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.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Music is a Blessing


Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves disease.  This is a thyroid disease that makes your thyroid over active.  I had too much thyroid hormone in my blood and it had some pretty severe symptoms.  The symptom that was most concerning to my doctor, was that my heart rate was over 180 beats per minute when I was at rest.  I was exhaused, scared, and really, really sick. 
The worst part (for me) was that I had a goiter that was over my vocal cords.  The goiter messed with my voice so that I lost my ability to sing.  I have never been a professional.  But I must admit, that I love music.  I have sang for most of my life.  I have sang in church, at weddings, for funerals, for fun, at events, and I have sang to every one of my children as they were growing up. 
When I ended up with Graves disease, I also lost my ability to sing music.  I went from having a three octive range to about a six note range.  After I got the thyroid disease treated when the problems did not decrease, I went and saw a specialist that looked down my throat to decide what treatment to take.  He told me that I would need to decide what I wanted to do.  The goiter was located around the voice box and if he did surgery I stood the risk of losing my voice completely.  I was heart broken.  The one thing in my life that I loved, I could not longer do and the doctor told me that I would probably never be able to sing again.
Well, time went on.  The goiter is still there.  If you know me well, you can see it as a slight bulge on my neck.  I did not sing for over three years.  Then one day, someone asked me to sing.  I spent weeks working on that song.  I did exercises.  I memorized.  Most of all, I felt the song in my heart.  I chose a song that did not have a large range, but it was a song I could do.  I ended up with so many comments on that one song, that I have been asked many more times since to sing.  I have gained back almost three octives of my range.  I do not have the range that I used to, but I am not that far from it.  It has taken nearly eight years for me to get to the point I am at today. 

I have learned that when God closes a door in our lives, He always opens a window, but sometimes we spend so much time looking back at the door that we don't see what He has really offered us.  I learned many life long lessons from this experience.  The first was the blessing of healing.  Although my body will never be quite what it was, it does work well and gives me many opportunities for joy. 
I learned that I could survive without something that I thought meant everything to me.  I learned to find other talents and other abilities.  I also learned how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  I have learned that each moment is a gift.  We have to share our talents and abilities with those around us because we never know when that will change.  I have learned to dig deep within myself and try harder.  I have learned that if I trust in Him, He will always bless me.  It is not always the blessing that I would choose for myself, but it is better than I ever dreamed.
 I never would have imagined eight years ago that I would be singing with my thirteen year old daughter in a College Choir.  That we would use this opportunity as a bridge to teach and support and love.  I would never have dreamed that I would receive this gift at this time in my life to help her. 
I have learned that the hardest thing to say is, "Not my will, but Thine", and not just to say it, but to mean it with my whole heart and soul.   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Posting at MMB


I am posting over at MMB.  The subject of my post is "Forgiveness".  I think it is one of my better pieces and I hope you like it. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Personal Relationship

I have found, that as I struggle to liken the scriptures and the principles of the gospel into my life, I can come to know the Savior.  I can feel him testifying of the truth.  I am more aware of myself, my family, and those around me.  I start to feel His love for others.  There really are no good reasons not to study the scriptures.  However, that is exactly what Satan wants from us.  He does not want us to have a personal relationship and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ.  He wants us to flounder and fail.  If he can keep us from Christ, than he can keep us from all that is important for our eternal salvation.
We have had a unique experience in the last few weeks.  There have been times in my marriage when I have felt as if I am the one that must lead us all.  I have struggled with this, prayed about it, worked at it, and nothing has changed, until now.
Our family was asked to give talks in church a couple of weeks ago.  We were only given less than one week to prepare.  My husband decided that the best way to prepare was to listen to the Book of Mormon, from cover to cover, each day.  He made it through the entire book one time, and about a third of the way through the second time.  He was able to give a fifteen minute talk during church.
For anyone who knows my husband, he has never spoken longer than five minutes in any church meeting.  He does not like talking.  He does not like trying to prepare.  This time, the scriptures made the difference.  He was able to prepare and write down his entire talk and give it without fear.  He was able to feel the spirit directing his life and those who were listening were able to feel it also.
The only thing that he did different this time was to read and study the scriptures.  It has been an amazing journey to see his confidence and abilities increase as he has learned to rely more and more upon the Lord in his life.  I am left feeling like I need to do more also before he leaves me behind!
President James E. Faust testified:
"Some time ago in South America, a seasoned group of outstanding missionaries was asked, "What is the greatest need in the world?"  One wisely responded, "Is not the greatest need in all of the world for every person to have a persona, ongoing, daily, continuing relationship with Deity?"  Having such a relationship can unchain the divinity within us, and nothing can make a greater difference in our lives as we come to know and understand our divine relationship with God and His Beloved Son, our Master.  (James E. Faust, "That We Might Know Thee,"  Ensign, Jan. 1999, 2)"
Heart-deep and soul-deep change does not happen until we turn our lives to our Savior.  If you are struggling to become someone different, may I suggest that you turn your heart to the Scriptures.  That you develop a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ.  The writings in the scriptures will bring you closer to Him and more able to walk in His ways.
In the past two weeks, I have seen a change in the dynamics of my family.  I have seen a father lead and direct with love and compassion.  I have heard his testimony and felt his love.  I have seen his self-confidence increase and his ability to communicate come easier.  I am amazed at the changes that are happening with just the increased desire to read and liken the scriptures unto us.



