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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

There is Room

I really love to listen to Elder Holland speak.  He reminds me of the person that I should be.  I do not like it when people judge me, and I also do not like it when I find myself judging others.  I used to look at people and judge myself by what I perceived them to be.  I have learned that is not a true estimation of me (or them).  I have found some amazing people who do not fit whatever standards that I set for myself.  It does not make them less or me more.  I should only ever judge myself against myself.  Who I want to be, against who I really am. 
I love this quote because there are so many people with questions.  I have questions.  I have always had questions.  It is just that, as I grow older, I am more willing to wait for the answers.  I guess I am looking forward to the next life when all the answers will be there for me to find.  
When I was younger, I wanted everything to be mapped out for me.  I wanted the answers to be written somewhere that I could read and find.  I thought that every single thing was in black and white.  There were no grey areas in life.  It was either wrong or right.  No in-between.  Now I know better.  There are so many shades of grey that I am surprised when I do find my own answers.  I am learning that it is perfectly OK to see things differently than anyone else.  It is fine not to be on the same page as long as we can reach across the distance and be tolerant and understanding.  
I am learning that kindness means a lot more than being right.  And that it can make all the difference in acceptance and love.  I have learned that we don't have to have all the answers to just love each other.  
None of us have all the answers, and every single one of us have questions about doctrine, gospel, scriptures, commandments and even trials and blessings.  Some peoples questions are more intense than others.  Some struggle to understand what is happening and why it is happening.  Some struggle with things that have changed.  Others struggle with the questions of why bad things happen to good people.  
I think the point of this is that the closer to God we become, the less we will need to know every answer.  Sometimes, it is OK to wait for a while and see what happens.  Sometimes answers come after we have our own experiences.  Sometimes answers come through prayers, or friendship, or reading the scriptures,  Sometimes, the answers may never seem to come.  
There are so many things I used to need answers to.  And some I have actually received.  Others I am still working on.  But the one thing I have learned is to not let the things I don't understand cause me to doubt the things that I know are true.   
There are things that I know as surely as I know the sun will rise and the night will come.  There are even more things that I don't know.  
So hold on and remember that someday, we will have the answers to everything we want to know.  The time will come when I suspect that we will look back and wonder how we ever doubted.  When we will see the hand of God through every moment of our lives.  When we will realize that He did not cause the bad and that he walked through it with us every step of the way.  
For me, I refuse to doubt my faith.  For me, church is for all of us imperfect sinners.  It is the place I go when I need to feel comfort and faith.  For me, there is room in that inn for each one of us.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Do we Complete or Compete

We live in a very competitive society.  I know that my work environment is competitive and sometimes, even my church environment is competitive also.  One thing that really has helped me, is to find things that I love about whatever I am doing.  When I manage to love my own life, it makes it easier not to be jealous about something that someone else has. 
I will use church as an example.  A few years ago, I was called to be in the young women's presidency.  I have never worked with the young women before and all three of my girls were there so I really loved it.  I went out of my way to do the job to the best of my ability and was so excited to be there.  I was there less than a year and was called back to the primary as a teacher.  I couldn't help but think I must have done something wrong. 
The young women's president assured me that she tried to keep me, but the primary needed me more.  Understand, I have been serving in primary for more years than I can count.  I was 14 when I was first called to teach.  I love the primary, but I really love doing something different once in awhile.  I also don't believe in turning down a calling, no matter how disappointed I might be, so back to primary I went. 
I ended up teaching autistic children, something I had never done before.  I also ended up filling in for other teachers when they did not show up.  I discovered that I had a talent for teaching a lesson with little preparation.  So many years of teaching have helped to make me, in some way, familiar with the lessons.  I tried to always be willing to do anything that was needed without complaining.  Then, in the summer of last year, I was called to be the primary chorister.  This is perhaps the only calling in Primary that I haven't had the privilege of doing.  I wasn't sure how it would go, or how qualified I would be.  I struggled to find my own place in the teaching and singing time.  Then I realized, that I did not have to be like any other chorister the kids have ever had.  I could be myself and teach them to love music. 
So, I am not competitive with anyone else for singing.  I do things my own way.  We have bells and egg shakers and scarves.  We have learned more songs this year than ever before.  I made leading batons for them to "help" me and learn new things.  I love this calling.  I love these kids.  In short, the more competitive I am not, the easier it is to find my own place.  The easier it becomes to make singing time and happy time for these children. 
I have made books with the songs in them for the teachers and enjoy involving them in the singing.  The children have really blossomed as we learn together that they are pretty much capable of learning anything, (and even singing it loudly!). 
I am learning that by completing others, it makes my own calling so much easier to do.  I love having this place of completeness in my life.    It has taken me a long time to get here, even if the only person I was competing against was often myself.  As I allow the support and encouragement of others to surround me, I recognize the miracle of harmony in my life.  I am learning that Heavenly Father really does know where I needed to be.  I am grateful that I allowed Him to lead the way. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bad news comes with a loud bang!

