Covet

 

freeimage-13578489-web

Elder Holland states, “It has been said that envy is the one sin to which no one readily confesses, but just how widespread that tendency can be is suggested in the old Danish proverb, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”

Really? I don’t feel like a jealous person. But if I quietly reflect on the critiques I make of people it is often rooted in jealousy. It is not an easy thing to see but when my mind is quiet and I develop ideas back to their origin I can see that I am human and there is jealousy.

A friend taught me that she told her daughter, “If your joy is only for yourself than your joy can only be as big as yourself. And that’s not a lot of joy. But if you can sincerely have joy for others than your joy can have an infinite capacity to grow.”

So how do we avoid this universal trait? I believe the first step toward change is always rooted in recognition.  I wasn’t jealous as much of people’s possessions but I looked longingly at people’s family situations, partner relationships, and opportunities. Sometimes when a friend tells me some particularly good news I will respond, “I’m 96% super happy for you and I am four percent jealous, but I am going to focus on the 96%!” Just even admitting that out loud seems to diffuse it.

Why is there so much jealousy even when we want to avoid it? Elder Holland offers this as a suggestion, “I think one of the reasons is that every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on the world’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.6

But this has never been nor will be the way of God. Our Father does not mercilessly measure us against our neighbors. He does not even compare us with others. “His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for the other. He is divinely generous to all. Toward all of his children he extends charity.” (Holland, 2002).

That is a beautiful thought but it is so far from the message that screams in our ears daily. But could it really be true that “his gestures toward on do not require of withdrawal or denial of love for the other?” Of course it is! But I need to constantly remind myself of this basic truth. Someone else succeeding is not about me failing.

I have enjoyed taking Yoga classes over the years. One of the truths that the instructor would repeat is there is no competition. As I opened my eyes and looked around the yoga class I would want to lunge deeper or reach higher. But as I closed my eyes and centered myself, I wanted to listen to my own body and move to where I could comfortably challenge myself. I was not longer concerned with keeping up to the class but could celebrate everyone accomplishment in attending. Someone else succeeding is not about me failing.

I know that God is not a respecter of persons. I know that “no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another… He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other”(Holland, 2002). May we always encourage, love, and have true joy for each other.

 

Lots of my thoughts were pulled from Elder Hollands talk, The Other Prodigal, in spring 2002. Here is the link:

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/the-other-prodigal?lang=eng

 

 

 

Covet

Tears

Image result for thirteen tears

When I was a little girl, before age eight, I used to beg my parents to put on the Carpenters record. I only wanted to hear one song- Hurting Each Other. I used to listen to that song and just weep and weep. I used to ask my parents, “Why are they hurting each other?”

My parents would not always oblige to my desires because it confused them to see one so young crying. I would promise that if they played the song this time there would be no tears. But the song was too much. The water would flow freely from my eyes. Eventually, I was cut off from the song.

One of my favourite scriptures, and (I really like the Byrds song), “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:..

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;(Eccl. 3:1, 4, ).

So why do we fear the weeping? Why do we not let freely out what is bursting inside? The Lord knew when he sent us to mortality that there would be a time to weep. For one who was blessed with the gift of weeping it was a new idea that people would hold in tears. You physically can’t cry forever. You will reach an end. When the snot and tears are all blended into one mess, you will stop and feel the calming effect.

It is strange that tears are the physical expression for intense joy and profound sorrow.  The same physical reaction for the two extremes in emotion. Perhaps that is why an eternal perfected being like God can still weep. I think weeping is an eternal truth because it is so intertwined with love. Without caring deeply situations would have no effect.

I want to be a safe place where friends can cry. Why would we even hide our tears from each other? Did Mary and Martha hide their tears from Jesus when the death of their brother hurt them so? Did He, our Exemplar, try and hide the tears back? Maybe we need to stop hiding our tears and start sharing them. Then we may feel the healing power that comes through releasing them and letting others help dry them up. I do look forward to the day when the Savior shall wipe away all tears. God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes. ( Revelation 7:17)

I want to be someone who weeps. Often we cry because we love so deeply. I think tears are courageous and beautiful. I don’t ever want to stop sharing them and won’t ever stop shedding them.
Besides, God still weeps ( see Moses 7) and if our goal is to become like Him, than we must endure weeping. But we are promised “weeping may endure for night but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5)  The challenge is to try and love God for giving you the opportunity to weep… or to love… which ever way you look at it.

