Monday, July 26, 2010

On Service

Today, two thoughts on service:

"Sometimes the solution is not to change our circumstance but to
change our attitude about that circumstance; difficulties are
often opportunities for service." ~ Spencer W. Kimball

Service is a form of worship ~ we do, not necessarily because of the
recipient's worthiness, but because of our love for the Lord.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Completing Your Protein

The protein found in nuts, along with their healthy fats, is a great addition to every diet.

But protein is a funny thing. There are "complete" proteins, and there are "incomplete" proteins. When a protein isn't complete (and thereby more nutritious really), it needs other vitamins, etc. to help the body absorb it, and complete it.

In the case of nuts and their proteins, vitamin C is the thing that helps them be complete and easier for the body to absorb. Because of this, a handful of almonds and a cup of orange juice is a GREAT snack. You can pick your nut really and your 100% juice variety. The cream of the crop though is the almond and orange juice.

A while back I wanted to lose some weight and even though I started exercising 4 or 5 times a week, I really didn't change my diet. At all. I lost 3 pounds in five weeks. While every little bit helps, my results were not terribly impressive.

Fast forward a year to when that workout plan had long since been forgotten. I was ready to attack that weight loss monster again, but this time had no energy for exercise. I did alter my diet though and lost about two pounds in a week. That wasn't too bad, but I knew it could have been better.

So the following week I worked out AND watched what I ate.

I lost ~ count em! ~ SIX pounds.

Needless to say it was a boost to what I was trying to accomplish, but it was also a great lesson. Just like nuts are good on their own and juice is good on it's own, and eating well on it's own is good and exercise on it's own is good, combining these two things respectively produce greater results than any one thing could ever accomplish on its own.

Now lets switch gears a minute, keeping in mind the increased goodness combining both nuts and juice and then diet and exercise brings.

Spiritually speaking, there is great strength to be found in having regular prayer. We are encouraged to pray "in [our] closets, and [our] secret places, and in [our] wilderness." (Alma 34:26). Starting our day with prayer and ending it that way means we are most likely better in tune with what the Lord needs us to accomplish that day. There is great strength in making prayer a regular part of each day.

Scripture study is also something that brings great spiritual strength. The sweet and simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found within the pages of the scriptures. They truly are the word of God.

These two things on their own provide great spiritual nourishment. But just like the examples of the nuts and juice and then diet and exercise, there is SO much more power to be given and strength to be gained when we combine the two, prayer AND scripture study, together.

In some ways, this seems like a no-brainer. If you're doing one, you are probably doing the other. But someone I look up to recently mentioned how they'd make a small change in their morning routine to have their prayer BEFORE they read their scriptures, and what a difference that made.

She is right!

The chance to call down the power of heaven to open the scriptures to us, to help us better understand the principles of the gospel, is found in prayer. It is a gift that is ours for the taking, but the Lord won't just hand it out ~ we have to ask. But if we do ask, he will deliver.

In my own life, just like with learning about the benefits of "completing" my proteins, and coupling diet AND exercise, I know that combining prayer and scripture study brings great strength and peace and direction. Doing both means the Lord can better help us in our struggles, direct our decisions and organize our priorities.

How grateful I am for the gifts of prayer and scripture study!


Monday, May 31, 2010

A Woman's Heart

A recent magazine article amazed me. The article itself was about heart disease, and how, as women, we can live to avoid it.

The disease is the #1 killer of women in America and until very recently was largely undiagnosed, because all of the previous research had only been done in men.

You see, a woman's heart is different from a man's.

Researchers have found that when plaque builds in a man's heart, it creates a blockage. That blockage builds until too much blood is constricted, and *crack* you have a heart attack.

A woman's heart however doesn't just fill with plaque. Her arteries adapt to accommodate it.

In the face of stress and change, a woman's heart expands to make room for the plaque build-up. Because of this, the build-up is difficult to detect and scientifically, medicine is still trying to learn how to detect issues within a woman's heart.

Physiologically, the expansion of a woman's heart is most likely due to pregnancy, when blood flow increases and accommodation has to be made.

But emotionally and spiritually, the idea that a woman's physical heart expands to accommodate her surroundings seems to fit, doesn't it?

I've heard it said that once a woman has a child, she begins to wear her heart outside of her body. More recently I read where a woman with four children proclaimed she watched each of the four chambers of her heart each and every day.

