When faced with life's challenges,
it is Important to Remember
that although Daniel was saved from the lions,
he was not saved from the Lion's Den.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It makes me shiver!

Anyone who knows my family and myself, knows how much music means to us.  My sister and her children sing, and both my brothers also sing.  My children did not stand a chance against a mom armed with a love of music and a will to work with them and teach them to love it to!  We have many stories about music in our family.  We play musical games, we make pretend musical instruments, we listen to CD's and we watch musicals.  My father even plays the saw!  (Yep, you heard right, that tool that you use to build a house!)  And I must admit, you have never heard Amazing Grace sound as lonely and melodious, until you have heard him play it on that toothy instrument.
My children have been singing in church since they were very small.  They are all good and I love singing with them.  Usually, they sing the melody and I sing the harmony or descant.  Recently, one of my younger daughters has discovered that she also loves the intricate harmonies of music.  She just lights up when she sings it and she has a talent for singing the right notes.  Now, the little sisters sing the melody and she takes the descant and I sing harmony.  It has brought us all a lot of enjoyment.  (As long as dad does not have to sing with us!)  It is something that we can do together and it is something that brings others enjoyment when they are listening to us.  Sometimes, it can be very difficult for me to find just the "right" song.  I once spent over 30 years looking for an arrangement of a song that I heard the Utah children's chorus sing!  I finally found it last year, and my daughters and I performed it for our ward and a couple of other wards in our stake.  My daughter, Miracle, sang a duet with me last Sunday.  A few weeks ago we were asked to sing.  I spent a lot of my time finding a perfect song, and finally settled on an arrangement of "Jesus the very thought of thee" by Sharon Austad Bagley.  I love her music and found this particular piece on her website.  It has always been one of my favorite hymns.  
I found the sheet music with a musical track to play so that we could both hear how it was supposed to sound.  I played it for Miracle to see what she thought about it.  It brought tears to her eyes.  She said, "Mom, I really want to sing that. It makes me shiver!"  We had a great discussion about the spirit whispering to our hearts and letting us know what we should do.  She is an amazing young woman who really wants to choose the right and do good things.  We practiced the song and sang it last Sunday.  It was beautiful!
So, what are the things in your life that "make you shiver"?  What are those things that happen to you, that make you sure it is from the Spirit?  I have found that if I take the time to recognize and acknowledge the spirit in my life, I feel it more often.  I also seek it more often.  I have found that music can help me feel the spirit when I am struggling.  Good music touches my heart also and makes me shiver!

Jesus, The Very Thought Of Thee,
Text by Bernard of Clairvaux, Music by John B. Dykes,
arrangement by Sharon Austad Bagley

Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills my breast;
but sweeter far, thy face to see
and in thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the mem'ry find
a sweeter sound than Thy blessed name,
Oh, Savior of mankind.
Oh, hope of every contrite heart,
Oh, joy of all the meek.
To those who fail, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek.
Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
as Thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now,
and through eternity.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee

Now, my daughter and I have been asked to sing in the community night of  "Sing and Celebrate".  It is at one of the local churches and many people in the community attend.  So, I am, once again, looking for just the right song.  Hopefully, it won't take me another thirty years to find it!  If you know of any that "make you shiver" don't be afraid to let me know!  We just might sing it!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kisses on a mirror

I love having children!  I love watching them grow and develop and change.  That being said, I can also say that one of the most difficult times in the life of any parent is when the children grow up enough to become teenagers.  They are so amazing and can also be so frustrating.  Especially when they want to do things that you don't think they should be doing.  They have a tendency to know everything (or at least, they think they do!)  And I hope you never have to try and convince them NOT to do something that they have made up their mind to do!  There is no such thing as Win-win with a teenager.  It is more often a case of picking your battles.  Don't get me wrong, I love my teenagers.  I am amazed at their strength, compassion and testimonies.  They teach me on a regular basis.  It is just that one of the things they seem to really work at teaching me, is patience.  I cannot manage to have enough of that in my life.  No matter how many I raise, I need more for the next one.  I have raised eight of our kids so far, and several foreign exchange students.  (I think those count, since I get them as teenagers!)  There have been times in our home when we have had as many as eight girls.  It can be quite the experience and my husband is a true saint about it.  He has been known to go to the store, after a long, hard day at work, and bring home a couple of bags of chocolate!  (Or a couple of gallons of ice cream)!  Of course, he is then promptly mauled and knocked down as they race to fight over the bags in his hands!  I am always looking for creative ways to teach my children correct principles.  I found this story several years ago, and I loved the ingenuity that this caretaker showed, in getting through to a group of girls.  It also made me chuckle!  I love it when the adult wins!  It seems to happen so little in my life.  I hope that you enjoy this story as much as I do.
HINT:  This is supposed to be funny!

A school head was alerted by the caretaker to a persistent problem in the girls lavatories: some of the girl students were leaving lipstick kisses on the mirrors. The caretaker had left notices on the toilet walls asking for the practice to cease, but to no avail; every evening the caretaker would wipe away the kisses, and the next day lots more kisses would be planted on the mirror. It had become a bit of a game. The head teacher usually took a creative approach to problem solving, and so the next day she asked a few girl representatives from each class to meet with her in the lavatory.
"Thank you for coming," said the head, "You will see there are several lipstick kisses in the mirrors in this washroom.."
Some of the girls grinned at each other.
"As you will understand, modern lipstick is cleverly designed to stay on the lips, and so the lipstick is not easy at all to clean from the mirrors. We have therefore had to develop a special cleaning regime, and my hope is that when you see the effort involved you will help spread the word that we'd all be better off if those responsible for the kisses use tissue paper instead of the mirrors in future.."
At this point the caretaker stepped forward with a sponge squeegee, which he took into one of the toilet cubicles, dipped into the toilet bowl, and then used to clean one of the lipstick-covered mirrors.
The caretaker smiled. The girls departed. And there were no more lipstick kisses on the mirrors.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Could Call You By Name

