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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam

My current calling in church is to teach the three year old class.  It is a joy and a difficulty all at the same time.  I love them.  They love me.  When I am not there, they miss me, and when I am there, they argue over who gets my lap this week!  I have found a great deal of joy in being with those little children.  This week, I think that I learned a great lesson.
Class can be so interesting with five children who are so full of energy.  I spend the first part of primary in the primary room with all the children.  They sing, run around, do action songs, run around, sing some more, run around, and listen to the leaders.  Some days are much better than others.  This was one of the more difficult days.  After singing time, we head to the classroom for a snack and a lesson.  If I am very lucky, the lesson might last ten minutes.
This is the age where I am working with them on the 'sitting still' part of church.  We always do activities in my classroom.  One of them is usually a coloring activity.  This week, it was on Adam and Eve.  The other activity included glue and was the story of the creation.  My goal was to teach them to recite it back to me.  After wiggling through the lesson, a water break, a bathroom break, an activity break, a messing up break, and a picking up break, I decided that the best thing of all was just to get them all cleaned up before their parents came to get them.  They had managed to get glue all over their hands and looked up at me while holding their hands out as if to say, "how could you let this happen to us?  We can't clean this up all by ourselves.  We need help!"   I had to laugh as I washed their hands and faces and got them all fixed up and ready to go home.
But, with the laughter, I also started to wonder....how many times have I also gotten into messes just like my three year old Sunbeams?  Oh, not the glue kind of messes, but the type of messes that adults seem to be good at getting into.  Maybe I didn't take the time to read the scriptures,  I didn't listen to conference, I slept during Sacrament meeting, (OK, not me, I am too busy, I never get to sleep!  But, ohhhh, a Sunday nap sounds wonderful!)  I forget my prayers, I lose my temper, or I might even hold a grudge.  Maybe I talk bad about another sister, or I snap at my children.  How many mistakes have I made in my life?  How many times do I make messes and then expect my Heavenly Father to clean them up after me?  How many times have I pleaded to have the mess taken away?  How many times do I look toward Him and ask, "How could you let this happen?" 

During His ministry, The Savior described himself and His mission.   

Luke 4:18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

He emphasized that He is a Healer.  The Atonement was not only to forgive our sins, but also, to heal our broken hearts.  He came to help us clean up the messes in our lives. He came to free us from the bondage of sin.  He came to make each one of us whole.
He came to help us, so that we can return home to live with our Heavenly Father once again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Catalog Mom

Some of you might remember the old Montgomery Ward store.  It was  a large department store that was in our neighborhood.  This was back before the time of online ordering.  You had to go to a real brick and mortar store and shop for what you needed.  They did have a catalog department though, for the things that you might need that the store did not carry.  Those items had to be ordered and than picked up at the store at a later date.
With all the online companies now, it seems pretty crazy that we did business that way back when.  The kids all liked that store for different reasons.  The boys liked to play in the clothes racks and disappear from sight.  I think they believed that if I could not find them, they could have more fun.  The girls loved to look at the clothes that were store made.  At that time in their lives, I made most of what they wore, or bought it second hand, so it was a real treat to get new clothes. 
The Montgomery Ward store sent out very large catalogs every year.  The kids loved getting those catalogs in the mail.  They would take turns pouring over the books, looking at all the things that people could buy.  Their favorite section was the toy section.  They would pour over those toys for hours and circle the items that they wanted for birthdays and Christmas.  They would write their names on the page next to their circles and I was supposed to look there when it came time to buy presents.  That book, tattered and well looked at, sat under the coffee table in the living room until the new one came out every year. 

  When the older children were quite young, they would sometimes get mad at me.  Maybe I yelled, or punished them in some way.  Maybe I didn't listen close enough, or understand enough.  Maybe, I just didn't spend enough time with them.  Sometimes, it is very hard to balance all that you want to do with those things that you need to do.  It can cause quite a conflict in a mother.  On those really bad days, I used to tell the kids that they could pick out a new mother in the Montgomery Ward catalog. 
They would go through the catalog and pick one of the models out to be "their new mother".  We would usually sit down and find something wrong with her.  She was too skinny (I loved that one!)  so she probably wouldn't cook for them.  She had mean eyes.  She was too beautiful and probably wouldn't spend enough time with them because she would be too worried about her hair or her makeup.  We would do a lot of those pretend games.  Inevitably, they would decide that they were glad to have me.  I would give them a hug and they would go on to other things.  I might forget a lot of memories as I get older, but I have never forgotten that they chose me over all those other women in the Montgomery Wards catalog.  

Sometimes, as I struggle through my life, I am tempted to think that I cannot make a difference.  When I have had a trying day with my children and probably lost my temper a time or two, I start to wonder if they wouldn't be better off with another mother, a different mother, a better mother, one who is always kind and good.  One who is more perfect than me.  One of those women in the catalog.  And then, I remember their squishy hugs and sticky kisses as they chose me. 
I remember that one person can make a difference.  And most of all, I remember that somehow, I am enough.

When you walk into a room,
you either add to the room
or take away from it.
No matter what happens,
You have made a difference.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

When You Thought

Mom's Flower Garden

When you thought I wasn't looking
Author: Unknown

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed that there was a God to talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked....
and I wanted to say thanks for all the things
I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What Happened to Spring???

 Imagine my disappointment this morning to wake up at dawn and glance out the window to see 1/2 inch of snow!   If you look closely at the blossom, you can see the snow blurred in the background.  There is also ice crystals on the blossom, but they blend in too well with the white.  I figure this will be another year that the trees cannot bear any fruit.  They don't like the warm and cold in the weather.  It was 58 degrees yesterday afternoon.  It was 26 degrees outside this morning, and windy which makes it feel like there are icicles whipping through your clothes.  Hardly what I would call spring weather.  Seriously, I really thought we were done with the long and dreary winter!  I was hoping for a wonderful spring this year and a crop of fruit on the fruit trees.  But, our lovely mountain weather has postponed the arrival of spring for a little bit longer. I know I should not complain.  I know that I should find something to love about an extended winter, but I am really ready for spring.  It has been a long, very cold season at our house. 

Isn't that just a little bit like life?  You make plans, you prepare, you learn, and some trial (read little bit of snow!) comes along just at the moment when you think were starting to look forward toward the spring.

In the trials, the hurts, and the pain of life, we pass through the refiner’s fire, and the things that are not important in our lives can melt away, leaving our faith bright and strong. In this way, we become more acquainted with our Heavenly Father.  In our heartaches, we seem to listen better to the faint whisperings of His Spirit.
Into each one of our lives there comes adversity and suffering.  Even the faithful are not spared their season of trial.  The Apostle Paul referred to his own challenge: “ … there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” 2 Cor 12:7

The thorns that hurt our very hearts, are often the very things that change our lives.  We become closer to our Heavenly Father as we go through the refining process which often seems harder than we would wish.  In this way, can our very souls be molded to become more like His.  Through the fires of adversity, our faith can be strengthened and we can become closer to Him.  Moroni testified, “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6 

One of my very favorite pioneer stories is about the Martin-Harris handcart company.  James E Faust recites the story as President McKay told it.  He tells about an incident that happened years after the trek was over. 
“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.”

Then President McKay quoted an observer who was present in that class: “Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.