Psalms 112:7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings:
his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
I keep getting bad news.  Sometimes it follows me around like breathing.  I went to the dr. this week and found all kinds of problems.  I am pretty sure most (and maybe even all of them) are related to stress.  I know that I feel exhausted.  I know that I am struggling, I know that the depression and anxiety that are my constant battles have been rearing ugly heads on a regular basis.  Sometimes life is just plain hard.  Sometimes it throws you a curve ball that you really didn't plan on dealing with.  You would think after the craziness of the last 4 years, I would be used to curve balls.  Instead, I am exhausted and wish I were an ostrich that could hide my head in the sand and just pretend it was all perfect.  I have learned that the bad news in my life comes with lots of loud noise and confusion.  It can be so overwhelming that I can't hear the quiet whisper of the good things to come.  I love that scripture in Psalms.  Don't ask me how I found it today.  I just turned the page and it was there.  Promising me that I don't need to be afraid of evil tidings.  I just need to fix my heart and trust the Lord for the rest.  I just need to breathe in and out and let it go.     

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What I learned - Our Father's Glorious Plan

Our Father’s Glorious Plan

April 2017 General Conference

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Mikayla Joy

A single photo 

– no words –
capturing a moment from our lives.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment
I want to pause, savor and remember.

A moment
that brings a smile to my lips, 
and joy to my heart.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Silence and Smiling

I am working on this.  Silence as an answer.  I get frustrated when people yell at me and behave badly.  I want to lash out with words to wipe the smirk off their face.  I know that I cannot, but I get very tired of two year old temper tantrums in the supposedly adult population of the world I live in.  I am exhausted by the bad behavior of others.  I get equally exhausted by the frustrations of my teens who are getting ready to get out of school.  It is finals, field trips, graduation, senior projects, senior trips, concerts and activity after activity after activity.  Culminating in a wild summer with cousins and the other daughters summer earning money by babysitting. 
This week, I am working really hard on responding to negativity with silence and a smile.  I just have to make sure that they do not perceive my smile as laughter.  That could get me in a whole different mess.  It could also heighten the misunderstandings that already surround me.
Today, I am smiling more and frowning less.  It does seem to make a difference.  Maybe, not so much in the way others behave, but definitely in my own level of stress, and my own feelings of peace.  It helps me to breath.  I makes those bad moments seem, no so bad after all. 
I am not sure that silence is always the best answer, but I am sure that I should use it more often.  People really want to be listened to.  They want to explain what is wrong.  So, even when I know, I am trying harder to give them the chance to put it into their own words.  The chance to express themselves.  The chance to hear their own voices in all the noise that surrounds us.
Now, if only it worked for getting my teenagers to do the dishes.......

