Thursday, February 7, 2019

Joy Comes in the Morning

This life is indeed a period of testing. Like Mother Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11). Sometimes that testing really pushes us beyond what we believe our limits are. Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ are not impaired with limits or by our limits; and, with Them we can experience joy in the morning; not just in the millennial day, or in the resurrection, but every day (see Psalm 30:5 ).  

Last evening was full of pain and sorrow. It was also full of faith and love. I'd like to thank the brother from the ward who came to give my daughter a blessing along with her Dad. I'd like to thank the man in the lobby of the ER, who saw my distress in the long wait for her to be admitted; who asked if he could pray with me, then grabbed my hand and said a heart-felt faithful prayer of hope and healing; and then he helped increase our faith by sharing his testimony and personal experiences of deliverance found in Jesus Christ and His word.  I'd like to thank the many people who have blessed our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren with their goodness.

I would also like to thank the loud lady in the ER, who was distressed and alone, and just wanted someone to share her grief, pain, and sorrow. In taking the time to talk and pray with her, I had the opportunity to extend the Savior’s faith and love to another, just as others had done for me and my family all evening.

My daughter was at that limit last night. Her pain was so severe. And yet, because of the faith and love and kindness of those already mentioned and all those others who are supporting us with their prayers; because of Jesus’s infinite intercessory prayer, and because of our Father’s great love for all of us, her burden was lightened, her pain was eased, and she found rest; long before she was given the IV fluids with pain medication.

I just finished reading President Nelson’s conference talk from October 1986. What a hopeful message of joy he shared with his own family, to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and which is still being shared with anyone in the world who would like to read it, who loves to find joy in the morning. Here’s the link: Joy Cometh in the Morning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

When Robby was born 25 years ago, our hearts were full of joy and sadness. It is amazing to me how the Lord blesses us richly with both simultaneously. We had looked forward to this treasured son with joyful anticipation, and then we said goodbye to him with quiet and unrelenting grief.

Robby’s birth, and death; Robby’s life, his immortal soul and spirit, richly blessed and solidified our family and our testimonies. His few short days with us, growing in my womb and looking intently at us in the hospital room were a testament of our Father’s love and goodness. Robby was an angel sent from God to us, and he continues to be our angel child.

It is our testimony that the hospital where Robby was born and passed away was holy ground that day. His spirit was there. The Spirit of the Lord was there. Ancestors (and probably posterity) were there. The love of the Lord was felt strongly. The compassion or the hospital staff was remarkable. Ward members surrounded us with love. The Spirit embraced us in love. There could have been no greater peace. The Lord’s promises are sure.

With empty arms, we went home. We learned to not keep our arms empty, but to love our children here more; and to love all children more. Life has become more precious and sweet. Whisperings from heaven have become more treasured and sacred. Our goal to persevere and remain faithful has become more solidified, because we want to be with Robby again, as we do with all of our family members.

Had Robby’s mission been to stay and grow to adulthood, he would be turning 25 on 8 February 2018. Heavenly Father’s plan was for Robby to return home to heaven. That temporary loss still saddens us at times, but we have faith in our Father’s Plan.

This year I would like to invite you to celebrate Robby’s birth with us. It would me a lot to me if you do. I’m not asking you to donate money to a charitable cause; but if that is what you choose to do, that is wonderful.

What I’d like, as a gift to Robby and his parents and family who have missed him, is for you to notice the children around you. Please think of something special you can do for a child. Whether it is taking him or her sledding, or baking cookies, or teaching him how to fly a kite, or reading a story with her; please spend some time in February showing your love to children.

Life is precious. This life is short; but, eternity is our promise. Love is everlasting.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Robby.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sometimes It's Good to Let Go

Sometimes It's Good to Let Go: Sunday Reflections

I look back on my life, and I have led a pretty good life. I have treated other people with kindness and given them the benefit of the doubt. I have made my mistakes, certainly, but I have done what I can to make things right and to seek forgiveness and be forgiving. I feel good about that.

