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

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.