Because I’m happy!!!!

I had just graduated high school and was living up in Edmonton. My Uncle is a photographer and he decided to snap a few photos. I was awkward behind a camera. It didn’t feel natural to have so much focused attention. I never felt beautiful.  At the time I wasn’t sure but when he showed me the photos I felt beautiful. I am forever grateful to the beautiful memories and photographs thanks to just trying this experience.

Happiness is a choice.

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”

Chinese Proverb

The Chinese are so smart! Did you notice in almost all scenarios happiness is a choice? So if we know the secret to happiness is found in helping others why is happiness such an elusive thing?

It has been a while now but I am finally learning to be happy in all of lifes lessons. ( aka the daily grind and challenges) It didn’t come easily and I still find old habits creeping back into my life but for the most part… happiness is a choice. I don’t mean that in a trite way. It’s a battle I come prepared to fight every day.

I get up at 5:00 to do basic training. Training begins with prayer, quiet, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading scriptures and gratitude. This is my battle prep. It is necessary. Honestly its a work in progress. But I am tweaking as needed. The more time I spend on “focused dreaming” the more it helps me remember calm and choose to have it again. Honestly, calm equals happiness in my life.

West Virginia University research team lead by Dr. Kim Innes found that practice of a simple meditation 12 minutes per day for 12 weeks showed significant gains in perceived stress, mood psychological well-being, and quality of life.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
Winnie the Pooh

Often life is providing me with opportunities that make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. But as I learn to put less judgment on whether these opportunities are good and bad and just accept them as they are… then I can learn. For instance, I was trying to connect like-minded women in the eyeMeve community by hosting a women’s conference. Believe in Love. I knew organization is not my forte so I decided to partner with a girl who is organized and fun. She backed out right before launch date. I was heartbroken. The first thing that came to mind as I dropped to the ground was I wish this wasn’t going to make such a beautiful part of a speech one day. My instinct was to call her back and beg her to stay. But no one wants to dance with the desperate girl. I went for a walk… I sat in the coullee’s behind my house. I thought is this God telling me to stop or just an obstacle to overcome. As I sat quietly contemplating my options, stop the event, find a new partner, postpone… I quieted my mind. I sat on the ground in silence and then the words to the song I had written came floating into my mind.

  • eye M eve,
  • I will achieve,
  • My dreams believe

Even though it scared me I knew I could do it. I left that hillside with a clear vision. I was going to take this lesson and learn. I called my sister and she told me I didn’t need to find anyone else. She was right. Please don’t get me wrong many people assisted but I was able to find new people in different ways than a partner and provide a day full of stories, learning, and fun.

I hope whatever life is throwing at you, you can stop and choose to see it differently. Not as a bad, awful event. But as a teacher giving you new strengths, new skills, and new opportunities for growth. It might just be a new choice for happiness. What will you choose?

 

“The unhappy derive comfort from the misfortunes of others.”
Aesop

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

I

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Because I’m happy!!!!

Beatitudes… a Plan for Happiness

What makes you happy?

I like to sing and dance, playing games, travel and interacting with others. But I wouldn’t exactly call that a road map to happiness.

Fortunately, Christ did provide us with a clearer more accurate way to be happy. It’s found in his Sermon on the Mount… in the beatitudes. In Latin beatus, where English gets the word “beatitude” means “to be happy” or “to be blessed.” (Topical Guide) Thus this sermon is the ultimate self-help guide for happiness. In ten short verses, the Savior gives us the formula for happiness. In less than one minute you could read this power punched sermon. Yet with so many people having read and studied it, why is there still unhappy people?

First, we read it too fast. We don’t take the time to ponder the master teachers meaning and application. I think there is a great lesson before the lesson even begins. aAnd seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

Christ goes up to the mountain. He gets himself set. When I looked in the dictionary to define the word “set” there were 25 definitions! I will allow you to search what they mean. But Jesus gets himself set. Then the disciples “come unto him.” Well, we know Jesus was already on top of the Mount. They had to “come up” to Jesus. In the pursuit of happiness, true lasting happiness, I always have to “go up” to Jesus. There are different ways I “go up.” The temple has always been such a place of rising up to meet my Savior. I love the teachings and specific lessons He provides for me there.

Taking time to be totally quiet. Start my day with a quiet reflection. A meditation, (I prefer guided meditation for my wondering mind.) But before I am tempted to react to any of my surroundings, I find already practicing calm and gentle reactions assist me in maintaining calm. What are some of the ways you “come up” to Jesus?

It’s important to remember that the beatitudes are not isolated statements. They are “”interrelated and progressive in their arrangement” (Bible Dictionary) Thus, you must start at the beginning. If one part of the happiness formula is beyond your reach… back up to teaching before. Honestly, I find a lot of my problems go back to the hunger and thirst after righteousness. The strength and power I get by feasting and seeking the word of God nourish me to endure all that life can throw at me. However, being poor in spirit is where I recognize my mortal limits and how I need Jesus to help me transform my weakness into the strengths he needs me to have. Also, sometimes I just need to mourn… I need to cry so He can comfort me. To acknowledge that my spirit has no limits but often is confused by my temporary physical forms limitations.

So lets look at this formula for happiness.

aBlessed are the bpoor in spirit: for theirs is the ckingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that amourn: for they shall be bcomforted.

Blessed are the ameek: for they shall inherit the bearth.

Blessed are they which do ahunger and thirst after brighteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the amerciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the apure in bheart: for they shall csee God.

Blessed are the apeacemakers: for they shall be called the bchildren of God.

10 Blessed are they which are apersecuted for brighteousness’sake: for ctheirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall arevile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of bevil against you falsely, cfor my sake.

12 aRejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your breward in heaven: for so cpersecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Now that you read it do you know the formula for happiness? What is truly going to make you happy?

This isn’t the same information that I have found in other self-help books that I have read. I know this is true. I know it is the truth that will set you free. The problem is that I have to work harder to find out what teachings are packed into this short happiness sermon.

How are Jesus’s teachings different from other ways people try to find happiness?

Beatitudes… a Plan for Happiness

My Thoughts on a talk : Women and Gospel Learning in the Home

I remember sitting in the conference center as they announced two-hour church and the greater emphasis on teaching in the home. Initially, I was excited. Then almost immediately I thought… “Oh Father, help me to do this longer than a few months”. I start everything full force but have a harder time keeping momentum. I also thought about new members and people on the margins of the church. How would this benefit them? I resolved to include my ministering sister in our home lessons. I perked back up and thought that this solution would benefit her and me.

This week in relief society I was asked to lead a discussion on President Eyring’s talk, Women and Gospel Learning in the home. I wasn’t really sure what direction I should take. I called up a few sisters, texted and emailed others. I wanted to get there thoughts and opinions on the subject.

There was such a range of emotions and reactions. Oddly, I was the only one taken with the scripture at the beginning of Elder Eyring’s talk. He quotes a scripture from Doctrine and Covenants 121: 33. This section is famous for Jospeph Smiths desperate plea to find where God is in his life and the beautiful tender response the Savior provides. In the middle of his response, God asks a question.

“How long will running water remain impure?”

What? It just jumped out at me and so I had to investigate further. I asked my one scholarly friend who almost immediately gave me a response. (I wish everyone to have a friend like this. He is constantly studying the gospel and is a wealth of knowledge and information; let me know in the comments if you want to be added to his email list… he sends out his personally created study resources and they are phenomenal!)

This is what he said, “Running water does purify itself.  Sediments drop out and the turmoil of the water brings in oxygen which is an oxidant that also breaks down impurities.  It’s a biologically correct metaphor.”

I knew from hiking the Rockies with my husband he loves getting mountain water. He always places the bottle by the moving water and drinks the refreshing liquid. I was always leery of this act but this last summer I drank from this fresh water and it was delicious! Well, at least refreshing! I didn’t get sick the water was pure.

One of the sisters sent me a little clip on youtube. It talked about the Jordan River. It feeds two large bodies of water. The first body of water is the Sea of Galilee. In this sea, the water keeps moving. It flows into other areas and has unique flora and fauna and provides many other useful services.

The other body of water that it feeds is the Dead Sea. Which isn’t a witty title but an accurate description of what lives there. Because the Dead Sea water is stagnant it contains massive amounts of salt making it almost impossible of any organism to live there. Only a few organisms can survive in this extreme environment.

When given in the context of the Lord’s scripture, the running water, the Sea of Galilee keeps moving… keeps purifying itself. The Dead Sea stops and starts to stagnate.

The scripture continues:

My friend also explained, “the Missouri River is not a crystal clear stream.  Everything we do in our lives, everything that the Church has done, or that has happened in the Church is not crystal clear.  We’re all a little muddy.  However, if we keep moving on, following the covenant path… then no one can prevent the Lord from blessing us and that moving water will become purer and purer.  The restoration isn’t over for the Church or for us as individuals—we’re moving downstream.  The only danger is pulling out of the current and finding a shallow backwater pond where we will surely stagnate and putrefy. ”

It was really interesting to discuss Elder Eyring’s talk with this idea about how do we get moving? How do we get purified? What does it look like to be still water in prayer, or what does it look like to have moving water in prayer? What does “flowing fresh water” scriptures look like and if we were stagnant in the scriptures can we get back into the flow?

It was common a response when Elder Eyring said, “the Lord.. has made clear that the daughters of Heavenly Father will play a primary role in that miraculous acceleration,” that many women thought I am already stretched thin… how can I be more responsible for gospel learning in my home?

One sister who I had asked for her comments early in the week sent me how upset she was by this news. It wasn’t the first time I heard it expressed and as I went into the lesson I prayed that the Spirit would help me be sensitive to everyone’s needs in the class. I didn’t know how or what I would say. Fortunately, I ran into her in the library before. She thanked me for the opportunity to read and think about the talk. She had taken her concerns to the Lord and He had answered her questions and then she asked if it would be okay to share her wrestle with the class. It was beautiful and tender to see her faith as she took action and experimented on Elder Eyring’s call to action.

Even Elder Eyring poses the question, Why, then, does a daughter of God in a united and equal relationship receive the primary responsibility to nourish … a knowledge of truth coming from heaven?”

Fortunately, he answers his own question, “As nearly as I can see, that has been the Lord’s way since families were created in this world.”

Was it not Eve who “received knowledge that”Adam had to eat the fruit to keep all of God’s commandments? Another example he quotes was the faithful sons of Helaman who entered young into a war without fear of death for their mothers taught truth that God would deliver them. Women naturally can consider more than themselves in choices. We “have an innate and great capacity to sense the needs of others and to love. That, in turn, makes you more susceptible to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit can then guide what you think, what you say, and what you do to nurture people so the Lord may pour knowledge, truth, and courage upon them.” Wow, what a beautiful talent we possess because we are women.”

So with this gift comes the responsibility to seek to bless all of God’s family. We can’t do it without the Holy Ghost. We must, “ask the Father in my name in faith, believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient.”5

So how do we become more pure, moving towards the goals the Savior has in store for us? I love Elder Eyrings counsel:

“You will take more time to pray, to ponder, and to meditate on spiritual matters. You will have knowledge of truth poured out upon you and grow in your power to nurture others in your family.”

If we can learn to hear and trust the Spirit knowledge will be poured out… moving water… the “Living water” poured through us.

He does warn us, “there will be times when you feel that your progress in learning how better to nurture is slow. It will take faith to endure.”

But he gives us this beautiful hope from the Savior, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”7

As I read the book of Mormon this year this phrase stuck out so strong to me, “how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.”9

Isn’t it beautiful to think of the safety and love of a chick under a mothers wing. I remember in Seminary my teacher showing my a prairie hen had tucked her babies under her wing. A fire had spread across the prairies and the mother was charcoal… but her chicks were protected under her wing.

This very first week of two-hour church our area authority was attending and he spoke to us. He explained the scripture in 3 Nephi 17:3 in a way that I had not considered. He told us this extra hour is not to have one more hour of rest. But he gave us the invitation Jesus gave to his people thousands of years ago, “Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, …and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.” As we teach and take the gospel teaching back into our homes, we can invite the Savior back every day into our homes. Isn’t that magnificent.

I have to include this glorious promise that Elder Eyring gave to us, “You will bring your inherent feeling of charity into changes in activities and practices in your family. That will bring greater spiritual growth. When you pray with and for family members, you will feel your and the Savior’s love for them. That will become more and more your spiritual gift as you seek it. Your family members will feel it as you pray with greater faith.

When the family gathers to read scriptures aloud, you will already have read them and prayed over them to prepare yourself. You will have found moments to pray for the Spirit to enlighten your mind. Then, when it is your turn to read, family members will feel your love for God and for His word. They will be nurtured by Him and by His Spirit.”

The same outpouring can come in any family gathering if you pray and plan for it. It may take effort and time, but it will bring miracles.”

May we each find the ways that will contribute to the outpouring of truth in our homes, ward, and world.  May we see the areas that we have become stagnant and may we start to move and become pure. May we bring healing, cleansing, nourishing water to all who thirst.

The whole process of restoration both personally and for our church is the rolling waters. Switching to a two-hour block and expecting more of as women, as nurturers in gospel learning,  is rolling water. Running water doesn’t purify itself. The action of moving drops particles out and allows oxygen to enter breaking down the impurities. May we ever be moving to allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our minds and hearts, maybe we ever be repenting to remove unnecessarily sediment, that the Lord can enter and purify us… and just like we sing..,, “more used would [we] be”

I look forward to the wonderful miracles that will follow as we start moving and following this new inspired program.

 

My Thoughts on a talk : Women and Gospel Learning in the Home

Wounded

 

Wounded. An Orginal Watercolor

This last October I turned 40 years old! My birthday always occurs around the Church of Jesus Christ’s general conference. This year my husband and I drove down with our daughter and our friend to experience this event.

It was wonderful. As we sat in the conference center this beautiful talk resonated with me.

Wounded by Elder Neil L Anderson

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wounded?lang=eng

“In the crucible of earthly trials, patiently move forward, and the

Savior’s healing power will

  • bring you light,
    • understanding,
      • peace,
        • and hope.”

In 2016 my brother Luc was studying in Belguim. We received a text from him telling us not to worry he was fine. I immediately searched the web and was shocked to see another terrorist attack.

In 2016, two suicide bombing happened at the Brussels airport and the third at the metro station.  The death toll was 35 and more than 300 injured. Time magazine estimated the 900 victims, “encompassing those affected by physical or psychological trauma”.

Among the injured were missionaries my brother Luc knew. One was Elder Richard Norby. He and his wife were serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He reflected about this event, “I tried to run for safety, but I immediately fell down. … I [noticed] black, almost spiderweb-type, soot drooping from both hands. I gently pulled at it, but realized it was not soot but my skin that had been burned. As the consciousness of what had just happened… I [had] this very strong thought: … the Savior knew where I was, what had just transpired.”

I don’t know many of us will experience a terrorist bombing, however, sometimes life drops its own bombs. They aren’t always physical but often in the daily routines of life… we experience an explosion, an attack on our peace.

These moments can feel dark and heavy. They can shock us and make us question if God really is aware of us. Although I haven’t felt my skin feel like spider webs or seen if fall from my body, yet, in a spiritual sense have felt the shock and horror of life’s events. I have also wondered, Where did I mess up to have such tragedy blind-side me.?

But I return to Elder Anderson’s initial thoughts.

“In the crucible of earthly trials, patiently move forward, and the

Savior’s healing power will

  • bring you light,
    • understanding,
      • peace,
        • and hope.”
A crucible, a dish of metal or glass, where metals can be burned to remove their impurities. It’s a place to become purer. The dross is removed and it becomes more valuable. This idea made me think of my life. Do I want to be purer? Do I want to become more useful? I sing the hymn, “More holiness give me.”
I sing these lines, “More holiness give me… More patience in suff’ring,
More trust in the Lord… More meekness in trial…. More strength to o’ercome, More purity give me.”
I know these lines are true and necessary. Yet, when the flames start I find myself wondering if being purer is overrated. Dross has its benefits, its comfortable. I guess I forgot what this line is teaching me. If I am purer I am more valuable to serve and assist others.
“More used would I be,”
If I could learn to trust the Lord and submit lovingly to His will, He would use me more in blessing his other children. Isn’t that awesome trust and ultimate love? Isn’t that the love He bestowed on His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ? He allowed Him to take the sins and pains of all His children.
Orson F Whitney encourages us to seek help from others. “‘To whom do we look, in days of grief and disaster, for help and consolation? . . . They are men and women who have suffered, and out of their experience in suffering, they bring forth the riches of their sympathy and condolences as a blessing to those now in need. Could they do this had they not suffered themselves?’”
God allows refining events in the lives of his most beloved children. In Mosiah the Lord states He will “ease the burdens … that even you cannot feel them …, even while you are in [the crucible]; God tells us why he allows his righteous to suffer in this phrase “this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me …and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24: 14) His only perfect child paid the highest price and descended below everything.  Could we really offer the help and support necessary to bless others if we never experienced grief and suffering?

The last verse of the hymn states

More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy—
More, Savior, like thee.
The last line of the hymn reminds me of my goal to become like the pure Giver.
Elder Anderson compares life’s trials to a crucible; a place where impurities can be removed. Another Oxford definition of crucible states “a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.” Earthly trials are an event which different elements combine to make a new substance. Thus, earthly trials become the catalyst for change. A change of heart, a new love; a renewing of faith, a new belief; a dependence on the One who can heal and love, a new relationship; a balm of healing for others, a new hope; a testimony of deliverance, a new understanding.

As Richard Norby understands this lesson he claimed… “The tests and trials that come to each of us give the opportunity and privilege to better know the Savior and understand in deeper detail his atoning sacrifice. It is he we lean on… seek out. … depend on. ..have confidence in…[and] love with all our heart, without any reservations. The Savior … takes the pain from us. He absorbs our sorrows.”

When someone is acquainted with grief and sorrow and offers their faith and testimony, our hearts can’t help but be pricked. We hear their faith and know that they offer the riches of their sympathies. I love Elder Anderson’s declaration: “The wounded who nurse the wounds of others are God’s angels on earth.”

“We each understand that difficulties are part of life, but when they come to us personally, they can take our breath away…we need to be ready. The Apostle Peter said, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”7 Along with the bright colors of happiness and joy, the darker-colored threads of trial and tragedy are woven deeply into the fabric of our Father’s plan. These struggles, although difficult, often become our greatest teachers.8

As much as I resist the fire and even resent it. I know ultimately it is what the Lord wants me to become. Often like Helaman’s young fighters, I rejoice that “there was not one soul of them who did perish.” But I forget,  “And neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.”9  Everyone gets wounded in life’s battlefield, either physically, spiritually, or both.

Jesus Christ will heal the wounds from the crucibles we encounter. I know this is true. I love this thought:

The Savior is our Good Samaritan,11 sent “to heal the brokenhearted.”12 He comes to us when others pass us by. With compassion, He places His healing balm on our wounds and binds them up. He carries us. He cares for us. He bids us, “Come unto me … and I shall heal [you].”13

I love the idea of our Savior being the Good Samaritan. At the time the Jews hated the Samaritans. Pride has been described as enmity or hatred. When I don’t see the crucible with love and gratitude I too hate the Samaritan. I forget His design is to help me depend on God. Like a wounded traveler on the road, I need Him to offer support and relief. I must remember He is the giver of good gifts. However He chooses to send them.

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;

Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish.

Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.15

The Norbys told me, “Disappointment comes to visit on occasion but is never allowed to stay.”24  That is a beautiful testimony born by one who was one the Lords errand and struck down anyways. May we always remember the promise of the one who promised to “wipe away all tears”.  THe Helaer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds. 32

I want Elder Anderson to have the last words: “No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound—however deep, however wide, however painful—will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence. At that day, the Apostle John testifies, the righteous “which [come] out of great tribulation”33 … before the throne of God.”

 

http://time.com/4707414/belgium-airport-terror-attack/

 

Wounded

Gideon A Step by Step Journey

Image result for gideon

In the Book of Judges, we find the story of Gideon. At the time the “Isrealites did evil in the sight of the Lord.”( Judges 6:1) Thus, God left them to themselves and they were in trouble for seven years.

The children of Israel were surrounded by their enemies the Midianites. But after seven years God’s people began to “cry unto the Lord” (vrs. 6),  Gideon and his dad, Joash the Abi-ezrite,  are collecting wheat. An angel appeared unto them. He greets Gideon with this phrase “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.”

Consider Gideon’s perspective, enemy Midianite armies all around him and most of their food destroyed and he considers himself “poor in Manasseh, and ..least in his fathers house. ” (vrs 15) Gideon could not believe he was mighty or was going to deliver Israel out of this bondage. Yet here is an angel telling him God wants him to lead his people.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by callings, or tasks, or talk assigned to you?

I love how Elder Maxwell puts it, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only our availability and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.”

When the Lord asks Gideon to go against his “personal Goliath” he gives him the needed experience to trust that it is possible. Gideon asks a sign and the angel tells him to go and prepare a sacrifice of goat and leavened cakes. When Gideon comes back the angel touched offering and it was consumed into flames. Gideon begins to fear because of his encounter with the angel but the Lord comforts him.

“Peace be unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die.”

Now Gideon is ready to prove his dependability. His first instruction is to “throw down the alter of Baal and cut down the grove beside it.  This part of the story is interesting because it is his fathers and his fathers friends altar and grove. I have never had to destroy anything of my fathers but I can’t imagine this was an easy task. But wanting to be dependable, not lose his life Gideon decides to do it late at night. Gideon and ten servants destroys the grove and alter. He builds a new one to the Lord where he offers a sacrifice.

This next part of the story is touching. In the morning when everyone sees what occurred while they slept. They quickly discover the culprit. As the men rally to go and destroy Gideon, his dad has a change of heart. It would have shown great humility to accept this act from his son. When others wanted to destroy Gideon, his father defends him and says, “if he,(referring to Baal) be a god, let him plead for himself. because one hath cast down his alter.” In our language. If Baal was really a God then he can punish someone who desecrated his alter. It’s not always easy to be taught by our children. But I know often the Lord uses my daughters to call me to repent.

Then with this new found courage and strength he calls parts of Israel to come and fight with him. He ends up getting about 33,000 volunteers.

This next part Gideon is praying to God and I imagine it to sound something like this. God I know you have delivered our fathers from the Egyptians and that Moses crossed over the red sea on dry ground. I know I have seen an angel, and he burnt my offering miraculously. I know you preserved my life as I destroyed the alter and the grove. But I just want to be sure that I am doing this for the right reasons. Can you show my a sign that I am not off my rocker? If I put this fleece down on the ground could the fleece be wet and the ground around it dry? And he leaves it out all night. He is able to wring out a bowl full of water in the morning.

Then I can imagine as people keep pouring in and Gideon realizes he is responsible for thousands of lives, he kneels down again and says, “I know you answered me with the fleece last night and please don’t be mad but can you make the fleece dry and the ground wet? And the Lord did. When the Lord asks us participate in difficult tasks He wants us to have total confidence.

I know we aren’t supposed to ask for signs. But I think if you were responsible for 33,000 men you might want to be without any doubts of what the Lord wanted you to accomplish.

As Gideon is ready the Lord gives him a new name, Jerubbaal, which means warrior of the Lord. And he takes his army of 33,000 and begins to prepare.

Lord says to him, “Gideon we have a problem. You have too many people in your army. If I let them all fight they might think their strength won this battle. Or “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me , saying mine own hand hath saved me.”

The first thing to do is ask if anyone is scared. If they are let them return home. Now I have always looked at this lot with disgust. Why would you fear? Don’t they know who’s side they are fighting on? But I have since repented. The army was too big. It had to have  people go home. If their role was to make an army smaller than they were filling their destiny. Is their role any less grand? It is simply honestly admitting I am scared and don’t want to do this. Ten thousand honest people didn’t want to fight. I can’t say I would be fearless if called to battle.

We still have 22.000 and so Gideon tells them to drink from the stream. The solders that kneel down and cup the water in their hands remain. They hold onto their weapons and stay prepared. The ones that lap the water and put their heads down are told to return.

Sometimes I identify with this group. I was brave. I was ready to fight but the Lord didn’t need me. I was totally qualified but in the end God only wanted 300. It wasn’t my turn.

Which ever part of this story was the role I had to play doesn’t matter. The 300 who stayed were no more doing there part than the soldiers who returned home if they were scared. Often I feel only the 300 could be celebrated.. but then I forget the bigger picture… This is won for the glory of God. With everyone playing their part. God doesn’t care what part I play as long as I contribute. Whether my offerings is “mites” or millions, if it is my all … it is enough. To finish the Neil A Maxwell quote, “it is service, not status, that counts.”

The true hero of this story is God. Everyone else did their part however it needed to be done. I am trying to be more content with what the Lord has allotted unto me. Whatever your part may be, may your have the courage to do it. Remember Gideon doubts his own ability to accomplish God’s work. Enos and Moses both uttered phrases like “I am slow of speech and people hate me. Gideon’s says, “Are you sure it’s me saving Israel? My family is poor … and I am the least in my father’s house.” Often it’s the meekest who the Lord chooses. Perhaps because they can testify with certainty that it is accomplished only through the Lords power. No matter your calling, you can trust in the assurance of the Lord. “Surely I will be awith thee.” I hope in any role you serve you play your part as you were designed to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Gideon A Step by Step Journey

Sea Glass

20180817_204412This summer I was privileged to finally visit the beautiful shores of Nova Scotia. On this pleasant sunny day we were searching for sea glass. We had already googled the best beaches and knew the tide schedules. In the car ride out we planned what we would do with the hoards of sea glass we would collect.

As we excitedly entered the beach we had high hopes and big dreams. Lucy found a piece right away. This was going to be awesome. Optimism was high until the seconds turned into minuties and with the passing time our frustration grew as no sea glass was to be found. It appeared our hope was beginning to shatter.

I had whispered a silent prayer before the search but now as I had one daughter who had a treasure and the other was left absent I started to pray harder.

My first thought was I need more information. I googled how to find sea glass. There experts taught me to walk along the tide lines in a zig zag pattern. After sharing my knowledge, we were still empty handed.

I started to think about my prayer. Did I not have enough faith? Did I need to add more details to my prayer? Did I need to acquire more skills? Did I need to recruit others into my search? Was I too focused on sea glass and missing all the other treasures that the ocean was offering? Did I need to think differently about the situation and realize that under hotter temperatures this whole sandy beach was capable of becoming glass?

We found two locals, who gave us sea glass searching advice and also pointed us in the direction of a new beach. A few miles down the road we hoped held better promises.  This drive was significantly more somber. But as we found the beach we began our search again.

We searched. As we were searching I approached Lucy. I asked her if she could say a prayer for her sister that she could find some sea glass too. She agreed. I also asked her if Claire didn’t find any if she would be willing to give her piece to her sister. This comment was met with hostility. But she agreed any additional findings would go to her sister.

As I walked up to Claire, she was already frustrated and before I could get a word out she said something snarky.

I silently whispered that prayer, or plea of a mother. “Heavenly Father, I know it’s just sea glass. On a scale of importance it is small. But today it means everything. Will thou please let me have this one win.”

As I finished my prayer I soon found a piece. I didn’t want to cause a scene and so I quietly tucked it into my bucket.

Claire was losing patience with the process and she was beginning to through rocks into the ocean. Suddenly we started finding sea glass. Grandpa had settled on sitting in one spot and digging in the tide lines. His strategy was successful. Grandma and Lucy were finding glass too. Claire rejoined the search and was able to find her share of sea glass.

I whispered another prayer of thanks to a kind Heavenly Father.

Finally Jennifer and Walter, two locals came walking down the beach. True to the east coast reputation, they were friendly and talkative. Walter showed us how to troll the shore line. He taught us not to look for glass but to watch the shore and see what looks out of place. He said its a feeling more than sight. He showed us how to find black sea glass. It’s not until you hold it up to the sun that you can differentiate between a rock and black sea glass. Almost immediately grandpa found a piece. It was great having a Master teach us.

Then as we were about to part ways, Jennifer offered her small bucket full of sea glass to my girls. That day the Lord answered my prayers through a sweet stranger. I thank her for that offering. It meant everything to me that day.

As we got home and I looked at the haul we had collected. Thanks to our efforts and the generosity of those around us. I was so grateful. Grateful for more than just sea glass. Grateful that I could share this story with my daughters and my husband. Grateful that even in small matters of sea glass the Lord cares.

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I know Jesus is no respecter of persons. Whether your desires are a simple as sea glass or more serious; He listens. He who is aware of the birds in the air… or glass in the sea, He is capable to help. Trust Him and fear not… You are more valuable than glass or birds.

 

Sea Glass

Living Gratefully

photo of couple holding umbrella while kissing

Do you remember when your parents wanted to teach you an important lesson?

One time my dad sat me down and said, “Danielle, always remember if it seems to be good to be true it is!”

Now this advice has proven to be very helpful and quite wise.

What if I told you I had the secret to unlock a fuller happier healthier life. Brimming with  love, peace and joy! What if I could promise you results in just 21 days!

How much would it be worth? What would you be willing to pay? What would you be willing to do?

How many of you think I am lying?… sounds too good to be true?

Well let me pull out my magic wand… you do have to invest in this wand… but its affordable…

Search for it….*( Pull out pencil.)

 This tool is the first step into a better life. You might need a little paper too…

Did you know  daily recording life’s grateful moments can improve physical, mental social and emotional health.

I truly believe that I am here… (not just speaking to you) but here on earth living, learning and growing and trying to find true joy every day! And yet, often I find myself miserable, lonely, crying… with nothing to be grateful for.

But if we consider gratitude as only a list of things I receive I can miss the all important part of cultivating gratitude in all my circumstances.

An ecclesiastical leader, Dieter Uchtdorf said, “If we could set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of  gratitude.” he promises “a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”(April, 2014)

 

Do I believe that promise? Is there gratitude in abuse? Is there gratitude in divorce? Is there gratitude in suicide?  Do I really believe that I can push away a bottle whose bitter taste would destroy me and faithfully lift a goblet of gratitude.

It’s important to note, Uchtdorf states “Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances.” Or do not take efforts to change them… but we admit,  I will steal a line from Sarah McLaughlin  in our ” sweet sadness a glorious madness, that brings me to my knees”  In this place… a quiet reflective meditative state I can find joy.

Sometimes when life’s bitter ironies happen to us, we think gratitude can’t exist. This is exactly what happened to me. When I was old enough to process events in my life, I was bitter. I couldn’t believe in a loving God, a Heavenly Father so absent in my suffering. So one day as a young girl I thought the only option I had left was to end my own life. Before I acted on it,  I knelt down and I asked God, “Can you love me? are you there?” That prayer was answered. I felt the purest love encompass me and I knew I would have the strength to get the healing I needed. It was not a one time healing. This just opened the gate to becoming restored.

  When we are invited to “ see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation, we may discover joy in the journey. We reflect on Uchtdorf’s  question : “How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before being thankful for the rain?” So maybe when our lives feel dark and dreary, when mortality weighs us down, we can remember to give thanks… thanks that this moment won’t last forever. Thanks because our life isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows.  Thanks because we walked in the rain we will understand the beauty of an umbrella… and we can take our fellow sufferers and invite them under, teaching  them how rainbows only come at the end of a storm… reminding them there is hope.

The experiences we hate the most our often the ones that bind us together… that make us look at each other with more sympathy, love, and reach out and assist one another.  That add an element of compassion, perspective and beauty to enrich our lives as we assist others. 

So Toastmasters and guests, in  the next twenty one days, my challenge is to invite you daily to record moments of thankfulness.  Dr Robert Emmons decade of research suggests we will have greater creativity, stronger immune systems, increased resilience and happier fuller lives. That we may live in a spirit of thanksgiving.  I invite you to “lift the goblet of gratitude and “find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.” (Uchtdorf, April, 2014)

But if you don’t think this one small tool can change your life ( hold up the pencil) … and that this offer is just too good to be true… I invite you to try anyways…. I invite you to take 15 minutes for 21 days…That is 5 hours and 25 minutes in the next three weeks. Record your gratitude… just like it takes effort to strengthen and form physical muscles the same is true with cultivating an attitude of gratitude. I promise you that things will change… This offer seems too good to be true… well it is true.

Thoughts and feelings in this speech were prompted by a speech given by President Deider F Uchtdorf in General Conference 2014. For the full article copy and paste the link into your browser. 

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/05/sunday-morning-session/grateful-in-any-circumstances?lang=eng

Photo by Jennifer Murray on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Living Gratefully