This video (I AM Christ) was shown at a youth conference in Missouri in my daughter's Stake.  She loved it so much that she called me and shared it with me.  I also thought it was amazing.
I hope you hear the message and know that He lives.  You are never alone.  He does hear our prayers.  He is aware of each one of us.  He knows your trials and your heartaches.  He loves you.  May you have His spirit to be with you today.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I have a Choice

"The Lord doesn't expect us to work harder than we are able. He doesn't (nor should we) compare our efforts to those of others. Our Heavenly Father asks only that we do the best we can—that we work according to our full capacity, however great or small that may be."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Two Principles for Any Economy," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 56

We live in a society were we are taught to not take responsibility for our actions.  I have often heard people make statements about how they made choices because of the way they were raised.  They did not have an ideal life, so it is not their fault that they were caught stealing, lying or cheating.  Their parents did not love them enough, they did not have family home evening, or scripture study.  They did not have friends.  I could go on and on. 
When are we accountable for our actions?  I am not trying to take away the things that have happened to any of us.  I know that some people live or have lived, in horrible circumstances.  I know from personal experience that life is often hard and heart breaking.  But, I do not understand how we can be so ready and willing to blame others for the difficulties that we have caused ourselves. 
Sometimes, it seems to me that we can be in a real hurry to get the blame off of ourselves and give it to someone else.  We are in such a hurry to not be accountable, that we fail to learn the lessons and receive the blessings that our Father has in store for us.

Think for a moment about the story of Nephi.  We read a lot about him in the Book of Mormon.  I would venture to say that 1st Nephi is probably one of the most read books of the scriptures!  (I can't tell you how many times I have read through 1st Nephi because I started to have a scripture study program, only to come back and read it again much later because I stopped studying and had to start over!)  Do you think that Nephi had a perfect family?  I know his father was a prophet, but what about his brothers?  Do you think that Nephi ever suffered from having a disfunctional family?  I do!  In our life today, what would happen if your older brothers tied you up for four days?  Or beat you with a stick?  Sounds just a little abusive to me.  In today's society, it sounds like an excuse just waiting to happen!
I don't recall reading Nephi and hearing him complain that he couldn't be the prophet because his brothers treated him so badly.  I don't recall hearing him complain that no one would listen to him.  I don't recall hearing him complain when his bow broke and he had to make a new one that wasn't as good.  I don't even recall him complaining when Heavenly Father told him to build a ship!  (How would you like to build a ship when you have never in your life done anything like that before!)
I think that Heavenly Father put Nephi at the beginning of the scriptures to help us realize that no one has a perfect life.  There are really none of us that have it "easy".  It might appear that way to other people, but it is probably not at all true.  We all have bad things happen to us.  Some are worse than others.  We can't change the things that happen, we can't change illness, we can't change the decisions of others, we can't change what is wrong in our life, but we still have a choice in how we deal with the situations. 
Our free agency does not stop others from using their free agency to do us harm.  Our free agency can only help us to deal with the problem that is presented to us.  Am I going to be like Laman and Lemuel?  Two bullies who complained when they did not get their own way and tried to force others to do things their way.  Or am I going to be like Nephi and go and do the thing which the Lord has commanded me to do?
The choice in how I behave is up to me. 

"I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself."
Walter Anderson

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chore Monster

Does anyone else out there ever pull their hair out?  Do you ever get frustrated with the fact that your children don't do what they are asked?  The current culprit of my frustration is chores.  My children all have chores to do.  I think it teaches them responsibility and work.  I think that it prepares them for later in their lives when you have to work if you want to eat!  I really like chores, I just don't like enforcing them. 
The problem I am having right now is all the excuses that go with the chore charts.  Some of my favorite excuses from my children are: “It’s not my fault.  Somebody else was supposed to do it.  Everybody should have helped me.  Anybody could have done it.  Nobody wanted to do it.  They made me do it.  And perhaps my all time favorite, I forgot.”
There are days that my children listen!  There are even days when the house is almost clean.  Today is not one of those days.  Today I would like to hire a maid just so the house could be a little quiet and not filled with three little girls having an all out war and stomping around because they are "mad" and living in the "nobody ever does anything except me!" world. 

I do have to laugh.  I think sometimes we all feel that way.  I know that I have.  When there is a big project at work, when I need to help with homework (especially science projects!)  When I need to go help clean someone else's mess.  When I need to sort through all the clothes in the girl's closet.  Or even when I need to give a talk in church.  Sometimes that chore monster creeps up on us no matter what our intentions are.  Then I have to ask myself, would I rather be like Laman and Lemuel?  Or Nephi?  Would I rather be like Ruth, or her sister?  It is really not that difficult of a decision.  So, my favorite attitude adjustment saying is simply, "If you are going to do it anyway, do it with class and a smile".  

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized Everybody wouldn't do it. So Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Anonymous (wouldn't you know!)

Some of my not so favorite expressions from adults that I know are: “It’s not my job. No one told me to do that.  It couldn’t be helped.  I don't think so.  I don't want to do it.  I don't like to teach primary.” 
 I guess you don't outgrow the chore monster! 

True freedom begins and ends with obedience and personal accountability. (And Class and a Smile!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Define Good

I went to the pharmacy today, and over the register, I noticed this sign, 

"Dear Santa, Define GOOD".  

I had to laugh.  Doesn't that sound just like a naughty child?  Someone who wants to know just how far over the line he can cross and still be "good".  When I thought a little harder about it, the statement really got me to thinking about what we expect in our lives and how do we each define good and bad.  
I looked up the word good in the dictionary.  Imagine my shock, when I found 58 definitions for the word good.  I am only going to list a few here.
The word good means:  morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, pious, of high quality, excellent, right, proper, well-behaved, kind, beneficent, friendly, honorable, worthy, educated, refined, safe, genuine, sound, valid, reliable, dependable, responsible, healthful, beneficial, in excellent condition, not spoiled or tainted, favorable, propitious, cheerful,  optimistic, amiablefree of distress or pain, comfortable, agreeable, pleasant, attractive, free from blemish, close or intimate, warm, sufficient or ample, advantageous, competent or skillful, clever, skillfully or expertly done, socially proper, comparatively new or of relatively fine quality, best or most dressy, full, fairly large or great, free from precipitation or cloudiness, loyal, favorably regarded.  

