Sunday, August 22, 2010

MY TALK ABOUT FAITH

  This is the talk I gave in church today--my first one in a long, long time.  I kind of like preparing talks and lessons because it makes me think about a subject more than I probably would otherwise.  But I will never feel comfortable speaking in front of others.  I'll always be a quivering nervous mess.  Podiums were invented for people like me to hide behind and lean on.

    In the book of Hebrews Faith is defined very clearly and simply: “NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That sounds easy: You don’t have to see something to believe or know that it’s true. On one level it’s so basic that a child can understand it. But I don’t think faith is simple at all; it’s a principle that has always been intertwined through every aspect of my life, so to me that makes faith very complicated. I can’t isolate and separate it from everything else. I was raised in the church, and the Gospel has always been a part of my life. I’ve always known that I am a child of God. I’ve always known where I came from. I’ve always known that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I’ve always known that heaven is real, and that someday I could return. I didn’t have to see to believe. I just knew. I knew it in my mind, my heart, and my soul. I can’t simplify faith, and I can’t talk about it without talking about some aspects of my life. My faith defines me; it’s a part of who I am just as your faith is a part of who you are.
     I believe that Faith should start with a capital “F” and be a verb—it’s an action word. It should govern everything we do. President Gordon B. Hinckley called faith “A living vital force”, and said:
     “Faith is not a theological platitude. It is a fact of life. Faith can become the very wellspring of purposeful living. There is no more compelling motivation to worthwhile endeavor than the knowledge that we are children of God, the Creator of the universe, our all-wise Heavenly Father! God expects us to do something with our lives, and he will give us help when help is sought.”
     I think it was N. Eldon Tanner in the early 80’s who first counseled us to “Remember Who You Are”. Referring to this, Bishop Richard C. Edgely of the Presiding Bishopric recently said:
     “And importantly implicit in [this] statement [Remember Who You Are], is the phrase “Remember what you can become.” This brings me to what I consider to be perhaps the most fundamental doctrine of the gospel. It is a doctrine so fundamental that even the Atonement of our beloved Savior is based upon it… It is the doctrine of faith…a doctrine of strength and fortification."
     "…those who believe they are sons and daughters of God, created in the image and likeness of the Only Begotten Son, will make many choices different from those who do not. And why is this so important to us? Because ultimately we become the product of the myriad choices we are constantly making: choices that may seem quite inconsequential today but that may have an enormous impact on what measure of being we become."