“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.

“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? 

“ ‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’ ”

He continued: “ ‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“ ‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’ ”  (Ensign, 2006, Refined by our Trials)

Many of us would wish, as I have today, that life could be full of spring.  That we would have no winter to endure, no thorns in our flesh, or handcarts to push.  We would wish that we could have faith and testimony without the trials, that we could have the strength never to make mistakes without the tests.  That the winter could finally, completely, be over.
But we can take comfort in the fact that we are never truly alone.  A loving Father walks with us and pushes the handcart for us.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that when our trial is complete, we will stand on the path of right with a surer step and we will be a little (or even a lot) closer to being what He wants us to be. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gratitude for my blessings

I am a very busy person.  Sometimes I wish that life could just slow down a little and let me breath.   I have been trying to get everything organized, taxes done, work caught up, kids activities taken care of and all the many things that come from being a working mom.  I was thinking about gratitude and the great desire that I  have to learn to express it more often in my life. 
It is easy to think of the difficulties, and easy to get excited about the big things.  But I want to be more thankful for the everyday, little things that I am blessed with.  I am not so good at taking the time to put my thoughts on gratitude into words. 
Sometimes, I think that we need to take a little extra time to be thankful.  Don't ask for anything.  Don't want anything in return.  Just be thankful for your blessings.  What are you thankful for?  Who are you thankful for?   What do you do to show it?  I find that it is easy to feel thankful when something is a pleasure, but it is harder when you can't see the outcome. 

Charles Plumb was a navy jet pilot. On his seventy-sixth combat mission, he was shot down and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured and spent six years in prison. He survived and now lectures on the lessons he learned from his experiences.

One day, a man in approached Plumb and his wife in a restaurant, and said, "Are you Plumb the navy pilot?"

"Yes, how did you know?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied.

Plumb was amazed - and grateful: "If the chute you packed hadn't worked I wouldn't be here today..."

Plumb refers to this in his lectures: his realisation that the anonymous sailors who packed the parachutes held the pilots' lives in their hands, and yet the pilots never gave these sailors a second thought; never even said hello, let alone said thanks.

Now Plumb asks his audiences, "Who packs your parachutes?..... Who helps you through your life?.... Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?....... Think about who helps you; recognise them and say thanks."

The challenge today is simply to figure out the people in your life who help you out in both the big and little things.  Send them a note, email, twitter, facebook or even old-fashioned letter of thanks.  Let them get the warm fuzzy feeling that we all get when we experience a pleasant, unexpected surprise. 
Remember today the people who "pack your parachute". 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Turn the Radio Off!

I have had a marvelous opportunity this year to spend some one on one time with my sweet 13 year old daughter, Miracle.  She was given the opportunity to try out for the Northland Pioneer College Master Chorale.  It is a unique opportunity for her, especially in these economic times of cutbacks to the music programs around the State.  We both tried out, and we both are now singing twice a week together for two hours.
The drive to Snowflake is about 40 minutes each way.  When we first started this, we tried to find a radio station, we have listened to all the talk CD's from various youth speakers, and we have even listened to music CD's.  Finally, a few weeks ago, we tried something totally new.  We spent the time talking.  We have talked about testimony, school, friends, exercise, books, family, and hardships.  We have discussed fair (and how that is the place you go when you want to see the pigs!) and we have talked about what being a 'daughter of God' really means.  Most of our talks have ended on something spiritual.
A few weeks ago, she was having a rough time at school.  One of her best friends has been especially mean to her lately.  This friend has been trying to hang out with another group of girls and they been doing things that my daughter knows is wrong.  It has been very had for her because she genuinely loves her friend, but not the person her friend becomes when she is active in this group.  I know that the pamphlet, "Especially For Youth", put out by the church, talks about choosing friends wisely.  I know that they need to be so careful. But I also feel very strongly that if we take away the influence of the "good kids" from the kids who are making bad choices, pretty soon they have no need or desire to make good choices anymore because the only friends they have are the "bad" kids.  (Whew, I hope you can understand that one!)
Can you tell that I have lived that nightmare?  I was the mom that had a child who really struggled.  The young women leaders in the ward we were in, came to me and let me know that she was NOT welcome in young woman's.  I have struggled with this for a long time because I feel like they did not leave her with any other choices if she wanted friends.  Anyway, this experience influences every way that I handle this very sensitive subject with the rest of my children.
My daughter was trying to decide whether she should quit trying to be friends.  So, I bit my lip, listened to all she had to say, and than asked her if she would like some suggestions.  She said, "Please!"  So I took a deep breath and asked, "Honey, does Heavenly Father love your friend?  Did He command us to love and serve others?  Can you choose to walk away when the choices are something that you know is wrong?  Can you be a leader and love her through this, or are you a follower who will be led away?"
We discussed everything.  I told her about her sister, and asked her if she believed her sister was bad?  After talking, she decided that the best course of action was to let her friend know that they were still friends so that when things did not work out, she would still have Miracle to come to.  But she also decided that she did not want to be around the other kids who were making bad choices.  If they want to do good things, she will be there, if not, she was willing to go find someone else to be friends with.
I thought that was a pretty grown up decision for my sweet daughter.  This past weekend, she came to me and said, "Mom, remember that talk we had about my friend?  It happened just like you said.  Those other kids have left her.  They weren't real friends and she called me crying today.  Is it ok if she comes over tonight?"  We welcomed her into our home with open arms.

My point tonight is simply, when is the last time that you turned your radio off and talked together?  Do your children know that you have a testimony?  Have they heard your spiritual experiences?  You know the ones I mean.  The ones that are most sacred to your heart!  Have you thought about getting to know them on a slightly different level?
I know that my daughter and I never would have had this conversation if I would not have quit trying to fill up the time with noise.  Our most enjoyable times together over the last several weeks are the ones we spend on that short to and from trip going to Snowflake.   I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in my life and for the opportunity that I have had to get to know this amazing young woman.  Try it with your own family.  It might be your children, your nieces, nephews, even your own parents or husband.  When you really take the time to listen to those whom you love, you might just find out how amazing they can be!

"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up".
Deuteronomy 6: 5-7  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is it all about "ME"?

 "Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth. 
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion;  for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee".  
2 Nephi 22:5-6  
We had an interesting weekend.  A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were asked to sing at the local "Sing and Celebrate" community event that is hosted every year by the Methodist Church.  We invited a few people to come to the event.  It is something that the kids really enjoy every year.  The music is fun and upbeat and it is all about the Savior.  One of the people that we invited stated that they did not like it because it was the same thing every year.  I told them that we have been going for the last several years and that it was all different and had different people every year.  This person than said, "If they want me to come, someone needs to invite me".  Miracle and I both said that we would love to have them come.  This person replied, "No, I only come if I am invited to perform."
I thought about that and I have to admit that first I was a little bit "miffed" about the attitude.  Then, I got over it and just felt genuinely sorry that someone would refuse to attend, simply because they were not in the show.  I am sorry for what they missed by choosing to have that attitude.  We have been here for four years and this is the first year that we have been asked to perform, although we have attended every year.  We have always watched others with enthusiasm and enjoyment.  It is one of the things the girls look forward to and a way to help bring our community together, no matter what the individual beliefs are. 
There were several people who were amazing last night.  One was the Lutheran minister.  He also teaches my girls (and myself, although I think I may be his biggest challenge) to play piano.  He did some amazing numbers.  Everyone of the girls loved the piano, because they finally appreciate how difficult those pieces are to play.  They all looked at each other and said a reverent "Wow!"  I told them that my dream is that someday they will play like that!  They let me know that I am crazy!
Miracle and I sang in the middle of the program.  She was wonderful.  We received so many compliments.  Many people could not believe how grown up her voice sounds.  She is quite the little singer and this year in College has been one of the best things that has ever happened for her. (Can you tell that I am so proud of her?).  The program ended with the barbershop chorus.  This is an all man group that sings in a city 45 minutes away.  They were so wonderful.  They sang completely without accompaniment and did it on tune and in harmony!  I loved the evening.  This year was so good.  They had many people that I have not heard before and they had so many different types of talent.  It was an evening of sharing and rejoicing in the gifts that Heavenly Father sends to His children. 

