Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friends and Family

Here are a few things I have learned this weekend:

• Be grateful for parents. Very grateful. No one else would be so willing to step in a take care of six grandchildren, one neighbor boy, and a dog on a moment’s notice!

• My neighbors are IT! They bought pizza for my children, helped my mom with the said six children, neighbor boy, and one dog while my dad drove us to the ER. They called, prayed, texted, visited, brought dinner and delivered chocolates. They were the Lord’s attending angels to our family this weekend!

• And speaking of neighbors, knowing beforehand which one of your neighbors has the tools to cut off a zip-tie on a very constricted six year-old finger may save you a trip to an Extended Hours Medical Clinic.

• Two things in one night that you didn’t ever expect to happen could very well happen!! Going to an Extended Hour Medical Clinic AND the ER for two separate children in two separate incidents can very well happen.

• All the First Aid training at Girls’ Camp may pay off. But it didn’t for me. A fractured humerus on a 10 year-old boy = Call 911.

• FOLLOW THE SPIRIT! I don’t ever carry cash, but earlier this week I had a feeling to get an extra twenty in cash while at the grocery store. I had no idea why. Cash. Burning. In. My. Pocket. Little did I know on Tuesday that it’s what would keep me fed while in the ER on Friday.

• As I observed the condition of children and their parents in the ER waiting room, I longed to help: One teenage girl lay on a couch, huddled in a ball, looking so cold. Why didn’t I take an extra blanket? One mother clutched her young toddler close. She looked like English was her second language. Why couldn’t I speak in her tongue so I could help put her at ease? One young boy resembled one of my own and oh, how I wanted to reach out a hold him and let him know everything would be okay. And that’s when my mind caught upon the thought of WHY God wants us to be humble. For me, so mortal (and finite to the core), it is so much easier for me to love those who are in a state of such need (take the earthquake in Haiti and how it has opened hearts). Is it because we are easier to love when we are in the state of wanting help? His help? I don’t know, but the scene in the ER waiting room made me want to be more eager to be humble for the Lord.

• It’s a small world after all (Darn it, now I’m singing the song)! And God does work in mysterious ways! Of all the nurses that could have been assigned my son, she happened to be the best friend of my cousin! As soon as we made that connection (which was within the first 30 seconds of her entering our room), I KNEW she was sent as one of God’s tender mercies!

• Overnight Scout Camp Must Go On! All I could do was text my husband and let him know that all of this excitement happened without him. It really made me appreciate my warm hospital bed while he was sleeping in 4 degree temperature.

• My Bishop Rocks! Yeah, I know. That was on a T-shirt and I may be incriminated now for using the slogan, but it is TRUE! And how glad and blessed I am to know that the Lord has His shepherds here on earth! To help me. A little sheep. Who found herself and her son at the hospital all night. Thank you, Bishop!

• The Savior loves us so much. And even in those times when life happens (because it does when we are trying so hard to just get back to Him), He provides a way for us to see His hand. Our job is to recognize it and thank Him for the journey.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Visiting Teaching

I believe that in being a member of Relief Society, it’s all about the Visiting Teaching. Because visiting teaching brings us unto Christ.

Visiting teaching is something I have learned only because I have tried to obey. Certainly it didn’t come for me because I wanted it to, or because I was looking for it.

For many years I did my visits only because I was supposed to. I liked my sisters. I liked the visits. I even liked the satisfaction of the 100%! But at the completion of the month’s visits I always thought to myself, “Phew! I’m finished until next month!” Then, I waited for the next month to talk myself into going again.

I remember the day when that all changed. My husband was serving as the Bishop of our ward. He had inadvertently left out a piece of paper. But perhaps it was something intentional the Lord wanted me to see! You see, that piece of paper contained the names of all the sisters in the ward who had not been visited in the past month, the past two months, the past three.

As I began to look over this list, my heart - somewhat immediately - began to take on a visiting teaching transformation. I know that sounds corny, but as I looked over these names of sisters, some whom I knew very well to those I knew not at all, it was almost as I felt, as the scripture describes a “cry from the dust.” A cry to be remembered. To be visited. To be loved.