May you find yourself closer to Him this week as you study, ponder and pray.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Hold On


M
any great sacrifices were made by the saints in Kirtland, Ohio to build their temple. Men worked all day and sometimes slept on site with a loaded gun to protect the temple for those who were seeking to destroy it.  The women sewed and cooked for the men at the temple. They donated their family china to be crushed and mixed with the plaster to put on the outside walls.  The china would make the walls sparkle and glisten in the sunshine.  People donated everything they had in order that the temple might be built.  Before the temple was completed, the saints in Independence were driven from their homes.

The cost of building the temple was between $40,000 and $60,000, an enormous amount in the 1830's According to Eliza R. Snow. " At that time, . . .the Saints were few in number, and most of them very poor; and , had it not been for the assurance that God had spoken, and had commanded that a house should be built to his name, of which he not only revealed the form, but also designated the dimensions, an attempt towards building that Temple under the then existing circumstances, would have been, by all concerned, pronounced Preposterous."

Despite all the challenges that the Saints faced, the temple was built. It was dedicated on March 27, 1836. What followed was one of the greatest outpourings of spiritual blessings ever recorded. In the dedicatory prayer (Doctrine and Covenants 109) given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the saints were promised great blessings for their faithfulness.

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." The saints in Kirtland received blessings that they could not have comprehended only a few years before.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,  talked about this period of church history in his article in the Jan. 2010 Ensign.  He said,  "One of the great, enduring lessons of the Kirtland period is that our spirits need constant nourishment. As President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) taught: “Testimony isn’t something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary.”  We need to stay close to the Lord every day if we are to survive the adversity that we all must face.
In some ways our world today is similar to Kirtland of the 1830s. We too live in times of financial distress. There are those who persecute and rail against the Church and its members. Individual and collective trials may sometimes seem overwhelming.
That is when we need, more than ever, to draw near unto the Lord. As we do, we will come to know what it means to have the Lord draw near unto us. As we seek Him ever more diligently, we will surely find Him. We will see clearly that the Lord does not abandon His Church or His faithful Saints. Our eyes will be opened, and we will see Him open the windows of heaven and shower us with more of His light. We will find the spiritual strength to survive even during the darkest night.
If ever you are tempted to become discouraged or to lose faith, remember those faithful Saints who remained true in Kirtland. Hold on a little longer. You can do this! You are part of a special generation. You were prepared and preserved to live at this important time in the existence of our beautiful planet earth. You have a celestial pedigree and therefore have all the necessary talents to make your life an eternal success story.
The Lord has blessed you with a testimony of the truth. You have felt His influence and witnessed His power. And if you continue to seek Him, He will continue to grant you sacred experiences. With these and other spiritual gifts, you will be able not only to change your own life for the better but also to bless your homes, wards or branches, communities, cities, states, and nations with your goodness.
It may be hard to see that at times, but hold on a little longer, for “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” and wait for Him (1 Corinthians 2:9)."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Simple Moment

