Saturday, July 26, 2008
Following is something I wrote today, in response to my father's request for remembrances of Grandma.
I am grateful for the legacy Grandma has left -- for fun memories, for the love and treasure of family, and for her faith and testimony that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and beyond.
Fun: When I think of Grandma, I think of Grandma and Grandpa's house, and of course, that means fun times. I think of fun memories of vacations to California, of family reunions, of the joy of being together. There was never a shortage of activities, music, food, and good time together. I remember a fun-filled week when just my sister and I got to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house, to be the center of her attention. Our extended family has FUN when we are together, and Grandma opened her home and heart to facilitate the fun.
Family: When I think of Grandma, I think of the importance of family and of love. I always knew Grandma loved me. Even as distance meant that we didn't see each other often, she did things to express and show her love. She celebrated us on birthdays and other special occasions, wrote cards that I still have and treasure. She came to my wedding. Whenever we did see her, she always showed us her love through her actions and her words, showed us that family matters to her. I will always treasure sitting next to her last year, seeing her smile as she could hear the sounds of little ones around her, and seeing how much she wished she had more to give, wished that she could see and really be part of all that was going on. Oh, how she loves her family!
Faith: Perhaps most importantly, when I think of Grandma, I think of faith. I remember (and still have) a little lavender book of Bible verses given to me when I was baptized, with her firm and vibrant testimony written lovingly within. I remember Grandma and Grandpa's mission and the faithful letters they sent, and my mission and the faithful letters I received (all written by Grandma, if I recall). More recently, I remember watching her fulfill her calling as chorister while visiting her ward, even as the effects of age were obviously taking their toll. Through the past few years, she has not been afraid to talk about how difficult getting old has been, but I have seen her endure with patience and with faith. In one of my last moments with her last year, I gingerly fed her spoonfuls of yogurt and tried to communicate the love and honor that we feel as her posterity. She humbly and simply turned the praise to God, recognizing His love and goodness. Even now, as I recall that moment, tears come to my eyes, and my heart fills with gratitude for this good and faithful woman whom I am blessed to call my grandma.
God be with you 'til we meet again, Grandma. I love you.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
It's not just a bunch of words on a page.
It's not just a history, although I believe it is that.
It's not something that will be discovered through the intellect alone. The Holy Ghost is key to really loving it and understanding it and knowing it's true.
It is, like the Bible, a book of scripture, with the purpose of teaching about the Savior, Jesus Christ, and about His Father, our Father in Heaven.
For me, The Book of Mormon is, simply put, a source of life and light and truth and power and help and guidance and clarity.
It is amazing. It is true. It is of God.
I sometimes am speechless at its depth. We sometimes joke about reading something and thinking, "Was that there before?" but that really happens. A lot. The more I turn to that book for guidance about my life, my specific challenges, my relationships, my struggles, the more I find how amazing the book is. 2 Nephi 32:3, 5 tell us that
3 aAngels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, bfeast upon the cwords of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will dtell you all things what ye should do.• • •5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will ashow unto you all things what ye should do.
The book is true. It is from God. It is a key way that He can speak to me and to you. If you have not discovered this amazing book for yourself, I invite you to do so. Seek for God's guidance as you read. Seek for His Spirit. You may not have a lightning-bolt experience. Some do, but for me, it's all been a drop-by-drop kind of thing. It took me years -- lots and lots of 'drops' -- to really come to the point when I could say, "I know it's true!" We each have to learn how God communicates with us and testifies to us of truth. (And it sometimes takes time to learn to trust that process.)
But you can come to know, as I know, that it is true. The book was written for us by ancient prophets, inspired of God. They were commanded by Him to write and protect the record so that it could come to us in these, the latter days of the earth before the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. The book is His book. It testifies of Him and helps us come to know Him better, and can help us come to Him as we follow its teachings.
Oh, how I love The Book of Mormon!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I think this ties into a discussion going on at Segullah blog (hence the Hmmm part of the title of this post -- see Justine's title). Is it possible that we might 'ask for it' when we think we are ready for growth, or even ask to develop a character trait (and then discover that trials come)? I tend to think that the trials in our lives really are (or at least can be) these kinds of opportunities for spiritual growth -- not as evidence of how awful we are (although we all are fallen -- there's a difference!), but as evidence of God's interest in our eternal progression (and of the fact that we really can't comprehend His ways or His thoughts). I suspect that what feels like the ultimate of difficulty or betrayal or trial to our mortal brains really would take on a different meaning in the eternal realms and if the veil was lifted from our minds.
So anyway, to me, it seems that Elder Christofferson is saying that if we ask how we should improve, we might (or will!) be shown how we need to! And that might leave us shaking in our boots if we were to know what might be required. Just before being called to the First Presidency, then-Elder Eyring came to our stake and said something similar. He invited us to ask for guidance on how we could improve, but then warned us to be ready to do what was asked. I can't help but wonder if sometimes the 'answer' to such questions could come in the form of trials.