And then I saw my name on that list! And all of a sudden visiting teaching was about me.

Not about me being visited, but about me doing the visiting. Not about me being remembered, but about me remembering. Not about me being loved, but about me giving the love.

And I have never been the same since.

My heart, literally, fell in love with visiting teaching. For all the months I had talked myself into going, I now felt a reason to go. For all the months I said, “Phew! I’m finished until next month!” I now found reasons to follow up with my sisters, even connect with them in a regular, more-than-once-a-month kind of way. Instead of waiting until the next month to report a number, I began to remember my sisters daily, in prayer.

And when that happened - when my heart began to understand what visiting teaching was all about. Because I am getting closer to Christ.  And I realized that's why I am a member of the Relief Society!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

True Doctrine Understood Changes Behavior

"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel."
 After Church today some of my boys got into it. Two were in the locked car laughing and pointing at one who was locked out of the car. By the time the one got into the car with the two, a fight ensued. A fight. In the car. And someone got hurt.


And then I did "The Transformation" into The Mom: Lecture-Mode.

Lecture to the one: CHILL OUT!

Lecture to the two: Learn when to STOP!

But there were still hard feelings, hurt feelings, angry feelings, Mom feelings. For what I REALLY wanted to do was yell at all of them and hit their heads together because what they do is so juvenile (even if they are juveniles), so I took a moment to breathe. Because I didn’t want to act like a juvenile. And then I took a moment to pray. To ask Heavenly Father what I should do with three of his sons. I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out an appropriate consequence.  I needed help fast!

And gratefully, by the time we got home, the Spirit was able to say to me: “Have your boys read Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk.” Boy, was I glad I was listening!

So that’s what I did. Printed off three copies. Told each to read it and write ten sentences on what they learned - including what the Spirit wanted him to learn about the love of God.

After 30 minutes of seclusion, here is what my the three of them – on their own – came up with.

9 year old son - The one who was left locked outside the car. The same one who instigated the fight inside the car.
I learned:
1. To love as Jesus loved us
2. To become more like Jesus
3. Pray to God and He will tell me the answer to my question
4. Read the scriptures and hear His voice
5. Go to Church and hear His voice
6. Heavenly Father’s love for His children is the core message of The Plan of Happiness
7. Love is the light that guides our path
8. I need to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ
9. I need to walk away from stuff that’s bugging me
10. I need to be kind to everyone – especially my family.

10 year old son locked in the car, jeering at the son locked outside of the car:
"I learned that we should love God with all our heart. And that love can make friendship, tolerance and respect. It is the source that overcomes hate. Love is the fire that warm our lives.
The Apostle John said, 'We love Him because He first loved us.' God’s love is so great that He loves the proud, the selfish and the wicked. If we love Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul and mind, all else will fall into place. Love is also the measure of faith and obedience. Love is the way of the disciple. What I learned is that if I can love everyone, then they will love me. And if I can change, everyone can change" (Mother’s note: This son of mine TOTALLY stole that last line from Rocky IV).
10 year old son locked in the car also jeering the one locked outside of the car and the one who was caught in the fight:

1. The thing I learned from this talk is love.
2. The Savior said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’
3. I should love God with all my might, mind and heart.
4. I should love my brothers as much as I will love Jesus Christ.
5. Love is like fire that warms lives and our hearts.
6. Jesus loves us even if we are proud, selfish or even wicked. He still loves us.
7. He loves us if we live in a castle or cottage. But He still loves us.
8. Wherever you are, try to hear His voice. Jesus Christ lives and loves us very much.
9. Love is faith, obedience and much more. It can do marvelous things in our daily life.
10. So I learned that I should love my brothers. Even if they hurt me or are mean to me I can still love them.
And what did I learn? It PAYS for me to read and study General Conference talks. It PAYS for me to read and study scripture. Not just because I need it, but because my children need it! God is counting on me to learn about Him - just as much as I am counting on my children to learn about Him. And as I study and learn what God's wants me to, I am, in return, able to teach my children what God's wants them to learn.