Are there things in our own lives that we choose to miss because we aren't involved in the performance?  Do we find excuses not to read the scriptures, because they weren't written about us?  Do we find excuses not to go to church or class because we are not the one speaking or teaching?  Many of the things that happen in our lives are not about us.  Sometimes we need to put those things in their proper perspective. 

We are each here to bear one anothers burdens, mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, cheer up the sad, and gladden the hearts of our brothers and sisters.  We are each here to share the joys and the sorrows with each other, to share our talents and our testimonies, and yes, we are even here to sometimes clap and cheer others on in their pursuits.  We do those things that all may be edified and encouraged in their journey.  We cannot return to our Heavenly Father all by ourselves.  We need the encouragement and understanding of those around us.  We need to both, follow the examples of others and be examples to those around us, as we progress and come closer to our Heavenly Home.
Me and my Miracle

Lift Up Your Heart
by Sally DeFord

Lift up your heart in faith, for God is ever nigh you
Eager to bless his children
Mindful of every child
Lift up your heart in prayer, for God will ever heed you
Seek him in every sorrow
Find him in every need
Lift up your heart through tears of grief
He will give you peace
And heal you

Lift up your heart in praise of Him who hath redeemed you
Praise his unfailing mercy
Praise his unchanging love
Lift up your heart, for by his might
He doth guard your path
And guide you

Lift up your heart unceasing
Praising the Savior's name
Lift up your heart for he hath ransomed you
Lift up your heart for he doth succor you
Lift up your heart for he doth offer you
A crown of everlasting life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Parable of the Popcorn

Tonight was family home evening.  I know, it is not Monday.  Because my husband works nights, we always have our family time on the weekend.  I received this a long time ago at one of my daughter's Young Women events.  I have kept it since and love the analogy.  I hope you enjoy it too.  We usually go over it once a year, in family home evening, with a bowl of homemade popcorn.  
It is the one home evening that everyone looks forward too!       

The Parable of the Popcorn

Behold at the time of the harvest, the ears of corn did bring forth
kernels which we dried and prepared for the popper's hand.

And then it was that the popper did take the kernels, all of which
appeared alike unto him, and did apply the oil and the heat.

And it came to pass that when the heat was on, some did explode with
promise and did magnify themselves an hundred fold, and some did burst
forth with whiteness which did both gladden the eye and satisfy the taste
of the popper. And likewise, some others did pop, but not too much.

But lo, there were some that did just lie there and even though the
popper's heat was alike unto all, they did bask in the warmth of the oil
and kept everything they had for themselves.

And so it came to pass that those which had given of themselves did bring
joy and delight to many munchers, but those which kept of the warmth and
did not burst forth were fit only to be cast out into the pail and though
of with hardness and disgust.

And thus we see that in the beginning all appear alike, but when the heat
is on, some come forth and give their all, while others fail to pop and
become as chaff to be discarded and forgotten.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Play Ball

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to love sports.  Yep, I really did.  I liked playing, watching, coaching, pretty much anything that allowed me to be on scene.  When I lived in Washington state, I had the opportunity to become an umpire.  Softball was a big sport up there.  Church ball was a big sport up there.  The difference was, that church ball was always played on the city league.  That meant that the Stake leadership had to work together with the City to get everything set up.  Every ward played ball, and there were quite a few wards.  We had at least eight teams of girls playing ball.
Somehow, I was approached to go to training and learn to be an umpire.  I said yes, and away I went.  They require all the umpires to take classes and pass tests in order to umpire a city league.  Probably because you umpire so many different types of ball up there.  I umpired fast-pitch, slow-pitch, coed and even little league.  It really was a lot of fun.  I did everything that I needed to do to qualify and they gave me the schedule for all the games.  Some involved LDS teams and some did not.   I loved umpiring fast-pitch girls!  But, I also believed in following the rules and one of the rules was that the field was mine and I could choose how I would run my game.  I could choose which rules I would follow and which (if any) I would let slide.  
This was in the 70's, and believe it or not, courtesy and respect were required during sporting events.  It was a rule I enforced with every team and every coach.  It was one I informed them I WOULD NOT bend on.  There would be no disrespect toward others of either team, the coaches or the umpires.  That meant no name calling or swearing.  I did not care if they got a little excited in the game.  I just cared that they remember, Who they are, Where they are, and What was most important.  This went for everyone and it was the first instruction that I gave both teams before having them take their places on the field.  
One beautiful Saturday morning, I went to umpire a game.  By this time, I have many games under my belt and was pretty comfortable with the routine.  Something happened with this group of girls though.  One father in the spectators section was loud, vocal, and rude.  He called the girls names, he called the coaches names, and he called me names that were horrible.  He would not quit swearing.  The girls on the team he was cheering for started to respond to his attitude.  They also got rude.  They made comments to each other, the other team, the other umpire and myself.  I talked one of the girls did not like a play that I called and she used a totally inappropriate word.  I threw her out of the game.  The spectator was her father and he came down out of the stands and was in my face just like you see on national baseball.  he used a couple of totally inappropriate words.  I had put up with enough.  
I met with my first base umpire, we both agreed, so we called the coaches over and cancelled the game.  It was a forfeit against the team with the rude spectator.  As I walked off the field, my face was burning because of the words coming from the mouths of those girls and those parents.  They were horrible to us.  They had forgotten who they were.  They had forgotten why they were there and they had forgotten what was most important.  Do you want to know the really sad part of this?  That was one of the church teams.
The team filed a complaint against me and several weeks later a man came up to me after one of the games.  "Do you know who I am?"  He asked me.  I did not and told him so.  He then informed me that he was from the state board that issued the licenses to the umpires.  He told me about the complaint, I told him what happened.  He told me that he had been a spectator at several of my games and that he had never seem me call a wrong call.  He had also seen that I discussed the requirements of sportsmanship with every team.  And that I upheld those rules in an equal and fair manner.  He said, "I just want you to know that I am upholding your decision on that game.  The team gets a forfeit.  I wish more of my umpires were like you".  Remember the wise words, "You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything!"

Oh yeah, one more thing, after that, whenever I walked out onto a ball field, the coaches would go over to the spectators and tell them to watch their mouths, then they would gather their players together and remind them that they needed to watch what they said.  I never had to walk off a field again in four years of coaching.  I hope that I taught them that no matter what someone chooses to say or do to you, you can always walk away.  I hope that I helped them remember what was really important about that game.  