There’s a lot of jealousy in this world, a lot of nit-picking and grudge-holding. Life is much too short for that. It seems like sometimes we must want someone else to pay for our hurts; and that is just so unnecessary, because Jesus has already done that. That’s a good thing to remember. Because Jesus paid for our mistakes already, we should be ready and willing, quickly and frequently, to not ask payment from anyone else, but to forgive those who we consider to be our debtors. We should stop keeping score and free each other.

We continually are meeting new people, making associations, and breaking connections, because we are moving, and learning and growing. Most of the time, the people I’ve been close to have stayed near and dear and close to my heart and I have to theirs as well. But time and distance do move us apart sometimes, both in life and in death. That’s okay. We know that our friendships and our family connections are intact, and when we see each other again, we’ll pick up right where we left off, and continue writing our story together.

But those other relationships, what about those? I mean the strained ones, those who are estranged from us. Sometimes, try as we might, things seem beyond repair. Even if we have love in our hearts, their philosophy may differ from ours. The best thing we can then do is take inventory of our own selves. Are we honest with ourselves and before the Lord? Have we done what is needful and necessary? Are we holding on to the good memories and keeping those alive, instead of festering our wounds? I have found it helpful to remember the good feelings associated with the memories of the good times had together in the past. If it is impossible for us to have a relationship currently, I can savor the past relationship in my memory and wait for the day when things may again be restored.

But I don’t have to force that. It’s a hard thing to accept our ability to be whole without the acceptance and approval of some people in our lives. But with the Lord, all things are possible. He is our help, our support, and our salvation. It is only through Him that we are ever made whole. So trusting in Him, in His timing, and in His loving care becomes the new focus of what is needful and necessary. You can’t make someone think highly of you, nor should you have to. And you don’t have to prove anyone wrong in order to feel right. That kind of right is pride. Being right with the Lord is a quiet humility, and something that I am going to diligently seek after.

These are my thoughts at the end of this Sabbath day. They have been helpful to me. I hope that they will be useful to someone else.

Have a good week. Have a good life!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Take Time to Do What You Enjoy

Please Read and respond:

What do you enjoy doing? Are you taking the time to do it? Are you talking about it and sharing your ideas with someone? Do you have the emotional support and encouragement you need to follow your passions? Will you identify what you need to do to be able to share and follow a dream, and enlist the help you need to grasp it?

We all face obstacles, but let's have a little more faith in ourselves and each other. Our talents and gifts far outweigh our inabilities and deficits. Let's not let anxiety and fear cripple us.  Let's allow love and anticipation to motivate us. With God's help, and with the sustaining support we can and should give each other, we will not only be able to walk; we will soar!

Let's give this Christmas gift to ourselves and to each other, continuously.  In so doing, we will become happier, more fulfilled; and be able to light the world with the love of God, with an increased confidence in our ability to serve Him and each other.

Give yourself a gift. Take time to do what you enjoy, and #LighttheWorld.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jesus is Nigh You, and His Arm is Sufficient

I woke up with words from this song going through my head, not the words from beginning to end, but key phrases that were an important message for me today. I love how the Lord does that for us. So, of course, I googled a phrase, and the song magically appeared.

The Time is Far Spent

The time is far spent; there is little remaining
To publish glad tidings by sea and by land. 
Then hasten, ye heralds; go forward proclaiming: 
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven’s at hand,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven’s at hand.

Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant,
But follow the Savior, your pattern and friend.
Our little afflictions, tho painful at present,
Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end,
Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end.

What, tho, if the favor of Ahman possessing,
This world’s bitter hate you are called to endure?
The angels are waiting to crown you with blessings!
Go forward, be faithful, the promise is sure.
Go forward, be faithful, the promise is sure.

 Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you;
The weight of your calling he perfectly knows.
Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you;
His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.
His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose. 

(Eliza R. Snow)

All of us are dealing with trials. All of us. None of them feel like little afflictions. I’m sure Eliza R. Snow, of all people, new that. But then there’s the perspective of the song. We were made to endure the glory also, not just the afflictions. And even in our present trials, God will allow us to feel some of that now. We experience the bitter, and at the same time, we cherish the sweet so much more.