"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Tooth Fairy

Darn Tooth Fairy.

She never seems to arrives to our house on time.  Sometimes, she hasn't even come at all.  How simply unreliable she is!  And my children are getting very frustrated!  One of them has been waiting for over a week  for a visit.  Of course, in the waiting, he has really lost his tooth and has resorted to a written-from-dictation note that reads: "Dear Tooth Fairy, I have lost my tooth.  Will you please forgive me?" 

And, can you believe it, SHE STILL HASN'T SHOWED UP!
So this morning both he and I vented - together - about that darned Tooth Fairy!

Son (showing me his letter): I don't think Tooth Fairy even cares about my tooth.

Me: What is going on with that Tooth Fairy?

Son: I don't know but he (it's a HE to him) is making me MAD!

Me: He (hee hee for me) is making me mad, too.

Son (grabbing his letter between both hands): And now I'm going to tear up this letter to HIM!

Me: I would, too. That darn Tooth Fairy.

And then my son suddenly stops, turns to look at me in a most cautious, reverent manner. His eyes big.  "But Mom, what if the Tooth Fairy is Jesus?"

Melt my heat because of his incredible sense of reverence and fear (fear in a good, respectful way) for the Lord.

Me (the one now learning the lesson): No.  No, Jesus is NOT the Tooth Fairy.  Because if He were, you would be assured you would receive what you were promised. No, Jesus is NOT the Tooth Fairy.

And a very good lesson for me to learn.  (Darn Tooth Fairy).

Thank you my son.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Love is . . .

Things I have learned about love, specifically The Love of God, thanks to  President Uchtdorf's Oct 2009 General Conference Talk!
The FIRST and GREAT commandment is to: Love the Lord thy God, with all thy HEART, and with all thy SOUL, and with all thy MIND" (Mosiah 2:34).

Love ought to be the center in EVERYTHING I do.  Love should be my motivator. It certainly is God's.

Love is the healing balm that repairs . . . broken hearts, open wounds, neglected relationships, shattered dreams

Love is the bond that unites . . . families, enemies, communities, nations

Love is the power that initiates . . . visiting teaching, repentance, obedience, forgiveness

Love is the source that overcomes . . . hate, anger, disappointment, loneliness

Love is the fire that warms . . . weak testimonies, closed minds, girls' camp, Primary Progams

Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

God does not need me to love Him.  But oh, how I NEED to love God!

What I love = what I seek
What I seek = what I think and what I do
What I think and what I do = Who I am and what I can become

Misery = the love of WRONG things (Not necessarily bad things, but wrong things).
Joy = the love of GOOD things

God's Divine Love
     TURNS ordinary acts into extraordinary acts of service.
     TRANSPORTS simple words into sacred scripture.
     TRANSFORMS reluctant compliance with God's commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.

Questions to ponder:
If love is the measure of my faith: How do I measure up?

If love is the inspiration of my obedience:  How obedient am I?  And when I receive inspiration do I "go and do?"

If love is the true altitude of my discipleship:  Am I stuck at sea level?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Badge of Honor

I’ve come to understand that this life is a continuation of the spiritual battleground that started in heaven before we came to earth. And if this is our mortal battleground in defense of our spiritual home, there are a lot of people I know who have sacrificed much because they love God even more.

Their examples to me have made deep, profound impressions I my soul. I am a better person because I know them, for they teach me that this life is bigger than them. This life is our time to prepare to meet God.

So I thought about badges. You know the kind war generals get because of their bravery and/or sacrifice. The ones they wear so proudly on their lapels for a job well done.

One night I lay awake for a long, long time, thinking about those badges, those honors that come to those who fight. Then I began to see the faces and feel the hearts of so many people who - because of their fight, their bravery, their sacrifice - have in a way, saved me. Protected me. Taught me the way back to Heavenly Father.

Some of these badges have been earned because of trials. Because of heartache. Because of sorrow.

