Saturday, February 1, 2020

Doing Hard Things

I was going over 1 Neiph 16 again today and some thoughts came to mind.

Lehi:

In verse 8 Nephi said,

"And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him."

How many of us could say that? My heart was filled with longing to be that person. It reminded me of Daniel of the Old Testament. When the three satraps were looking for a way to accuse him before the king, they could find nothing. Nothing. The verse states he had no negligence or neglect in any of his duties. Can you imagine that? Maybe I should stop typing and mop these floors I've not washed this week? But I digress. Back to Lehi....

Just a few verses later, things got tough again. They were out of food. I don't know if you've ever been in that situation, but I have. When the pantry and refrigerator are empty and there is ZERO money in your account to purchase food it is discouraging. We say we are willing to suffer all things for the Lord, yet sometimes when things are hard, we complain. That's what Lehi did. This great man who followed every command of the Lord murmured against the Lord because of their lack of food.

This reminded me of two things:

  1. Being righteous and doing the very hard things the Lord asks you to do does not exempt you from extraordinarily difficult trials. You do not get some "Get out of difficulties free card." because you've been faithful.
  2. If we don't keep a constant guard on our hearts and faith we can very easily fall in to sin. Side note: Have you ever noticed how closer murmur and murder are in sound? When we murmur against the Lord, we are destroying our own faith.

Nephi:

Oh Nephi. I love this young man so much. He suffered more than the rest of his family because not only did he face the exact same difficulties as they did, but he also suffered from their constant complaints and negativity. Every once in a while they'd try to destroy him too, blaming him for their challenges.

It is so hard being the sole person striving to honor the Lord in your tribe of people. Often he had his father's strength and faith to lean on, but in this passage, even his father had taken a different path. This is a great reminder that sometimes you have to go it alone. You won't have that Samwise Gamgee to tell you, "This is hard, but we'll do it together."

Nephi is also a great example of one of my favorite mottos, "Do the next thing." His bow broke. They were starving. Everyone was laying around complaining about the hardness of what the Lord was requiring after them. I'm sure Nephi was heartsick about the brass bow breaking. It was a great resource for them. But, does he say, "Really God? Now you want me to find food without the one thing I had going for me?" No! Nephi puts on his big boy sandals and gets a stick and makes a bow. Was it as good as the resource he had before? Not even close. But, it is what he had.

Sometimes we lose the only resources we have. When that happens, we look around and say, "Okay. What can I do now?" He fashioned the best bow he could and then inquired of the Lord. He even went to his father and asked him to inquire of the Lord of where he should go to find food. That simple act helped to bring his father to repentance.

Nephi teaches me, "Yes, you are tired, hungry, and discouraged, but get up do what you can and leave the rest to the Lord."

The Daughters of Ishmael:

I'm guessing they were used to a much cushier life. Then the Lord asks them to marry these men who are taking them from the comforts they are used to and causing them to wander in the wilderness. And just when things seem to be at its worst, their father dies. It's natural they were upset.

But, here is what they didn't know. Their beloved Jerusalem was about to be destroyed by the Babylonians. At best, they'd have been carried away to Babylon to serve their captors. At worst, they'd be either dead or left as "the poorest of the land" to work the fields and live amongst the rubble left there. They were being rescued from that.

There was something else they didn't know. Yes, what they're doing is hard. What they have to experience is painful. But, they were being led to a different land. A land better than the one they'd left. They'd get to start a kingdom of people. The mothers of a new nation.


In the midst of our journeys, when trials are swirling all around us, we rarely see what we're being rescued from and the bounty that lay before us when the journey is over.

When I am facing difficult things, as I am now, I want to remember I don't see the whole picture. I want to be the one who increases the faith of those around me, as Nephi did, and not the one who gives up and joins the pity party.

The Lord has called me to do hard things and I want to honor that.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Mary & Joseph


Mary


When the angel came to her telling her she was about to bear the Son of God, a thousand thoughts must of passed through her mind. Would Joseph understand? Would he leave her?  Would people believe her? Or would they label her either insane or immoral? Yet, despite all that her worlds to the angel were,
"Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it done to me accourding to your word."
But it didn't stop there. She was told that her son, her beloved boy, would cause the fall and rise of many and a sword would pierce her own soul. Yet, she just treasured all this up in her heart and lived in quiet obedience. The true epitome of a gentle and quiet spirit. 