 Can you look at that list and see that there are not any negatives associated with the word good?  Can you see that it is not just a small word?  It is a word rich with meaning.  Who amoung us would not like to have several, if not all of these attributes?  We live in a society today that is constantly trying to redefine the word good.  Society would have us believe that it is ok to lie a little, cheat a little, or even steal a little.  Where in the above definition do you read that good is being just a little bad?  
Society, and specifically Satan, wants us to fail.  He does not want us make it back home.  He wants us to doubt ourselves and even doubt our Heavenly Father.  He wants us to hurt each other.  He wants us to know pain.  He wants us to feel hopeless and alone.  I don't see any of those things under the definition of good either.  So, in my mind, Satan is for anything that encourages you to forgo what you know is good.  He would have you believe that you are not good enough.  That you are not really a child of God.  That you have sinned too much and gone too far to ever turn back.  His is the law of "never going to make it"!  He is the only one that is telling you that you do not have what it takes to go back to your Heavenly Father.  So, who are you going to listen to?  

Joshua 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  

May you never in your life need to say, "There's the ark, and I am not on it".

Personally, I don't want to listen to anyone that was on the other side of the flood!  I think I prefer to listen to latter day prophets.   I love this statement by Gordon B. Hinckley.

“[This] statement intrigued me—Mormon means ‘more good.’ I knew, of course,that ‘more good’ was not a derivative of the word Mormon. I had studied both Latin and Greek, and I knew that English is derived in some measure from those two languages and that the words more good are not a cognate of the word Mormon. But his was a positive attitude based on an interesting perception. And, as we all know, our lives are guided in large measure by our perceptions. Ever since, when I have seen the word Mormon used in the media to describe us—in a newspaper or a magazine or book or whatever—there flashes into my mind his statement, which has become my motto: Mormon means ‘more good.’ ”
*Ensign* 1990:11:51ff., available online at http://tinyurl.com/moregood90 .

Let us set out today to be "more good" as we strive to follow the commandments of our Heavenly Father.  He loves us.  He cares for us.  And He wants us to return to His presence.  May you find within yourself the ability to do good and to be good! 

"[God] loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God's love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked."What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 22–23

May God grant us the strength and the discipline so to conduct our lives as to follow more nearly the matchless example of the Redeemer, of whom it was said, He “went about doing good.”  (Acts 10:38)  

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A couple of nights ago, we had a family movie night.  The girls chose to watch the movie "Pollyanna".  I still have the old VHS movie, we don't own the DVD.  We have hung on to it all these years because it is one of my all time favorites.  I love that little girl! I love her cheerful spirit, her willingness to help, and most of all, I love her attitude!  There is just something contagious about Pollyanna.  
I have been referred to as being a little "Pollyannaish" myself.  I think they might have meant that I could be unrealistic, and overly optimistic, or as someone I knew used to say, "you are so naive!  (What can I say, these were postal employees who called me that!)
This film is about a little girl whose parents were killed and she was sent to the states to live with an aunt.  Her aunt controls or owns nearly everything in the town.  When Pollyanna first comes to her new home, her aunt treats her as if she is someone to be tolerated and not loved.  
I love the scene when Pollyanna finds the reverend in the field practicing his "sermon" and tells him how her father taught her that there were over 800 happy texts in the Bible and if the Lord took the trouble to tell us over 800 times to be happy, then He must have meant it.  I also love the quote that Pollyanna wears on a necklace around her neck.  It was supposedly her father's and it says, "When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will."  No matter who said it, it remains true today.  
I have always loved this film.  To me, there are so many good principles in it.  I think if you look for the good, you can find that too.  It is all a matter of what your focus is.  I love the "glad" attitude that Pollyanna is famous for.  She teaches everyone in town her game.  That wonderful "glad game" when bad things happen, there is still something to be glad about.  I love the fact that on Sunday, you can be glad that it will be six whole days until Sunday comes around again!  (Not that I feel that way, I just like the possibility).  I like to think that Heavenly Father would want us to focus on being a happy people.  I think He wants us to know joy.  I think He would want us to be glad.

 "This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24.)

It seems to me, as if the Lord would want us to find something to be glad about in the blessings He sends to us.  We all have trials and tribulations, but we also have moments of absolute joy and happiness.  I wonder which we remember more?  I wonder where our focus is?  Are we happy with what we have, or do we find fault with what He provides?  Is there gratitude and gladness in our souls today?
I think we all have a little Pollyanna inside ourselves waiting and even hoping, to come out.  We all have a little bit of gladness wanting to shine.  It is up to us not to fear the ridicule of those in the large and spacious building.  Sometimes, we just need to project a little gladness into the lives of those around us in order to bring forth the blessings.  

The following story is one I heard often in my Management courses in school:
"During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz.  I breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"  Surely this was a joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name?  I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade.  "Absolutely," the professor said.  "In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."  I've never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy".  ~Joann C. Jones
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you, not because they are nice, but because you are!  May you each remember that Pollyanna can and does live inside you.  
Let her out and be GLAD today!

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.  Viktor E. Frankl

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


When you get to the end of all the light that you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.  Edward Teller

I love that quote on faith!  We seem to live in a world today where people think if they can't see it, hear it, taste it, or touch it right now than it doesn't exist.  Sometimes, I just have to sigh.  I know that it is asking a lot to believe and have faith, but I can get pretty tired of hearing the phrase "it is so hard".  
Of course it is hard!  We were never promised an easy road.  As a matter of fact, I have often heard earthlife described as a test!  All tests are hard, especially if you don't study!  (and more especially, if you can't cheat!)  I love the scripture in Alma 32:21  "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true"   
When we read the scriptures, there are countless stories of great men and women who had faith.  They knew what was right, and no matter how hard their task became, they went and did it.  Men and women such as:  Adam, Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Nephi, the Brother of Jared, Moroni, Joseph Smith, Gordon B Hinckley, and Thomas S Monson.  They have all been obedient to the word of the Lord and exercised faith to live their lives. 
They have all had struggles and difficulty.  Not one of us comes to this world without trials.  Part of the plan was for us to progress, not sit easily on a green hill learning nothing.  Those men and women had ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to know and feel.  They trusted in our Heavenly Father and He blessed them and strengthened them in their lives.    If we develop that trust in Him in our own life, He will send down His blessings upon us.   I think His blessings are often there for us, but if we don't ask for them, or look for them in our life, they are not seen or known.  Sometimes faith requires us to ask first for the blessing.
I have been blessed so many times in my life.  I know that the Lord lives and that He is very real.  This is one of the first poems that I ever memorized.  I hope that it strengthens you as it does me and helps you to make it through the darkness of your day.  Remember that He is waiting with His arms stretched out.  All you need to do is reach and take His hand. 