Alma 39: 11-13

11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your cconduct they would not believe in my words.

12 And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;

13 That ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done.

Satan is so good at making evil look good, and good look unsophisticated and boring.  He has done this for countless centuries before us and he is working on our generation now.  We live in a world were all around us evil is accepted as normal.  Our children are challenged daily because of their standards and beliefs.  May we each stand for something important!  May we remember always, Who we are, Where we are, and What really matters in our lives.  Remember not to trade the things that you want most, for the things that you want right now.  You can live according to your Heavenly Father's laws.  You can make a difference.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kindness begins with me

A couple of days ago, I was up part of the night due to all the calls on the radio. In case you don't know, I am an EMT and can often be found on the ambulance in the middle of the night. Sometimes, we are kept so busy that I forget what sleep is, and other times, it is quiet and I get to rest. This was one of those busy nights.
We got a call for a rollover accident, unknown injuries. On scene, there were three people who were traveling through our small town. No one was hurt, no one had to be transported to the hospital, but the car was pretty much totaled. It was certainly unable to drive away.
These three people were young adults.  They all had tatoos, ear-rings and piercings.  They were shook up a little and concerned about the car, but otherwise all was fine.  They went to the local motel and stayed overnight.  You should probably be aware that we live in a VERY small town.  There are not many restaurants and only a couple very small local grocery stores and a Circle K convenience store.
The next day, I went to the Circle K for a soda and these three young people were outside the store trying to get a ride down to the valley.  They had called one of the boy's moms and she had reserved plane tickets for them to go back to the State they live it.  The problem was, the airport is three hours away.  Because we live in a small town, there is no taxi service or bus service.  I found out from the store employees that the kids had been outside the store most of the morning and still had not found a ride.
One of the boys approached me and asked me if I was going to Phoenix.  I told him that I was not.  I than received a very strong prompting that I needed to offer to take them.  I tried to shove that feeling aside, but it would not go away.  So, I asked a few more questions and finally gave one of the boys my phone number and told him if they did not get a ride by 6:00 pm to call me and I would help them get to the valley.  I explained that I could not leave before than because I needed to take my daughter to Snowflake for her choir class.  We would be finished about 6:00 and would be home about 6:45.
When the young man told me thank you and told his friends what I would do for them, they were all so sincere in their appreciation and gratitude.  They did not seem to mind at all that they would need to wait several hours for me to come back and get them.  They could not believe that anyone would do that for them.  I went to get in my truck and again, the spirit whispered to my mind that what I was doing was not enough.  I really hate it when the spirit wants me to do something that is against everything I do on a normal basis to keep myself and my family safe.  I had a short argument with myself, got out of the truck and went and got those three young people.  I took them home.
I fed them, gave them a place to rest and was going to let them stay at my house until I got home.  My son, Josh came home then.  He is 20 years old.  For some odd reason, I had the feeling that I need to ask him if he would mind driving them down to the valley.  He did not mind at all.  They were so thankful and overwhelmed with our generosity that they had tears in their eyes as they were finally able to relax and not worry anymore.  Josh had to wait for my daughter Anya to come home so that he could take her over to a friends house for the afternoon.  That way, the group could leave for the valley by 3:00 pm and get down to the airport before dark.
The really unusual thing about all this (besides the fact that I never do things quite like this) is that when I brought the kids home, my husband was there just getting ready to go to work.  He had exactly the same impressions that I did.  We were both given to know that this was the right thing to do.  We may never find out exactly why it was so important, but I am convinced that it was necessary.
Everything turned out fine.  The kids all went to Phoenix to the airport.  They were kind and gracious the entire trip.  Josh had a good drive and even went over to his Mom's house to stay with her for the evening.  It was the evening before his birthday and he was so happy to be able to spend part of his birthday with his mom and sister.  

One of my favorite old-time (meaning I think I sang this when I was a little girl) primary songs goes like this,
"I want to be kind to everyone,
For that is right you see.
So I say to myself:  Remember this,
Kindness begins with me".  
Words and music by Klara W. McMaster

The dictionary defines "Kindness" as:  Kindness is the act or the state of being kind and marked by charitable behaviour, marked by mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others. It is a recognized value in many cultures and religions".

I sometimes think that we need to make a little extra effort to be kind to others.  We live in a world where everything is fast moving and independent.  We don't take the time to go visit, or call, or write anymore.  The young people don't even use the telephone.  They use text messaging and instant messenger services.  If we are not kind to others, than how can we expect our children to be kind.
If we started each day by being a little more kind, how much happier would we be?   And if we could live our lives with kindness and gratitude, how many more blessings could we bring into the lives of others?  I have found that you can not do something good for someone else without having the kindness rub back onto you.  I don't know about you, but if I had to choose between spreading fear or kindness, I hope that kindness would win, for each one of us.  

President Hinckley once said, "Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others?  Why can't all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us?  There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others. Let us not dwell on the critical or the negative. Let us pray for strength; let us pray for capacity and desire to assist others. Let us radiate the light of the gospel at all times and all places, that the Spirit of the Redeemer may radiate from us.
In the words of the Lord to Joshua, “be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God [will be] with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Josh. 1:9).
(May 2006, Ensign, The Need For Greater Kindness)

Before I end this blog post, I had better offer a disclaimer.  I do not advocate anyone else making the choice that I did a couple of days ago.  I  am very glad that I helped, but would not normally help in quite this way unless I had the confirmation from the spirit that it was the right thing to do.  I can only say, in my own defense, that the spirit told me so strongly to do it, that I could not do otherwise.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We Need a Miracle