And the Lord has promised us that we do not have to serve him alone; we do not have to combat the hatred or mocking or even the misunderstandings of others alone; we do not have to face the demons of this world, or even our own personal demons alone. It matters little that Satan knows the weight of our callings when we remember that Jesus knows us better and he loves us perfectly and knows how to succor and sustain us fully and proportionately to what is necessary for our needs and growth at the time we need added sustenance. His perfect Light will expel all darkness, even if currently only feel a respite. 

This I believe and know. Jesus lived for me, He suffered for me, He died for me, and He lives for me again. Because of what He has done for me, because of what He has done for you, He knows us intimately, our weaknesses and our strengths; and, it is His good pleasure to be our Friend and Companion as we remember Him and cry unto Him to be our support; and turn unto Him in our sorrows and our fears, and our joys and successes.

When we feel like we have been tried beyond our mortal capacity, we need to remember that if we are in partnership with Him, nothing is impossible. He has said, "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88)." So when you need to be carried, bury yourself in His bosom, and He will carry you and heal you in His own way and time, and allow you slowly to become like Him.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

I have thought a lot lately about Faith. There is little meaning in the word itself until it is placed in something else. People may hope for many things, and even put their trust in many things; but, unless they practice faith in something that is true and everlasting, they may very well be disappointed.

The First Principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus means everything to me. He is my Creator, my Friend, my Exemplar, and my Redeemer. Through practiced faith in Him, I feel rewarded by the presence of His Spirit. His kindness is truly the Bread of Life to all of us.

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always rewarding. As we make covenants with Him, we have this promise: that if we always remember Him, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I know this is true. He is true and faithful. We can count on His word every time.

As a child, I was taught to pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. We prayed as a family, and each night I prayed at my bedside. I passed this tradition of Faith in God and His Son on to my children. Our childhoods were also filled with Primary songs which taught Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have also made it a habit of reading the Word of God as found in the scriptures and the testimonies of the prophets and apostles. These things are important. We have the promise, from Jesus, that the Holy Ghost will give us those things that we need in the very hour that we need them. I’ve seen that happen time and time again. Practicing Faith in the Lord on a daily basis gives us a store of spiritual fortitude that will bless us in our times of need.

Letting go of our Faith in Jesus Christ leaves us in great peril. When we only trust in our own strength and wisdom, we soon find that we are left to ourselves to reap the devastation of the trials we choose to face alone. Often in this state, we are humbled and again choose to feel the Savior’s love, whose arm in stretched out still, forever reaching for us; and if we reach for Him, we experience immediately His grace and kindness.

As we experience the Savior’s love, our trust in Him will grow, and our faith in Him will increase. When this happens, a growing and abiding love will develop as we begin to realize all that He has done for us, all that we mean to Him, and all that He is coming to mean to us.

I know He lives. I know He loves me, and He loves you. He is not partial in His love. He is not condemning in His reaching. His reproof is a blessing to us all, as He knows us and loves us, and His desire is to give us all that He and His Father have and enjoy. Through Him we all have life, and through Him we may all live eternally with Him and with our Father.

At this Easter season, as our hearts are drawn to Him in gratitude for the gift that He has given us, may we give to Him the gift of greater faith in Him. Happy Easter.

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:30)

God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son

1. God loved us, so he sent his Son,
Christ Jesus, the atoning One,
To show us by the path he trod
The one and only way to God.

2. He came as man, though Son of God,
And bowed himself beneath the rod.
He died in holy innocence,
A broken law to recompense.

3. Oh, love effulgent, love divine!
What debt of gratitude is mine,
That in his off'ring I have part
And hold a place within his heart.

4. In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One.

5. This sacrament doth represent
His blood and body for me spent.
Partaking now is deed for word
That I remember him, my Lord.

Text: Edward P. Kimball
Music: Alexander Schreiner

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Combating Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones

I am a part-time missionary at the Redlands Mission Office. Since I work among valiant young missionaries, and because we’ve sent children on missions and been involved as ward and stake missionaries; and since I have personally felt the taxation of worries, anxiety, frustration, and depression, I would like to share some thoughts concerning personal revival and restoration.