Copy and paste the link to hear the Carpenters song and see if it makes you cry too

https://www.bing.com/search?q=carpentors+we+go+on+hurting+eachother&form=EDGNTC&qs=PF&cvid=d9710d58861a435dafc0dfcbd8d1a3de&pq=carpentors+we+go+on+hurting+eachother&cc=CA&setlang=en-US

 

Tears

Soli Deo Gloria!

Image result for Handel messiah how he wrote it SGD

The Latin term, Soli Deo Gloria, conveys glory only be to God. The letters appear on Handel’s Messiah and was used by Bach and Graupner as well. These words signify that the work was created to honor and praise the one true God. I guess these men saw their accomplishments as what they truly were; gifts from God. They recognized that they were instruments being played and rehearsed that light, and love could be imparted to all God’s children through them.

 I was introduced to a scripture that portrays this same message. It’s found in the second book of Nephi, thirty second chapter verse 9. “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”

This is one truth that I wish I had known earlier. I try and teach it to my children often. “Ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father… that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” Imagine how much more perspective I would have had before and after a basketball game. All the sudden the worldly outcomes wouldn’t have mattered as much as the act and in what intent it was given and received.  

I first heard this idea used as Jenny Oaks Baker described her parents encouraged her to memorize this verse.  Before any concerts or recitals she would recite it to herself. It become very literally a soli deo gloria, or a prayer that her performance would be for the welfare of her soul. I remember printing this off for one of my basketball girls too. Imagine what difference it would make if you weren’t hung up on outcomes but just in the simple act of your performance being a testament of your love for God.  

As a doctrine, soli deo gloria, means that all actions are to glorify God to the exclusion of our own pride and self-gratification. Can you imagine if every performance on the stage of life was offered in that humility, how much would our confidence grow?  

 

Image result for Handel messiah how he wrote it SGD

I found this story on a website at the bottom of the page.

“In April of 1737 at 52 Handel seems to have suffered from a stroke which incapacitated him, making it impossible for him to perform (he played the spinet or keyboard) or conduct, because it had paralyzed his right arm and he was right handed. He also complained of blurred vision. The truth was as well, that falling in and out of favor with royalty left him alternately in and out of money, and because he was not a wise businessman he in fact lost a fortune in the opera business and, depressed and in debt, gave it up in 1740.

It was only shortly after these calamities in Handel’s life that he came across a libretto composed by Charles Jennens. Composed entirely of Scripture portions, mainly from the Old Testament, Handel was deeply affected when he read this libretto.  It was divided into three parts: 1) prophecies about the coming messiah (largely drawing on Isaiah); 2) the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection of Christ; 3) the End times with Christ’s final victory over sin and death, largely based in the book of Revelation. Inspired,  Handel decided he must compose an oratorio based on this libretto. The story of the composition of this most famous of all Christian musical works has been told variously. What we can say with certainty is that he composed the work in a short period of time during the summer of 1741, and when he got to the Hallelujah chorus, his assistant found him in tears saying “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”.  Today of course it is the first two parts of this work that mostly get performed.  The Hallelujah chorus is in fact the conclusion of part two, but in performances today it regularly is used to climax and conclude the Christmas performance of the first part of the oratorio.”

Image result for Handel messiah how he wrote it SGD

“Fortunately for Handel, King George decided that this work was worthy of being attended and supported, and this in turn led to one of the most interesting traditions connected to this masterpiece. When the Hallelujah chorus began to play in the performance the King attended he abruptly stood up, apparently as a way of indicating he recognized that Christ was the King of Kings. Now it was normal protocol that if the King stood at any time, no one in his presence sat, and so the entire audience stood for the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.  This tradition has been maintained even until today.  This morning in Estes Chapel we did our annual Messiah singalong complete with fine soloists and a small chamber orchestra. And sure enough, everyone knew to stand when we got to the Hallelujah chorus.  Handel could never have anticipated that this work would become perhaps the most performed piece of classical music in all of history, all to the glory of Christ.  And he certainly could not have anticipated the many and various versions of the performance of Messiah.”
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/bibleandculture/2009/12/handels-messiah-the-story-behind-the-classic.html#Ic6KQL7WwALga1DI.99

This is what I hope my blog may become. I am not a composer of music and I do not play any instrument, but I hope every entry on my blog may end with the same three letters SDG. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Fresh Flowers

Image result for fleuriste

I have always loved receiving a fresh bouquet of flowers. The beauty, the aroma, the mise-en-scene… everything about them is rejuvenating. It’s no wonder when we are sick that people want to bring us something beautiful that reminds us of life and it’s absolute beauty.