Many years ago, my daughter Emily was performing in her first Road Show.  Now, for anyone who does not know or remember what a Road Show is, it is a play that is put on by the wards in the church.  The youth are the ones who perform it, and the leaders usually write the script.  It can be a lot of fun for the youth, and a lot of work for everyone else!  Don't get me wrong, I have directed a couple of them and they were amazing!  Still, this was Emily's chance and she was really excited about it.
This particular play was the story about the pioneers and the trial of the grasshoppers or 'Mormon crickets' as they were sometimes called.  This play dipicted one of the most dramatic and famous moments in early Mormon pioneer history.  The plague of crickets occurred in 1848 when the pioneers were getting ready to harvest their first crops in the Salt Lake Valley.  The crickets came out of the sky by the thousands and devoured field after field of needed food.  The settlers fought the ravenous insects by every possible means. Then, when it appeared that all was lost, in answer to a prayer, a white cloud of seagulls flew in and devoured the crickets. This miracle was told in the journals as well as through verbal accounts that were later written down.  Many pioneers observed it and remembered it and told their children and grand children. It became a faith-promoting tale that was often retold and appropriately called, the miracle of the gulls.
Emily had a small part in the play.  She played a pioneer woman who was devastated by the loss and was a witness to the miracle. 
At the time of this play, I was pregnant with a child.  There were 12 years between Emily and this baby.  We did not know what we were going to name the baby and it was a very time consuming process to think up the name.  We could not agree on anything.  Finally, I started suggesting unusual names.  We teased each other and the kids on different names and finally decided on a name for a girl that was different and expressed how we felt.  And surprisingly, we both loved it.  We let the older siblings know the name we decided on and put up with a little bit of disgruntlement over the name. Not surprising, everyone in our family had an opinion, and were not afraid to let us have it!
Emily wanted a baby sister in the worst way.  She asked at every doctor appointment.  She wanted to know the sex of the baby.  She really wanted a sister and was quite adamant that the baby had to be a girl.  At the same time Emily got her first line in the show, we let her know the name of the baby if it was a girl. 
Emily's one line in the entire show was:  "We need a miracle!" 
She was supposed to say this in total seriousness and despair.  She could not even begin to manage that.  You see, the name we had decided on for a girl baby was Miracle.  Every time Emily said her line she would start laughing.  The directors finally had her cover her face with her hands and say the line as if she were sobbing into her hands.  Hopefully her laughter would sound like tears and all would be well.
The play was amazing.  Emily came over to the chairs in the front where I sat in all my discomforts and leaned over to whisper, "we need a Miracle, mom".  
The day finally came when that small baby was born.  As the nurse took the baby from the doctor, she wrapped and swaddled her, laid her on my stomach and said, "She's a Miracle".  There were many tears of joy that day as we witnessed one of Heavenly Fathers most common and yet still amazing miracles.  I never cease to marvel about the miracle of life.  Each child who has been born has been a total miracle to me.
Emily was so happy!  Miracle became, in the way of siblings, partly Emily's new baby.  The entire family used to joke, when Miracle was a little girl, that she had FIVE mothers.  Four significantly older sisters and her mom.  She never lacked for attention and love.  Her cries were always silenced quickly, and she knew that she was truly, a Miracle. 

Everyone one of us have seen and experienced miracles in our own lives.  There are things that happen that have no other explanation than the knowledge that a miracle occurred.   Miracles come to all of us, if we will only look and acknowledge them for what they truly are.  Just like the pioneers, we have the opportunity to write about miracles in our journals.  We have the opportunity to share the stories with our families.  These written and verbal records can be handed down to our children as testimonies that the Lord lives, loves us, and is mindful of each one of us, His children.  We might not always talk about those most precious things to strangers, but they are there to teach us and uplift us. 
What are the miracles that you have in your life?  What has happened to you or others that you have seen and witnessed and that bears testimony to you of your Heavenly Father's love?
My challenge to you today is to share one miracle with your children.  Teach them to see your Heavenly Father through your eyes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Things Will Change

A few weeks ago, we were driving on our nearly famous vacation off to the other side of the world, (it felt like that!) and we found a blizzard on the way.  This was not the ice cream varity that one of my favorite stores is known for.  This was the real wind, cold, snow, sleet, low visibility kind of blizzard. 
On our journey, our knuckles got tired of being white and the van needed gas, so we pulled off the freeway somewhere in the State of Oklahoma.  I have no idea where we were, it was a blizzard, remember???
We stopped at a convienence store and my husband filled the car with much needed gasoline while I took the girls into the restroom and than through the store to find a drink and a snack. 
We were standing in the short line behind a man who was complaining to the clerk about the weather, (I wonder why?).  The man was upset because his travel plans were delayed and he was staying at a local hotel.  I listened to him complain and than the clerk, with a big smile, said, "That's Oklahoma for you!  Yesterday it was 60 degrees outside, today it is a blizzard!  If you wait another day or two the weather will change again.  That is our state motto.  If you don't like it today, just wait awhile and it will change". 

I loved his answer.  I need to incorporate it a little more in my life.  We all have problems.  Circumstances beyond our control.  Bad things happen to everyone of us on this journey that we call life.  None are exempt from trials and tribulations (even though we might think we wish to be).   The Lord has counseled us,  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, "I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair.  From the beginning, trust in such help was to give us both a reason and a way to improve, an incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation. There can and will be plenty of difficulties in life.  Nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, as the hymn says, "beyond [his] own."  The Savior reminds us that He has "graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands."  Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, "Come unto me," He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way". 
(Broken Things to Mend, Gen Conference, Apr 2006)
All we need to do is turn to Him and wait a little while, things WILL change. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Safety for the soul

“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.”

I loved that video. Partly because I love the expressiveness of dance and partly because it is a good message. It made me think and remember a time in my life when I was not so safe. A time when I did not make the right choice.  A time when I put my own wants above the things that mattered most.   
Many years ago, when John and I were first married, I did not like to do what I was told. There were a lot of reasons for that type of rebellion, in my own mind anyway.  But the truth was that I was just a little bit rebellious. I did not like to be told what to do.  I didn't mind suggestions, but I did not like to be told I have to do something.  My poor husband!  I am afraid that he got the poor end of that arrangement!  He used to have to be very careful how he "suggested" that I do anything. 
My husband believed in seat belts. I was not raised with them. I used them at work because I had to.  They were bright orange, after all, and if you did not wear them, you could get written up.  But I have to admit, that I did not always use them at home.  They were inconvient, they pulled on my neck when I wore them, and they were uncomfortable.  I hate being uncomfortable! 
We had gone to the store and I had put the girls in carseats. (Funny isn't it, how you will do things for your kids that you won't do for yourself!) I was getting something for one of the girls and had unclicked the seat belt to reach back and get it for her.  John saw that my seatbelt was off and told me to put it on because the traffic was bad. I told him that I would in a minute.
We were driving on Gilbert road and I had just turned around in my seat and started to put the belt on, but it hadn't clicked in place yet.  A little sportscar pulled right out in front of our van. It was a busy city street, with a 45 mile per hour speed limit.  John was not speeding, but we were going the speed limit.  We were not doing anything wrong, but the other car did not see us and darted right out across three lanes of traffic into our lane.  John did not even have time to put on the brakes. We t-boned the other car. 
Just in case you need a visual, we had a seven passanger mini-van that went right into the driver's side of that little red mustang convertable.  My body wasn't held down in my seat like the rest of the family.  I saw everything as if it was in slow motion.  My hand could not hold onto the belt.  I saw the look on my husband's face as he watched me go forward into the window.  I heard my little girls start crying.  My head went right into the window and the glass broke all around me. My head was cut and bruised, I ended up with a monster head-ache, but surprisingly, I was not badly hurt. I should have been, but I wasn't.
For some reason Heavenly Father was watching over me. My girls were all crying because I looked hurt and was bleeding. My husband had tears in his eyes also. "I thought I lost you", he said to me. "I thought I lost you!" The tears fell down his cheeks as he hugged me tightly to him.

Obedience is a lot like wearing a spiritual seatbelt.  We have commandments of things that we are supposed to be doing.  Sometimes we try really hard, and sometimes we just can't seem to get the belt clicked in time.  We can be so stubborn at times. We want to do something that we know in our heart is not right, but we reason it out within ourselves and go ahead and do it anyway.  We were given laws and commandments in this life to keep us safe and bring us home.  If we don't obey the commandments, we run the risk of behaving ourselves so far down the wrong path that we can't seem to find our way back.

Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him:
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.

 President Joseph F. Smith has said:
“Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Light, who is no respecter of persons, and in whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. To please him we must not only worship him with thanksgiving and praise but render willing obedience to his commandments. By so doing, he is bound to bestow his blessings; for it is upon this principle (obedience to law) that all blessings are predicated.” (Improvement Era, Dec. 1917, p. 104.)