In that regard, my heart has expanded to five chambers. They are beautiful and simultaneously my biggest challenge and biggest blessing. I know for sure that my heart beats faster with pride and with worry for each one of them, each and every day.

I know that no many how many children any of us have in our lives, there is room enough in our hearts to receive each one.

In the face of challenges and struggles, a woman's heart adapts to take on whatever is necessary...often, much to the amazement of those around her.

Surely a woman's heart is a divine creation. May we remember that we are His. Always.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hallowed Be Thy Name

In a Sacrament meeting a number of months ago, a member of our Stake Presidency spoke and used an example from a local coffee-shop paper that, each week, highlights two great kids from area high schools. Usually the church the student attends is mentioned. The wording used is that so-and-so "worships with the Melba 2nd Ward" or the "First Community Church" or at "St. Mary's Catholic Church", etc. The speaker in Sacrament that day felt that the writer of the paper was probably not a member of our church as we rarely refer to our time at church as "worship".

I knew that he was right as, unbeknownst to him, he was speaking about a paper that is my dad's dad is a faithful Methodist.

More recently a member of our Bishopric spoke in Sacrament and talked about how, in our prayers, we often skip over the part he deemed as the "hallowed be thy name" part. We skip the worshipful aspect of prayer and after offering what can even be an extensive list of things we are grateful for and thankful for, we jump right into our concerns, our needs and our wants.

I don't know why this is exactly, except that perhaps we see in the world that those who proclaim they "worship" God do so in a way that is usually backed up by a band with an electric guitar, a brass section and a big drum set, playing from the stand of the church they are in. "Amen" and "Hallelujah" are shouted from the audience and hands are raised and waved to heaven. While there's nothing wrong, bad, dark or devilish about any of these, the lack of reverence in these cases just might be why we don't quietly seek the opportunity to worship directly to God. We've just never seen the example.

There are many forms of worship. Singing can be worshipful. Telling of an spiritual experience can be a way to worship the Lord. Certainly bearing our testimony is a way to worship sometimes.

But what about acknowledging to God his greatness? What about expressing understanding of his magnitude, his omniscience, his power over heaven and earth, over all the evil in the world? What about recognizing him as the creator of all things, even listing them specifically? I recently put the suggestion to practice to be more worshipful in my prayers, and I admit I was a little timid at first. It was taking a step out of my prayer comfort-zone and, while I am careful to try not to be rote in my praying, this was a new kind of mindset.

The experience has not been a disappointing one. A friend's recent Facebook post was one I could nod in agreement to: 'don't tell God how big your trial is; tell your trial how big your God is'. Simply starting to acknowledge God's greatness to God himself, has made me so much more aware of that greatness. In return, bits of anxiety that I experienced at differing times has eased; worry is easier to shake off. It's also easier ~ and I'm not sure I can explain this one yet ~ to see people as the Lord sees them. Having voiced his greatness, my mind is better aware that He is in control. Grumpy people are more easily dealt with and my desire to keep up with someone who has thrown an emotional jab is less.

Acknowledging the greatness of God and expressing our admiration, love, appreciation, and reverence for our loving Heavenly Father is powerful and a spiritual experience. I'm sure that it pleases Heavenly Father to be praised, and in return He has blessings to pour out.

My encouragement today is to give it a try. Take a few extra moments during your next prayer to tell God how great you know He is. I promise that there will be a special and poignant awakening to your soul. I promise you will be blessed.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

About Iron

My head ran away with the similarity between iron and women the other day after hearing the words "male and female" used together. I mused at the 'fe' at the beginning of the word, and wondered where the root of the word came from, and then my science background brought me to iron, and it's root as "ferrum". There's that 'fe' again.

'Fe' is the atomic symbol for iron. Iron is known for it's strength, and used in everything from car frames to bridges to handrails. All of these require integrity ~ lives are at stake if the iron doesn't deliver and remain strong.

Iron is not maintenance free however. If left out in the weather, to be beaten down by the wind and the rain and fried in the heat of the sun, iron will be overtaken by rust. Rust that not only takes away from the aesthetically pleasing aspect of the metal, but also begins to undermine the integrity of the metal. Rust eventually will lead to structural weakness, severe enough to cause a total breakdown of the iron.