Outside the Redlands Mission Office

As missionaries, as parents of missionaries, as students, as employees, as children, as parents, we all have to deal with many challenges. As sons and daughters of God our Heavenly Father, and as recipients of the benefits of the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ, we have been greatly equipped to face these challenges; but we must remember that we cannot do it alone. The Lord is always there, and the Lord has given us many helpers. We should not discount any of them.

First off, I want to express that emotions are normal. Do not be harsh with yourself because you have feelings. Our Father is not a God who is without body, parts, or passions; and, we are created in His image and endowed with His traits. Jesus certainly was not exempt from emotions. He carried with Him a great weight in being the Savior of the World. He was known as “A Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (See Isaiah 53:3) If we are to become like Him, can we expect to not have seasons when we are also affected by these emotions? Yet, He is there to offer us relief.

Because Jesus carried the weight of the world, you do not have to.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

What did Jesus do when He felt overwhelmed, when He was tired and drawn out, when the cares of the day rested heavily upon Him? He went by Himself apart in a mountain area to pray (See Matthew 14:23). After spending the day feeding everyone else, Jesus also needed spiritual nourishment and renewal; and He went to His Father to obtain it.

While we cannot always physically go to a mountaintop or attend a temple, we can always go spiritually and mentally there as we direct our thoughts and the longings of our hearts to the Lord.

Now Satan wants to cause us great grief and discouragement. I know that especially in my young life, he worked mightily to make me think improper thoughts and to dissuade me from faith and from joy. He still is at his mischief with all of us. He sits back and watches and assesses our weaknesses, and then it is his delight to tempt us and to try us based on those. He even did so with the Savior.

When Jesus was tired, hungry, and spent from forty days of fasting and being with God, Satan came to dissuade him from His purpose. Have you seen that in your own lives? Spiritual work is physically taxing. It is important to analyze carefully our Saviors actions (See Matthew Chapter 4).

Because Jesus was hungry, Satan tempted Him to make stones into bread. What did Jesus do? He quoted scripture!

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Because Jesus was the Son of God, Satan tempted Him with the improper use of power. What did Jesus do? He quoted scripture!

“It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).

Then Satan tempted Jesus with riches and glory. What did Jesus do? He rebuked Satan, and He quoted scripture!

“Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10).

Then in verse 11, a great blessing followed:

“Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

Moroni expresses the importance of remaining faithful in order to receive blessings. In the examples above, we witness Jesus being faithful three times. We know that He had to be faithful more often than that, and so do we. We may have to repeat over and over the same actions to show to ourselves and to the Lord that we are faithful.

“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).

My daughter who is currently serving a mission was promised by our Stake President that angels from her own family would be there to assist her at times. I believe that this blessing is valid for all of us as we remain faithful to the covenants we make and as we practice our faith in the Lord through humility, desire, and obedience.

Even more importantly, we are promised by the Savior that if we always remember Him, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. The Sacrament Prayers are an important thing for us to remember and review, not only on the Sabbath days, but whenever we need to draw on the blessings of the Atonement. (See Moroni chapters 4 and 5)

Second then, we must remember that our thoughts are powerful things. Though they may be persistent, we must do want we can to control them and to think proper thoughts. We can be more persistent than our thoughts. Again, we do not have to be alone in this, but should welcome the help of family, friends, therapists, medical staff, and most importantly the Lord. Our thoughts have the greatest influence on our emotions, our actions, and our reactions.

In Proverbs 3:7, we read, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Why is that? Because our thoughts determine our feelings, our attitudes, our actions, and even our faith. Our thoughts can lift us up or drag us down. But, we can follow the Lord’s example and turn to the Lord’s servants for direction.

How about this primary song? Hum Your Favorite Hymn

1. If on occasion you have found

Your language is in question,

Or ugly thoughts come to your mind,

Then here's a good suggestion.