The gospel is so very simple when we understand it properly. It is always right, it is always good, it is always uplifting. Obedience to the principles of the gospel act as a spiritual seatbelt protecting us from harm and bringing joy and happiness into our lives.

May you never be the cause of tears on a loved ones face due to your own disobedience.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Centered on Jesus Christ

Howard W. Hunter said,
"If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, NOTHING can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and His teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Someone is waiting, not too far from here

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”  Albert Pike

Today, I went to a track-meet for 5th through 8th grades.  Miracle and I were supposed to be at choir practice at 4:00.  I went home from work early, got Miracle out of school, and we drove to Snowflake for Mikayla's track-meet.  She was running in her very first event ever.  She was so excited that her stomach was upset with butterflies and she was really scared.
Her event was supposed to be at 2:55pm and we were there slightly late.  Kayla was so worried that I would not get there on time!  Her event kept getting moved back and so I called the Choir officer and let them know that we would be slightly late.
In case you have never been to a track meet, you should know that when the group is too big for all the runners, they run multiple heats.  So, you never know, as a parent, when you child is supposed to run, you only know that her event is coming up soon.  Miracle stood down by the finish line and I sat in the stands.  Mikayla was on the inside of the field, hopping up and down and  anxiously waiting for her turn.  She was competing in the "Class B" girls 400 meter race.  The "Class C" girls went first.  They had eight girls in the first heat and than 3 additional girls ran another heat.  Then the "Class C" boys ran, also in two heats.   Now it was the "Class B" girls on the field.  Kayla was still on the sidelines.  Then the "Class B" boys ran.
My mommy instinct kicked in and I went to go find out what was going on.  Kayla ran across the track in tears.  She flew into my arms sobbing.  "What happened?" I asked her.  "There were too many girls and they were supposed to make room for me but they didn't", was her reply.  We went and checked with the coach, and sure enough, somehow the officials had gotten mixed up and did not put her in the race like they were supposed to.  No one knows exactly why, but because she was not in the race and they did not divide the heats, she could not run.  They would not allow her to run with the "Class A" group of girls. 
She was heart-broken!  Here she had been at the meet all afternoon and did not even get to compete. 

Sometimes, there are not words that can fix the things that happen to us in this life.  Living can sometimes leave us feeling alone, sad, hurt and unwanted.  It can even cause us to withdraw away from those who love us.  Life if not often easy and it is even, less often, "fair".
My point is simply this, we have all experienced heartaches like this.  We have all missed something we really wanted to go to, or we have been chosen last for some game we wanted to play.  Maybe we didn't make the school varsity team, or the best choir.  We each suffer some disappointments as we struggle through this earthly existence.  Some hurts pass quickly, while others we hold onto for awhile before we can let them go.  We have all had things happen that bruise our feelings.   We have all cried over injuries, real and imagined.  I can't stop my children from experiencing life, nor would I want to.  I can't protect them from all the things that happen day to day.  But I can teach them that they are loved, needed and wanted. 
That is what I tried to do with Mikayla today.  I let her cry.  I told her that I loved her.  I gave her the choice of coming with her sister and I to the college, or staying with her team and cheering them on.  I watched her walk away from me into the arms of her coach and stay to cheer.
I am more proud of her today than I would have been if she HAD run that 400 meter race.  When we can hold our head up in the midst of disappointment and defeat, than we are true winners. 

I want to share with you the words to one of my favorite songs.  They have a personal message for me.  I am reminded that it is up to me to make a difference in the lives of others.  Our Heavenly Father will use me if I will only let Him.
It is not too hard for each of us to find those in our lives who need our help and compassion.
Who need our strength and wisdom.
Who need our friendship and love.
We don't have to fix all the problems.  Indeed, we cannot fix most of them.  But, as sisters in Zion, we can, "comfort the weary and strengthen the weak".   Remember that life is often, not very fair.  There are those all around us who suffer from disappointment and pain as my sweet daughter did today.  It doesn't matter how big or small the trial.  It is still a hurt in their heart. May we each remember that someone is waiting for our caring and compassion "not too far from here".  

Not Too Far From Here - Sang by Hilary Weeks

Somebody's down to their last dime,
Somebody's running out of time,
Not too far from here

Somebody's got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here

And I may not know their name
But I'm praying just the same
That You'll use me Lord to wipe away a tear
'Cause somebody's crying
Not too far from here

Somebody's troubled and confused
Somebody's got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here

Somebody's forgotten how to trust
Somebody's dying for love
Not too far from here

It may be a stranger's face
But I'm praying for Your grace
To move in me and take away the fear
'Cause somebody's hurting
Not too far from here

Help me, Lord, not to turn away from pain
Help me not to rest while those around me weep
Give me Your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life too steep

Now, I'm letting down my guard
And I'm opening my heart
Help me speak your love to every needful ear
Someone is waiting
Not too far from here

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guess How Much I Love You

Probably, one of my favorite children's books of all time is the book titled, "Guess How Much I Love You" by Sam McBratney.  This is a simple tale of two bunnys.  They are named Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare.  Some see them as father and son, but I have always seen them as a mother and her child.  Little Nutbrown Hare asks Big Nutbrown Hare the question, "Guess How Much I Love You?", and the book continues as the two use larger and larger measures to quantify how much they love each other and they each try to show that they love each other more than the other loves them.  (If that is confusing, than you will just have to get the book!) 
I used to read this book to the three littlest girls when they were much smaller.  They have each loved it and would sit and "read" it with me.  We had a bedtime ritual of reading story books together.  They each got to pick two or three books and I would read the books to them and cuddle with each one before their daddy would tuck them into bed.  I think it was one of their favorite parts of the day.  They loved the "love you book" as they called it, especially Mikayla.  She would usually pick this book nearly every night.  They loved to try and show me that they loved me even more than the bunnies loved each other.
Mikayla would often lay next to me in bed and tell me, "I love you all the way to Kirbi's house", to which I would dutifully reply, "I love you all the way to Kirbi's house and BACK".  She would giggle and think of something else that she loved me all the way to.  This could go on for quite a while and seemed to be something that she really treasured. 
One evening, we had cuddled together in bed reading stories.  I am not sure where the other girls were at the time, my memory has forgotten that part of this story.  But I know it was just Mikayla and I in the bed.  This was the last book she had picked to read.  We read through it one more time as Kayla was drifting softly off to sleep with her head leaning against mine.  At the close of the book, Mikayla whispered in a sleepy voice, "I love you all the way to the North Pole."  And I replied, "that is very far, but I love you all the way to the North Pole and back on the Polor Express train!"  (This was another one of our favorite books).  I softly kissed her cheek as she snuggled a little closer against me.  She put her lips next to my ear and very solemnly said, "Mommy, I love YOU all the way to Jesus!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Silent Sound

Did you know that there is a sound that children can hear, but their parents can't?  I have heard about it before, but never known where to find it.  I have heard about it because I sometimes teach college classes and cell phones continue to be a big problem in class.  Presbycusis is a common degenerative condition that affects most adults. (How is that for a fancy name of a condition that you just might have!  Do you feel old yet?)
People who are affected by this usually start losing the ability to hear higher frequency noises around the age of 18 and their hearing progressively deteriorates throughout their later years in life. Can you believe that the association between advanced age and high-tone deafness was first described by a Dutch scientist in 1899.
This condition is considered a natural side effect of aging, and the exact cause of this type of hearing loss is unknown.
Modern day teenagers have discovered a way to take advantage of this unique situation.  There are cell phone ring tones on the web that allow teenagers to hear this sound in places that receiving calls or text messages might be inappropriate.  Places like church, school, concerts and work.
I was surfing the web the other night (something I like to do, but don't usually find the time for) and I came across a website that plays the sound over your computer.  As long as the speakers are on you can hear (or not hear) the noise.  It is called a mosquito ring tone.  I went to one of the web sites and played the "noise" over my computer.  All three of the girls immediately said, "what is that annoying noise?  What is making that sound".  They started looking around for it.  My husband said, "What noise?  There is no unusual noise in here."  The girls than started to explain the noise to him.  He did not believe them.  They argued about the buzzing sound.  I sat, smiling at my computer.