As women, we are so much like iron. Strong and versatile. Tough and beautiful. And like iron, we must maintain our integrity, as certainly lives are at stake ~ most importantly the other lives within the walls of our own home.

Also like iron, we must be watchful for signs of rust in our lives. Watchful that apathy or busy-ness or willfulness doesn't crowd out our ability to respond from and to and with our spirit. We must make sure that our own needs are being met, and that we bring out the personal steel wool regularly to get rid of any little spots we might find in our lives.

The world is a lot like the harsh weather can be, able to wear us down, tempt us and freeze us and bake us, all within the course of a single day sometimes. We have to have fortified ourselves before the weather comes in order to successfully withstand all we come in contact with.

Iron is an amazing metal, one that the world would not be the same without. Like iron, we as women are amazing creatures, saved as the final creation of our loving and omniscient Heavenly Father.

I am taking a closer look at the spots of rust in my life, prayerfully discovering and being reminded of what I really need to succeed in fulfilling the purposes I am here on the earth to accomplish, and using my 'steel wool' to scrub away the distractions I can do without.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Know Why I Love Sheri Dew (finally!!)

I have long been a HUGE Sheri Dew fan. From the first time I heard her speak as a member of the General Relief Society Presidency, I was a fan. Eventually I proclaimed myself the President of her unofficial fan club. These days it means I am a fan on Facebook.

I was sick recently, which gave me more time than I usually have to lay in bed and read (while Mr. Wonderful took care of the rest of the house ~ thank you darling!).

On one of my brief trips to the kitchen for water, I grabbed my copy of "If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard" and read it that afternoon.

Sometimes I struggle watching friends, dear dear women, who lament over the fact that they have not yet married or had children ~ the dream of their childhood and the goal they expected to have attained by this point in their lives.

For me, marriage came young and children came quickly and are now five deep. While they struggle with the lack of these things, sometimes I feel my biggest struggles are because of these things.

And so I try not to complain really, because I know that it is within our greatest struggles that our greatest triumphs and victories are to be found. I know that is also true for my single friends.

Of course we know that Sister Dew is single. I've heard her speak enough on the topic to know her story pretty well. Being over 50 and single is definitely not something she planned on as a young woman.

Having met Sister Dew on a couple of occasions, I tried to plan out my compliment before I got in front of her and risked completely falling all over myself. I knew that her words resonated with me, and felt like those sounded like an intelligent combination of syllables. But I never really thought that captured exactly what it was that made me love her so much.

But now I know.

In all of her talks that I've heard and read, in all of her books and CD's I've listened to (and I have them all), I have learned more about motherhood and it's importance from Sister Dew than from vitually any other earthly source. And I find myself going back to her for reinforcements sometimes when I might need that little push or extra encouragement. And I am never disappointed.

Hearing that she was going to be released from the General RS Presidency was the first and only time I hesitated in raising my arm to the square. I had no desire to let her go ~ as if my lack of vote from my livingroom would change anything!

Sister Dew's words have helped me discover and remember who I am, who I have always been (that's a great talk, if you're looking for one), why I am here, and helped me learn how to discover what my mission here is and how best to fufill it.

I'm so grateful for the path and life Sister Dew has been caused to take, though I know her heart has ached and broken because of it. I do not rejoice in her pain, only in the initiative she has taken in the face of her adversity. I know I and surely many, many others are benefitted by it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All I Never Wanted, Part 3

I remember the day my oldest, then about two said, "I don't want to go to Aimee's today" on the drive to my friend's house. Not really wanting to leave her either, I said, "ok" and we turned around and went home.

I ended up working through my second pregnancy and had plans to work a few hours a week after the baby was born, but a move and new job for Mr. W allowed for my coming home.

I'm sure I needed to learn this lesson this way, for when the times have come that I've considered going back to work, whether due to Maryhelen-itis setting in, or because I thought we could use the money, my heart tugs me back home again (as does the feeling that it just wouldn't be the right place for me to be).

Based on the example I had in my own mother ~ who went back to work when my brother was 6mos old (this was 1969) because she was BORED at home ~ and in light of my original career plans, feeling this much emotion wasn't what I expected.

I am a firm believer that as much as we plan our lives, the Lord also has a plan. Can I just say that I love the fact that Heavenly Father and I are both planners!