I know a mother of 10 children who was married for 29 years. Her children were her collection, her hobby, her occupation. Then, she found out that her husband not only had cheated on her but he took all the equity out of their house. He left her literally homeless. That was almost 15 years ago. Yet, this amazing woman carries HAPPINESS as her Badge of Honor.

Some Badges of Honor have come as a result of cultivating the divine that is in us, allowing those who have the opportunity to share.

I have a friend that I have known 20+ years. Recently, we were able to get together, to reminisce as well as talk about our lives to date. In the corners of my memory I remembered him extremely concerned about an older sibling who had made choices that withdrew her from the Spirit of the Lord. Her action also had brought natural, necessary consequences. I remember him telling me, “I hope someone will love my sister as God loves her. I hope someone will cherish her as much as I do.” Twenty years had not diminished this tremendous quality in him. This man, now a father himself, continues to carry COMPASSION as his Badge of Honor.

Some badges have come from the willingness to submit to God’s plan – no matter what the consequences.

A family I know found out four days after Christmas that their father has leukemia. He has six children, four still at home. He’s only in his forties. And while feelings of anger or numbness or denial could overtake their life, they have chosen to live the better part. Their desire to fully experience God’s great plan of happiness, in spite of what we mortals would consider devastating, is recorded in their blog dated today:

Husband speaking: “I can’t say this was a good day; in fact, it was probably the most morbid day of my life. My stomach was upset, my heart was beating fast and I was tired. And then to add insult to injury [my wife] made me write mine own obituary, plan my funeral, and took me out for two hours looking at grave plots, headstones, and caskets. I picked out a really cool Colorado Blue Casket. I kind of like our headstone too. [My wife] has this idea that she needs to get all this stuff taken care of so she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. I guess that’s ok.”

Wife speaking: “The Doctor told me to do it. I know some people might have a hard time with this but this is the best thing for me. We are getting all of this done, we will put it in a binder, file it away, and then have great hope for the future that we won’t have to get it out again. If the Lord sees fit to take [my husband] during this next year, we will be prepared and that is a good feeling. I would encourage any of you to take a moment and talk to your spouse about their funeral arrangements. I know I was surprised by a few things.”

Without reservation, this family wears the badge of NO REGRETS. They are enjoying, in every sense of the word, God's great plan of happiness!

So my question for me is, “What’s my badge? What am I willing to learn, to fight for, to do? What am I willing to sacrifice because I love God more? What is my Badge of Honor?”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stony Heart/Fleshy Heart

The heart is an incredible organ. I don’t know a lot about it. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a medical student. But I have heart - and it’s beating. And I’m working to know more about it. Not like a doctor or a nurse. But more like a medical student. A spiritual medical student, because I don’t want murmuring to be my heart condition.

Sometimes my heart is hard. Ugly. Cold. Putting up walls and making excuses why I can’t receive. Or forgive. Or forget.

Sometimes my heart is puffed up. In pride. In defiance of what I know I should do and don’t or won’t. And in my own foolish imagination that life should revolve around me.

Sometimes my heart is soft. Open. Humble. Ready to learn. Seeking answers to questions to ponder and apply.

Sometimes my heart is full. Love grows in it. Joy strengthens in it. Gratitude fortifies it. Sorrow turns it back to its Maker.

All I know is that life and time allows my heart to go through different stages. I know the stages I like and the ones I don’t.

I’m under the impression that if I give my heart – willingly – to God, He can perform spiritual surgery that can change me. But that also means I have TO DO something about it.

The heart is a muscle. It needs activity to remain strong.

Ezekiel puts it this way; “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in mine statues, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them” (Ezek 36:25-26).

God can give me a new heart. Which means He will take away my stony heart – the hard one, the puffed up one, the one that hinders who I am and who I can become - and in the miracle of spiritual surgeries only He can perform, He will give me a heart of flesh. But that’s not the end. In addition, He will put within me a new spirit. His Spirit! His Spirit in me!

His Spirit in my heart. So I can be more like Him. Which means as I walk in His ways and keep His commandments - murmuring will no longer be my heart condition, because I am DOING something about it!

The heart is an incredible organ!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday

"If mortality is part of life, then immortality is the other part."