This Moment




A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Sweet Day


Have you ever wanted to know what the Lord would have you do in your life? Have you ever wondered which avenues you should pursue, or which path would have the greatest value to yourself and your family?
I think those are questions each of us have asked at one time or another. In our church, we believe that the heavens are not closed to us. We believe that Heavenly Father still gives us continuing revelations. One of the ways that we can receive that revelation is to go and get a Patriarchal Blessing. This blessing is available to all worthy members of the church.
One of my sweet young daughters, decided a few months ago that she wanted to get her Patriarchal Blessing. I was a little surprised as none of her friends have received theirs yet, and we had not talked about getting hers either. She had come to the conclusion that it was time, all by herself. She made the appointment with the Bishop, received the recommend and waited for our Stake to get a new Patriarch. Finally, this past Sunday, she went for her blessing.
Our family went with her. She was so excited. She had prepared herself, she had made her own decision. She was ready. For those who might not know what that is, Patriarchal blessings are given to worthy members of the Church by ordained patriarchs. Patriarchal blessings contain personal counsel from the Lord. It is like a road map through the pitfalls of life. It can indicate directions and destinations if you are true to the counsel that is given. A blessing can also bring comfort, joy and encouragement as you strive through the trials that will surly come.
For me, my own blessing is very much like a letter from home. It assures me that my Father in Heaven loves me and is aware of me and wants me to be happy. It has acted as a guide to me and a strength when things were difficult. It reminds me who I am and where I want to be. Most of all, it reminds me that my Heavenly Father knows who I am. He is waiting to bless me.
My sweet daughter received her own letter from home. I know how much it means to her now, and I know what it will mean to her as she goes through her life. She IS a daughter of God, who loves her Heavenly Father and He loves her.

“A patriarchal blessing from an ordained patriarch can give us a star to follow, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual. If we follow this star, we are less likely to stumble and be misled. Our patriarchal blessing will be an anchor to our souls, and if we are worthy, neither death nor the devil can deprive us of the blessings pronounced. They are blessings we can enjoy now and forever.”
—President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Priesthood Blessings,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 63

When we walked outside, after her blessing, we were greeted by this beautiful rainbow.  It reminded all of us that the Lord keeps His promises.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Potluck




Tonight, my college choir class had a potluck after our rehearsal. We all signed up to bring food, we spread it out on the large tables and everyone helped themselves. I was amazed at the many different dishes that everyone brought. We had soup, bread, meatballs, chili, pulled pork on tortillas, and all kinds of desserts and goodies for eating. It was amazing. There was even enough things that are actually on my diet that I did not go hungry. (A little cheating would have been so nice though!)

While I was sitting there, I couldn't help thinking how this earth life is a lot like our college potluck dinner. We are surrounded by different things to see and experience. We can see the colors, smell the inviting aromas and finally, taste the amazing feast. We get to choose. If we want to, we can skip all the things in life that are good for us. We can bypass the teaching, the instruction, the spirit, the church, family, good friends, the scriptures, the commandments and anything else that we decide we don't want to partake of. We can, in essence, eat only the desserts. The fun, the amazing, the exciting things are there for our taking.

We get to make choices. What we need to take into consideration is that those choices have lasting consequences for us as we strive to live our lives. In the same way that someone who never eats anything but desserts will eventually harm their bodies, (the body will grow weaker and weaker, until it eventually dies of malnutrition), we can choose to harm our souls be not doing those things which do not appear to be "fun and inviting".

Our spirit needs the nourishment that comes from making good choices here in this life. I think there must be a part of our spirit that remembers what it was like to live with our Father in Heaven. That part, wants to be able to return to Him. It is that part that whispers to us when we choose too many "desserts" in our lives. When we choose too many things of the world, when we choose things that will stay in our minds forever. When we listen to inappropriate music or watch movies or TV that are not good for us, the spirit withdraws and we ache to feel it back again.

The world would have us eat only dessert.

In 2 Nephi 28: 7-9 we read:

"Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God — he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark."

It sounds like our day to me. There is security in following the commandments. There is wisdom in how we select the things that we will do and say while we are here. Yes, there is a very big pot luck out there, but it is up to us to make sure that the choices we are making are ones that are going to help those around us and ourselves too. There is a lot to be gained from "following in His footsteps". May we each strive to be just a little more careful of the things of which we partake. May we try a little harder to be a little better is my prayer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

By the Obedience of One


I have two favorite thoughts that I want to share. The first is a scripture from the New Testament. I really love it. It is found in Romans 5:19.


"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”

What a great way to show us that we are each important! There is power in being one in Christ. There is power in righteousness. Don’t listen to the world who would tell you that one voice doesn’t matter. The Lord has told us that it does. Just look at Jesus. He was one voice who changed the world. There are many examples of one person changing the world in the scriptures. You have Noah, Moses, David, Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni. You also have current day prophets with their testimonies.