     Throughout my life there have been times when I have held fast to my faith, and dark times when I’ve tried to ignore what I know. My faith, whether I embraced or denied it, has been a part of every important event, every decision, and every consequence I’ve ever experienced.
     One of my favorite authors is Charles Dodgson, Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. Embedded in his stories are truths that can probably apply to each of us. Here are a few of his quotes for you to think about. He could have been writing about me instead of Alice!
     "But I don't want to go among mad people," said Alice. "Oh, you can't help that.” said the cat. We're all mad here."
     “She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it)”
     “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
     “I can't go back to yesterday— because I was a different person then.”
     "If you drink too much from a bottle marked "poison," it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later."
     “Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.”
     “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don't know”, Alice answered. “Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter.”
     Another of my favorite writers, the poet Robert Frost, pondered the choices along life’s journey in “The Road Not Taken”, which reads in part:
     Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
     And sorry I could not travel both
     And be one traveler, long I stood
     And looked down one as far as I could
     To where it bent in the undergrowth;
     Then took the other, as just as fair,…
     Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
     I took the one less traveled by,
     And that has made all the difference.
     Life is often compared to a journey—sometimes difficult but always worth the trip. A familiar example in scripture is Lehi’s vision: And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood.  Many years later, Nephi taught: O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2Ne9:41)
     In his recent address to young adults, Bishop Edgely noted:
     "Because we have been blessed with a knowledge of God’s plan for His children’s eternal happiness, we Latter-day Saints know our ultimate destination, and we know which route to take in order to safely arrive."
     "[A] highway journey takes us through large cities, with a maze of roadways going in every direction… it is easy to take a wrong turn and become lost or even stopped at a dead end. Fear, even despair, can set in as we search for the safe haven or the desired safe road. So it is, with life: we can become lost souls, succumb to temptation, and over time lose sight of our original destination."
     "Along the road of life, a benevolent Father in Heaven in His wonderful plan made provisions for these detours. He sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Redeemer and our Savior… Like the insurance we purchase to protect our automobile in case of damage or liability that may occur as we travel along the highway, we can receive, with sincere and complete repentance, the blessings associated with the Atonement of Jesus the Christ. He also provided divinely appointed “rescuers,” whom we call bishops, to assist us to once again find the correct course…. In this dispensation the Lord pronounced: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. (D&C 58:42) …"
     "…Wherever you presently find yourself on life’s highway, it may be helpful and wise to objectively assess the health and vitality of your spiritual life, just as you would check the air pressure in your tires and the level of fuel in your tank before you commenced your journey. If your spiritual well-being is hampered by sin, procrastination, indifference… or any other malady, now is the time for resolution."
     Whether it’s maps and GPS guidance used for a summer road trip, or the scriptures, the counsel of living apostles and prophets, answers to sincere prayer, the promptings of the Holy Ghost, even the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to help us navigate safely through this life—all of the guidance in the world can do nothing for us if we ignore it. It’s not enough to have the right tools, it’s not enough to trust that they are accurate and true. We have to act upon what we know. Faith isn’t enough to lead us anywhere if we don’t use it. Using the Liahona, which the Lord prepared to lead Lehi and his family through the wilderness, as an example Alma taught his son, Helaman, this lesson about faith in Alma 37:
40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.
43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live.
     Some of the most meaningful passages of scripture to me tell the story from the Gospels about a woman of great faith. In Matthew 9 we read: 
     And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
     For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
     But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
     Over the past months and year, I’ve thought a lot about my own faith and how I apply this first basic principle of the gospel to my own life. Do the things in which I place my faith strengthen me? Do I put my faith in the things of the world? Is my faith only in my own strength and knowledge? Or is mine a faith in the Savior and in God’s plan for happiness? Do I have the faith to reach out when I need to, believing that I can be made whole? What do I know, and how do I know it? What am I doing with my faith? Am I acting upon what I know is true and real and eternal?
     I ‘ll share some of my ponderings that I recently wrote in my journal:
     Sometimes I lie awake and I think about how easy most of my life has been, and how very, very lucky and loved I am. For the most part my journey has been a smooth, almost effortless, trail. But there have been some sharp turns, deep pits, and dead ends. I’ve successfully navigated around…or through… most of these roadblocks. Some of these obstacles tripped me, and I hurt myself because of them—sometimes badly! It’s still painful to think about some of those unseen hazards and barriers—especially the ones I placed there myself.
     Sometimes my mind and my heart ache with wondering. What if I’d raised my eyes more often, and looked up and ahead more? What if I’d been stronger, or more prepared, or braver? At each of those stumbling blocks in my life, when a different choice or more care would have made that stretch of the road so much less painful, what should I have done differently? If I could go back and choose again, could I and would I choose more carefully? Would I do better?
     I think I would. I hope I would! I realize that the only times in my life when I’ve ever stumbled or gotten lost or crashed into a self imposed roadblock were the times when I looked away and ignored what I knew. I lost sight of who I am, who my Father is, and where I am going. I put down my faith, which is the lamp that lights the way. I don’t have to stumble in the dark. I do have a choice. From now on I choose light. I choose goodness. I choose righteousness. I choose to honor myself and my family. And I especially choose God. And because I am so far from walking perfectly along my own road, when I make a mistake I choose to backtrack, to undo and redo.
     I’ve learned some important things as I’ve traveled my road. One of them is that I’d better be very careful, because I’m not as strong or as smart as I thought I was. I can’t do this life thing without help. I’ve learned that God has provided all that I need to make this journey safely—the right lessons and the right people are there at just the right times, to guide me—if I’m humble enough to let them. What a wonderful gift! I know that God has given me—and each of us—more blessings than we can possibly recognize or count. Our imperfect mortal minds are limited and we aren’t capable of understanding something so big and so beautiful. But I know that there are three greatest gifts we can begin to understand—three gifts that I know with absolute certainty are true and real. These three gifts are the basis of my faith—the foundation upon which I choose to build the rest of my life.
     The first gift is His love. I know that it’s everywhere along life’s road. It surrounds me every moment, every step of the way. In my darkest hours His love strengthens my faith and lights the way. It shines on me and rains on me. It is beside me, and if I choose to allow it, it is reflected in me and through me to others.
     Because he loves us so much, God gives us His second greatest gift: choice—not just the right to choose, but the power to choose. As a parent I’m happy that my grown children are able to make their own life choices. I revel in their right to do so, because from the moment they were born it was my calling to teach and lead them to live independently and righteously, to make their own, hopefully wise, choices. Their father and I have rejoiced in many of their decisions, but sometimes our hearts were broken. Those times of joy and sorrow give me a glimmer of understanding what a magnificent gift of love agency is. I can never call it “Free Agency” because I know that nothing, nothing at all, is free. Everything has a cost, and I’ve come to understand that Choice has the highest price of all. It cost a full third of the host of Heaven—my own sisters and brothers—their eternal souls. It cost the Savior physical, emotional, and spiritual agony beyond what any of us can imagine; and the willing sacrifice of His mortal life. When I remember both the happiness and the sorrow I’ve experienced with my own children, I am filled with joy for the times that I know I’ve pleased my Heavenly Father. And my heart can also be filled with anguish, knowing that sometimes I’ve used His gift of choice in ways that caused Him sorrow or pain. How can He still love me so much?   I don't understand how, I just know He does.
     His Love. The Right and Power of Choice.
     And His third greatest gift is Atonement. We need a way to repent because life is full of obstacles. With each one we face an opportunity to learn and grow, or to make a mistake and fall. Where would we be without chances to try again and do better? What hope would we have? As I said before, my life’s journey so far has been relatively easy. But there have been detours and pitfalls, and sometimes I was lost and afraid. Sometimes I took the wrong turn. Sometimes I stumbled. Sometimes I fell. Sometimes I was bruised and almost broken. Sometimes I didn't think I was strong enough to get up and get going in the right direction again. But our Father In Heaven, knowing that we are imperfect and will sometimes misuse his gift of choice but loving us anyway, sent His Son. All we need to do is raise our eyes and reach out to him. He's always there. He knows every pain and fear that we have--because he bore each of them first. When we fall he’ll lift us. When we’re lost he’ll help us find our way. He'll dry our tears, bind our wounds, ease our pain. I can’t see Him, but I feel His love and I know He is real, and He is there.
     I’ll conclude with the words of President Hinckley, who counsels us to walk with faith, saying:
     Believe in yourselves as sons and daughters of God—men and women with unlimited potential to do good in the world. Believe in personal virtue… Believe in your power to discipline yourselves against the evils that could destroy you
     Believe in God our Eternal Father, He who is greatest of all, who stands ever ready to help us and who has the power to do so. Believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of mankind, the worker of miracles, the greatest who ever walked the earth, the Intercessor with our Father. Believe in the power of the Holy Ghost to lead, to inspire, to comfort, to protect.
     Believe in the sacred word of God, the Holy Bible, with its treasury of inspiration and sacred truth; in the Book of Mormon as a testimony of the living Christ. Believe in the Church as the organization that the God of Heaven established for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations of time.










































Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TESTING THE WATERS

I took my test to be a Certified Pool Operator tonite. I thought it was hard! Water balance, pool chemistry, circulation, filtration...it's all foreign to me.  Compared to "The Dam", where I swam and worked as a lifeguard every summer in high school and college, a swimming pool is a whole different world!


Ask me how to get a 3-foot wide snapping turtle out from under a dock and I'm right there!

What to do when a 9-year-old jumps from a 1'x2' platform mounted on a rail 15 feet above water that's only 6' deep..... and cuts his foot wide open on the sharp eye socket of a cow skull that washed downstream?  Ask me!  Been there...done that!
Water temperature? Clarity and visibility?  Hah! That's for sissies!


Water safety in a pool means something completely different than what it did in my "Good Olde Days".  Heavy rain here means check the water balance and santation levels.  Back then it meant tie a rope around the lifeguard's waist so she could take a swim over to the dam and see if the water level had become high enough and the current strong enough to wash someone over the top! 

Those were some really good times, but I have to admit that I've either gotten old or spoiled--or both.  Now I have to see the bottom if I'm going to swim there; and although it doesn't have to be "warm", I don't do bone-chilling anymore.  I want to know that fish and bacteria can't survive in water that I'm going to open my eyes in, and that scuzzies are getting filtered out from the bottom and the top of the water.  Chlorine is my friend--especially now that I know that it's not the chlorine that turns my hair green, and green hair can be prevented and couteracted by rinsing it with warm tap water with a couple of aspirin tablets disolved in it.

That said....after what I've learned about pools, you will never ever see me get into a public spa again!  Eeeeeewwww!!!


P.S. I got a 90 on the test.  I passed.  And I know I don't know enough to run a public pool safely.  Scary!










Tuesday, April 20, 2010

8 THINGS ABOUT BUBBLES!


1.  If you are going to buy a child a "gun", it should be a $2.00 bubble shooter.

2.  Bubbles can be used indoors when it's raining outside.



3.  The little bottle of bubbles that comes with the $2.00 bubble shooter isn't big enough.  This is way too fun!







4.  When there are hundreds thousands of bubbles you can hear them pop!

5. Bubbles are more fun for a 3-year-old than they are for a 16-month-old!




6.  Even though they are made of soap, popped bubbles do not make a floor clean.  They make it sticky.








7.  When you mop the floor after thousands of bubbles have popped on it, you only need plain water--there's already enough soap!  (No illustrations here... but trust me, there were suds!)