She was the perfect mother for the Son of God.

I admire her.  I want to be like Mary.

When my dreams are crushed,... I want to be submissive, without bitterness.

When the people around me are cruel and hurtful... I want to be full of love.


 Joseph



Even when he thought Mary was unfaithful to him, he chose to be merciful. He could have publicly humiliated her or even had her stoned. Instead, he chose to separate privately. Then, when the angel came to him and told him the truth. He accepted it and loved both Mary and her child. 

Some men aren't good fathers even to their own children. Joseph helped raise a child that wasn't his. He guided Him. Provided for Him. He even taught Him a trade. 

Sometimes, I think Joseph doesn't get enough credit. 

He was the perfect father for the Son of God. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Learning to Count It All Joy

via GIPHY


I'm good at patiently enduring. I've been given many opportunities to practice. But, I realized this week there's something I haven't yet learned. Fortunately, Heavenly Father is patient with me. I had a very difficult few days. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

Day One

The company I work for lost a client, which provided a good amount of work for me. That means less hours and less income.

Day Two

My lovely daughter was in a wreck, with our only vehicle. She was hit by a woman driving without a license, who doesn't speak English, and refuses to take responsibility.

Day Three

Found out our only vehicle was totaled. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth much which means not getting much money from the insurance company to get a new vehicle. I was quite worried. Especially because they only gave me a few days with a rental because the car was totaled. That meant I had to find a vehicle fast... with hardly any money.

Day Four

I received my rejection from Pitch Wars. If you're not a writer, that won't really mean anything to you, but to me, it was heart breaking.

Day Five

Received horrible results from an important medical test. I go back to the hospital Wednesday to find out how bad it actually is. 

By this time, I'd lost it. I broke down into tears. I opened my scriptures, desperately praying for guidance. My scriptures open to James 1:2-3 "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." 

So, here's the thing. I realized right at that moment that while I knew who to patiently endure, without complaining. I didn't know how to count it all joy. That's what I'm trying to learn now. Those of you who are more advanced than I am spiritually, feel free to give me some pointers. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Why I Stay



I often get emails about my conversion.  The trend lately has been people incredulous that I'm STILL Mormon, as if it were some kind of infection they were certain I'd have recovered from by now.  Let me tell you why I stay.

When I was protestant, I lived a faithful life. I studied my scriptures diligently. I prayed. I strived to keep my life free from sin. I did my best to serve. Yet, whenever I read the verse from John 10, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me," I'd get worried. I couldn't hear His voice no matter how hard I tried.  I was sure that meant I wasn't "saved".

I talked with my husband about it. He always blew it off saying, "If you're not saved, no one is." While I appreciated his confidence in my spiritual life, I couldn't help but feel a shard of ice cold fear. I spoke with a pastor about it. He asked me to go through 1 John and look at the "tests" of discipleship. I would always pass that test with flying colors, no matter how many times I took it. Yet, I didn't feel at peace. Why couldn't I hear the Savior's voice? I'd pray and ask that question all the time. Heaven seemed silent.

Enter my conversion.

While my worries about the passage from John had absolutely no influence on my conversion, one of the HUGE (and surprising) benefits I received from being Mormon was an answer to that prayer. Suddenly, I could hear and recognize the Savior's voice--clearly and often.

I can't begin to describe what a blessing that is to both myself and my family as a whole. That single answer to prayer is enough to keep me Mormon forever. I'm not willing to give up my intimate communion with the Savior through the Spirit of God simply to make my life easier and my religion more palatable to others.

I stay because it has brought me closer to my God and Savior than I ever fathomed possible.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

You Need a Shower!


I had the privilege this weekend of going to an elderly relative's house and going over her bills and medications with her and getting her ready to be transferred to a new place. One of my goals going there was to make sure she got a shower.  She hadn't had one in a while. A long while. She has a stronger will than her previous caregivers.  I was determined my will would be stronger than hers.

I'd prepared her ahead of time telling her one of my goals when I came was to get her clean. I reminded her when I arrived we were going to get her a shower.  She kept finding things to go over to avoid it.  She made many excuses. When that failed, she cried.  She did not want a shower. I felt for her, but I knew getting clean was important.  I was trying hard to be patient, but firm.

Then when I'd finally got her compliant there was no hot water.  I saw a smile creep across her face. I couldn't make her take a cold shower.  That would be cruel.  She thought she was off the hook.

