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.