My second thought is from Gordon B. Hinkley. I really think this one is meant for me! I want to learn to stand for something that matters!
"You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. The world must be a better place for your presence. And that good that is in you must be spread to others. I do not suppose that any of us here will be remembered a century from now. But in this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right. You cannot be indifferent to a great cause. You cannot simply stand on the sidelines and watch the play between the forces of good and evil". ("Stand Up for Truth." 22-23). Gordon B. Hinckley.

I pray that we may all learn to stand for something that matters. Something that makes a difference!


"I have never wished to cater for the crowd; for what I know they do not approve,
and what they approve I do not know".  Epictetus

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Loving Thy Neighbor


Today, I have a need to express a little something.  I have been frustrated lately with the way some people seem to think that they don't have to do anything except sit and bask in the completed project, or lesson, or dinner, or program.  There is an old saying that says simply:
The world is run by those who show up. 
This quote describes for me, what most of us observe in our personal lives.  People tend to fall into two groups:  Those that are involved in the world around them and activly working to make it better or those who are separated from the world around them. 
Do you ever notice when someone gets an award, you often learn that they are also coaching their children’s sports team, serving on the local school board or fire board, heading a committee, or helping their neighbors with babysitting or food?  Have you ever noticed that there are a limited number of people you can reliably can turn to when you need something done? Have you noticed that the same people substitute in Primary, or Sunday School, or who show up for the church wood project?  Is it a surprise that these same people are usually in both categories?
It is so hard to see people who don't want to participate, who don't want to serve, who don't want to help.  I just don't understand it.  It is not as if we are not all busy.  Many of us are fortunate to have loving families who want a portion of our time and attention.  But I know that I want to teach my kids to be helpers throughout their lives.  I want them to find and come to know the joy of service.  I have found that even serving in the "little things" can bring amazing joy, in ways I never planned for or expected. 
So, how can we make sure our children develope within themselves this desire to serve?  I think there are a few things that we can do to help.
The first is to remember that:  Charity begins at home.
There is nothing more important in your life than taking care of your family and raising healthy, well balanced children if you have them.  You should not feel obligated to take on more than you can reasonably be expected to accomplish, especially if those activites take you away from your family.  However, you should work at things that you can involve your family to participate with you.  We have discovered that family oriented service projects can go a long way toward teaching your children to be willing to serve.  Don't forget that service should begin at home.  As you get them involved in doing things for each other, they will be more willing to help others.  You need to be willing to make your home a place where service is practiced, not just preached.  One of the new things we are doing in our family is using a "service block".  This is a painted block of wood.  When the kids do a service for each other or their parents, they get to pass the service block.  That person has two days to do a service for someone else. They love this game.  I came home today to find my bed made and the service block placed neatly on the covers.  Kids get excited when it becomes a game that everyone plays.
The second thing is:  Be a good role model.
Children need good role models.  Those people influence them in how their attitude toward service will be for the rest of their lives.  They should learn early on that church service, public service and caring for the community are not only good things, but something that should be expected.   Balancing these priorities is what will help them make a difference. Who in your neighborhood needs your help and encouragement?  Is there a widow who needs yard work done?  A young couple who needs a date night?  As children see your willingness to serve, they will develop that willingness for themselves. 
President Monson said, in his address to the youth of the church:
"As we look heavenward, we inevitably learn of our responsibility to reach outward. To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy. We do not live alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness. “Love thy neighbor” is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection. This truth inspires the familiar charge, “Go forth to serve.” Try as some of us may, we cannot escape the influence our lives have upon the lives of others. Ours is the opportunity to build, to lift, to inspire, and indeed to lead. The New Testament teaches that it is impossible to take a right attitude toward Christ without taking an unselfish attitude toward men:
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40)".   Thomas S. Monson, “The Joy of Service,” New Era, Oct 2009, 2–6


In this world that is filled with so much selfishness and despair, let us make sure that we are not contributing to the pain and suffering that is all around us.  Let us make sure that we are making the right choices in our lives and following the Savior's teachings.  Let us teach our children that loving their neighbor is more than simply a convenient way to show our righteousness.  It is the way to perfection. 
May we each find a small service to share with those who need us today. 

