Monday, September 22, 2014

Sense of the Sacred

As I was preparing my lesson for seminary this past week, I came across a quote that really struck me.  It struck me so much that I sought out the rest of the talk, and I am so glad that I did.  This was the quote: 
“Be wise with what the Lord gives you. It is a trust. …
“Rather than drifting into carelessness, may your life be one of increasing exactness in obedience. I hope you will think and feel and dress and act in ways that show reverence and respect for sacred things, sacred places, sacred occasions."  
It is from a CES devotional from 2004 by Elder D. Todd Christofferson entitled "A Sense of the Sacred".  This talk, coupled with a talk given by my oldest son in church last week, really struck a chord with me.  Paul quoted something from "True to the Faith":

"Reverence is profound respect and love. When you have a reverent attitude toward God, you honor Him, express your gratitude to Him, and obey His commandments. You should be reverent in your behavior as well as your attitude. Reverent behavior includes prayer, scripture study, fasting, and payment of tithes and offerings. It includes wearing modest clothing and using clean, wholesome language. The depth of your reverence is evident in your choice of music and other entertainment, in the way you speak of sacred subjects, and in the way you dress and act when you attend church and the temple. You show your reverence for the Lord when you serve other people and treat them with kindness and respect.  As you become more reverent, you will notice a quiet transformation in your life. The Lord will pour out His Spirit more abundantly on you. You will be less troubled and confused. You will be able to receive revelation to help you solve personal and family problems.  Just as reverence brings you closer to God, irreverence
suits the purposes of the adversary. Satan will tempt you to follow the world’s trend to more noise, excitement, and contention and to less restraint and quiet dignity. Like a commander mounting a military invasion, he will try to jam the channels of communication between you and the Lord."
We definitely need to  increase an understanding of this in our family - that respect and love for the Lord is demonstrated in how we treat each other, how closely we follow the little things we have been asked to do.  So many of those little things show how much we love the Lord and whether or not we are willing to put His will first in our lives.  I really feel strongly that I as a mother need to help set the tone with this, but I am perplexed because I feel like I have a good understanding and application of this principle.  I feel that I have tried to set a good example for them in this, but somehow it hasn't transferred to them.  The older ones are doing better, but even so, we still have some days/weeks when it is a struggle.  I will be praying and fasting to understand how to do better.  Thank goodness for another day to fight the fight, to try harder, to love more, to draw closer to them and together to draw closer to the Lord.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Left Behind

On Tuesday, Ben and Sarah had a soccer game.  We took all but the two oldest who were working on homework.  Their team won, and, as is the tradition, they went out for ice cream after the game.  Well, it so happens that the coach is a friend of ours, and he had picked Ben and Sarah up for the game.  They ran to his car to get their stuff out, and 6yo Luke went with them.  I hollered at them to hurry so we could get the ice cream and then get home, and they came running.  Everyone climbed into the car, or so I thought.  We drove off to the ice cream shoppe, and they ran off to join their team.  I thought Luke had run in with them, but suddenly I was hit with a sinking feeling.  Where was Luke?  He hadn't had enough time to get out from the back of the car and get in before Ben and Sarah.  I knew we had left him behind, and I knew he was going to be so scared and hurt.  My heart was aching, knowing that one of my children was not with me, and he was out there somewhere.  We let their coach know what was going on, and I sped back to the soccer field.  As soon as we got close, I saw him with another couple - someone we didn't know - who were taking the time to try to find someone who knew us so they could get in touch with us.  I put the car in park and ran to Luke.  As soon as I got to him, he started sobbing, and I could tell that he had been sobbing while we were gone.  I just held him for a long time, and then I thanked the couple for their kindness in taking care of someone they didn't even know.  I apologized over and over again, and I promised that I would never do that again.  He forgave me, as children are so quick to do.  The worst part was when he told me that he was headed towards the car, and he saw us pull out of the parking lot and just leave him behind.  He tried to run after us, but we didn't even see him.  That must have broken his heart.
I learned to be in less of a hurry, and to make sure that each of my children knows that they are loved and SEEN by me.  Especially since the move, I have been so distracted by packing and unpacking, organizing and sorting, that I have not focused on my children as much as I should and as much as I want to.  But in the end, it isn't going to matter how many boxes are left in the garage that I should have gone through, but it will matter that my children know that I love them and that they are my world.  My world is NOT the new house or the errands that need to be run or the laundry that never seems to end.  My world IS my family - my children and husband, and I need to be sure to let them know that and see that in the things that I do.  And the way each person feels that love is different.  They all have different needs - some need time, some need words, some need to know that they have been heard.  But as I put my best efforts towards helping them feel that love and concern, I find that my needs are either less important to me or are met in unexpected ways!  Funny how the Lord does that for us!  Truly, as we lose our lives, we find them!  And I am going to lose my life in serving, loving, laughing with, helping my family!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Both directions