" The Faith of Mary"

The father, a well digger, strong was he,
And as loving and kind as a father could be.
And Mary his daughter, five years old,
Was very much dearer than millions of gold.
To Mary her father was big, grand and nice,
So each had a treasure, beyond any price.
One day to the well, little Mary was sent
To take daddy’s lunch, how gladly she went.
But when she looked down, not a thing could be seen.
The well, like a pocket, was dark as could be.
The father saw Mary and heard her voice, too,
But made not a sound, just to see what she’d do.
She dropped to her knees, the dear little soul,
And called down, “Oh, Daddy, are you down this hole?”
“Why yes Mary darling, I’m here at your feet,
Just drop my lunch for I’m ready to eat.
Just let it go easy, I’ll catch it alright.
“She did and she saw it fall out of sight.
“Why Mary,” said father, “There’s enough here for two,
Now this is the thing I would like you to do.
You jump down here to me and we’ll eat it together,
Down here in the cool and away from the weather.”
“Oh, daddy, I’m afraid, I can’t see you at all,
Be sure now you catch me and don’t let me fall.”
Then just for a moment she wavered in doubt,
Then closing her dear little eyes she jumped out.
In the darkness, yes, that was the test,
She trusted in faith in her father’s request.
And both were so happy he kissed her and smiled
Because of the sweet trusting faith of his child.
“Oh, sweet little Mary, you put me to shame,
How often my Father has called me the same,
But because it was dark I turned back in doubt.
Refusing the call, though his arms were stretched out.”

It's not what you leave to your children,
it's what you leave in your children that matters the most.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Know For Yourself

Sometimes, it feels to me, like Heavenly Father must be busy somewhere else.  I am sure that He is often needed elsewhere, and I know the world does not revolve around my needs.  Still, it is so hard to do what I am supposed to do when I don't see or understand the blessing.  Have you ever felt that way?  Are there times in your life when you question His purposes.  Are there times when you doubt that He hears your prayer?  Or doubt that He remembers you are there and you are suffering?
I think we have all felt that way.  It is so easy to get the "poor me" attitude.  It is so easy to forget who we are.  I have discovered in my life that the spirit is always around me.  It is not a case of Him not hearing me, it is a case of me not hearing Him.  Of me not recognizing the sound of His voice in my life.  I have found some things to do that help me feel the spirit and recognize the still small voice in my life on a daily basis.
The first one, is to never let a general conference go by without using it as an opportunity to hear the spirit testify of the truth.  I had a very wise seminary teacher a long time ago, who taught us that we should always pray to know for ourselves of the truthfulness of those things we hear during conference.  The Lord will answer those heartfelt prayers and you will Know of the truthfulness of the talks and messages given.
The nice thing about doing this, is that it helps you to be more aware of what the spirit feels like.  I have done this simple exercise twice a year for over 35 years now.  It is amazing how much that simple task means to me.  I never go through a general conference without feeling the spirit or getting a witness that the President of the Church is truly a Prophet of God.  Now, after so many times of that influence in my life, it makes it much harder for me to believe that the Lord is not mindful of us.  It gives me a slight spiritual edge.  It takes away the doubt and fear.  I KNOW He is here.
The second thing is relatively new for me.  Each day, for the past couple of months, I have prayed that I may have the Holy Ghost to guide me in my choices.  I pray for that each morning before I do scripture study with my family.  I have found as I struggled with remembering to do this everyday, that I am calmer, more peaceful, more loving, and my ability to feel that spirit has increased.  The spirit is easier for me to recognize and it is also easier for me to follow the promptings instead of talking myself out of it.
Now, I am so far from perfect.  I struggle through many things.  I still don't understand why tramadic things happen to my family.  It has been a very rough year for my family.  Both last year, and this one.  I honestly don't know why some of the things are happening.  But taking the time to pray about it and knowing how to listen for the answer and the comfort, has made it bearable.  I don't question as much as I did before.  I am praying to learn the lessons He wants me to learn instead of asking "why me?" or "Why my family?"

Richard G. Scott, in the last General Conference stated: "Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness.
I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit.
What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit. Your confidence in the direction you receive from the Holy Ghost will also become stronger. I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear".

Our Heavenly Father does answer prayer.  He is aware of you.  He knows your needs.  He is there.  It is up to you to learn to hear His voice above all the other noises and distractions in the world today.
What are you doing to find Him?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I was thinking about Valentines day this morning, (probably because I woke up to find this cute little valentine at my door!).  It is one of my children's favorite holidays.  They get so wrapped up in making the valentines and delivering them to school, complete with candy and goodies.  (I have taught them the 'goodie' part well!)  They head off to the bus with all of their cards and treats neatly in plastic bags.  It is a time for parties and celebration.  A day to be thankful for friends and especially, family.  
I am so thankful for my wonderful family who have spent many years teaching me the truth and value of love.  It has been a wonderful journey, one filled with squishy hugs and sticky kisses!  One of my favorite quotes for Valentine's day was said by Robert Heinlein- "Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."  For me, that one quote describes my life, anchored by the love of my husband and filled with the sweetness of my children. 

