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

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."