Being sick these past few weeks I felt showered in flowers. I had two beautiful bouquets in my bedroom. One bouquet sitting in my living room, two on the kitchen table and even a bouquet in my bathroom. When I saw them I sincerely smiled and felt the love of those who has offered them.

I am always puzzled when I hear, “Flowers, what a waste of money.” Perhaps we see too much as wasted. Is it not better to say, “Welcome flowers, I know we only have a short time together; but I want to savor this time?” Each petal and each color is going to remind me of the magnificence of God creations. To remember that the measure of their creation is to bring me joy and remind me that winter will end, bodies will heal and I am loved. Doesn’t it only make sense that we offer them in times of grief and recovery?

I have since had to bid adieu to all those lovely arrangements. The joy the memory of those flowers created reminds me of the beautiful frailty of our own mortality. I love how God states, “the good things which come of the earth, … for orchards, or for gardens,…Yea, all things which come of the earth, … are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;… for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:17-19)

 

To love something …even for only a short season… is enough. These flowers come quietly radiating joy and love and ever so quickly bid farewell. This is the pattern of many wonderful things in this world.   As James Barrie, the Scottish poet, declared, “God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives” (paraphrasing James Barrie, in Laurence J. Peter, comp., Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time [1977], 335)

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Flowers

Smiling Jesus

Related image

Today this picture was shown in the gospel study womens group, Relief Society, I attend each Sunday. As the teacher asked people to express what they saw and how they felt there was beautiful discussion and comments. The room was full of the spirit. Although, I was unsettled because I do not care for this piece of art. Don’t get me wrong I love my Savior but somehow this picture doesn’t speak to me like other ones do. That is the beauty of art. It speaks to us in different ways. I hesitated and wondered if my comment would be of any benefit but I thought maybe there are others in the class who think what I do. I shared for them.  So, I raised my hand and said something like, “The beauty of art is that it speaks to us all individually just like two people can read the scriptures and each take home different messages. I love that women can see this picture and pick up beautiful qualities of the Savior. I can appreciate their sentiments and love the Spirit in the room. Although I agree with comments that are made and love the attributes of the Savior that have been expressed, I do not like this painting and I wouldn’t put it in my home. I prefer a more reverent image. ”

Usually I don’t mull over in my mind what I say in Relief Society. If I feel prompted to say something, I just say it. Often, when I am preparing for the lesson, the Spirit will remind me of moments that I can share, or the Spirit will prompt me to ask a question and I’ll try and be brave enough to ask. But today was different. I felt alone and isolated in my comment. Maybe it’s not okay to express a countering point of view, maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and just went along with the discussion. Does it really benefit others to hear a different perspective or are they offended if we don’t all agree?

Ironically my daughter came into the room as I was composing this blog post and saw the picture and said, “Oh, creepy.”

Well, I can’t change the past but I can move forward. It was our ward conference and the Stake Relief Society presidency was visiting. After the meeting, one of the women approached me. She thanked me for my comments. She told me of the story that their womens group was changing the art in their room and she brought this picture for consideration. The group voted and they were equally divided for and against the picture. She also showed it to her family with the same results. I appreciated her kindness and concern for me. Today she was a tender mercy for me and reminds me it’s okay to speak your mind. God created me with all these wonderful ideas and insights and desires and it’s okay that we don’t all agree. As long as we respect and listen and learn from others. That is why we meet and learn together.

I prefer this picture… even though it is quite similar

Image result for del parson christ in red robe

Take a look at the left half of the painting:

Posted Image

The coloring is darker. The lines are harder. Notice the broad, squared shoulder, the set and focused eye, the determination in the mouth. This is a just God who fights the battles of those who follow Him and keep His commandments.

Now look at the right side of the painting:

Posted Image

Smiling Jesus

Bataclan

change_homeSometimes our lives are changed in a moment. This was true of Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène.  She decided to attend a concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris on November 13, 2015. This was a concert no one would forget as terrorists opened fire in the concert killing 89 innocent people.