Looking back on elementary school brings for me recollections of struggling with classmates, sitting at desks, English (or language arts as we called it), P.E., recess, and sitting in the classroom while my teacher read chapters from favorite books to us for our "quiet time".  It also was the time when October meant bats and pumpkins, November- pilgrims and turkeys, December- Christmas trees and presents, January- home-made calendars and winter, and February- Presidents and valentines. It was during February that we each decorated a specially chosen  shoe box for the all-important "valentine box". We would spend hours decorating with tinfoil, crepe paper, paper doilies, cupid cut-outs, and construction-paper hearts.  It became the project of every child in the class-room to create that one, special card that would have lopsided hearts, an off-center fold, and would declare affection in huge, crayon-colored letters—i love you mom.
Today the custom of sending valentines has been kept alive by children, mine have never made boxes - today they make large envelopes out of paper or paper plates, and decorate them with paints and paper cut outs.  It only adds to the traditions surrounding the day.  Some of them have even made "floats" out of shoe boxes that they pull around on a string for everyone in the school to see.  

Through the years, it has always been the homemade valentine that most often delighted the giver as well as the receiver, (especially when the receiver is mom). Whether it’s heavy construction paper with lopsided hearts or delicate doilies with original verse, the homemade valentine helps us to remember the day’s original spirit of acknowledging someone special. It challenges the artist in anyone, (especially mom's who get to "help"), and can provide hours of enjoyment and encourage the creativity in all of us. 

So who caught your heart today?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Prodigal Son

I love the story of the prodigal son.  It is one of my favorites in the entire Bible.  The story is found in
Luke 15:11-32.  Jesus tells this story as a parable.  It is the story of a man with two sons.  It is the story of a son who wanted everything, while he was still young enough to enjoy it.  He demanded his share of the inheritence from his father.  His father gave it to him, and the boy went off, into a far distant land and spent every penny.  I would say that he wasted it in living.  He even has to become a swineherd.  Which in Judean times would be considered the lowest of the low.  Especially since the Jewish people could not even eat swine.  He finally comes to his senses and decides to come home where even his fathers servants are treated better than he is being treated.  He knows that if he becomes his fathers servant, he will have food to eat and clothes to wear. 
But when he returns home, his father welcomes him with open arms, barely listens to his apology, and kills the fatted calf to celebrate his return.  The older son becomes jealous because the father is doing all this for the one who ran away and he (the older son) never left.  And the father chastises him for his feelings of jealousy.  And reminds him that all the father has is this son's.  And he should rejoice because the brother who was dead, is alive again and that which was lost is found. 

The son who was lost, had no expectations of a welcome from his father.  He was willing to be a servant, he was willing to do whatever his father would give him to do.  The message of this story for me, is that our Heavenly Father loves each one of us.  He loves us so much that He is willing to forgive us if we simply come back to him.  He is so patient with us, through all our doubts and fears and our insistance that we can make it on our own.  He stands ready to enfold you within His arms and welcome you back into His fold. 

The road back for the prodigal can be such a long one!  Most of us have our own prodigal stories.  Times in our lives when we have sacrificed the things that were most important, for the things that we thought we wanted most right now.  We have had to walk the long road back from sin.  We have had to struggle with, not only forgiving others, but also forgiving ourselves. 
The story of the prodigal son is for each one of us.  Are we not all prodigals?  Have we not each commited sin?  Like the rebellious son, we have each left our premortal home and come to a far country.  Like the prodigal, we share in a divine inheritance with our father.  Through our sins, we squander part of our inheritance on the things of the world.  We immerse ourselves in doing wasteful things.  No matter what the sin is, it pulls us away from the spirit of our Heavenly Father.  Like the foolish son, we learn through experience that the things of the world are not what we need to return back home.  They blind our eyes and stop up our ears so that we don't recognize what we need.
.  But the story is also one of hope for each us.  The time will come when we recognize how much our Father wants to give us, and that only through repentance and the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, can we go back home.  Only true repentace enables us to see ourselves as we really are.  Unworthy in every way of the blessing that He has to offer.  Then, will He work His miracle of forgiveness upon us and we will be allowed into his presence.  Then will He embrace us and welcome us home. 
As a mother, I think that Heavenly Father gives us examples in the scriptures to teach us that even when it appears as if those we love will never come back home, don't give up hope.  Keep your faith.  Pray diligently in their behalf and be ready to welcome them when they do come.  And above all things, remember that love is most important of all.  The invitation to "come home" is open to each one of us.  To come unto Christ who atoned for our sins and made it possible for us to be welcomed again into His loving embrace. 

“The story of the prodigal son gives us all hope. The prodigal remembered home, as will your children. They will feel your love drawing them back to you. Elder Orson F. Whitney, in a general conference of 1929, gave a remarkable promise, which I know is true, to the faithful parents who honor the temple sealing to their children: ‘Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold.’ ”
Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 72

Friday, February 12, 2010

From Good Books

I had an interesting childhood.  There were a lot of negatives associated with it, but there are also a few positive things that I gained from that experience.  One of my favorite things that I still use to this day from my childhood, is a love of reading.  I used it as an escape from my everyday life, but the lessons learned for being able to read have influenced nearly every other part of my life since.  I used to read several books a week and loved the classics.  I would escape into the world of Heidi and Tom Saywer.  I could become, for a time, those people.  I learned to travel to far away places in my mind and could experience new things.  I also developed an understanding that everyone had difficulties in life and that it wasn't the difficulties themselves that destroyed us, it was what we did with them and what we became because of them.  I used my love of reading to get through college and was able to keep my grades up.  Reading helped me to be promoted in my career.  One of the most interesting interviews I ever had, was with someone who asked me what books I had read recently and what they were about.  He promoted me into his area because he loved the fact that I did not read just one thing, but was interested in many different things.  I could probably talk about my favorite books forever, but today, I am going to talk about a new one that I just bought.  Actually it was a gift from a very dear friend.  

Good books are like old friends and I enjoy visiting with them whenever possible!  I have a family friend who knows of my love for nearly all things bookish.  For Christmas this year, she gave me a gift card to one of the  large chain bookstores.  I love it because I can go there when I am in the valley, or I can order online.  There has been a book that came out that I have been wanting, but it was a little on the expensive side.  I was able to use my gift card to purchase the book this past week.  The name of the book is 'Change your Questions Change your Life' by Wendy Watson Nelson.  This is an amazing book and I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to get a little closer to their Heavenly Father. 
I was so excited when I brought it home last week and have been going through it pretty throughly.  I am enamored of the questions that can be asked and how to change them to really learn from them.  One of the questions in the book that really has made me think stems from a statement of Brigham Young.  President Young said, "Stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead".  I love that quote.  Just think for a minute about what we could do if we let the spirit respond to the situation instead of our emotions!  Than Sister Nelson asks the questions.
"What would I be naturally drawn to do if I followed the practice of letting my spirit, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, take the lead?
How would I manage my day-to-day life?
How would I handle the next crisis? (There'll always be another one, you know!)"
Think for a moment about how much we could accomplish if we had the Holy Ghost on our side!  Could He help us respond better, with more compassion, with more love, with more forgiveness? 

