Sunday, November 28, 2010

Learning about Appreciation


Rachel 010

(A picture of me and Rachel two years ago. It was her first time to get to attend the symphony.)

This year was my first Thanksgiving holiday without my children.  I thought it wouldn’t be too hard. I’d see them the next day, and I could do much of my food prep uninterrupted. Wow! was I wrong.  That day was hard. 

Usually the Macy’s parade is on while I’m doing my cooking. The children will watch it and call me in to look at something they find really interesting.  They always call me in to see the Rockettes.  When I was a little girl, growing up on Staten Island, I wanted to be a Rockette.  It was devastating to find out they had a height requirement. (I’m very small and always have been.)  I’ve gotten over it. Besides, I’d never be able to wear those outfits with my garments.  ; )

I tried watching the parade while I cooked, but ended up turning it off.  It made me long for my children. I really missed them and it was only 10 in the morning!  So, I turned off the television and jumped right in to cooking prep.

As they day wore on, I began to feel my loneliness more intensely. My mind kept wandering to the children.  I wondered what they were doing. I hoped they were happy. I worried they’d be sick of Turkey by the time it came my turn to get to spend time with them.  As a remedy I resolved to spend my time studying.  I love learning. The children and I are learning Mandarin this year. Having the house to myself was the ideal time to practice.

I enjoyed that very much for a couple of hours, but then my eyes kept wandering back to the clock, counting down the time until I got to see them again. Finally the moment arrived! The kids were home!

After all the hugs and I miss yous, I asked the children how their meal was, hoping they wouldn’t tell me they don’t want to see anymore Turkey.  It turned out their father didn’t cook. Instead, they ate at a Chinese restaurant (apparently the only restaurant open in the city). I felt bad for the children and could sense their disappointment. They however kept good attitudes and told me that now they are looking forward to my Turkey even more.  Yay me.

On the following day, it was finally time for our Thanksgiving feast together.  We went around the table each taking a turn saying what we were most thankful for.  Rachel’s taught me a very good lesson about showing gratitude and showing love.  She said, “I am thankful for many, many things about mom.”

Aside from the immense feeling of warmth and love I felt from her comment, I was surprised by something else.  I desired to know what it was about me she was grateful for. I wanted her to tell me more. Was it the spending time talking together? Was it my trying very hard to keep homeschooling them? Was it how I try to be funny, but can’t pull it off? Was it the silly dances I do?

I wanted to know, so I could do it more often.  I love my Rachel and I wanted to make her more happy. Which things spoke to her the most?  I’ll do it as often as possible.  That taught me a couple of things about appreciation.  First, I wanted to be sure I always told my children the things I love about them.  If I spent more time telling them the things I enjoy and appreciate about their character, they’ll keep doing them. This way I get to give instruction, without dwelling on the negative areas in which I think they need to have some growth.

Secondly, I realized when I tell Heavenly Father I am grateful for Him, I need to take the time to be specific.  What is it that He does that brings me such joy?  Tell Him. Spend the extra few minutes listing out what I love and treasure. What parent doesn’t like hearing how they are appreciated? Even a Heavenly one.

Here is one thing I love about Him.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I never have to worry about Him liking me one day, and hating me the next.  His character stays the same. I know what to expect. I love His consistency of character.  How about you? What do you appreciate about our Father?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

faith, faith, faith, faith, faith, faith, faith….


going heavenward

Meridian published part one of the series on my conversion on Friday. There were many gracious comments. All of which I hope to live up to.

It seems like the word faith is always before me.  I always feel guilty when people call me a woman of great faith. They don’t see my fears and my tears. Would they still think that if they saw me crying on my bed, simply because I am exhausted and scared? Would they still think that if they saw me wither at the thought of another battle with my ex-husband?

I think about faith a lot. It seems so many blessings, for both us and those we love, are contingent on faith.  Even during the prayer circle at the temple, there was mention of our faith helping those on the prayer roll. Inwardly I pleaded with God to help me have the faith they needed.

You can’t get very far in the Scriptures without reading of its importance.  Just this morning I read in 3 Nephi, where the Savior said, “I see that your faith is sufficient that I may heal you.” I hope mine is too.


There are some needs in my and the children’s lives that require miracles.  Sometimes I think I hold them back with my fear.  Fear and faith cannot co-exist.  Other times I work really hard at faith, only to hear the words in my head, “Miracles are for important people. Those who are called to play a vital part in church history.”

But, that is not true.  The thought occurred to me this morning- What about Elisha and the widow.  Her food supply was kept up miraculously. Yes, she was helping to feed the prophet, but the Lord could have fed the prophet without providing for her and her son.  He also didn’t have to raise her son from the dead, but He did.  Those are big miracles, and he did them for a common woman-like me.

I’m looking forward to seeing our miracles. 

while I’m waiting

In the meantime. I want to keep serving, learning, and growing…even if I am exhausted.  I read a section of Doctrine and Covenants I want to memorize. Section 4 is glorious.  I love all the verses, but was thinking especially about verse two today.

“Therefore, O ye that embark to the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before god at the last day.”

I like that it starts with the heart, because that is where everything starts for us.  If we keep our hearts right, it makes the others easier. Not easy, but easier. When my heart is on what Heavenly Father wants, joy comes quicker.

Next came might. I can desire all day long, but unless I get up and do something about it, it will never happen.  Many people say they want to go to the temple, but never set an appointment.  Their heart is in the right place. Now it is time to put their might behind it for support. 