I have always loved France and Paris. It’s my mothers native land. I served my mission there. Much of my family still lives there. On my sweet sixteen I walked the streets of the Champs-Elysées. I have lived over two years of my life in that country. To use the verb love doesn’t quite do justice for my sentiments of that place.

I was horrified over the attacks as many others. It was interesting to see peoples reactions. Forever in my mind will be the actions of Hélène’s husband Antoine Leiris. Three days after his wife’s death he composed a letter to his wifes’s killers. I find great comfort, strength and wisdom in his words.

“On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. He went on to say, “You’re asking for it, but responding with hatred and anger is falling victim to the ignorance that has made you who you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security? – you lost…We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies… every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom … Because you don’t have his hatred either.”

– ANTOINE LEIRIS

 

I love the strength, passion and love that is read through out the letter. I hear the encouraging echos of forgiveness. I hear a greater Teacher using a grief stricken father, husband and friend to teach us how to react to cruel acts of hatred.

When people acclaimed Antoine as a hero, I loved his response. “I am not, who knows if tomorrow all this will change and I look at people untrustingly or I’ll feel hatred but I wrote this to stop me remind me. What’s happened happened. We will be sad- for the rest of our lives.”

I think it profound to write down a reflection of how you always hope to act. Is there something that pausing and evaluating a situation that allows us to see an experience for what it truly is? Can we “be still” in extreme grief for significant reflection? Perhaps when we deny the natural man immediate reaction and thoughtfully contemplate how we can choose to react we have greater clarity and control. The Spirit can whisper gently possible outcomes that may not come if we are otherwise consumed. I am touched by Antoine’s example as many others were too and I hope I can apply it.

Many reached out to him and his son with sympathy and kindness. Antoine exclaims  “Some of the letters I received were beautiful. They made me understand I was not alone – it is important to know that deeply. One said: ‘I want to respond to blind hate with blind love.’” Another, signed simply, “Philippe”, startled him with its post-script: “You are the one who was hurt and yet it is you who gives us courage.”

Perhaps we are a reminded of a greater Example. One who was acquainted with ultimate grief and sorrow and who reaches out in compassion to lift all those who suffer seriously. Perhaps the reason so many of us are in awe is because it reminds us of One who always acted with grace, reflection, patience and courage.

This next part I quote right from the article. “There are two support groups for those affected by the terrorist attacks: “Life for Paris” and “13/11/15 Fraternity and Truth”. Antoine belongs to neither. His default position used to be that he did not want to meet anyone who had suffered comparably. But he recently twisted his own arm into taking part in a French documentary and found it a revelation: “Sometimes, you have to go beyond yourself because you don’t know everything, you have to be humble. I learned that this was not a mosaic of stories, it was one story. Whether you lost a friend, a son, a love, a leg – or just innocence – it is the same story and it is about absence. Those people will not come back and you have to live with it, live with the loss.”

I hope you have enjoyed this mans story. My sister was the first to tell me it. At the music awards of that year one man discussed it. When I heard this story I was compelled to know more. I used it in my gospel doctrine class and I am glad to be reminded of human courage. I think it is part of what the enobling power of the atonement can do.

Since then Antoine has written a book about his experience. Here is the review on Amazon. I have not read it yet but look forward to one day.

Here is the overview on Amazon.

“[Antoine] Leiris tells the full story of his grief and struggle. You Will Not Have My Hate is a remarkable, heartbreaking, and, indeed, beautiful memoir of how he and his baby son, Melvil, endured in the days and weeks after Hélène’s murder. With absolute emotional courage and openness, he somehow finds a way to answer that impossible question: how can I go on? He visits Hélène’s body at the morgue, has to tell Melvil that Mommy will not be coming home, and buries the woman he had planned to spend the rest of his life with.

Leiris’s grief is terrible, but his love for his family is indomitable. This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. Leiris confronts an incomprehensible pain with a humbling generosity and grandeur of spirit. He is a guiding star for us all in these perilous times. His message—hate will be vanquished by love—is eternal.”

Let me know if you have read it and what you think.

