Private Desmond Doss

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

The Poppies Blow Free

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I remember the first time I saw a wild poppy. I was in the back of my Aunts car and she was talking when I looked out the window and saw these wild bright red flowers. I asked her what they were. “Les Coquelicots” was her reply. I didn’t recognize the name. “Poupy,” Is what she replied back to me in her English. It took me a moment…”Red flower that sounds like poopy…. Poppies!

When I realized what they were… immediately my heart rejoiced. I have always loved remembrance day and the symbol of the poppy. I have forever loved John McCrae’s poem, Flanders Fields. It thrilled me to see the French countryside that day the beautiful wild poppies.

My grandfather Rollingson fought in a war. He entered the service at 16. (He lied about his birth to sign up and fight.) He did return but a lot was sacrificed too… it wasn’t his life they took but he came back from war an alcoholic. I have always counted it as part of his sacrifice.

I never really knew my grandpa Rollingson. In fact, until the end of his life I had only seen him a few times. My grandfather got sick at the end of his life and my dad took care of him. My father made arrangements for him to enter a retirement home in Cardston. This is when I regularly saw my grandpa. He had a good sense of humor and I think was grateful to see us.

I have always had a great sense of pride about my grandfather. I’ve always looked at him with great sympathy and felt honored he would sacrifice so much… kind of everything for his country, my country, our country.

I love poppies. I love that I have seen then grow wild and free. I love that I would see them again as a missionary. I love that they are red. I love that they remind me to never forget. I love wearing one every year at this time and remembering the countless people who sacrificed everything for me.

So wear your poppy, lest you forget!

The Poppies Blow Free