Those are just a very small sample of the many questions inside this wonderful book.  It is the book that I have been needing.  It is truly and answer to prayer.  I hope that each of you find a way to change your questions to ones that will help you get closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He has said, "Ask and ye shall receive". 

So, what are you going to ask Him today?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Secret Prayer

When I was a young mother, many years ago, the children and I took a road trip up to Oregon to visit my grandmother and grandfather.  It was a very long drive, and I was exhausted after 17 hours of driving (the last several hours were used up in searching for a place to sleep, I was literally falling asleep in the car).  I had to make the many stops and starts required when traveling with children, so the distance covered was not enough to get us even close to our final destination.  I could not find a hotel willing to let the children sleep in the same room with me, and there were no rooms together even if we could have afforded it.  The hotels we stopped at wanted me to get a second room across the hall, and none of the children were old enough to be alone in a room.  I did not want to teach my children to lie, so I was upfront and honest with the many desk clerks for several hours of searching.
Finally, completely spent and crying, I felt impressed to go into a small motel in a small town off the freeway.  I went into the office and told them what I needed and how many children I had in the car.  The woman smiled a warm and welcoming smile and gave me the key to a room at a price that was less than everywhere else we had looked that night.  I came out to the car and my young son (he was only about six or seven at the time), quietly asked, "Mom, which hotel room is ours?"  I looked at him and asked him, "what if they told me they don't have a room?"  He gave me a smile and said, "Mom, they wouldn't do that, we had a prayer when you were gone and Heavenly Father is going to give us a room here."  Then he pointed over to the corner room away from the car and said, "I am pretty sure it is that one."  You know, he was right.  It was that room.  The room had two queen beds and a cot and my children willingly had a family prayer of thanks with me and than snuggled down for the night to let their mother sleep.
Isn't the faith and prayers of a child amazing!  Those sweet little children had more faith than I did that we would get what we needed and all of us would be safe.  There was no doubt in their minds that their prayer would be answered.  I love prayer.  There are so many times in my life when I have received answers.  I know that Heavenly Father listens.  Especially when we need him the most.

I was reading one of Elder David A. Bednar's talks in the Ensign and found this statement on prayer:
"In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results."

It is the little, seemingly inconsequential acts that matter the most.  Those small things will be the ones that lead us home.  Work to gain your own testimony of the Savior. Pray passionately. Pray often.  Be believing.  Read the Book of Mormon when no one is watching. (Or even when they are!)  Take time alone to think about who Jesus really is, what He means to you and how His life and sacrifice are important to you.
Remember the example of the young prophet, Joseph Smith. When he lit the candle at night to read the Bible, it was because he wanted to. It wasn't because someone else made him do it.  When he went into the grove to pray, he went alone.  He didn't have to take someone else to see.  
I love the phrase 'the tender mercies of the Lord'.  It paints such a vivid picture in my mind.  I have reflected repeatedly upon that phrase.  I have  pondered and prayed about it and I believe that I have come to better understand the Lord's tender mercies in my own life.  I have seen those tender mercies in a very personal way.  I have received answers to prayer, blessings, protection, strength, guidance, and love.  Those are just a few of His tender mercies that have blessed me as I have struggled to do what is right.  Truly, His tender mercies are there for each of us, as we come to Him in earnest prayer.  

Richard G. Scott has said it so wonderfully, that I feel impressed to quote him.
"It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our solicitation can be brief or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What does FOOD have to do with anything?

I love to read food blogs.  I love to see what other people create and I like to try out new things.  I thought about it today and decided that the reason I love cooking so much is because it is something I did not experience growing up.  I grew up with a single mom, a brother and a sister.  My mother really could not cook. If it did not come in a box, a can, or the freezer section of the grocery store, we didn't eat it. The one exception might have been fruit. Occasionally I remember getting to put banana's on my cheerios in the morning.  
The main staple of our house was boxed macaroni and cheese served with canned peaches on the side. There is just something about orange and orange served on a round plate that is so not appealing! We ate it several days a week.  Although sometimes it was changed up with canned pork and beans, canned green beans, or canned spinach. 
I actually liked the spinach.  I am not sure what was wrong with me than!  I must have liked the familiar taste of tin.  We also ate Cambells soups and used minute rice and I honestly did not know that it wasn't "real rice" until long after I left home, bought white rice and found out it did not cook in five minutes! (I think I actually ruined one of the first dinners I ever cooked this way).   As for soup, I thought it was supposed to come out of a can and did not even know it was possible to make it home-made until long after I left home.  I think I might not have been as aware of cooking as I should have been!
As children, we never complained about what mom served, (unless it was canned sweet potatoes or frozen brussel sprouts), everyone of us drew the line there!  Mostly, we just ate whatever was put on the table in front of us. It was fast, it was filling, it was food. 
One of the dinners that I liked the most, was when mom took canned biscuit dough, put it in a muffin tin, added ground beef and bottled barbecue sauce and a little cheese. And we had honest to gosh barbecue muffins!
She also made a dinner that I did not like.  It was made with minute rice, cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, and dried onion.  I thought it looked awful and never did manage to like it, although the rest of the family didn't seem to mind. 
However, I could live with mom's cooking if I had to, but the one thing she had that I really hated was her kitchen stove. My mother had a gas stove and you had to light it by putting a match in the bottom of the oven. It would always make a loud whooshing sound when it caught the flame. It used to scare me so bad, I would have nightmares about the house blowing up and the only thing left standing in my dream was that old stove.
When I had to do the cooking or baking, If my mom wasn't home to light the stove, it was mac and cheese with peaches and pork and beans. That way, I never had to touch a match or worry about where I would be sleeping the next night.