The plan the Lord has for us is full of what we need to become who he needs us to be. It is a plan that stretches us and builds us in ways that are bigger than anything we might ever come up with on our own. A great story reads something to the effect of how we work to build a little shack (with our lives), where the Lord builds a mansion.

As overwhelming as days can be with five very busy children and a fabulously busy Mr. Wonderful, I have great peace in knowing that I am in the right place, doing what I need to be doing. And because it's where I need to be, it's also where I want to be, looking for ways to doing my work better and to be the person I want/need/ought to be in order to do my work very well.

Not every day is deemed a success, but with Heavenly Father's guidance and help, I am living a full life ~ full of all I never wanted, but am so grateful I have.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

All I Never Wanted, Part 2

My transition from Pre-Med to something else was a lot less traumatic on me than it was to others who knew me as being defined by my career goals. The license plate on my car even read "MD 2 B" in high school. When I got to college, it might have been easy to assume that Mr. Wonderful would have been the guy with the "PREMED" license plate. That was not to be. He was a jerk, though was the kind that would have made a wonderful heart surgeon someday. Which just might be what's he's doing now....

The real Mr. Wonderful and I started dating December 26th and were engaged February 5th. The question my mom asked when I told her he'd asked me to marry him was, "". When she called to tell her mother that I was getting married in July, grandma asked, "what year?" Thankfully by then mom was on board (as much as I could ever hope for) and said in her best teenage-sigh, "THIS year mother!"

I have no excuse for why we were engaged for 6 1/2 months. I only know that from February, the months of April and May just vanished. But let me tell you that there are 61 days in those two months and in order to get to June, let alone July, you have to live through EVERY SINGLE ONE of them. I've already convinced our oldest that three weeks is all you need to put a lovely wedding together. Long engagements are just insanity incarnate!

Sometimes our wedding video makes its way into the VCR. The kids like to pull it out and see all of us before they were around, and we like to watch for much the same reason. My dear BIL went around to guests at our reception asking if people had any advice for us. We got everything from "Be Happy!!" from sweet Grandma F, to "Never mow the lawn" from my best friends' moms (their advice was to me, siting that if I did it, then he'd know I could and then it would end up being my job. I admit that I didn't listen and was the official lawn mower for a while. Gladly, Mr. W has reclaimed that responsibility as it's always what I list when I'm asked what my least favorite chore is).

Eventually BIL made it around to my mom, whose advice was "finish school!". I know she liked Kurt (the name he goes by when his boots and cape are at the cleaners), but I wonder if she thought we were doomed from the start. At 19 and 21, how much could we possibly know? And a part of me wonders if she had even the tiniest bit of hope that this "distraction" would be short lived... That said, she was as doting a mother as any could be during my entire engagement. She relayed other family members' frustrations ( I was, after all, getting married in a place none of my family could come), but I just don't remember her sharing any of her own. Even now, it amazes me and I think of her as a great example of the love she showed to me during this time.

Four short months after our wedding, we announced to our families that we were going to be parents. I wrote a letter to my mom, now living 1000+ miles away, from the baby, partly because I was too afraid of telling her myself. Obviously now finishing school was going to be pushed back a little...or even a lot.

Baby #1, a girl, arrived just four months after my 20th birthday. Baby #2, another girl, came five days after Christmas, three months before my 23rd birthday. I turned 25 ten days before daughter #3 joined our family. Since those three, two more have joined us ~ son #1 and daughter #4.

My kids think it's funny when the conversation comes around to mom's 'original' plan for her life. The one where I was only going to have one child.... and we laugh about keeping mom happy or else she'll be forced to choose four of them to find homes for. It's a card I'll keep in my arsenal, thank you very much!

So we are a family of seven, who might be still to grow someday (that isn't an announcement). I have been privileged and fortunate to stay home for all but about a year and a half of the nearly 15 that I've been a mother. It's funny, because when our oldest was 14 months old, I went back to work, both to help our financial situation and to reclaim who I felt I'd lost in becoming "mom". I was so proud the day I'd ordered my own address labels! I learn awfully fast though that being away was not all I thought it would be. And soon, I don't think I was the employee I wanted to be, because my heart just wasn't in the office where I worked. I had dropped her off with my good friend that morning.

Part 3 coming soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All I Never Wanted, Part 1

As a little girl, I don't remember dreaming about Mr. Wonderful, that I would be Mrs. Wonderful, or all of the little Wonderfuls we'd have together. In the place of those dreams were ones of pursuing medicine, delivering everyone else's babies for a living, and maybe adding a man and one smaller version of him and me to the house. Maybe. Someday. Later than sooner.