Wordle: SERVICE WITH A SMILE

Monday, September 20, 2010

Building a Temple


In the Book of Mormon, we read in 1 Nephi 22:25  And he numbereth his sheep and they know him,  and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.
As I read these verses today, I wondered where it was that we are trying (in our lives) to find pasture?  Is it in the "excitement" of the world?  Is it by having "fun"?  Is is your career? Or is your pasture found as you strive to follow the teachings of the Savior?
What are you looking for? 
When you continue on to the next verse, it says, "And because of the righteousness of  His people, Satan has no power, wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years, for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness and the Holy One of Israel  reigneth"
Think about this seemingly simple scripture for a moment.  When we are righteous, Satan is bound.
I find it interesting that he has no power over the hearts of the people.  As I ponder this, I think that the reason he has any power in the first place is because we give it willingly to him.  We may not realize it, but we do.  We choose his way because of our unwillingness to live the laws and the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We choose his way when we want the path to be easy and the grass to always seem green.  We choose Satan's way when we do not lay the foundation of Christ upon our soul.   "As the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple was being laid, with footings sixteen feet wide, President Brigham Young discovered the workmen were using a soft stone. The work was halted, the soft stone taken out and replaced with giant blocks of granite. He declared: 'We are building this temple to stand through the millennium' (LeGrand Richards, Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 81.)
As big as those stone were, I doubt that it was an easy task to take out a stone and put another in it's place.  Our bodies are supposed to be temples too.  So, are we building both our bodies and spirits to last through the millennium?  Or are we just kind of coasting along with soft stone for the corners?
I think what I am trying to say is that it is up to us to make sure that Jesus Christ is our cornerstone.  If  He is not, than we need to take the steps to put Him there. 
So, what is one thing that you could do this week to bring yourself closer to God?  What is one habit you can change?  One thing you can do?  (or not do for that matter!).  What do you need to do in your life to bring Him back to the cornerstone? 
Notice, that I did not say how many things!  I just asked for one.  I have found that when I change the soft stones out of my life one at a time, they have the tendancy not to move back in.  So this week, I only want you to change one thing and see if it makes a difference.   

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Devotional - Whom the Lord Loveth




The strongest tree in the forest is not the one that is sheltered from the storm and hidden from the sun.  It's the one that stands out in the open where it must struggle for its existence against the fierce winds and pouring rains and the scorching sun.


My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:5-7, 11).



Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you — Wherefore, ye must needs be chastened and stand rebuked before my face (Doctrine and Covenants 95:1, 2).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Simple Moment

This Moment





A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I don't know the answer if you don't ask the right question!

My sweet daughter, Anya, came to me last night and wanted some help with her school project.  She was supposed to make a poster highlighting the Scientific Method, which the fourth grade is studying in school.  She had the poster half finished and had written the Acronymn SHEEP for the poster.  I looked at her and asked, "What does sheep mean?" 
"I don't know" Anya replied, "That is why I need you to help me.  If I knew the answer than I wouldn't need your help!"  She was getting just a little bit testy about the situation, as she had been working on it by herself for a while.  So, I spent an hour looking up SHEEP online and the Scientific Method along with it.  I had no luck!  I did not learn that method counting sheep, so I am not at all sure how to help her.
"Mom", she said, "you HAVE to know the answer!"
"Sweetheart, you have to ask the right questions first"
I explained to her what the scientific method was, but I could not (no matter how hard I tried) figure out how to make that method spell sheep.  Finally, she looked at me and told me that it would be alright.  She would ask for help in class.  Her teacher knew ALL the answers.  Then she went off to bed and went to sleep.
Meanwhile, I kept looking for sheep.  I was not successful.  Anya went off to school, talked with her teacher, completed her project and earned all her points.  She asked the right questions to the right person.
In desperation this morning, I called her teacher on the phone and asked.  I wanted to know what it was in case it comes up again this year.  She explained to me that the acronym was one she had made up to help the kids remember what the Scientific Method was.  Really???  No wonder I couldn't find it anywhere!  What happened to text books anyway???   Than she shared it with me.

S = See and observe
H= hypothesis
E= Form your Experiment
E= Do your Experiment
P= Proove Results

I knew about the scientific method, I learned about it and I still remember.  No where in what I learned did we have experiment twice!  I am telling you, these kids are learning things they never taught me in school.  Thank goodness they are so smart!!  If they had to wait for me to get the answer, well, lets just say that I would never be asking the right questions to the right persons!  