This is how I have felt lately.  Running this way and that - mostly dropping kids off at activities or picking them up or taking them to the orthodontist or dentist, or shopping for groceries......Does it end?  Ever?  I look at my schedule, and it has been crazy lately - three concerts in a week's time, rehearsals, soccer games/practices, scout service projects, and on and on.  Sometimes I would just like to stay home all day and work on stuff, but even when I am home, I am taking James to the bathroom every 20 minutes.  Yes, he has expressed interest in potty training, and I am all for getting him out of the diapers!  But it is so....tedious.  I feel like I am being pulled in 15 different directions, and being pulled thin in every way except physically (where I seem to be growing at an alarming rate).  And just when I feel like I can't go anymore, I pull out my scriptures and read this:

I am reminded that this is the season of my life.  The day will come when my children will all be in school or out of the house, and I will wish for these moments with them - some of our best conversations have happened in the car. And what greater work could I be doing than shepherding these children and helping them to know that they are the most important things in my life.  Yes, my life revolves around their schedules and their needs, but that is where my life SHOULD be right now.  So bring on the loads of laundry, tell me last minute that you need me to take you somewhere or that you need a batch of brownies for your class project.  That is what I am here for, and I hope I will never forget it!  Gordon B. Hinckley said, "You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make."  I am investing into the miracles that are my children, and I pray that my efforts can be focused in the right places to help them grow into the people they are needed to be.

Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block

On Saturday, we watched a movie called "The Croods".  It was a good movie with a good message, and I appreciated how it focused on the family and showed the importance of unity in the family and how that can be achieved.  There was one thing that got me thinking.  The father of the family sees it as his responsibility to protect the family, so his motto is "Never not be afraid".  He recites this to his family, and they recite it back.  And it has kept them safe, whereas other families have not been so lucky.  Yet there was one scene where the family is separated, and they are trying to find their way through a maze of tunnels to be reunited on the other side.  One of the children, the rebellious daughter who has always fought against her father's mantra, has no trouble navigating the tunnels, even delights in what she finds along the way.  Her brother, however, who tried  very hard to follow in his father's footsteps and make him proud, has a moment where he seems paralyzed by the fear that his father has instilled in him.  As a matter of fact, before they head through the tunnels, the father again reiterates, "Never not be afraid", and the son hears it and stops, wondering what to do.  New was bad for them, so he was afraid to take a step into the dark, to get through something new and different in order to find a better home for their family.
The thought that ran through my head was, "What have I instilled in my children?  Will it be a help or a hindrance to them when they venture out on their own?  Will my words and my teachings help them to make it through the maze of this world so that our family can be reunited on the other side?"  I don't want our teachings, our traditions, our family culture or habits to be a stumbling block for my children to progress and become the people they need to be.  I want them to be stepping stones that will help them to find their way to be better than their parents, to be a spring board to help them soar to new heights that we haven't even imagined for them.  I want everything that I do to lead them to Christ, to help them know that His love can change our lives.  That is the great mission of this phase of my life, and I need to do better.  The scripture says, "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  (2 Ne. 25:26)  Do my children know that I rely on the Lord in times of trial, that I thank Him for His many blessings, that I turn to Him when I feel like there is nowhere else to go?  Do I incorporate the example of the Savior in my life so that they know that I follow after Him?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Dirty Floors