All of my dreams of school, school and more school were suppported by my family, especially my mom, who saw all the potential in me to make what I dreamed come true. And, while she was encouraging me to go that direction, she was subliminally (sometimes not so "sub") encouraging me not to go that other direction.....the one where Mr. Wonderful entered the picture.

Like every teenager, I had my perfect life planned: school until I was 27, then internship and residency and then slip into practicing Obstetrics. Sometimes, when Mr. W would fade in, we would have a business partnership as well as a marriage one ~ he would delivery babies for a living, too. More than looking forward to the casual shoulder brushing we might do in the hallways, I thought of him as the guy on the other end of that hall: seeing patients until it was time to share a car ride home. Unless he was on call, or I was. I was too clueless then to really picture details, even the good ones.

Part of my cluelessness came as a result of my own parents' divorce when I was seven. While I remember a few things about being a nuclear family, mostly I remember the benefits of having two separate parents: really cool vacations with the parent I didn't live with and two sets of presents at Christmas and for my birthday. As a kid, I didn't feel like I suffered because I lived with only one. I attribute that to the amazing job my mom did to make sure we (my brother and I) didn't go without.

And then, at seventeen, all I thought I wanted started to change. As many times as I've told my family it wasn't that Church I joined that brought on the change, really it kind of was. Kind of. I don't think of it as the Church as much as learning to include the Lord in my planning, and coming to find that He had a very different plan for me. Full of things I never knew I wanted.

Three days after my seventeenth birthday I was baptized. A little over a year later I graduated from High School (with Honors and with plans still for college and medical school, etc.). Not quite six months later, while attending church in a Singles Branch, I had what I remember being like a bolt of lightening crash through me as I saw this guy walk in the doors while walking down the hall. I knew I knew him, but couldn't remember from where. It wasn't long before I remembered ~ we'd been in band together back when I was a Freshman and he was a Senior. We'd both been pulled out of other classes to come and play tubas in the marching band. We were around each other a lot that semester, but while I know I played in the band at his graduation, it had been years since I'd seen him.

He kind of did that same "I know you but can't remember your name or why I know you or from where" thing that I'd done and while we might have said "hi" at the time, he had to ask his friend what my name was.

We started spending more and more time together, especially after he had knee surgery and conveniently my car was the one (out of all the girls! ~ gosh, you think I'd have seen what was to come coming. But no ~ totally still clueless here) that his braced leg fit best in. We'd spend hours and hours sitting in front of his house talking ~ about my plans for school and his plans for school ~ and repeat it as often as we were able.

He became my closest friend and we spent a lot of time together, still with all our individual plans firmly in place.

While I remember the day I knew I loved him, I don't remember when "like" turned into "like like". We found excuses to spend time together, and I know I was jealous when another girl walked right up to him, in front of me, and while playing with his tie flitted and flirted her giddy little self around. Hmmm....makes me wonder where she is today. And what her name was. Can't remember that, either. Something surely with an -ie at the end. No, it wasn't Barbie. Or Buffie. Good guesses, though.

But somewhere in there my jealousy came from feeling like this girl was invading my territory. I just don't remember at what point I was ready to stake my claim. Not necessarily the eternal kind of claim, but at least the 'next little while' kind.

There was so much to like about this guy ~ his goodness and the way he treated his mom. Not to mention that at six-foot-five, with blond hair and blue eyes and beautiful teeth, eyebrows and forearms, he was awfully easy to look at. I liked being around him and being separated got to be very very hard.

Other things at the time started to change as well. The first MCAT informational meeting I went to left me with a pit in the bottom of my stomach. What I sort of knew then but definitely know now is that it's the feeling I get when something isn't right, or I am in the wrong place. I started wondering if medical school was the right thing to do, not just if it was what I wanted to do. And it wasn't long before I knew that it wasn't the right thing. I didn't know exactly what would replace it, but I changed my major to Biology/Secondary Education. I felt better and looked forward equally to teaching High School someday as I had to delivering babies (though that was still fascinating!).

More To Come.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who I Know I Am

There's a new show coming on in a few weeks called "Who Do You Think You Are?". It's an American take on a British program that examines different celebrities' ancestral heritage. Included on the list of celebrities are Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields and Spike Lee.