Sometimes, learning the Gospel is a lot like my daughters poster project.  You can't get the answers you need until you learn to ask the right questions.  Heavenly Father wants to bless us.  He is waiting to bless us.  But He is also teaching us.  Part of that process involves the need on our parts to ask for His help and guidance.  It doesn't matter how eloquent you are.  It doesn't matter how other people think of you.  The only thing that is important is your own faith and your desire to pray and ask.  Our Heavenly Father has promised us in the Doctrine and Covenants:


"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things--that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."  D&C 42:61
So, what questions do you need to ask?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Things Cannot Always Be Fixed

Today, I am reminded that we all go through hard times.  That, often, things are not as simple as they appear.  That others my not know or even think that we are in pain.  Today, I have watched others hurt and tried my best to comfort and found myself hurting for their pain.  Today, I realize that I cannot fix everything, or even most things.  There are things that each of us need to experience so that we can grow.  Sometimes those things, cannot be "fixed" they must simply be endured.
My daughter once asked me, "Mom, why do the bad things always happen to our family?"  I did not have the answer then, but as I have pondered this question, I have come to believe that our trials are a blessing to us.  Or rather, they will be a blessing some other time, at a later date.  Maybe now, we don't know why things are happening, or what we are supposed to learn from them.  But later, we will look back and see that every time God gives us a trial, He also sends a blessing.  Sometimes, it takes years to see it, but it is there.  The old saying, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window" has been so true in my life.  We just, occasionally, have a problem seeing the window as a blessing.  
I think of Helen Keller.  She is one of my heroes!  Think how terrible it would be to be literally locked inside yourself.  To not be able to see or hear or communicate with those around you.  Yet, through this great tragedy, there came about ways and means to help literally thousands of people throughout time.  She faced trials greater than any that I have faced.  I can not even imagine what it must have been like to have a voice inside that no one else could understand.  But as terrible as her trials were, look at the blessings that took place.  She not only learned how to communicate, she learned the value and meaning of true friendship.  She spoke in public, she wrote, she continues to influence the way children with disabilities are taught today.
Our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom, knows exactly what we need in our lives that will help us to return to Him.  He knows us, all of our deepest, darkest secrets.  He loves us so much.  So today, my message is one of eternal love.  Never think for a moment that you are alone.  All of your hurts have been felt.  Each time you experience sadness or despair, He is there.  He loves you no matter what terrible things you think you might have done, no matter what your past has been.  He watches you, He weeps with you, He loves you.
Remember, that we only see a part of our lives.  We do not see the future nor do we always remember the past.  We live in the here and now.  We see what is right in front of us.  If we had the power to look over our entire life, than we would see the patterns and the threads.  We would see how the dark is sometimes just as important in the making of us as the light.
I believe that you can not ever start over.  You can not change the past.  Always, parts of it will come with you.  But you can start from now, right this minute, and change the ending of your life.  You can change and influence your decisions from this moment on.
You can come back to Him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pioneer Heritage



Pioneers
by Patricia A Pitterle

Immigrants traveled hundreds of miles
leaving behind things they had loved and handed down
from generation to generation.
They left their familiar homes, and often their friends and families.
They came to America
with firm convictions, unity of purpose
and a true love of the Lord.
Crossing the vast ocean
and the wide expanse of prairie, 
They suffered hunger and thirst
and the weather was often a bitter enemy in their midst.
Many lived through the hardships and trials
but others did not.  
Friends and family were too often left
in shallow, unmarked graves.
The survivors often gave all they had to make the crossing
and came to the valley at last
with only themselves left to give.
Their offering was complete 
and they joined the saints in Zion
building up the kingdom of God here upon the earth.
He had gathered 
His children 
home.

We too,
must find within ourselves the willingness to sacrifice,
to share with others those things which are
most sacred and dear.
With firm convictions, unity of purpose,
and the love of the gospel in our hearts
we cross the large oceans of opinion
and the prairies of disbelief and ridicule,
seeking those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
We must hold high the lamp that leads and guides
to eternal life
so that some may see and find the way.
There are many who will choose not to look,
for they have buried themselves
in the darkness of pride and worldly persuasions.
Those of us who diligently seek
are often asked to give all that we have
to the service of our Lord
until at last, we stand before Him
with only ourselves left to give.
Our offering is complete
And we join the saints and become one, in Zion.
For He has gathered us,
His children,
home.


"Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church and the lifesaving blessing to all who accept its message."


Ronald A. Rasband, "The Divine Call of a Missionary," Ensign, May 2010, 51

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sabbath Devotional - Beautiful Music

I love music.  It lifts my heart, brings out my emotions, and makes me feel closer to my Heavenly Father.  This is a piece that I especially love.  It was arranged by one of my fellow Choir members.  It is sung by the Northland Pioneer College Master Chorale that my daughter and I are currently singing for.  We both sang in this production.  I hope that you feel just a little closer to heaven as you listen today.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Simple Moment

Keys Please!