Even when we don't deliberately ask, I do feel that trials come as the Lord sees we can handle them. I think they also come into play in ways that we can't see or comprehend, as our lives really are all intertwined. We often think so linearly, in time and also in experience ("x must have happened so I could learn y") when in reality, I think the broad view and the Eternal Now of God means to me that nothing can possibly be that simple. Therefore, in theory, I don't think we should be afraid of confessing the Lord's hand in all things, even our trials. In practice, I know that is a whole different ball game.
Since we are told that we won't be given more than we can handle, it seems to me impossible to deny that God is involved in some way in every aspect of our lives, even if that means to sit back and let the stuff of life unfold and happen as it will sometimes, without miraculous intervention that we might desire at the time.
I dunno...I'm just mulling thoughts over in my head. I'd be interested in yours. (It might be good to add comments over at Segullah -- I don't want to take away from that discussion. But this quote was too long to include over there, and I have wanted to share it for a while anyway, and here I can sort through some of my thoughts a little more. Just more mulling and musing. :) )
During that Last Supper with His Apostles, the Savior said:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1–2).
What form that purging may take, what sacrifices it may entail, we probably cannot know in advance. But if with the rich young ruler we were to ask, “What lack I yet?” (Matt. 19:20), the Savior’s answer would be the same: “Come and follow me” (Matt. 19:21); be my disciple as I am the disciple of the Father; become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [you], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
President Brigham Young spoke understandingly of our challenge when he said:
“After all that has been said and done, after he has led this people so long, do you not perceive that there is a lack of confidence in our God? Can you perceive it in yourselves? You may ask, ‘Brother Brigham, do you perceive it in yourself?’ I do, I can see that I yet lack confidence, to some extent, in him whom I trust.—Why? Because I have not the power, in consequence of that which the fall has brought upon me. …
“… Something rises up within me, at times[,] that … draws a dividing line between my interest and the interest of my Father in heaven; something that makes my interest and the interest of my Father in heaven not precisely one.
“… We should feel and understand, as far as possible, as far as fallen nature will let us, as far as we can get faith and knowledge to understand ourselves, that the interest of that God whom we serve is our interest, and that we have no other, neither in time nor in eternity” (Deseret News, 10 Sept. 1856, 212).
Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. At times I tremble to consider what may be required, but I know that it is only in this perfect union that a fulness of joy can be found. I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
But let's be honest, here. We do hear stories about people who are in tune just at the right time, and call just when you need it. And sometimes those people are the visiting teachers. Such stories are real and wonderful, but there are also times when our desperate pleas to God for someone to come aren't answered as we want them to be. Sometimes we just feel alone, with needs unknown, and that is hard.
In an ideal world, we'd all be so in tune that we would just know whenever the people in our circle of influence needed us.
But the fact is, that often doesn't happen.
It probably doesn't help that I'm the type who just keeps trying to keep on going, even when I might feel like I'm holding on by the skin of my fingernails. (Anyone else like that?)
Still, one thing that my struggle with chronic illness has taught me is that I can't expect people to read my mind, or to always be the ones to take the initiative to be an answer to my prayers and my needs. Make no mistake; I have had people there "just when I needed them" -- but many of those times, I have had to ask for their help, let them know I needed them.
This is what I did yesterday.
We started with the usual niceties, the 'how are you's and all of that. I tried not to be annoyed, but I was. (It's hard not to expect perfection when you are feeling needy.)
But good grief, one of the women doesn't even know me (and it goes both ways -- I couldn't have called her by her name yesterday...had forgotten it...and still can't remember her last name!) Our ward boundaries were recently changed, and she's got family calling situations that mean she's often not in church, so we really haven't gotten to know each other at all...let alone to have her know me enough to know when I'm not doing well, or even to pick up on the cues that I was trying to give. (We sometimes play dumb games with each other, don't we?)
Sooooo, once I got my kids in another room, I opened up. No, the fact that I had an x-ray on my foot scheduled later that day (the way I started the visit when they asked how I was) was the least of my concerns. I didn't tell them everything; sometimes the details aren't really necessary. But I did tell them point blank that things are hard for me right now. And I figured that since they are my visiting teachers, if anyone should know, it should be them.
Of course, the next question was, "What can we do to help you?"
"In a sense," I said, "there isn't anything specific you can do for me. I already have help with my kids in the mornings, which is my critical, tangible need so I can sleep [which I need to be able to function at all]. But sometimes it just helps to be able to go to church and have someone know that the usual 'how are you' as you pass in the hall isn't always going to be enough. It helps to have a few people in my world who can ask, 'How are you really?' and take the time to actually listen, and not be caught off guard if I burst into tears right then and there."
It wasn't in so many words, but that was the crux of it. And, you know, I think they were grateful that I would let them know. We simply can't expect those who are supposed to nurture us to figure it all out on their own. I am finding that there is no reason we have to wait for people to appear just when we need them. We can invite them in when we do, and I find that almost without exception, people are there, ready and willing to help where they can. And as I open my heart to others, it hastens the process of honesty, love, and service that allows hearts to be knit together.
So, if you happen to be in one of those times when you are pouring out your heart to God, wondering why no one is coming to your aid, considering praying about whom you can invite to aid you. I have found that there are blessings that can come from opening ourselves up in this way.
Sooo, if you live in (or can easily travel to) Utah county and have 8 hours a week to spare, or especially if you can read Spanish, your help is really needed!