have water that runs hot and cold in my own home from faucets and showers. Indoor plumbing is still a miracle for me. I appreciate electricity so much. I would struggle in so many ways without it. Each of my working appliances is miraculous. I am grateful for their service. I appreciate a car that starts and takes me wherever I go.

That brings us to the miracle of a house to live in. We are homeowners. Many people are not. Though our house is small, many around the world would be thrilled beyond compare to have such a dwelling.

As I ponder on the gifts of God, I am grateful for my hands that serve me hour after hour each and every day. There are so few things that I do that do not require the use of my hands. Also miraculous are eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that feels. My legs and feet often overworked, but they recover and serve me endlessly. What a blessing it is to have a body that functions and serves me so well.

Miraculous are the other gifts of God such as faith and hope and prayer and gifts of ancient scriptures and words of modern day prophets. The gift of the internet and devices to access so easily these spiritual messages are incomprehensible to me. But that makes them even more miraculous. With a few clicks of an icon or a mouse, I can hear the prophet speak. I can see his face. I can feel his power.

Also miraculous and beyond comprehension to me are the gift of The Atonement and the gift of Priesthood Power. Heavenly Father let us choose to come to earth. But He did not leave us without help to navigate this world that can be frightening and overwhelming. He provided us with plans and tools to help us find our way in this season of our experience. God provided a Redeemer to rescue me and The Holy Ghost to teach and guide me.

Though this world can be dark and cold and dreary, I feel so blessed by all these miracles and more that bless my life every day. They bring to me the Light of Christ and hope in His promises. Today and every day my life is filled with miracles unseen and also received with gratitude.