Spike Lee learns that he has Caucasian members of his family and the trailer shows him, flabbergasted, meeting with a white cousin.

Brooke Shields finds out she has nobility in her blood and she is taken to France where the records show her lineage.

I love genealogy and am inspired by my heritage. It's wonderful to know the family from which I am descended.

As I watched this ad though, I couldn't help but think about the one thing the essence of the show was missing: our divine heritage.

Oh I know that national television is not going to be the place where we hear that we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, that we are his children, that Jesus is literally our spiritual older brother (and with that, so is Lucifer). I know that.

But, what if one of these celebrities learns they are descended from someone like Hitler or Stalin or Genghis Khan? So much of the show focuses on what it means to have the family that you have, and I had to wonder ~ does it really matter, if instead we know who we really are?

I love knowing that I have a bit of a pioneer heritage. But I also know that cousins to those family members who joined the church in the early days were some who were bitterly opposed to it. Where does my value lie? Is it that I know I'm related to Brigham Young or Abraham Lincoln or Tom Hanks? Or am I less because I know there were others who were scoundrels, adulterers, and the like?

More than knowing the history of who I am, I love knowing that, no matter what that history says, I have divine lineage. There are no generation gaps between me and my heavenly parents. I am first-generation child of God.

And that, to me, speaks volumes about my worth, how I can and should conduct myself, and who I can look to to pattern my life after.

What an amazing thing to have such a simple answer to the often complex question of: Who am I?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Absolute Darkness

A friend of mine, a physicist, has said that there is no such think as darkness, it is simply the absence of light.

This thought, coupled with experience, fascinates me.

A few years ago our family stumbled on a place called "Lewis & Clark Caves" just north of Yellowstone.

A steep hike took us to the mouth of the caves, where we were guided through and down into the earth.

The history was intriguing and we laughed to learn that Lewis & Clark themselves had never even seen these caves, they were just named for them because nothing at the time was named in their honor. "It was before everything and their dog would be named for them," our cute twenty-something guide told us.

As we hiked down more than a mile below the earth, soon our path was lit by modern technology: electric lights and flashlights.

Eventually our guide turned the lights OFF and told us we were now experiencing something called "Absolute Darkness". As we were far enough below the surface of the earth, there was no trace of light that made it this far down.

What has stuck with me was that, in the midst of this phenomenon, my eyes searched for light; they worked hard to find it. They were working so hard that eventually I closed my eyes, in order to ease their efforts in searching for something my mind knew they wouldn't find.

Just like it was a natural reaction for my eyes to search for light, I believe that our spirits long for light as well. It is a natural thing, though so often we shut off or ignore that instinct. But because we are fundamentally spiritual beings, we cannot ever completely extinguish that desire.

As a convert, I know and remember the light that appeared when I was introduced to the Gospel. Questions I hadn't even formally asked were answered. The information the missionaries presented just made sense, in a way that I have since thought was more like I was being reminded and caused to remember, rather than being taught.

Within the light of the Gospel is the sure knowledge of the purpose to life. It is of who we are and why we are here. It is of who we have always been. It is that we have Heavenly parents, who love us and have established a plan, giving it to us through prophets, so that we might have joy and be truly happy here.

Within that light is the existence of a perfect example; a Savior who overcame both physical and spiritual death on our behalf. He did what he did for each individual, not for mankind collectively. And should it have been any one of us who needed his gifts, He would have done all that he did, just for the one.

I remember my experience so deep within the caves in Montana and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the light that is available to me and each of us, if we will just open our eyes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Creator

We were privileged to live on the coast in Washington for nearly nine years exactly. And by on the coast I mean that if you drove too far down the only road in our town, you'd fall off into the ocean. We could hear the water's rumble out our window at any time. It was a 5 minute drive (or less) to sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in. We lived on.the.coast.
Not long after we moved there, we went down to one of the large rock jetty's that poke out into the water. It was a fun place to climb around and see awesome sea life when the tide was low. It's also one of the best places to gather shells....
On this particular trip, I climbed and hiked to the end of the rocks, a place that is a considerable distance out into the water. The wind is always blowing, and blocks out noises from the beach.
I looked up the beach to my right and I looked down the beach to my left. I looked out in front of me. In all three directions was only water, this great expanse of beautiful, amazing ocean.
A powerful thougth struck me: the same God who had created all of this water ~ so much it was more than my eye could take in ~ had created: ME.
I was overwhelmed with warmth and love and reminded that He knew who I was, and where I was.
He knows each one of us. He knows why we're here, and what our purpose is. He loves us and wants us to be happy. He sent His son so that we could not be permanently separated from Him.
Our Heavenly Father is the creator of all things, big and small. His omnipotent, never-ending awareness for all things includes you and me, even when we might stand small, surrounded by the hugenes of His ocean or up to our elbows in the daily tasks of life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jesus and the Trash Guy

Monday morning is a big deal at our house.