When I married, I discovered that not everyone cooked the way my mother had. Most people actually prepared things like vegetables, potatoe side dishes, salads and real rice.
Most people balanced the colors and the textures of food. Not everything looked the same. It took me a long time to learn how to cook so that my family would enjoy it. I loved cooking though, especially baking. I learned to make cakes, pies, homemade jars of fruit and even the dreaded vegetables. I learned to cook meat so that it did not have the consistancy of shoe leather. I learned to cook so that I enjoyed eating and so did those around me.

Then, I went through a time in my life where I was working three jobs, had six children at home and no help.  Guess what those kids grew up eating??  Yep,  macaroni and cheese from a box.  I especially remember a time when we had no money.  There was nothing in the cupboard except for the mac and cheese that I had managed to stock up on when it was on sale.  (We called it our year's supply).  We ate that in various ways for nearly three months until one of the kids told their friend whose mom was my visiting teacher.  When she found out, she promply brought some different types of food to the house.  It did not help that I had found that Mac and Cheese on sale for ten boxes for a dollar.  It certainly stretched the food budget when times were tight.  My kids used to like it with tuna in it, sometimes tomato sauce, and sometimes plain.  We would have vegetables with it and fruit if we had it.  Sometimes, just simple bread and butter or home made biscuits. 

So, knowing what I usually write about, you might be wondering just what food has to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I think that the gospel can be a lot like the food that we have in our lives.  We have the choice to see it, make it, taste it and experience it in different ways.  To some people, it can be like my 'growing up' staple of Mac and Cheese.  It is there, it is nurishing, it is ok.  It is something they know and that they grew up with.  They haven't found their own way of believing yet.  They don't know how nurishing the gospel really can be.
To others, the gospel is more like a fine multi-course dinner.  It has different shapes and textures and so many different parts to enjoy and cherish.  (Think chocolate!)  Really, the things we understand as children change as we grow up.  There may be times in our lives when our souls experience a famine and need to go back to the simple nurishment of childhood in order to increase our spirituality and to strengthen our faith again.  There may be times in our lives when others will bring us the nurishment that we need (like my visiting teachers did so long ago).   

Pride can keep us from experiencing the best that the Lord has to give us.  It can keep us from asking for help and guidance.  It can keep us from getting answers to our questions.  It can keep us from feeling the spirit in our lives.  It can keep us from learning and growing. It can be the Mac and cheese that we need to let go of. 
I think the Book of Mormon says it best:
"Saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more" (2 Nephi 28:30).   
Like my cooking experiences throughout my life, we each have to grow and learn line upon line.  The Lord gives us the guidance.  He will strengthen your testimony and nurish your spirit if you will lend an ear to His counsel and teachings.  If you will listen and follow His "recipes", you can and will progress into His presence.   It is up to you.

So, what are you serving tonight?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lost and Found

One day, many years ago, I decided to take six small children to the State Fair.  This was a family tradition, and even though their father was gone, I felt that it was important to still maintain our traditions.  They loved to go to the fair.  It was full of sights, sounds, noise, rides, food, and wonderful things to see and touch.
I had never tried to take all of them before, but wasn't particularly worried about it.  (Oh for the innocence of those days!).  We loaded up the big yellow banana, (read yellow VW Van) and took off for a day of fun.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived at the fair was all the people!  There were so many people, literally everywhere.  It made me nervous.  I immediately assigned everyone a buddy.  Now, I supposedly did not need to worry. 
We started off around the fair.  We saw the mud races, the rides, the farm animals and finally arrived at my favorite part, the main building that had all the things to look at and buy.  We walked into the building, I paused at a table and immediately lost the children.  A short minute later, everyone was accounted for, except Adam. 
He was three and had an insatiable curiosity.  He was the one who could be right next to you and not hear you call.  He was the one who loved everyone and thought they were his best friends if they just smiled and talked nicely.  I paniced.  I went up to the nearest security guard.  He called on his radio to his boss and they closed down the building and the main gates to the fair. 
This was at the time when children were being stolen at amusement parks.  So, no one took it lightly.  Everyone set out to search for one small three-year-old boy.  Forty-five minutes later, we were still looking.  Finally, one of the guards sent me to the other side of the fair (fifteen minutes away) to the lost and found.  I walked into a room and there, in front of a craft table making pictures, was Adam.  He looked up and saw me and immediately started crying, "You was lost!"  He said, "Don't you ever get lost again!  I looked for you everwhere and you was lost!"  I suppose he was right, in his world, I was the one who was lost.  It did not seem to dawn on him that all the other kids were "lost" with me too.

Sometimes in our lives it may seem as if we, or even those we love, are lost.  This story reminds me of the importance of the one whom Christ went to find.  He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost,” (Matt 18:11)  He said. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).
This instruction applies to all of us who follow Him. We are commanded to seek out those who are lost. Much like the willingness of all of those strangers at the fair who did everything they could to help locate my son, we are to be our brother’s keeper.  We are to be concerned for the one.  We are to try and make a difference in their lives and teach them about the one who loves and cares for them most of all. 
Our Savior knows that we will all make mistakes.  He knew that some of us would become "lost" like my son, Adam.  He provided a way for those lost ones to be found.  He provided the atonement that we might live together with Him in the house of our Father.  As a mother, I know that it hurts deeply to have a child become lost.  If  I, imperfect as I am, feel that loss, how much more does our Heavenly Father feel it, when His children are lost, not just for the here and now, but perhaps even into eternity.  May we all strive to love each one of our brothers and sisters that wonder lost and alone.  May we be willing to help bring them home. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