Monday, May 8, 2017

Not what you think I said

This one gets me into trouble on a regular basis.  So many times, in my work or even at church, people think that they understood something I said that I never meant the way they heard, and can't even remember saying.  Take work for example.  I had someone get really angry with me because he said that one of us told him it was fine that he didn't renew his box.  Problem is, none of us would ever say that because if you don't renew your box, you lose it and the lock gets changed and the mail gets sent back to sender.  It really is not a choice we have.  The computer system tells us when to close a box and what boxes to close.  With nearly 3000 PO Boxes, it is not something that I can even begin to remember. 
That is just one instance of a big misunderstanding.  I seem to attract those like some people attract flies.  Even if I don't say it, it is always, always, always my fault.  I have been very stressed lately.  At work, we are two clerks down and I only have four to begin with.  We are working weekends, holidays and early mornings.  Mostly I am just tired.  And people sometimes (or even often) take advantage of that. 
My boss told me today that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  So, hopefully that means the hiring process is moving along at a nice pace now.  The wheels on this bus seem to move oh so slow!
I cannot believe how exhausted I really am.  Of course, it probably doesn't help that I run for the fire department nearly every night, and there are so many things going on in my personal life. 
My husband is having surgery on Friday, My daughter is graduating at the end of the month.  I am behind on getting the announcements out and on doing her collage for her pictures for her friends.  She is also getting ready to go on her senior trip and thinks she needs new pants with everything else. 
Sometimes, I know that I say the right things, but people just hear what they want to hear, and they don't hear what they don't want to.  It is so hard for me to say no, but when I do, people don't believe that I mean it.  I must be easy to convince that I am wrong or something.
This week, I am trying a little harder to take care of myself.  I am writing, I am reading my scriptures, I am trying to be kind even when I say no.  It doesn't always work, but it helps if I am not quite so frustrated with the life that I am living.  I just don't cope well when I feel like those around me are taking advantage of me.  So, this week, I am only going to be responsible for what I say, and not for what they want to hear.  I am only responsible for what I mean, and not what anyone else perceives.  I am only responsible for me.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sabbath day scribblings - A God of Love

Luke 9:51-56King James Version (KJV)

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
See also President Deiter F. Uchtdorf's talk, Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What I learned - His daily guiding hand

His Daily Guiding Hand
April 2017 General Conference
By M. Joseph BroughSecond Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency

"Heavenly Father knows what you and I need
better than anyone else".
This talk was comforting to me. 
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained: “Our Father in Heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving us marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him.”
Listen to those words: Heavenly Father knows what you and I need better than anyone else. As a result, He has developed a personal care package suited to each one of us. It has many components. It includes His Son and the Atonement, the Holy Ghost, commandments, scriptures, prayer, prophets, apostles, parents, grandparents, local Church leaders, and many others—all to help us return to live with Him someday.
I love the idea of a care package from a loving Heavenly Father.  Something is included in it that we will all need.  I am trying to teach someone about this care package and answer their questions about the gospel as they struggle with a fledgling testimony.  What a beautiful thought, that Heavenly Father has given us something that is unique and just for us.  That He knows and loves us individually. 
He talks about the commandments being part of this care package.  That they are there to protect us from harm.  Most of the troubles that I have seen in my life, come from at least a partial failure to keep the commandments.  Why is it, when we do wrong, we want forgiveness and pardon?  But when others do wrong, sometimes we want someone to say that we are better than they are?  Sometimes, people act like the commandments apply to everyone except ourselves. 
I love that Heavenly Father wants to bless us.  He wants us to come home.  He wants us to believe that we can. 
My favorite part was when he states: 
"Perhaps Heavenly Father’s greatest care package component is described in these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
To teach us all that we must do, Jesus Christ led the way by giving the perfect example that we must try to emulate. He pleads with us with arms outstretched to come, follow Him.9 And when we fail, which we all do, He reminds us, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.”
What a wonderful gift! Repentance is not a punishment; it is a privilege. It is a privilege that leads and guides us. No wonder the scriptures declare that we should teach nothing save repentance".
I wonder how many of us look upon repentance as a gift?  It is not a punishment for bad behavior.  It is our chance to change and come back to God.  It is our welcome home into His enfolding arms. 
In my pride, I wish that I were perfect.  I wish that I did not need anyone else to help me get back to Heaven.  I wish I could say that I DESERVED to go there.  But I know my sins better than anyone.  I know that I will never get there on my own.  I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father, who gave His some Jesus Christ, that I could have the opportunity to live with Him again.  There is nothing in me that deserves His love.  He gives it unconditionally and in spite of my worst behavior.  Daily in my life, I see His guiding hand leading me, guiding me and walking beside me as I struggle to find my way.  How blessed I am for His loving care package that is designed to get me safely home again. 