8.  The little bottle of bubbles that comes with the $2.00 bubble shooter is the right size after all.  In fact, it may be a little too big! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

THINGS I LEARNED TODAY (BEFORE 8:47am)

  •  A watch will sink to the bottom of the toilet.
    • Ideally, alll bathroom doors should be shut at all times.  If this isn't possible because there is a 3-year-old in the house, all toilets should be very clean and flushed at all times.
    • Cheap watches are definitely not waterproof.
    • It's best to have a cheap watch when you put it where a toddler can reach it.
    • It's a lucky thing that a toddler generally can't flush quickly.


  • Toddlers aren't always on the move, or noisy.
    • When a toddler isn't busy or noisy, you'd better stop what you're doing and see why.
    • If you have to go to the bathroom when a toddler is in the house, you'd better be fast.
    • A toddler can hide in small places.
    • A toddler is very quiet when she's hiding.
    • There are many toddler-size hiding places in a house.
    • Don't panic!  After all, if all the doors (including the bathrooms) are all the way closed...how far could she have gone?
    • A 3-year-old is not much help when you're looking for a toddler.
    • The 3-year-old may have helped the toddler hide.  This becomes evident when the toddler is found in a dark closet with the door all the way closed.
    • When you're looking for a toddler, check the very back recesses of the closet too.  

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Being Grandma

I have the most lovely grandchildren!



I had almost forgotten how much there is to learn from looking at the world through a child's eyes.  Bridger and Kacy are happy just about every second of the day.  Their brief unhappy moments pass like a blink and are forgotten, and they're on to the next adventure. Every little action throughout the day is an event--a happy discovery; each day is a connect-the-dot journey from miracle to miracle. 



It makes me remember how much I loved my "Mommy Years".   I tried to immerse myself in each stage of being a mother. It saddens me to hear young mothers say "I can't wait til she can hold her bottle", "I can't wait til he starts school" or "I can't wait until I can go back to work".  I never wished those years and stages away. I knew they would go by faster than I could imagine.  And they did.  I'm grateful that I have no huge regrets--I was far from being a "perfect" mother and there are things I would do differently if I could do it again; but I know that in any mothering moment I did the best I could at that time.  There were definitely moments that weren't great, but at least I was trying.  And there were times when somehow I managed to do and say and be just right!



Even now I love the stage of motherhood (and grandmotherhood) that I am in.  My children are grown and doing well.  (Their happiness and self-esteem is a credit to their own strength and choices, not to any great thing Jerry or I did as parents.)  I'm proud of my kids!



As for being Grandma... this is the reward for being Mom.  I'm loving this time I have with Bridger and Kacy!  The only bittersweet part of it is that I miss my other grandkids a lot.



I love you with all my heart Bridger... Kacy... Mason... Ericka... RJ... Quintin... Emily.

(Illustrations for this post coming soon!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

TREASURE HUNT

Once upon a time when I was visiting in Oregon, Jim and Mel came back from an outing with a friend. They'd gone "geocaching". I thought at the time that it sounded like fun and I'd like to try it someday; then I stored it away on my Someday List in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago: I was reading a women's magazine and there was a short article about geocaching. It stirred up the old list and I went online to the site the article referred to. I typed in our zip code and found that there are hidden treasures and secrets all over the place! I go past them every day and never knew they were there!

Based on the brief description of one of the cache locations, I knew where it was without even using a GPS (which is good since I don't have one...yet). So this afternoon Audrey and I went on our first treasure hunt. We found the cache, signed the logbook, and took pictures. Now we're hooked and are looking forward to our next geocacheing outing--with GPS in hand.

The best thing was that not only did we have fun, but it led us to take a new look at a place we've passed by many times and to spend a few moments in silent appreciation.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MOMENTS

A lifetime is made up of moments. Too many of them slip away insignificantly, to be lost in the past and buried beneath our memories. Moments of tragedy and pain are preserved in our minds, hearts, and souls; mercifully gentled by the passing of time. Eternal moments. And oh, how we cherish the rare, precious moments that are the joys and substance of our lives--so magnificent, so sublime, so achingly beautiful. These are the moments that we embrace: the moments in time when we know we truly got it right--when we know for sure that God was there and He was happy with us. We all hope for moments like this, some of us pray for moments like this. And we all have them. I have them.

There is only one thing better than knowing that God is pleased with you. It's knowing that God is pleased with your child. Those are the moments when you realize that somehow you've given your child something far greater than your very self.