Chorus: Just hum your favorite hymn,

Sing out with vigor and vim,

And you will find it clears your mind.

Hum your favorite hymn.

2. Before you say an angry word,

Remember you'll regret it,

For once it's said the harm is done,

And some folks won't forget it.

Words: Marilyn Price Adams

Music: K. Newell Dayley

This song was inspired by a talk given by Elder Boyd K. Packer entitled, “Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts.”

In this talk, Elder Packer said this,

"I want to tell you young people about one way you can learn to control your thoughts, and it has to do with music…

"This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Remember President Lee’s counsel; perhaps “I Am A Child of God” would do. Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.

"Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were.

"As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.

"In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began."

I know that this may sound oversimplified to someone who is suffering anxiety or depression, but I think that it applies to all of us. This counsel was given by an Apostle of the Lord. By sharing this, I am not at all suggesting that you try to go it alone. We have many helpers in this world who are blessed with much light, knowledge, and truth. When help is offered us in a righteous way, and we are following the Spirit, we should accept help.

When I was young and I was trying my very hardest to think appropriate thoughts and do appropriate things, I found that while Satan could not reach me during the day, he would try to do so in my dreams at night. This is frightening, and I hope that it is not happening to you. But I do have some suggestions.

My suggestions are the same as those above.

Missionaries are especially busy doing the Lord’s work all day long. I would suspect that those who are dealing with fearful thoughts, or who are experiencing anxiety, frustration, or depression, may have the heaviest load during their nighttime preparations, in restless sleep, or during their waking hours.

So before you go to bed and when you wake up, make sure that you have a devotional time that you spend with the Lord in prayer and in positive memorization and self-talk. If you are working on memorizing hymns and scriptures, and if you are developing an “I can” attitude, you will feel more secure and healthful.

During your personal scripture study, pay attention to those verses that strike you as important and work on memorizing them early in the morning and before you go to bed. Do the same thing with the hymns that bring you peace. I am working on doing this myself; because I want more peace and joy in my own life.

These are the first ones that I am going to work on. Your list may be different. Let the Spirit guide your choices.

The Lord’s Prayer

The 23rd Psalm

Lead, Kindly Light

The Lord is my Light

I would suggest that you read and sing aloud, even if at times it is in a whisper. Your own voice will become a voice of comfort as you hear the encouraging words of scripture and hymns, and your will build confidence in your own abilities to draw upon good and uplifting thoughts.

As your choices become memorized and familiar, and you are finding that these reassurances are automatic to you when you need them, add a new verse and a new hymn to your morning and evening devotionals, and keep it up. You will have a repertoire of sacred personal material always available to drawn on for personal strength.

Also, allow yourself to have joy in your successes. Ammon did (See Alma 26).

“Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel” (Alma 26:16).

That brings me to gladness. Eleonar H. Porter teaches us much about gladness in Pollyanna. Pollyanna really wanted to receive a doll for Christmas; but, all that was in the missionary barrel for her was a pair crutches. Pollyanna’s dad taught her to look on the bright side of things. She developed the Glad Game and soon transformed not only herself, but her whole community.

We are told, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 59: 21).

Gratitude is that important. We need to express it in order to gain God’s favor.

The Lord gives us this promise, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19).

So with your devotions to your Heavenly Father take the time to express your gratitude. You may need to do this both in your prayers and in your journal. Make sure that you express gratitude to others as well. Gratitude will make you feel lighter and it will transform you into a delightful person.

Finally, do not condemn yourself because of your weaknesses. The Lord would not want that. He is always there for us, with His hand stretched out still. His desire is always our ultimate happiness and success; and He is there to help us achieve that as we turn to Him!

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

My prayers are with you this day, my dear brothers and sisters. May you find the peace and comfort and rest that you seek. And may your service bring you joy! Treasure up those things that you will need to draw on. They will be a blessing to you, and you will feel assured as you obtain this promise and witness from the Lord:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:26-27).

A Peace Rose

I must add one more important verse. Because after all we can do, we must let go and put our trust fully in the Lord. This one is found in Doctrine and Covenants 123:17:

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."