How does what you hear or don't hear make a difference in learning the gospel?  We have heard often, that we need to become as little children.  My little children can hear things that I can't.  They can listen to things that I don't know.  Maybe the message should be to learn to listen as a child would listen.  To really pay attention to that soft sound.
How many of you have ever sat in a church meeting, or gospel discussion and had something in the talk just really make a difference in how you look at things?  Have you ever wondered why others don't learn the same information that you do?  I have.  Especially when I believe that it is a great talk or lesson.

I was reading in one of the past ensigns and found this thought:
"Now I would ask you to think about...your own ability to have great spiritual experiences as you attend a class or a sacrament meeting on Sunday. What is your role in creating the environment in which the Spirit can teach you the things you need to know?  If you find a Church class or a sacrament meeting boring, does that say more about the teacher—or about you?
Consider the response of President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) when someone once asked him, “What do you do if you find yourself caught in a boring sacrament meeting?” President Kimball thought a moment, then replied, “I don’t know; I’ve never been in one.”  With his long years of Church experience, President Kimball had undoubtedly been to many meetings where people had read their talks, spoken in a monotone, or given travelogues instead of teaching doctrine. But most likely, President Kimball was teaching that he did not go to sacrament meeting to be entertained; he went to worship the Lord, renew his covenants, and be taught from on high. If he attended with an open heart, a desire to be “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4), and a prayer—rather than judgment—for the speakers, the Spirit would teach him what he needed to do to be a more effective and faithful disciple. President Kimball was teaching the principle of learning by the Spirit"  (A. Roger Merrill, “To Be Edified and Rejoice Together,” Ensign, Jan 2007, 64–69).  

This simple story about President Kimball really struck a cord in me.  I could not say the same thing about my own experiences in church meetings.  I think that President Kimball was trying to teach me that I need to take responsibility for my own learning.  I need to do the things to prepare myself so that the Spirit can teach me.
I have sometimes heard people complain that they did not like a lesson or talk.  I know that there have been weeks where I don't think that I learned anything.  Reading this about President Kimball made me take another look at the way I do things.
I have learned that part of taking responsibility for my own learning means taking the time to prepare to be taught.  When I read my scriptures daily, study the lesson, and pray for the teachers and the speakers, I have found that I get much more out of my meetings.  I also started carrying a composition notebook and pen in my scriptures.  It is a small one that fits in the pocket of my scripture case.  I use that to write down the thoughts, scriptures, and stories that mean the most to me.  I try to find at least one thing in every talk that applies to me.  I have been doing this for a little more than two months now, and I can honestly say that I have not been to a boring meeting since I have started this experiment.

So, take this challenge and prepare yourself to be taught.  You might just be a little surprised as your ears are opened and you hear the lessons that the Lord wants you to hear and find a way to apply them in your life.   And you just might find out (as I have done) that there really are no boring Sacrament meetings.

By the way, I didn't hear the mosquito noise either, but I sure wasn't going to let my girls know that!  Sometimes, what they don't know, won't have the chance to hurt them!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Accident

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Missouri to visit my oldest daughter. It was a long and grueling drive. The majority of it took place in a blizzard, so the going was slow and visibility was poor. We were afraid to stop because the majority of the weather system was behind us. Had we stopped, we would have had to stay at a hotel for two days. Our trip was only a week long, and we did not want to loose two days with family. By driving, we were able to stay toward the front of the storm and avoid the majority of the road closures.
As we were getting to the leading edge of the storm in Missouri, John, who was driving at the time, saw a car on the opposite side of the highway, slide off the road and go over the edge of the embankment. He told me immediately what he saw. The car disappeared from site and we were both worried about injuries.
I am an EMT, which isn't a lot, but I am a first responder and carry a kit in my car for emergencies. I immediately put in a call to 911 while John took the next exit and we tried to use the GPS to find a road somewhere off the highway that would lead us to the vehicle. There was no where to park on the highway without endangering ourselves or our children, hence the need to find a back way.
While we were trying to figure out where to go, I was trying to also figure out how to tell the dispatcher where we were. The GPS and the Atlas called the highway a name that the dispatcher did not know. On the map, it was Highway 60. The highway actually had a name and not a number as far as the dispatcher for EMS was concerned. I spent a frustrating five minutes that felt more like an hour in trying to let people know where I was located.
We found the back road that took us about 200 yards from the scene of the accident. I took off running with my emergency kit. I had on my crocs, (these are like sandals in case you do not know), a t-shirt, and lightweight trousers. I was running through a light snow, over rocks and brush and through trees and tall grasses. I had ice in my hair, in my shoes and down my neck. Life is good.
I ran up to the car and found a woman and her little boy. I was able to talk EMS to the scene by telling the dispatcher what direction the sirens were coming from. They were on scene approximately two minutes after I got there. The woman and boy were miraculously unhurt. The car was not so fortunate. The car had crashed through several hay bales before coming to the bottom of the embankment. Those hay bales kept the occupants from being seriously injured. The embankment made it hard to locate them. They were completely out of view from the passing traffic above them. I was so relieved to have them safe and unhurt. I stayed with them until the paramedics were able to get down the embankment and take over the scene, my husband arrived about the same time and we then walked together back to our children then we left to continue our drive to my daughter's house.
When my husband and I got back to the car, we found all three of our girls with tears in their eyes asking if everyone was alright.  My oldest daughter informed me that they had said a prayer for the safety of those people in the car and for our ability to help them.  They then suggested that we have a prayer of gratitude for the answer of the first prayer.  So we did.  We bowed our heads inside our car and said a quick and heartfelt prayer of thanks for our Heavenly Father's blessings that day and for the safety of all concerned.

I have learned from this experience how important it is to know where you are so that you can help another. Harold B. Lee said, "You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul".

