The Relief Society has put together this amazing, short (1:40), presentation with the words from President Uchtdorf's address to the women at the last General Relief Society meeting. It is a poignant reminder of the amazing desire and gift we've been given to create.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
"Tomorrow when you wake up, I won't be here. I'm going to do my work with the army, but I'll be home in two days, and I'll call you every chance I get, okay?"
"Yes, baby, I have to go. It's my job, and people are counting on me to be there. But you'll be here with mommy and I'll be home before you know it, okay?"
"I'm sorry, sweetheart, but this is what Daddy needs to do. Just because I'm not around, doesn't mean I don't love you and aren't watching out for you."
"I will cry for 7 days and nothing will make me stop."
Aside from the dramatics verse of a three year old, I knew that she really was upset. At this point I was in tears ... my poor little girl! She just didn't understand. She remembered that last summer, when daddy was 'at the army' he was gone a very long time. When he leaves now, it's a difficult experience for her. Her daddy talked to her about the Holy Ghost, and told her that when she was feeling sad she could say a prayer to Heavenly Father, and that he would send the Holy Ghost to help her feel better and know that Daddy was thinking about her.
When she woke up the next morning, Daddy was gone. I was relieved that it seemed she wasn't really affected, as he generally has already left for the day when she wakes up anyway. Partway through the day, I walked down the hall and saw her kneeling by her little bed with her little sister at her side. I was again brought to tears at what I witnessed.
"Heavenly Father, my daddy says he's close to me. I don't see him here, but you could tell your holy ghost to come and make my sister happy because she doesn't believe me. But my Dad said it so I know it is true. So tell her she can know what I know. My daddy's always watching me even when I can't see him. And thank you for Cinderella. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
How humbled I was to realize that this prayer, the prayer of my sweet little girl, was the prayer I should be offering. We all have the ability to know what our Father tells us is true ... our Father is always watching over us, even though we can't see Him. I know that this is true, but it's something I often 'forget to remember'. And I hope I can remember to keep my 'sister' in my thoughts and prayers. Not everyone is so blessed to know what we know, and I hope we can remember to pray for their comfort, and pray that we are able to reach all of our Brothers and Sisters, and help them to find their way to our Savior, to His gospel, and to His comfort.
I'm eternally grateful for a loving Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the faith of little children. So often the lovely verse from the beloved primary song "I am a Child of God" is reinforced to me by my children.
"Lead me, guide me
Walk beside me
Help me find the way"
It is a plea from all of our Father's Children. And if we listen, we will find that He is leading, constantly guiding, and trying to show us the way. We need only to ask. The 'noise' of the world is deceiving, and can be overbearing. He is there to show us the straight, clear path that seems lost in the confusion of these days. But He IS there, He IS watching, and He is waiting for us to let Him in. Just like my little girl who believed that her Daddy was watching over her because of his promise, we too can believe, because we have been promised. For that I am so grateful.
Also, I am grateful for Cinderella. Because really, who's not?
Monday, February 16, 2009
Now, I had always believed Joseph Smith was called of God, but I don't think I really KNEW until near the end of my mission. When I sent in my papers to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I had no idea what a mission it would be. First of all, I have a major handicap, I can't memorize to save my life! And when I got called to serve a Spanish speaking mission, I was terrified. The first thing they had us do when I got to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) was memorize the First Vision in the words of Joseph Smith in Spanish. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't do it. So I didn't.
When I got out into the field (Anaheim, California), I could hardly speak any Spanish I was so terrible, let alone teach the gospel. But as time went on I became more efficient and fluent in the Spanish language, and grew to love the people I had the opportunity to teach. But one thing didn't change, I couldn't teach the First Vision of Joseph Smith, and my heart ached. Luckily, all my companions had no problem teaching it instead. I almost got away with it... until I became companions with Sister Mietzner. I loved Sister Mietzner, and we quickly became friends, but it was only six weeks until she was scheduled to go home. It was really hard for her to want to work, and I couldn't blame her, she was really tired.
One day, we were set to go teach a young woman who was very pregnant and alone. We started off by teaching her about the Book of Mormon and then I turned the lesson over to Sister Mietzner to tell about Joseph Smith like I always did, but she remained silent. Her face looked a little green, and I realized that she was feeling sick. I asked her if she would teach the First Vision, and she said, "No." I was stumped! I panicked inwardly. I couldn't do it. I begged her, "Please!" and once again, "No." So I said a quick prayer in my heart and turned to the young woman. My mouth opened and my lips moved, but it wasn't my voice. The words were perfect, they were beautiful, they were divine. I said (in Spanish):
"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake to me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other -- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
By the time I finished there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Tears ran down our faces. The spirit of the Lord was so strong in that tiny room, I could hardly breath. It was at that moment that I KNEW without doubt, that it really had happened. God the Father and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph Smith. He was in fact a prophet of God. My mom had been so right! It didn't matter how many times people told me it was so, I had to know for myself, it was true! That moment in time is forever burned in my heart, no one can shake the testimony I have for Joseph Smith, no one. All because of the witness I received that summer day.