I walked over to a neighbor's house where I knew there was a man and asked him to come look at her hot water heater and tell me if it was an easy fix.  He graciously obliged and determined the heating elements were out. Now she was sure she was off the hook.  He knew what was happening and offered his shower to us.

When this dear woman heard plan B, she literally wailed. Suddenly, she determined she couldn't walk over to his house.  She actually could, but to let her know I was serious I said we'd carry her if necessary.  More tears.  The whole way to his house she told us why she couldn't do this.  The neighbor tried to suppress his laughter. It was like dealing with a toddler.

The shower was no easier. She complained the whole time. While I washed her hair. While I cleaned her back. While I gave her a soaped up washcloth and instructed her how to get herself clean anywhere I thought she was capable. The entire time I reminded her how much better she'll feel after she was clean.  She didn't believe me.

It occurred to me there was something to learn from this experience. Sometimes we're in need of a shower. Not a literal one--the cleansing of repentance. But, like this elderly woman, the process of getting clean sounds like the worst possible experience. It's going to be hard. We like our dirt.  It's comfortable. It's easy. Then when we finally think we're ready, we realize we don't have the resources. Fortunately, like this woman's neighbor, Christ has provided what will get us clean through His atonement.

I made a decision while showering her. I never want to fight against what's good for me. I don't want to get in a battle of wills with my Savior. When He tells me I need a shower, I want to jump in. I want to be clean.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Honesty

I was at Walmart today....
Yep, two days before Christmas. It was a madhouse, of course. But, everyone was polite. In fact, everyone pretty well knew what everyone else was going through. The last minute mad dash to make sure you have Christmas properly squared away. At one point, a woman and I were coming down an aisle from opposite directions. I don't know what my face looked like, but as we passed she laughed and said, "I know, baby. I know.  It's almost over."  We both laughed.

I was tired.  Really tired. I only needed candy for the children's stockings, scotch tape, and a couple of presents for my third child.  I got everything I needed as quickly as possible and dashed to the self-checkout.

I still had one last stop to go-- the grocery store. After that, it was home to unload groceries, then it would be time for me to go to work.

Did I mention I was tired?

I checked out and got to the door. I even got through the machines that are supposed to tell you if you've stolen anything. I was to the parking lot when it occurred to me I didn't remember putting the tape in a bag. That meant I didn't pay for it either.  I looked into my cart. There it was, sitting nice and pretty underneath the bags...my stolen item worth $1.00.

I really wanted to get on with my day, but I couldn't. That $1.00 would bug me for the rest of my life. So, I turned around, told the door guard what I did and asked if I could just go back to pay for it. There were a couple of workers standing nearby. One of them looked at me like I was insane.  Another put a hand on my shoulder and said, "You'll be blessed by heaven."

I smiled and went to pay for the tape.

When I got home, there was a bag of groceries sitting on my door. Not just a bag of groceries. A bag of Whole Foods groceries that contained everything I needed for an Italian Christmas Eve dinner. I'm Italian and haven't been able to afford the fish for Christmas Eve for many years. It was such a blessing.

Was that a blessing for my honesty? Maybe. And believe me, I valued that anonymous gift on my doorstep. The thoughtfulness, energy, and expense that went into such a gift was incredible. I can't wait to share it with my children.

But, I'm also grateful for the gift of a clear conscious. You see, if I'd have left Walmart, I would never have been at peace. A clear conscience is its own blessing.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review Your Light and Knowledge


Yes, I have been gone a while.  I've been working hard on other things. Even better, I'm starting to see those goals coming to fruition. I'll be back here a little more often because I've found a good pattern for taking care of my family, working, my callings, and homeschooling.  It's taken a bit. Truthfully, it will always be a work in progress with occasional course corrections. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

I'm in the habit of jotting down an application to myself after my scripture reading. Today I was in Alma 9. Verse 23 stood out to me.
"And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it wouuld be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them."
It's easy to take light for granted. We've been given so much. But, if we start ignoring the light. Willfully living without it. We destroy ourselves.

I jotted down Alma 9:23 "Review the light you've been given. Are you neglecting the things you have already been taught?"

If you're feeling stagnant in your walk with the Lord ask yourself if you're doing what you already know. The Holy Spirit isn't going to give further light and knowledge until we're honoring what we've already been given.

Maybe you just need a course correction.