In the New Testament in Acts chapter three, is the experience of Peter and John as they were on their way to the temple. They met a man at the gate who was lame from birth. He had never walked and was begging alms of all who approached the gate. As Peter and John approached, he held out his hand asking for alms.
4 "And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus
    Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk".  Acts 3:(4-6)
Now, in my mind, I can just see this man looking at Peter and John and thinking, "do they know that I have never walked?"   But the scripture doesn't end with the command.  Peter did not just tell the man to walk, he also “took him by the right hand, and lifted him up” (Acts 3:7).  He showed him that it was possible.
Can you see in your own mind, that Apostle lifting him up?  Can you imagine him putting his arm around the man who used to be lame and helping him as he takes his first step?  Then the scripture continues and tells us that the "the man leaped with joy".
You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is.  Peter had the fire of testimony burning in his own soul.  He was an apostle and charged to bear witness of the Savior to the people.  He was able to command the man to walk because he himself believed and knew that it was possible.  He had seen the Savior healing the sick, raising the dead, and causing the lame to walk.  He knew who the Savior was.  He knew what miracles could be wrought.
During this accident in Missouri, I could not help as effectively as I would have liked to, because I did not know where I was.  I was unable to give the needed information to the dispatcher.  This caused both of us to be very frustrated.  I saw, with my eyes, where the car went off the road, but I could not describe the location.  I did not know the address.  The desire to help was there, but my lack of knowledge delayed the response time of the local Fire Department.  I was unsure of where I was and unsteady in giving the directions that would be the most help.
Each one of us will have times in our lives when we will want to help others.  It might be our friends who are struggling with difficulties.  It might be the sisters we visit teach, or the families we home teach.  It might be our own family members.  It might even be our own teenage children.  If we are to help them learn to stand on firm foundations, we first need to make sure that our own foundations are sure.
We need to know where we are.
We need to know where we stand.
We need to know that we are standing on the Rock
 that is our Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

I love Easter.  It is one of my favorite holidays.  I sometimes think that my children do not believe that.  Indeed, they have often made of a point of letting me know that they have be deprived in their childhood because I am crazy.  You see, I discovered a long time ago that I would not win the battle to make Christmas more spiritual.  I had children and they focus on the presents!  Don't get me wrong, I try to bring about traditions during the season that put Christ first.  Sometimes, I think I am even successful, but in the back of their minds, the presents are still coming.
So, I made a decision many years ago when my oldest child was born, that we would not celebrate Easter with bunnies and baskets.  We would make that our most spiritual holiday of the year.  We would focus out thoughts on Christ and His sacrifice for us.  We would remember the resurrection and the glorious promise that He Lives!
Don't feel too bad for my children.  We color eggs the weekend before easter, and there is always a bowl of candy on the dining room table.  Each child gets a new dress or a suit for Sunday.  We talk about how getting new clothes, symbolizes putting aside the old person and committing to be a new person in Christ.  We talk about the meaning of obedience.  We talk about His great love for us and the power of the atonement.  We talk about how he died on the cross for us and of His life and teachings.  We talk of our testimonies and our love.
Most of all, we talk about the fact that He lives!

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen.

This is one of my favorite easter songs.  I have sang it several times and love the meaning of the words.  I can never sing it without reflecting on our Heavenly Father and His great love of us.  I think of how difficult it must have been to watch the Savior suffer.   I think about how much He must love us and be mindful of our needs, both here and throughout eternity.
I pray that the words will touch your heart and bring you comfort and peace as you spend some time today reflecting on the true meaning of Easter.

The Sacrifice
by Wanda Lindstrom

Abraham's life had been shattered;
Now his hopes for the future were gone
'Cause he could not conceive, and he could not believe,
God would ask for the life of his son.
The obedient Abraham trembled
As he tried to tell Isaac his task.
Then his heart finally broke when his faithful son spoke,
"Dear father, I'll do what you ask."

Father, where is thy mercy?
Instead of my son, take me!
This Father is crying
When I think of him dying,
But I'll do it now for thee.

As he raised up the knife
and looked down at his son,
Pure sorrow filled up in his heart.
To shed the pure blood of this innocent one
Was tearing his soul apart.
Beyond the thin veil in a Heavenly place
The anguish and heartache were felt.
While Abraham cried as he sadly asked why
And poured out his heart as he knelt.

Father, where is thy mercy?
Instead of my son, take me!
This Father is crying 
When I think of him dying,
But I'll do it now for thee.

"Stop!"  came the answer from heaven.
"I've seen what I needed to see.
The test is now done;  do not slay your own son.
Now I know you'd keep nothing from me.
I, too, am a father with love for my son.
And mine is a similar task.
And my heart also broke when my faithful son spoke,
'Dear Father, I'll do what you ask.'

And He'll die for the cause of mercy
In order for men to be free!
And this father is crying when I think of Him dying,
But I'll do it, my child, for thee.
This Father is crying when I think of Him dying,
But I'll do it, my children, for thee.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seeking to know God

I have had a good friend for many years. This particular friend does not believe the same way that I do.  As a matter of fact, this friend does not even believe in God.  He especially does not believe in organized religion of any kind.  He does not like or respect any religion and thinks that they lead us all astray.  He thinks that I am a fool for believing in something that I can't see or touch or hear or prove.  He was very fond of telling me that he "died" several years ago, when he had a massive heart attack in the hospital, and he did not see or experience anything that he can remember.  All was blank in his mind.  That blankness means (to him) that there is no God in this life or in the next.  It means that there is no afterlife.  We are just matter taking up space, and we shall be buried and become dust when we die. 
He used to get very worked up over religion.  It seemed like nearly everytime he saw me, he would have to say something negative about the things that I believe and hold sacred.  He would find quotes and books that "proved" that there was not a God.  To me, it was all rather silly.  He was not going to change my beliefs with those things.  I could look around at the world and find millions of things that testify that there IS a God.  In my belief, all you have to do is open your eyes and look! 
Finally, after one particularly argumentative meeting with him, I finally said, "Let's agree to disagree on this subject.  If you are right, and I am wrong, I am never going to know about it anyway.  By your own admission, there is no after life.  So, who am I hurting with my beliefs?  I am not doing anything that would cause damage to another person.  I am kinder than I might be, I obey more laws than I might if I did not belive, I love and forgive more than I might do so otherwise.  As far as I can see, I am hurting no one with my beliefs, not even myself.  I might be missing out on something that you think I should experience, but I am happy with this life that I have chosen.  On the other hand, if I am right and you are wrong, I will see you in the next life and you will know and realize what a mistake you have made while here upon the earth.  I am looking forward to seeing you on that day".

I am still looking forward to meeting him again someday. 

Hilary Weeks wrote a song that is one of my absolute favorites.  It is called,

Still Believe

I haven't seen His face
But I have seen His miracles
I haven't heard His voice
But His spirit speaks to my heart
I haven't felt His hands
But I have felt His peace
And blessed are those who haven't seen
And still believe.

And still believe that He lives
And still believe that He walked upon the earth
And though my faith is just a seed
I still believe

I didn't walk with Him
But each day He's here by my side
I didn't watch as He healed
But His love has changed my life
I didn't see the cross
But I know it was for me
And blessed are those who haven't seen
And still believe.

And still believe that He lives
And still believe that He walked upon the earth
And though my faith is just a seed
I still believe

I haven't seen His eyes
But someday He'll look into mine
And if He bids me come
I will worship at His feet
For blessed are those who haven't seen
And still believe.

"Some wonder, why is belief in God so important? Why did the Savior say, 'And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent'? (John 17:3; emphasis added)."Without God, life would end at the grave and our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary, accomplishment without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right and wrong and no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God, there would be no mortal or eternal life."
Robert D. Hales, "Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 29