Here is a website where I got the most of the quotes.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/16/antoine-leiris-you-will-not-have-my-hate-interview-paris-attacks-helene-bataclan

 

When interviewed recently by Kate Kellaway of the Guardian Weekly about his new book, You Will Not Have My Hate, Leiris said, “When you are plunged into shadow you have to find some light in yourself. It is an instinct.”

I just loved this thought and didn’t know where to use it… but I thought here worked…

 

Bataclan

Mothers

A photograph of flowers and a quote by Sister Sheri L. Dew: “Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of … the mothers who bear with us.”

No other subject causes such joy and guilt all wrapped up into one beautiful bundle called motherhood.

Today is my mothers birthday. I wanted to write somewhat of a tribute to her. Now, I do not mean to cause pain or open wounds for those who had mothers that did not provide a loving, safe and nurturing environment. If mothers day talks make you cringe, then this post is not for you. I do not pretend to portray a perfect mother with no flaws, but perhaps it is in now being a mother myself that I see the imperfections with more compassion and love. And with more perspective I can see clearer the beauty, strength, passion and courage my mother possesses.

I have always been really proud that my mom was born in  different country. Even though I couldn’t communicate with her in her native tongue til I was 16, I loved that she was from France. She would often mix up expressions but we loved it. I remember being dumbfounded when people would express, “I love your mothers accent.” I never really considered her to have an accent. I guess now that I am older I can hear it but I love the way she has mastered two languages.

My mother has always been intelligent. She has taken the counsel to “seek ye learning out of the best books” very seriously. She has always loved reading. She’s read the classics and I think her favourite is Tolstoys’ Anna Karenina. She loves reading. I can remember coming home from school to see my mom curled up with a novel. I also loved her reading to me. At night my parents would always read us stories and make sure they caught up on how our day had gone. I have snippets of memories being curled up to her as she read me excerpts from the Friend or books. This is a tradition I have passed on to my own children and I am grateful to her for it.

My mother has loved learning. She loved school and always achieving her best. She set a very high standard of excellence and expected us to to do the same. When teachers wanted to send my brother to a different class my mom refused. She ended up attending school with him to be his personal aid and make sure that he achieved. She attended with him through the years and even sat through Math 30 with him. What an example of love and sacrifice for a child.

My mom always had to fight for her testimony. She has always loved God. She had to sacrifice greatly to be a member of this church and has never taken her membership lightly. She is devoted in her studies and has always found comfort in Jesus and our Heavenly Father. Shes been a bedrock foundation for me and my testimony. I realized that I owe much of what I am to her faith. I feel much like the armies of Heleman who declared, “We do not doubt for our mothers knew it.”  I am foreverly grateful to a mother who taught me the truths of the gospel. She showed me how to build a foundation on Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. She taught me to understand the promptings, feelings and whisperings of the Holy Ghost. I know my mom has always loved the apostles and prophets and sought counsel from their teachings. She would not miss general conference because she loves hearing their inspired teaching.

My mom is an example of service, love and forgiveness. I remember her getting chemo treatments and someone would bring dinner to the house the first week. The second week she would feel better and by week three she would be delivering meals herself. When I asked why she wasn’t just relaxing she would just answer simply, “because I can.” My mother handled her divorce with grace. I remember her being kind to my father and including him on our birthdays or others activities. Even though it must have been hurtful to have my dad their she did her best to not make it too hard for us. This is an ongoing struggle but she has always encouraged us to be kind and forgiving and loving towards others.

I guess my mom is truly my best friend. I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate your mother until you have a child of your own. I remember a little while after my daughter was born feeling overwhelmed with gratitude thinking, “I had no idea… thank you mom for everything.” It was equally heart wrenching when a few months after Claire’s birth I would be watching her battle stage three ovarian cancer. I thought, now that I finally want to listen and hear and learn from your counsel, you might be gone.” I am so grateful that the Lord gave me more time to hear and learn from her. I love her.

My mom is not perfect. We definitely have our disagreements and quarrels. But I love that she draws on the power of the atonement to overcome her weakness and has taught me to do the same. That through our Savior we both may work out our own salvation and dwell as an eternal family.

I don’t always get the privileged of being able to hear my own words or interpret my writing. I know my mom has made the comment about me being critical about how she raised us. I don’t ever mean to portray that. I hope when she reads these words she may be reminded of the adoration and gratitude that I have for her love, faith, service, kindness and friendship. I love you mom and happy birthday!

 

Mothers