This Moment



A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from our lives.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment that brings a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Nine Years Ago, Today


Today, I want to pause for a moment and remember history. I want to remember one of the saddest days in America. I want to remember the victims. The men, women and children who were going to work or play on a day that started out like any other.

On September 11, 2001, beginning at about 8:45 am, a series of terrorist attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and severely damaged the Pentagon. Commercial airliners were hijacked and flown directly into the three buildings. The first crashed into the North tower at 8:45, and about 18 minutes later the second airliner hit the South tower. At about 9:40, a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon. At about 9:58, the South tower collapsed, followed by the North tower at 10:28.

Two days later a reporter wrote: “The disaster is so great that in New York we have as yet, two days later, only guesses about how many thousands of people perished when the WTC towers collapsed. ”

At the time then-President George W Bush said: “Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbours. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America — with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbours who came to give blood and help in any way they could. Immediately following the first attack"

Today, may we each take a moment to pause and remember a piece of history that we are never likely to truly forget. Where I was, and what I was doing on that day at that time is forever burned in my heart and mind. May we take a second or two to remember those who gave their lives on this day, nine years ago, as well as all those serving in the military, both here and abroad, and those who serve as firefighters and police officers in our cities today.


 



"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love."
--- Washington Irving

Friday, September 10, 2010

OH MY!


Not too long ago, I took the girls in to see their pediatrician.   We found out (much to their dismay) that the each needed one or two shots.  The first one got so upset that she fell completely apart in the doctor's office.  I decided that it would be easier to let them calm down and bring them back later.  So we waited.  I let them know the day before that we were going in to get shots.  They were not happy!  By the time we walked into the Doctor's office, Anya had worked herself up into a full blown panic attack.  We decided to do her first.  She was screaming, grabbing her arms and crying loudly.  All of a sudden, the nurse said, "see, it is all over".  Instantly her tears dried up and she got a rather stunned look on her face.  She looked up at the nurse and said, "Is that all???  That wasn't too bad!"  Than she hopped off the chair and went to sit over by the other girls and started reading her book.  The nurse looked over at me with raised eyebrows and I mouthed back to her, "They are drama queens!"  After all, what else was there to say?

I have realized that we can all be drama queens (or kings for that matter) about different things in our lives.  I know that I worry over so many things.  How I look, what people think, what I will say, what someone else will reply, and so forth.  I sometimes have a hard time just being in the moment without bringing all that extra emotion along for the ride.
What I learned from Anya is that the expectation of a problem can sometimes be worse than the actual problem.  Sometimes how bad something is or isn't, is really all in our heads.  Maybe, I need to remember to trust my Heavenly Father in the little things as well as the big ones.  Maybe I need to learn not to panic quite as often and wait to see what happens.   After all, who am I to tell Him what I really need.  I think He knows me just a little bit better than I know myself.  So, I think, just maybe, He knows how to get me back home to Him.
And isn't that what this life is really all about?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Packages


The Packages come into the Post Office every day.  I receive anywhere from 100 to 300 every day of the week.  (Except Sunday's when there is no one in my office!)  We have ten shelving units that we place the packages on.  They wrap around in a u-shaped configuration.  They are in numerical order for the last digit of the address.  If your address ends in one, that the package is on the "1" shelf.  If your address ends in a two, than it is placed on the "2" shelf.
It is a good system, but can be just the slightest bit confusing when there are a lot of packages to look through.  Sometimes the small packages end up under a larger one and the "get lost" until something is cleared out of the way and they are "found again.  The bigger, bolder boxes are always the easiest to spot and the ones that get noticed the quickest.  The smaller the package, the easier it is to lose it in the shuffle of all the other packages.
The one thing I have noticed is that everyone wants their packages.  They don't care if they are large or small, big or little, wrapped in brightly colored paper or just a plain, brown box.  The people in my town want to receive every package that is for them.