I have an 8-month old son who is at such a fun stage right now.  He is crawling around everywhere, pulling himself up to the dishwasher, the garbage can, my legs, anything he can get his hands on.  This is great because he is mobile and can get where he wants to go.  This is also hard because where he wants to go usually involves me (which is great, don't get me wrong), but sometimes I can't have him pulling on my pant leg or crawling at my feet  It is hard because he can find the tiniest speck of anything and get it in his mouth in 2 seconds.  It is great because I get to sweep my kitchen about ten times a day so he can't find those tiny specks (or not so tiny more often than not), and therefore I have a cleaner kitchen floor - at least in theory.
This morning as I was sweeping the kitchen, my little guy was very interested in what I was doing.  Each time I made a little pile, he would crawl with all his  might to find something interesting - in this case that lovely Easter grass that hangs around in bits and pieces until the 4th of July no matter how hard you try to pick it all up.  I tried to move the pile to keep it away from him.  Each time I tried to sweep more to add to the pile, he was Speedy Gonzales trying to get to those pieces of delicious-looking plastic.  Step two: distract him.  I pulled out bright shiny toys, toys that made noise, toys that eased his teething pain, anything to keep his mind off the garbage on the floor.  Nothing doing.  He would look at the toys for a minute, and then he was off to continue his quest.  So I finally had to put him in his high chair while I finished sweeping and made it safe for him to crawl around the floor.
(No, this is not my actual floor, nor the size of my actual dirt pile.  If it got this big, there is no way I could keep the little guy away from it, and I think my husband would have a heart attack if it got this big!)
How does this relate to life?  I wonder how often the Lord gets frustrated with our obsession with things of the world, things that are dirty and pollute our spirits.  He puts all these wonderful things in our lives - scriptures, prayer, uplifting music, conference, sacrament meeting, firesides, Church magazines, lessons, the temple - and yet sometimes we continue to be drawn to the specks of dirt in our lives.  Nothing really bad, but not the greatest things to feed our spirits.
Last summer I taught the young women in our ward a song for camp.  It was by Jenny Philips called "We Seek After These Things".  I was very pregnant at the time, and the young women's president apologized for asking me to help with it.  But learning and teaching the song reminded me of some important truths.  The line that jumped out at me was, "Our mighty God has given us so much good to find, there's just no room for darkness in our lives."  How true!  There is so much that is good and can uplift, and yet sometimes we are drawn to things that may not be really bad, but may not invite the Spirit into our lives like we need.  Sometimes we follow the crowd, go along with the flow, only to find that we have taken ourselves just the tiniest bit further away from where we want to be.  
I am reminded of a wonderful talk by Elder Oaks called "Good, Better, Best" in which he outlined the importance of being wise in the choices we make.  He said, "As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all......Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families." 
The Lord has given us so many opportunities to enrich our lives, to focus on the gospel, and to use the many resources available to strengthen our testimonies and those of our family members.  Are we using our time wisely?  Are we using those resources or are they sitting on a shelf waiting for us to access them?  Are we first pulling out a novel, no matter how wonderful it may be, before we study our scriptures?  Let's focus on the wonderful things the Lord has given us to enrich our lives and to draw us closer to Him rather than chasing after the dirty scraps on the floor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A New Adventure

A few years ago in General Conference, Elder David A. Bednar gave a talk entitled "More Diligent and Concerned at Home".  It comes from a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 93:50 in which the Lord chastens several of the leaders of the Church and counsels them to put their lives in order.  I have been feeling that need in my own life, not just at home, but in other areas as well.  So this blog will be a forum for me to discuss, vent, comment on things that are of importance, of interest, or otherwise noteworthy.  Some posts will be thought-provoking (I hope), some inspirational, some will bring a smile to your faces, some may even make you shake your head in disbelief.  Hopefully occasionally there will be glimmer of something that will uplift and inspire and help you to feel the love of the Lord more in your life!