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Graduating

A single photo 

– no words –
capturing a moment from our lives.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment
I want to pause, savor and remember.

A moment
that brings a smile to my lips, 
and joy to my heart.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sharing trials

It is easy to be there for someone else.  It is easy for me to feel needed, wanted and valued.  It might be a great gift for my friend, but it is an even greater gift for me to participate in helping lift them and take care of their needs.  For me, the gift is in the helping.  It is in feeling needed.  It is in doing a good deed. 
I have a hard time letting others do things for me.  I have a hard time in showing that weakness to them.  In being unable to help myself. 
One of the greatest gifts I ever received was done by a loving visiting teacher.  I was pregnant with my last baby and having a very difficult time.  I was sick, I had gestational diabetes.  I was tired, I worked every day, and we had 10 children at the time, most of them lived at home.  Most of them were teenagers who were too busy to help. 
I was exhausted, not sleeping good, and overwhelmed with being pregnant and having a new baby.  My visiting teacher came over, took one look at my situation and proceeded to take all the laundry in the house.  I objected, to no avail.  She took all the laundry home and washed and dried and folded it and brought it back the next day.  I have never in my life had a gift that meant so much to me. 
It was a totally simple act of service and love.  It was not expensive, or even hard, but it meant the world to this very exhausted mother, and I am pretty sure that it was a service rendered that she also never forgot. 
There are times to serve, and also times to be served.  There are times to take care of others, and times to be taken care of.  There are times to ache, and times to heal.  There is comfort in taking care of my friends and neighbors, and also times to be comforted and cared for. 
I am convinced that part of friendship is putting your trust in others to care for you.  It is allowing them to see your weaknesses and give you their own gift of strength.  It is love in action.     

Monday, May 1, 2017

Rock Bottom

I have hit rock bottom a couple of times in my life.  Actually, I have hit it a few more times that a couple.  I have thought each time that it couldn't possibly get any worse.  I have been wrong. 
Rock bottom seems to be the point where I can't possible stand any more pain, right this second.  
I remember being a child and one of the neighborhood kids told me the circus was coming that afternoon.  I wanted to go so bad!  I cried when my mother made me take a nap.  When I woke up, I raced outside, to have the same child tell me that I missed the only circus to come to our playground.  I was devastated.  I just knew that I was never going to see a real circus again.  Of course, I did not know that the child was teasing me.  I only knew that, because of my nap, the much looked for circus, was gone. 
As I grew, I had someone I thought was a friend.  She was kind to me to my face, but talked about me behind my back.  She gossiped and told others that I said things I did not say.  She made sure that I didn't have any other friends.  It hurt me so much when I found out that she was never really my friend.     
There are so many instances in my life when I really thought I had hit rock bottom.  And I suppose that I did at that time.  Each time, prepared me for even more difficult times to come.   If I had only known then a portion of the things I know now. 
My point is, there is always farther we can fall.  There are always worse things that can happen to us.  Perhaps the most important thing of all is to feel gratitude for what we do have. To remember that we are blessed.  To know that we are loved.  Because, in spite of all the moments where we think we have hit rock bottom, there are also the times when we have risen up and shown what we are made of and whose we really are.  There are those times, in each of our lives, when rock bottom is definitely the solid foundation for the rest of our lives.