She loves her sister

Miracle, when she was first starting school, took everything very seriously.  She worked very hard to please people and to learn as much as she could about every thing that was taught.  One of the programs they have in school is the DARE program (drug abuse resistance education).  The kids learn skills to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence.  In the lessons, they go over saying no to tobacco as well as other drugs.  They teach the kids to say no and they also teach what drugs can do to you.  
Miracle was going to school, and participating in the DARE program, and they came to the lesson on cigarettes.  Now, I have taught all my children to avoid cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.  They all know right from wrong, however, they do not all make the same decisions in their lives as I do.  Miracle has an older sister who was having difficulties and needed to come live back at home. 
Miracle was in her sister's room, when she saw her sister was dumping everything out of her purse.  Miracle saw a pack of cigarettes fall out of the purse and she started crying.  Her sister said, "Miracle, what is wrong with you?"  Miracle, with all the passion in her five your old soul, replied, "You are not supposed to smoke!  You are going to die!" 
Then I got the lecture from her older sister, "Mom, what are you teaching these girls!"  Well, I got everyone calmed down, the feelings soothed and the tears wiped away, but I have to admit I was very proud of my Miracle.  A couple of days later, Miracle came home with a Dare ribbon and a poster about not smoking.  She quietly put them both in her sister's room, right on top of the dresser where they couldn't be missed.  She included, along with the ribbon, a letter about how much she loved her and how she didn't want her to die from cigarettes.
I did not hear a word about it from Miracle, but her sister actually thought it was cute that Miracle loved her so much and she knew that Miracle only did it because of that love.  Sometimes, the innocence of children can accomplish much more than the timidity of adults.   Miracle never again saw her sister smoke, or found her cigarettes.
Her teacher saw me in parent-teacher conference a week or so later, and asked me about the ribbon and the poster.  Miracle had come into class the next day and asked to talk to the DARE officer.  She started crying and told the officer about her sister who was going to die.  Then she asked if she could have to poster and the ribbon to give her.  The officer gave it to her even though that wasn't what they are for.  How could he have possibly told her no?  He told me that he had never had a child so diligent in her pursuit of teaching her sister.  He thought she was wonderful and a great inspiration to the rest of us!
I have learned from my sweet young daughter, that sometimes it is better to testify of what you know to be right (even if they yell a little) than to sit back and hope that someday, they get it. 

And by the way, she really does love her sisters! 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hide and Seek

There is a story told of a little boy who wanted to play games with his older siblings.  You probably know how that is.  They all play together and don't want to let their younger sibling play with them because he is too little to play the same games.  Finally, they give in and let him play.  He was playing hide and seek with his brothers.  After awhile, he came crying to his grandfather.  "Grandpa, grandpa, I wanted to play hide and seek with the big kids.  I hid really good, and I waited and waited and waited, but they never came to find me!"  This wise old grandfather wiped the tears from his grandson's eyes and said:  "Now you know how Heavenly Father feels.  He sends us to earth, and then He waits, and waits and waits for us to find Him".
Isn't that so much like life.  I know that Heavenly Father is there, but sometimes I don't try very hard to find Him.    Aren't there times in each of our lives when we don't try very hard to find our Heavenly Father?  Aren't their times when we might not want to find Him?  Sometimes, we want Him to come right away, at the first sign of a problem.  We want Him to notice us and fix it, so that we don't have to suffer.  We want Him to take everything away, even the problems that we have caused by our own decisions.  But that is not the way our Heavenly Father works.  He lets us grow by working out our own problems.  Sometimes He steps in to help us, but usually that is after all that we can do first.
I know that I sometimes wish Heavenly Father could fix everything before I ever had to suffer.  I want Him to take it from me before the hurt.  But, I have to admit, that when I endure, the lesson is usually something I needed to help me grow.  When I look back at my life, it has some pretty dark times in it, but those times are part of the tapestry that makes me who I am.  Those times are equally responsible for my testimony today.  I have thought about this a lot, and if I had the opportunity to make them not happen to me, I don't think I would choose that.  I am who I am because of both my trials and my blessings.
“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1:20).
I know that my Heavenly Father has showered me with His tender mercies in my life.  I know the He is very much aware of us.  We just need to learn to trust in Him that all will be for our good.

The following is an excerpt from from a talk given by David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
It is entitled "The Tender Mercies of the Lord".

"In a recent stake conference, the tender mercies of the Lord were evident in the touching testimony of a young wife and mother of four whose husband was slain in Iraq in December of 2003. This stalwart sister recounted how, after being notified of her husband’s death, she received his Christmas card and message. In the midst of the abrupt reality of a dramatically altered life came to this good sister a timely and tender reminder that indeed families can be together forever. With permission I quote from that Christmas card:

“To the best family in the world! Have a great time together and remember the true meaning of Christmas! The Lord has made it possible for us to be together forever. So even when we are apart, we will still be together as a family.

“God bless and keep y’all safe and grant this Christmas to be our gift of love from us to Him above!!!

“All my love, Daddy and your loving husband!”

Clearly, the husband’s reference to being apart in his Christmas greeting referred to the separation caused by his military assignment. But to this sister, as a voice from the dust from a departed eternal companion and father, came a most needed spiritual reassurance and witness. As I indicated earlier, the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.

Some time ago I spoke with a priesthood leader who was prompted to memorize the names of all of the youth ages 13 to 21 in his stake. Using snapshots of the young men and women, he created flash cards that he reviewed while traveling on business and at other times. This priesthood leader quickly learned all of the names of the youth.

One night the priesthood leader had a dream about one of the young men whom he knew only from a picture. In the dream he saw the young man dressed in a white shirt and wearing a missionary name tag. With a companion seated at his side, the young man was teaching a family. The young man held the Book of Mormon in his hand, and he looked as if he were testifying of the truthfulness of the book. The priesthood leader then awoke from his dream.

At an ensuing priesthood gathering, the leader approached the young man he had seen in his dream and asked to talk with him for a few minutes. After a brief introduction, the leader called the young man by name and said: “I am not a dreamer. I have never had a dream about a single member of this stake, except for you. I am going to tell you about my dream, and then I would like you to help me understand what it means.”

The priesthood leader recounted the dream and asked the young man about its meaning. Choking with emotion, the young man simply replied, “It means God knows who I am.” The remainder of the conversation between this young man and his priesthood leader was most meaningful, and they agreed to meet and counsel together from time to time during the following months.

That young man received the Lord’s tender mercies through an inspired priesthood leader. I repeat again, the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness and obedience enable us to receive these important gifts and, frequently, the Lord’s timing helps us to recognize them.

We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance".