Pray

I read this quote yesterday. Tonight as I was putting my daughter to bed I said, “Don’t forget to kneel down and pray.” It was a routine thing to say… which was met by the usual… moan and groan and the struggle between, “I’m so comfortable in my bed, can I just kneel on top and mutter something quick or is mom gonna make me roll off and pray?” So I said to her, “Why don’t you kneel down and use the prayer phone, God wants to hear about your day?” She laughed and jumped down to the side of her bed. Then she said, “If He ses everything and knows everything why do I need to tell Him?” Now I have used this argument many times myself and quite successfully. But as my daughter asked it I said, “Just like any friend or parent He wants you to talk to Him too.” She seemed satisfied with my answer and actually gave a longer more sincere prayer.

We have been working on really communicating with God. We’ve talked lots about what if you called your friend on the phone, only you spoke, you pretty much said the same phrases every day and then before even asking how things are for them you just hung up? You could see the wheels turning… I love those moments. It did cause them to pause and consider what they were doing. Prayer is an ongoing lesson in our house but as I think of teaching it less of a routine and more as developing a relationship with an Eternal Friend I think it will be better. When I focus less on the action and more on the intention, real deep abiding faith can be developed.

In the words of a beautiful primary song… “Some say heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray.”

 

Pray

Arms of the Angels

A good friend convinced me to go to a Sarah McLachlan concert with her. I really didn’t know her music… but when I went to the concert I was amazed at her talent and skill. She was a beautiful singer, woman and artist.

She spoke of the struggle to create and write songs. She said it takes her hours, days, months to fine tune her music until it’s ready to be recorded… but she said sometimes God (or maybe she said the Universe) just gives you a gift. That is how she introduced the song Angel.

I had heard this song before, but somehow that introduction made me see it in a new light. It gave me an appreciation and a new found beauty for the song… like it was a gift and she was the instrument by which this melody and lyrics were played.

It would be years later that I would be weeping in my car. I was deflated and life seemed to be getting the better of me. I was silently praying for releif. I cried till there were no more tears. I started my car and there cued up perfectly for my listening enjoyment came on Angel. The River, our local radio station, had played a hand in my miracle.  Because I had never forgotten Sarah’s introduction to this song I knew that this song was just to speak to my spirit at that moment. It provided a profound comfort and I have loved it even more ever since.

When we become the instruments to God’s love  and use our talents to let His love shine through us we can bless all His children. Thank you Sarah McLachlan for your beautiful creation. Thanks God for setting up the details of that night that I had no doubt that your Tender Mercies were upon me.

Art work by Annie Henrie Nalder

Arms of the Angels

Tithes and Offerings

Image result for windows of heaven image

Claire had discovered that the hymn  A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief  has seven verses and if we sing that song at bedtime she can have me in her room scratching her back longer. Often this is the song she chooses.

I love the words of that hymn.. It’s about a man who goes and helps someone in all stages of need. Hungry and he feeds him, thirsty and he gives him drink, cold and he gives him shelter,  imprisoned and visits and condemned to death and will take his place…The last verse reads:

Then in a moment to my view                                                                                                         The stranger started from disguise.                                                                                                   The tokens in his hands I knew;                                                                                                     The Savior stood before mine eyes.                                                                                               He spake, and my poor name he named,                                                                                   “Of me thou hast not been ashamed.                                                                                              These deeds shall thy memorial be;                                                                                            Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”

“In as much as he have done it unto the least of these my brothern ye have done it unto me”(Matthew 25:40).

When we came here to earth the Lord knew that it would be easy to be selfish and seek our own interests and the praise of others. Selfishness can block us from knowing God. When we become self centered we may forget God and become insensitive to other people. In this state we could not live to fulfill our missions and become more like God.

In one of my favorite hymn is the line “sacrifice brings for the blessings of heaven.” To sacrifice means to put others needs above our own. This is easily written but sometimes not so easily lived.

How do we learn to put the things of God first in our lives? One way is to obey the law of tithing.

There are some commandments that are easy for people to live and others that are hard. It depends a lot on your personality and your God given weakness. But I have always found great joy and blessings and even miracles in living the law of tithes and offerings.

I remember a primary lessons where my teacher gave me ten shiny chocolate coins. All ten were mine. Then she asked,  “I gave you ten can I please have back one?’ So wait a minute, you gave me ten and I can keep them all… but you who gave me the whole lot is just asking for one in return? I don’t know what kind of business she was running but that seemed amazing!

Years later when I would use a very similar lesson to teach my own children in family home evening they readily, without hesitation, handed one back. There was no regret. Perhaps that is why we are commanded to be like little children. When you teach them truth, they readily see how simple, wonderful and beautiful it is.  We must ever be grateful that we keep 90%. Perhaps we need to change the verbiage around this commandment … Perhaps we need to to remember that we are not paying ten percent we are keeping 90.

The world would teach you to be leery of anyone wanting your money. But the Lord gives us this commandment that governs the finances of a world wide church in 35 words in the 119th section of the doctrine and covenants  …. “what a contrast to the cumbersome complex and difficult tax codes to which we live as citizens.” (President Hinckley)

As a missionary in France it wasn’t often that we would get to the fifth discussion wherein we taught the law of sacrifice and tithing. I remember the shock and often anger that came with “Oh yeah, now I see… you want my money. I knew this would be about me giving you money.” To which I thought. I don’t want any of your money and the Lord doesn’t need it either. I think often of the story where Jesus miraculously provided the tribute money by commanding  Peter to “go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money.”(Matt 17:27)  He who created all the world and it`s wealth surely doesn’t need our offerings. But we are here to be tested and need to prove faithful in all things. We need the blessings and the spirit that accompany unselfish acts.

In a day such as this, when we are abundantly blessed we need to remember the Lord and not “rob God”. President Hinckley  said, “The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution, and be true. My greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth. [Nibley,Brigham Young, p. 128]  

To which I can hear many of you say, “Hasten the day.” ( I love the laughter that he receives here)

I believe that day, spoken of by Brigham Young with a voice of prophecy that rose above the voices of defeat and criticism, has come. We have been blessed with the bounties of heaven and the bounties of earth. Oh, how magnificently…we have been blessed! Now, with gratitude in our hearts, let us …count our blessings and in a great spirit of gratitude, motivated by a great faith, go forth to build the kingdom of God in the earth.” (Gorden B Hinkley)

Perhaps this is why the story of Josphine, a faithful African woman who we found and taught the gospel to, was overjoyed at the good news that we shared. As we preached and taught and were edified together right there in the back of a French city bus. She exclaimed, “Your church is beautiful where can I pay my tides?” She spoke in English but I thought, she wants to come to church and bring good tidings to the church members? So I replied, “We meet on Sundays.” She exclaimed, “No, I want to PAY my tides. I looked at her in amazement YOU WANT TO PAY TITHING? We haven’t even invited you to baptism. She will always be a great example of faith to me.

Elder Hales proclaimed:, “Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? Sadly, this is what we do when we fail to pay our tithing. We say no to the very blessings we are seeking and praying to receive. If you are one who has doubted the blessings of tithing, I encourage you to accept the Lord’s invitation to “prove [Him] now herewith” (Malachi 3:10). Pay your tithing. Unlock the windows of heaven. You will be abundantly blessed for your obedience and faithfulness to the Lord’s laws and commandments”(Hales, 2002).

He continues:, “I know of two missionaries who visited a very poor family. The family’s home was made of pressboard and sticks, with a dirt floor and no electricity or beds. Each evening the father, a farm laborer, spent his entire day’s wages on groceries for dinner. Departing from their humble home, the senior companion thought to himself, “The law of tithing will surely be a stumbling block to this family. Perhaps we shouldn’t bring it up for a while.” A few moments later, the junior companion, who had grown up in similar circumstances in his own country, voiced his own thoughts aloud: “I know the principle of tithing isn’t taught for four more discussions, but can we please teach it the next time we visit? They need to know about tithing now because they need the help and the blessing of the Lord so much.”(October, 2002)

To help us avoid selfishness we are given two great commandments… love God and love your neighbour.  We show our love to God by our obedience to His commandments. We must seek His will and try our best to live it. This takes great courage and sacrifice.

Another way we can put God first and put off our own selfish interests it to, as Elder Holland says “to heed the Redeemers persistent call … to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. This can be accomplished by participating at least monthly in the law of the fast and giving a generous offering.”

Before I left on my mission a very good friend asked if he could share some advice that he had learned. Of course I wanted to hear it! He told me as a missionary you don’t pay tithing. But he had been taught that you could still give a generous fast offering. He said he had gained a testimony of fast offerings on his mission.  So, I decided that I would try what he had suggested and pay a fast offering.

For Christmas our ward had given us food. As a mission, we were allowed to do one big spectacle for Christmas.  Because I was serving in a tiny French town we decided to go to a beautiful restaurant. Transfer came and I didn’t think I would be transferred, but I was and I had no money to pay for the train ticket. I knelt down and said “O Heavenly Father I am so sorry. I thought I had planned ahead.” But then with confidence I added, “I have paid a generous fast offering I would like you to provide a way.” Later a little old lady in my home ward had sent me money in a Christmas card that paid for my ticket. Isn`t that what Isaiah teaches when he says we fast “to make our voice heard on high and when we call he shall say here I am.”

The Lord often meets our needs through the hands of others and I appreciate that faithful widow who followed a prompting and answered my prayers.

On the subject of offerings I have to tell you the story of a family that is dear to my heart. When I was finishing university my roommate and I would graduate together and then she was leaving for a mission. I remember telling her,  “I am so jealous of you. I wish I was going, but there is no way I can because I have student loans and my parents are already paying for my brother’s mission.” I didn’t think much more of the conversation than that.

A few days later I got a call from this girls father. He just asked me, “Danielle do you want to serve a mission?” and as I kinda started to explain why I couldn’t go … he interrupted and said, “I’m just asking you if you want to go… Yes was my honest and simply reply. Then I will pay for it!

That day my red sea opened. I was so grateful for someone giving me a blessing and opportunity I so desired and would never be able to obtain without their generosity and kindness. They were quite wealthy and lived in a simple home. It wouldn’t be till after I came home from my mission that they would put air conditioning in their home. I will forever be grateful for the lessons and experience learned that were taught to me because of the sacrifice and generosity of this couple. I can testify to Elder Holland’s words  that as I  found “relief at [their] hands I will call their name blessed forever”.  What could we sacrifice to serve others?

For, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” 20

This past conference Elder Holland stated “the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”

This phrase pierced my heart. It zinged me and I knew I was guilty of holding things back that would bless others.

“I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves.” Elder Holland would continue to say, “But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.”

Towards the very end of my mission my grandpa had given me some money. I had kept a bill for tithing because I knew my grandfather hadn’t paid tithing on the money. Now as I went to pay tithing I happened to be fasting that day. And the thought came to me… “I don’t have a fast offering… What should I do? Should I pay tithing?.. but I am a missionary and don’t need to pay tithing.. or do I give it as a fast offering? If you pay it as tithing you will have nothing to give to the Lord as an offering. Even though the struggle was only for a minute or two, a thought came clearly to my head… “No, you always pay tithing first!” Decidedly I reached into that tiny change purse to get the bill I had saved for tithing… A few coins fell out of the folds and I could pay both. I had no more money than that bill in that wallet that day. I don’t know how the coins got there but I do know that that day, that little missionary girl felt the windows of heaven open and pour her out a blessing. She could obey two commandments by putting her faith in the first.. that day I truly cast in the widows mite for an offering.

I know this is a hard commandment for some, but I can honestly testify of the beauty and love that has come into my life as I have tried to obey these two commandments.

 

Tithes and Offerings

Windows and Mirrors

Image result for girl looking out a window with her own reflection

I remember a lesson where a teacher told us she has something very wonderful inside the box. It was a beautiful, invaluable treasure and she would share it each with us one at a time. She passed the box around and I watched as each girl opened the box. Some laughed, some were shocked and some rolled their eyes but I eagerly awaited my turn. As I held the box my mind raced with what could be so valuable, so precious, so beautiful… As I lifted the box there was a mirror reflecting my image back at me. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I guess my mind had expected diamonds and rubies.

Why do mirrors cause such mixed emotions in us? Why is it hard to view the reflection with the same awe and wonder of a beautiful edifice? Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?

Rosemary Wixom shared, “Looking out through a window, not just into a mirror, allows us to see ourselves as His.”

Why would a window provide a better medium for truly seeing our true identity?

I feel like this is one of those questions that will keep filtering in new insights and information but these are initially what came to me.

First, windows let in light. Who is the greatest Light? There are also scriptures that promise us… ye are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Let your light so shine before others… windows allow light to pass through… being divine means we shine and let light pass through us.

Second, when I look at windows I see plants, trees, flowers, animals, and many other of God’s beautiful creations. Just like the beautiful plants, animals, and hills I too am one of His creations. God is perfect and His creations reflect that perfection. When I look out a window and ponder how I am part of those wonderful things I too can be filled with gratitude.

I know that my nature is divine. It’s something I struggle with fully grasping day in and day out. But as I see all the windows that surround me daily… maybe I can take this sign and allow God’s light to shine on me and help me remember who I really am.

Thomas S Monson declared, “Windows are wonderful. They serve as a frame on which we might focus our attention. They provide a glimpse of God’s creations. The azure blue sky, the billowy, white clouds, the verdant green forest all are as framed pictures in the memory of the mind. Windows also reveal the approach of a friend, a gathering storm, a magnificent sunset—even the passing parade of life.

Windows welcome light to our lives and bring joy to our souls. The absence of windows, such as in dark prison cells, shuts out the world. Deprived of light, the depression of darkness encompasses us.”

I love our prophets insights about Windows… and I am grateful Dave was able to lead me to his talk too… I thought I must edit this post to include this too…

 

Discovering the Divinity Within

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/discovering-the-divinity-within?lang=eng

 

 

Windows and Mirrors

Private Desmond Doss

Image result for desmond doss

Today as I was sitting on a bench watching my kids play at the park my husband asked me if I wanted to see a movie. He asked me if I wanted to see “Hacksaw Ridge.” It sounds like a slasher movie left over from Halloween. He corrected me and told me it was a war movie directed by Mel Gibson. I said I don’t want to watch a movie with people cussing and swearing.

I remember asking my Great Uncle if this one war movie was accurate. He said it was … with one minor correction. He said, “We were not cussing … we were praying.” Since then WWII movies that depict vulgar language have never interested me. I had Dave search up the PG14 rating and there was no language and no sex… which just left the graphic violence of war.

But I was compelled by Desmond’s story. I mean who goes off to war without a gun? Desmond called himself “a conscientious cooperator” although it was in his records that he was a conscientious objector. But he felt the need to do his part in his way… or maybe I should rightfully add His way.

I love stories where people are true to their convictions under tremendous stress. Many of the soldiers that he trained with and even his superiors thought he would be a major liability on the battlefield and tried all sort of horrible things to make him quit. But he stayed true to who he was. He continued on with courage and determination.

In April 1945, Desmond’s battalion fought on a dangerous battlefield heavily fortified by a deadly network of Japanese machine gun nests and traps. In order to reach the battlefield, they had to climb a 400-foot cliff, nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge. Winning this escarpment was key in winning the battle of Okinawa. But the battalions first attempt ended in a retreat. But private Desmond refused to retreat and leave his fellow countrymen. Despite all odds against him Doss repeatedly ran alone into the kill zone and rescued a fallen man. Each time he would do this he would humbly pray, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He repeated this process 75 more times that night. (Modestly Doss gives all the glory to God and he thought it was more like 50 times… but his comrades that it was closer to 100 and they met in the middle.)

Desmond Doss story is beautiful. This faithful Seventh Day Adventist has a beautiful courageous faith. As Mike Miller stated: “Private Desmond Doss walked into the bloodiest battle of World War II’s Pacific theater with nothing to protect himself save for his Bible and his faith in God.”

Sometimes we forget that God plus one… always equals a victory. I am thankful for his faith and his courage. I am changed by his story and I want to be a better person.

I don’t fight on a bloody battlefield, the One I enlist to serve has not required that of me. But there is definitely a war waging for men’s souls… What would happen if we all figuratively prayed to God and said..”please help me get one more” Then courageously ran until we found someone and then repeated.

I will admit that I closed my eyes through much of the film. It is too gory. But this man’s story is worth knowing and hopefully, you too will be changed but Private Doss’s ability to fulfill the measure of his creation. What a beautiful man… he is no longer with us but I am sure he is at peace now with the One he served.

 

 

Private Desmond Doss

Interesting Thougths on Sadness

This was a thought shared with me by a friend.

The book is called,  How Rembrandt Reveals Your Beautiful, Imperfect Self: Life Lessons From The Master  written by Roger Housden

It talked about in history anyone eminent in philosophy, arts or poetry was likely melancholic. They discussed this trait as either envied because it portrayed genius or feared because it accompanied madness.

Housden cites examples like Raphael was “inclining to Melancholy, like all men of exceptional gifts.” He argues that “Michelangelo deliberately cultivated the idea of artistic personality driven by poetic fury, prone to alternating periods of solitary, obsessive work with spells of “creative idleness,” and distinguished by extreme introspection, heightened emotionalism, strange behavior, and eccentric dress”…

“If we were to use contemporary language, we might conclude from Rembrandt’s first self-portrait that depression need not be a bad thing; and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. There are people whose lives are transformed by medication, but that doesn’t mean you automatically need to treat every sign of melancholia with the latest wonder drug. Depression, which takes you down into yourself, may be the fastest means of access to your own true needs. It can certainly be the catalyst for creative endeavor. If Prozac has been available, a few centuries earlier, some of the greatest works of art might never have been written or painted.”.. And remember Rilke, who,  when asked if he would be interested in undergoing  psychotherapy, declined, saying that if his demons were taken away from him, he was sure he would lose his angels too.

Image result for rembrandts first self portrait

I like this idea of loving whatever is thrown your way. Finding the beauty in the darkness and being grateful for the different experiences life brings before us. Not fearing the demons because we are compensated with angels too.

In no way am I saying that mental illness should remain untreated.. but it definitely shouldn’t be anything shameful. It might be the creative genius behind much of what binds you to others.

Interesting Thougths on Sadness

Helen Keller : A Parable on Divine Love

Image result for helen keller images

Helen Keller was an extraordinary woman.  She was born healthy but due to an illness was left blind and deaf at only 18 months. She was extremely intelligent and was frustrated at her new environment.After many frustrating years Helen’s parents, in an attempt to help, hired a woman named Anne Sullivan, who was also acquainted with blindness, disappointment and heart break and understood her infirmities. With patience, kindness and long suffering Anne finally broke the barrier and taught Helen how to communicate, how to read, how to live deaf and blind in this world.

Elder Christofferson said, “The story of Helen Keller is something of a parable suggesting how divine love can transform a willing soul.”

Helen and Anne’s story is remarkable and beautiful but how is it a parable in divine love transforming a  willing soul?

When I asked that question, the answer has been pouring over me for a few days… I hope to be able to express in writing some of the thoughts that have come to me. I have felt at times that God has made me “deaf” or “blind” and I do not react in kind loving ways. Now  Helen was frustrated at her surroundings and she hit, pinched and kicked her teacher and knocked out one of her teeth. Sometimes I feel like my complaining to God is spiritually punching, hitting, and kicking. I feel like a child in a dark world not understanding why this would happen. Why he would change my whole life so dramatically. Why he would want my experience to be so profoundly different from others.  I feel so isolated and that no one can really comprehend all my sorrow.

When finally a teacher comes into my life I resist the teaching. I do not fully understand. I feel the heat of the refiners fire but do not understand the process of burning off dross. I focus on the moment of burning and not on the outcome. I scratch at a loving, patient Teacher who is trying to help me. It’s only when I humbly, willingly start embracing the teacher can real learning begin. When I open the door, to Him who patiently knocks, I start to reframe my narrative about the teacher. I start to understand that the letters He keeps forming in my hands are ways to understand the environment around me.

Helen’s first moment of understanding comes when she is at a water pump and Anne spells the word water. In her own words she says,“‘Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten … and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!32 Isn’t is wonderful that the first word she learns is water… symbolic of the Living Water available to all.

When those “aha” moments of my life happen there is a rush, an enlightenment, a cleansing, a healing, an awakening to something bigger. A realization of a process greater than burning… but refining, purifying process. An appreciation for a Teacher who has gone below any feeling or emotion I have felt and will patiently wait for me to be ready. There is a deep love felt from Father who loves me in each stage.

There is a scene in the movie of Helen Keller’s life where her parents are satisfied with the domestication of their wild daughter. She can behave properly. Anne’s teacher can see so much more potential in Helen and felt  “that she had significant contributions to make” (Christofferson, 2016). Sometimes I wonder if I am satisfied with behaving satisfactorily. I am comfortable, I don’t stand out for good or bad. I feel like when I completely trust the Teacher, He can heal my blindness and help me hear the melody that needs to be sung.

Helen Keller stated while addressing children, “It has been said that to attain what is noble is difficult, but the very effort to gain it creates character, strength and grit. Only through perseverance and overcoming obstacles can you accomplish anything worth while. We think little of what we win easily. It is struggle that gives victory its preciousness.”

It’s true I think little of what I win too easily. There is a preciousness in a victory that comes through blood and tears.The character, strength and grit created is invaluable. That is why a loving Savior made the infinite sacrifice. His victory over death, over sin, over temptation came at the ultimate price. His blood was spilled, He descended below all… that He may know how to really become a Master Teacher and how to perfectly succor all His children.

I love when Elder Christofferson proclaims, “What a precious gift is divine love! Filled with that love, Jesus asks, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”42 Tenderly He reassures, “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come … will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”43

I am grateful for a loving Teacher who sees a glorious potential and patiently waits for me to catch the same vision. May we all look to Him who knocks at our door of beautiful opportunities… and may we be willing to “attain what is noble” even though the way is difficult. May we not fight the Teacher but realize the opportunity to become as He is.  I will give Elder Christofferson the last word, “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.”

My ideas were inspired by this conference talk.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/abide-in-my-love?lang=eng

 

 

Helen Keller : A Parable on Divine Love

Busy … the New Happy; But I Want Joy

Image result for busy images

 

The biggest lesson I am learning from my time management book is how much control I have over how I spend my time and what is the narrative I tell myself about how my time is spent. In the latter part of that phrase lies a lot of power.

What story am I  telling myself about how my time is spent? Is it accurate? Is it honest? Is it true when I look at a chart of how my week is spent? or is it based on opinions or ideals?

If I have 168 hours in a week, and I sleep eight hours a night (56 hours), and work 40 hours a week, that leaves me with 72 hours per week… that is three whole days of leisure time. Have you ever broken your week down like that? Those of you who know me, know that I don’t have a job that requires 40 hours per week… (I mean sometimes cleaning FEELS like a never ending, 24/7 kinda torture…. ) But honestly I have a lot of time in my week that I get to decide how to use it. So what is the story I am telling myself about how my time is used?

I realized that this story has changed. The more honest I become with myself the different story I start to tell. But it is really easy to get caught up in the self importance busyness of life.  In fact, it took a talk from one of the leaders of my church to even reflect and evaluate this narrative.

In 2012, Elder Uchtdorf spoke about resolutions and regrets, he said “Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of  Jesus Christ, and His short life … I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.”

Wow, I think I was happily wearing busyness as a badge of honor. If I had no time between shofering kids. cooking meals, working, relationships etc. I was somehow living a fuller better life. What a lie. It was exhausting and unsustainable. But it was a great tactic for avoiding the honesty that would enter my mind in quieter times. Sometimes it was easier to push through life full steam then reflect on how this was making me feel and what benefit it truly was to me or my family. Also, if it was in line with goals I wanted to achieve.

Maybe it wasn’t a badge of honor, as much as it was an empty way of trying to find esteem. It was to justify how important I was and to gain respect… even if I couldn’t identify who the respect was from.

In slowing down, in finding out what really matters, in evaluating where my time was going it was a hard road. There were lots of things that needed to change, but a busy life doesn’t leave much time for self evaluation. I knew I wanted joy and my busyness was not creating any kind of sustainable joy.