You see, the trash guys come on Monday mornings, and their coming is a much-anticipated, looked forward to event for our son, who is now three.
He knows that Monday means "Trash Guys".

And I make sure he is awake and aware that they are coming.
"Nate! The Trash Guys are coming!" "Come watch out the window!"

We listen for the truck when it's in our neighborhood, and I watch to see when the truck has finally come around the corner and we have just two houses to be at our front window.
One morning not long ago, Nate and I were still upstairs when I heard the truck round the corner. I came tearing down the stairs, calling to him to come down QUICK so he didn't miss them. (Missing them would mean the end to a happy morning...that only had to happen once!)
And as I hauled myself down faster than I was used to, I wondered why we made such a big deal about this....sure, for the enjoyment of our boy, who we love. But really ~ what else (or who else) would we made such a big deal for?
Grandma? maybe....yes, we kind of do.....
What about Jesus?
Would we make sure we were up, would we be watching, listening, WAITING for Him, knowing he was coming, even if we were never sure exactly when?
Would we come tearing down the stairs for Him?
I know that by doing the little things regularly ~ things like family prayer, scriptures, FHE, attending our meetings and fufilling our callings ~ we are showing Him that we're ready.
Or getting there.
But are we as EXCITED about these things as we are when the Trash Guys round the corner?
Sometimes people giggle during prayers (the littlest ones wandering away even...). Sometimes we're lucky to make it through two verses in our scriptures. Sometimes FHE lessons are three minutes long.
Sometimes we get these things done (at least initially) more out of obligation
than elation for the opportunity..
I know someday He will come. And I know I want to be ready and to have helped prepare all the people I live with.
Joyfully living the Gospel starts with me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The View From Higher Ground

In Amos 8:11-13, it is written:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the work of the Lord, and shall not find it.
In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst."

The thought that crossed my mind when I read these recently was, even though they foretold the day of the great apostasy, could they also speak of, or apply to, individual and very personal apostasies? Apostasies that we bring upon ourselves because of our willfulness, our disobedience, laziness, or lack of faith?

Just as those of the great apostasy lost great blessings because of their unwillingness to follow the Savior, so can we fail to reach our full potential if we do not keep Him in our sights at all times, safeguarding ourselves against temptation and distraction.

We have no reason to be spiritually malnourished, yet do we take full advantage of the gifts we have been given?

From the scriptures to church attendance to prayer to the temple.... are we making the most of all we have?

Do we find ourselves in a comfortable place? One where we do as much as need to do to feel good, as much as is convenient, but not more? More that would require additional discipline, determination and stretching and would result in growth and untold blessings?

It's easy to fall into a steady pace on a road until that path becomes deep and then we find ourselves in a rut that requires work to get out of.

In a Conference address a few years ago, President Monson addressed the topic of being our best selves. He offered these questions to guide our thinking:

1. Am I what I want to be?

2. Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday?

3. Will I be closer yet tomorrow?

4. Do I have the courage to change for the better?

That last one ~ do I have the courage to change for the better ~ caught me. Change takes courage. Courage takes strength, determination and focus.

Even if we find ourselves in a spiritual rut today, there is a way up and onto higher ground. President Monson reminds us of the words the Savior taught on the American continent, when answering the question, "What manner of persons ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."

We need only look to that perfect exemplar, Jesus Christ, to find our way. We are blessed with the privilege and power of prayer to gain direction and understanding in becoming our best selves.

It is my testimony that prayer is a wonderful gift! It is the thing that can keep us away from temptation, help us find greater love and understanding for our family and friends, and keep us focused on our eternal goals. There is nothing not worthy of praying about.

Heavenly Father loves us. He knows who we are and is ready to help us accomplish all that we came here to do.