From that day on, I never forgot the words of that First Vision. I taught the story of Joseph Smith with all my heart for the rest of my mission in the field, and I will continue to bear testimony of him and his divine mission until I die and forever after.
If you have doubts about Joseph Smith, I implore you to go to the Lord in sincere prayer, just like Joseph did so long ago, and ask Him if all this is true. He is our Father in Heaven, he will guide us and answer our prayers because He loves us so much. He wants us to find truth in this world, and above all he wants us to return to him someday.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love." We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Prior to moving to Minnesota, where winter weather is discouragingly cold and dark, I hated grapefruit because they were too sour and bitter. I couldn’t understand why people would eat grapefruit, when any reasonable person would have to heap spoonfuls of sugar on top just to swallow. It was a rare, generous moment when I would even buy them at the grocery store for my husband.
But that all changed on some dark, cold day in the heart of my first Minnesota winter. On that day, I found myself looking at the fruit bowl on our kitchen table and, wonder of wonders, craving the last grapefruit that sat there amidst the bananas and apples. I gobbled it up, and immediately wanted more. It was delicious to me, and like all those crazies before me, I found myself squeezing it at the end to catch every drop of its goodness. It is my unscientific and unconfirmed theory that my summer-starved body was craving whatever sun-enriched nutrients the grapefruit contained. In short, I now eat grapefruit on a regular basis, and can hardly recall what it was like not to know and love its tart, rich taste.
This grapefruit conversion is to me a parable of what I have experienced in other areas of my life. It is an example of something once bitter becoming sweet due to the Lord’s hand in my life. I, like many people, unfortunately have divorced parents, which was a great challenge to me when I was young. I have therefore always identified with the account of Jacob (son of Lehi) in the Book of Mormon. Jacob’s father tells him, “[I]n thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow. . . . Nevertheless, Jacob . . . thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:1-2, p. 56)
I never envisioned my parents getting back together, necessarily, but it always felt to me that something was irretrievably lost. Quite simply, I was torn between two sides, because despite my great love for both of them, it was not possible for me to have Dad in one hand and Mom in the other. I do not wish to diminish the rich blessings I did have when I was young: I have been very blessed to have two parents who love me and who have made great sacrifices for my welfare and benefit. But I must acknowledge that for a long time, there was an uncured sadness wedged in my heart for my broken family. Casting blame, imagining what should have been, and leaving home were some of my coping strategies, none of which cured the hurt.
I am humbled to report, as I now reflect on it, that I feel none of that old ache – that indeed it has been swallowed up through the power of Christ’s atonement. Without going into all the details (though truly God was there in all the minute details), let me mention a few things that I have learned.
First, there is a fine line between faith in Jesus Christ and the works we must do to prove our faith. It was not enough for me to hurl my burden at Christ in tearful prayer, vigorously asserting that “I have faith,” and expect Him to take it away. True, “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23), and it is by faith that you are “made whole” (Matthew 9:22). And there is always comfort on the other side of a faithful prayer. But I was never truly relieved from the burden I bore until I learned to share a yoke with Christ Himself. It has primarily been while losing myself in the course of service, including church service and a full-time mission, that I have found the most peace and reassurance through Christ. And just so you don’t worry: this yoke of obedience and discipleship is “easy,” and the burden “light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Second, it is a simple truth that God, who is Master of the universe and Father to our souls, will “not suffer [us] to be tempted above that [we] are able to bear; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) I have never doubted, nor been given reason to doubt, that God knew my suffering, expected me to be faithful in spite of it all, and made it possible for me to bear my burden without disintegrating into despair and rebellion.
And third, the most wonderful, delicious fruits are borne of adversity, if we endure it well! Jacob’s father taught him that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” so that we might know the bitter from the sweet. (2 Nephi 2: 11-15) And do we not all know the taste of bitterness?! But Christ’s miracle – which hopefully gives new life to our sometimes sad, sleepy, or stony hearts – is that joy is borne of bitterness, life springs out of barrenness, and weakness becomes strength. It happens in many ways. In my life, my family has been made whole in ways I never thought possible, as have I. Where there was anger and resentment, there have been new beginnings and feelings of peace, understanding, and hope.
I am forever grateful for Christ, grateful that He drank of the bitter cup and did not shrink. I marvel that, as grapefruit is delicious to me because it allows me to taste sunshine in the middle of winter, so are the fruits of my childhood heartache delicious to me because they have resulted in my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this fruit, which is "desirable above all other fruit," that most often is found in the midst of our longest, most bitter winters. (1 Nephi 8:12)