I recently had an area of obedience come up that surprised me.  I didn’t think this would be an area I would struggle with, until faced with it.  My heart is always in the right place, but in certain circumstances I would fail.  I used to feel I would only feel honorable if I could obey even in that circumstance.  I realized this week, that maybe the more honorable thing would be to never allow myself to get in the circumstance to begin with if I know it is hard for me. That is putting might behind my heart.

Mind and strength, to me, are compatible with heart and might.  So often what is in our hearts is what we allow our mind to dwell on. How we choose to think affects everything…even our faith.

Maybe you will be willing to pray with me for an increase in my faith, and for those miracles to start?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Faithful Companion


holding hands

I was privileged to witness a three-month new member baptize his daughter yesterday. It was Beautiful. The man was beaming, even as he struggled to remember the exact wording of the ordinance. I don’t really know the man. He attends a branch that is near our ward. They use our building for baptisms. But, I could tell he was a man that loved his new faith. My heart swelled with joy for him.

Probably, for those who have been members their whole lives, it could be easy to forget just how special your baptismal day is. I still remember mine in vivid detail, even though it was over a year ago now. Wow! How time flies. Because I was teaching a lesson in Relief Society today on Baptism, it has been on my mind for the last few days. We are so privileged to have the gospel.  

I am grateful to have the gospel in my life.  I love all the richness it brings. I love getting to know God in new and unexpected ways.  I love having every blessing the gospel brings. While expressing how wonderful it will be to get to spend an eternity with our God, a woman raised her hand to remind me that I will not get to the highest level of the celestial kingdom without getting married. It took a few seconds for me to know how to respond, but I was able to. Just so you know, the woman was not trying to be unkind, just informative.

  Though the following was not my response, this is something the Lord has been teaching me recently about that very topic. I have no control over when I will get to remarry.  Once you hit your forties, there are very few godly single Mormon men available (at least in this area). I’m not willing to date or marry someone just to not be alone-or to get to the highest level of the celestial kingdom, although I want that very much. They have to be a godly priesthood holder that I can love.  I need someone who loves the gospel, and I can talk to about things on a deep level.  I hate surface conversation, so I want someone intellectual also.

As a result of not having companionship,  I’ve been learning something unexpected about God lately.  I’ve always thought of Him as someone to be honored, obeyed and worshipped. It was not until recently that I’ve learned to look at Him as a companion.  I used to go out with friends a lot, but unexpected circumstances have led to that no longer being possible for me.  Recently, I decided, instead of letting the loneliness overwhelm me, I would talk to God about the things I would normally talk to my friends about.

God makes a wonderful companion. He lets me talk to Him as often as I want.  He never gets tired of my questions, and he lets me dialogue about things we’ve already talked about a thousand times. The best part is, I never have to worry about Him lying to me, using me, or abandoning me. Who could ask for a better companion? 

Of course, I do want to marry. I’m exhausted and could use a partner. It is not easy raising and providing for four children completely alone. I’m also extremely romantic and physical, and would love to have someone to hold me, and to whom I could bring joy. And, to be completely honest, I wanted more children. But, as none of these things are in my control, I think the key is to focus on the companion I do have—God. For now, I can spend my time focused on the kingdom of God. Hopefully, I will grow and become the person He wants me to be.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And the Gods Watched…..


There are things, which out of necessity and consideration of others cannot be spoken of publicly.  Those are the things that weigh on my soul.  I’m the kind of person that has to sort things out, and likes to have someone to talk to about them to help me sort. When there are private issues, that cannot be dealt with that way, I seem to cave in on myself.  I have been this way for about nine months.

Life got much harder for me back in February. Inwardly my heart has wept. At times it has railed. Often it has been confused. I have, at times, responded incorrectly. I wish I could go back, knowing what I know now, and re-live it so I could respond the best way this time.  I would do things so differently. But, life just doesn’t work that way.

Occasionally, I mistakenly feel that God has forgotten about me, or worse yet, rejected me. I know that is not true.  Every time His Spirit teaches me, or whispers to me, or comforts me, I know it is not true. But, those doubts and fears do tend to creep in.  It is hard navigating life alone. Especially a new life, where all the terminology and rules are different.  Sometimes I feel like I need a Mormonism for Dummies book.  I hear they make those, but it probably isn’t exactly what I am looking for.

Tonight, I felt comforted. There are large periods of down time when I work at the recording studio, so I get some time to read my Scriptures.  I read 1 Samuel 23, 3 Nephi 13, and Abraham 4. I love how even when I’m reading chapters from very different books God can weave them together to tell me just what helps me the most.

My secret hurt, that has been plaguing me unendingly for months, felt a little lighter tonight. I hope it stays that way.  At least two times in the Nephi passage there was the phrase, “Thy Father, who sees you in secret, shall reward  you openly.”  It’s funny, but it is not the reward concept that comforts me. It is the idea that My Father sees in secret. He knows EVERYTHING. He knows everything that has happened. He knows all my responses- good and bad. He knows what it has done to my heart. He knows what it has done to my family. He knows what it has done to my stamina. He knows.  Doesn’t that feel wonderful?

Then, directly after that, I read in Abraham 4. Verse 18 states, “And the Gods watched those things which They had ordered until it obeyed.”  It reminded me so much of those passages in the Psalms that says, “The word of God will not return void.” I love those passages. That tells me that if God says something, or promises something, not only is it actually the truth, but He will make sure it happens. What peace and comfort that brings me! I’m so grateful we are being watched.