Elder Nelson said this conference, “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, .. and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. “

President Nelson continues, “If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness,27 we will never know joy.” If you follow that footnote you will find this little gem. “The world teaches that the purchase of things will bring joy. And if that doesn’t work, buy more! It also teaches that you can sin your way to joy. And if that doesn’t work, sin more! The promise is that at the end of every hedonistic rainbow is a pot of joy. Not true!”

As we slow down, as we reflect on what will bring us the most joy, may we realize the joy that can come through honestly evaluating how our time is spent… and what we might change to live a fuller life without regrets.

I haven’t totally found true joy… but I am definitely progressing and finding a lot more meaning, love and joy in the life I live now. Also, when I start to yearn for joy, I pray that Heavenly Father will assist me in changing my focus to His plan, His son, and His gospel.

I would encourage you to keep an honest, accurate, account of your life for one week, 168 hours. Then reflect and evaluate how you are allotting your time. Does it bring you joy? Could some simple changes greatly increase your yield of joy?

Busy … the New Happy; But I Want Joy

I Love Lucy

If you only had a few moments to express your love for your child what would you say?

Today is Lucy’s birthday. She is eight. What a fun and exciting birthday for her. But as I reflect back on the bundle of love I held eight years ago today I have all these beautiful moments.

Lucy was my cuddle bug right from the beginning. It’s like she knew I needed to be snuggled and she was happy to oblige. I have always appreciated this that Lucy loves touch. I have seen her extend this kindness to others. When we were at an old folks home she tenderly touched and embraced each senior. It was beautiful.

Lucy is kind. She has a tender heart. She will often share and sacrifice for others. This is a beautiful gift and as a parent you love to see your children think of others.

Lucy has always been fiercely independent. “I can do it myself” she would exclaim. Then I would watch her proceed to dress and lose her mind over trying to successfully wrestle her t-shirt over her shoulders and head.

She is graceful and loves moving to music. I love watching Lucy dance because her whole demeanor changes. Her face  becomes serious as she gracefully extends an arm or a foot and the movement flows through her whole body. This is a shared love. A special bond where we connect.

Lucy has been a defender of her friends. One time when she was two, her best friend Eva and her were playing in a church group. A boy bigger than Lucy was pushing Eva around. Lucy grabbed the big boy by the forearm and squeezed him hard.  She yelled, “You leave my Eva alone.”  The boy ran away with tears and Lucy  conquered.

I am proud of my girl. Honestly, I don’t always know how to raise her. I mess up constantly. But if I can be patient with her and remember the beauty that she adds to my life and the moments that endear her to me… I think we will be okay.

I am grateful for a mom that showed me how to love and sacrifice for her children. I quality that I would not fully appreciate until I had children of my own.

I love Lucy.

I Love Lucy

O Remember, Remember

Image result for pen paper images

Every now and then the universe sends you a message so loudly and clearly that you do not miss it. This is often the case when I listen to General Conference held semi annually in our church. It was October 2007 and Elder Henry B Erying was speaking about a subject with this same title. O Remember, Remember.

He shared an experience about his father in law working late to build a system to pump water to their house. As he gratefully reflected about this situation he heard a voice in his head, not his own say, “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.” Elder Erying said he started that night what was to become a life long process of daily taking the time to ponder and record the answer to the question”Have I seen the hand of the God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” He said it took a lot of sacrifice and discipline to daily record the answers.But the blessings he and his family received were beautiful.

This idea of recording daily has been an idea that I fell in love with. As I was active with a business that promoted preserving lifes beautiful memories, I felt the truth of his words. This is an idea that I would start and stop many times. I guess it’s one of those… the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak… But I always return to it… the universe gently caresses me back to a spot where I keep recording the moments were God has truly blessed me and my family.

I love when Elder Eyring states, “My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done.”

I am grateful that life keeps providing me with opportunities to recommit to this wonderful principle… to take time to record the moments that truly matter. And the promise is so beautiful… as you do your life and the lives around you will be blessed.

Today I am glad that I remembered all the goodness I felt as I have tried to let this principle guide my actions and bless my life.

O Remember, Remember