Sometimes, I think that life is a lot like the Post Office where I work.  People are like the packages that I receive.  Some people are large in stature and importance.  They put themselves forward with flashy containers or fancy papers.  Some are quiet and reserved.  Hiding behind the bigger, more easily spotted people.  Yet, each of us are just as valuable as the other in our own way.  We each have a purpose and a calling.  It doesn't matter what we look like.  It only matters that we are willing and able to serve.  So, don't be intimidated by what you perceive as the packaging of others.   You also have your place.  It won't be the same place as anyone else.  After all, think how boring this world would be if we were all Postmasters!  Our Heavenly Father does not need or want us all to be the same.  There is a job and a purpose that only you can fill.  It is up to you to step up, step out, and just do it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Bulletin Board


I am a Postmaster in a small office.  I love my job, but living in a small town can be a little daunting when you have always been a city girl.  One of the first things I did when I moved here was to put up a bulletin board in the lobby.  It is not colorful, it is not fancy, it is just a write on / wipe off board that I bought with my own money at the Costco that is three hours away.  On my board, I quote a thought every day.  I spend a lot of time finding them.  I use all ten books that I own that are full of the best quotations, as well as the internet.  I always try to find something that "speaks" to my heart.
The amazing thing about my bulletin board, is that people come from all over town just to read it.  I try not to be too religious, because my goal is to lift others up, not put anyone else down.  I try to find things that are kind and thought provoking.  I have even been known to use a little humor from time to time.
There is never a day that goes by that one or two (or even more) people come in just to say how much they love reading the daily quote.  In all the years that I have done this (over four now), I have only had one complaint and that was from someone who did not live here and wanted me to do something that was against the rules.  When I would not, he claimed that I was violating my own quote (it happened to be on attitude that day!)
My point is simply this, we each have our own small corner of the world where we live, work and associate.  It is up to us what we do with it.  We can ignore everyone else.  We can wish things were different.  We can wish everyone around us would change.  Or we can work at making our own little corner just a bit better than it was before.
I started out doing the board to remind myself to be a better person.  To remind myself that I can be kind, generous, and good.  Somehow, in making myself a little bit happier, I have had the added benefit of blessing the lives of those whom I serve.
I think that is really what life is about after all.

Elder John H. Groberg once said:  "We are all missionaries. All of our words and actions have eternal consequences—for they influence not only ourselves, but others as well".


Who are you going to serve today?



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Room


Miracle's talk was a little harder as she really wanted to do a story.  We had to search for hours (I am NOT exaggerating!) to find the perfect one.  When she found this one, it touched both of our hearts and we loved it.  I loved that analogy of the Room.  I also love the visual in what the Atonement really means.  Here is her story.  I think it is amazing.  

Mosiah 4:2
And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.  And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying:  Oh have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.



The Room by Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day


The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade of 10,000 workers on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing a "Labor Day" on one day or another, and Congress passed a bill to establish a federal holiday in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.


Did you know???

In 1938, the first minimum wage instituted was 25 cents an hour...it's now $7.25.

President Cleveland signed the Labor Day Bill in an effort to win back votes. He had ordered federal troops to intervene in the Pullman Yards Strike which aroused sympathy across the country and more strikes were called to show solidarity with the workers.

The 8 hour day started in 1935, under the National Labor Relations Act which also provided us with the OSHA and child labor laws.

There is no federal law mandating "paid" vacations.

The "coffee break" started in 1882 in Stoughton, WI. Norwegian housewives, who were going to replace their husbands at a tobacco factory because they had left to work for another company, would not go to work unless they got a break in the afternoon for coffee.

On average, workers have been with their current employer for 4.1 years and only 10% have been there for more than 20 years.

In 2008, the average earning for male and female full time year round workers was $46,367 and $35,745 respectively.


Americans work in a wide variety of occupations. Here is a sampling:
Occupation       Number of employees
Gaming services workers  85,000
Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists718,000
Chefs and head cooks281,000
Firefighters258,000
Musicians, singers and related workers179,000
Bakers183,000
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs286,000
Service station attendants  96,000
Farmers and ranchers825,000
Pharmacists232,000
Teachers6.5 million  

7.3 million
Number of workers who hold down more than one job. "Moonlighters" comprise 5 percent of the working population. Of these, 3.8 million work full time at their primary job and part time at their other job, and about 293,000 work full time at both jobs.



24.3 minutes
The average time it takes to commute to work.
Of the 233 counties with populations of 250,000 or more, Queens (41.7 minutes), Richmond (41.3 minutes), Bronx (40.8 minutes) and Kings (39.7 minutes) -– four of the five counties that comprise New York City - experienced the longest average commute-to-work times.

More Than 100 hours
The amount of time the average American spends commuting to work each year. (This exceeds the typical two weeks of vacation time taken by many U.S. workers over the course of a year.)

As we celebrate the day to honor the American Worker, be mindful that we are lucky enough to be part of the 154.4 million people that are part of the nation's labor force, we get paid vacations and paid for the holiday!

"Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."
Samuel Gompers, Founder of the American Federation of Labor


"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received".   ~ Albert Einstein~