Sunday, September 30, 2012

Battles, Wounds, and Healing

A few years ago I visited a sister in our ward who was more or less home bound.  We were talking about the Book of Mormon and she told me that although she believed the Book of Mormon she  refused to read it because of the horrific details of war and killing specifically found in the book of Alma.

I found that interesting and wondered what it said about me because the book of Alma is probably my favorite.  I love the detailed accounts of various strategies to overcome the Lamanite armies and take back the Nephite cities.  I love  the valor of Captain Moroni, being a son of God first and a soldier second.  I love the devotion of Teancum, Lehi and Antipus to their Commander in Chief.  And I love the tenderness  and responsibility that  Helaman felt toward his little band of two-thousand and sixty stripling warriors.

Today, I was reading again the account of Helaman and his two thousand sons (for they are worthy to be called sons.)   You all know the story as do I.  You know that their parents  made covenants to never again take up arms in battle.  You know that their parents kept their covenants.  You know that these sons were taught faith and reliance upon their God by their mothers and undoubtedly their fathers too.  You know that Helaman loved his young sons dearly and did all  he could to prepare them for the battle they would engage in.

I know this account well,  but my heart was stirred today as I pondered the outcome of this little band of warriors and the battle they fought in.  You know this too;  not one son was killed.  Usually I stop there in my pondering and think all is well and continue on with my reading.  But the last part of Alma 57:25 has consumed my thoughts all day.
"...there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds."  It didn't say none were killed and all was wonderful.  No, quite the opposite.

I write....that my little band of sons and daughters-  Derrick, Brittney, Molly, Brandon, Daniel, Emily, Travis, Noelle, Natalie, Holly, and Hannah may know... that I know you too have been and will be engaged in horrible battles.  You too have also been born of parents who have made and kept covenants and have taught you faith and reliance on God.  You now fight being armed with the power of  your own covenants.  All of you, with the exception of Molly at this point in time, have received many wounds in life's battles, some I know about and many I don't.  Some of those wounds have cut deep  and  have been extremely painful.  I have been humbled and so grateful  that you have healed and continue to heal from your wounds.  I am grateful that you  have become stronger and more valiant as a result of that process.  I write that you may know  life's battles will result in wounds, but through Christ's atonement, those wounds will be no more. The wounds do not define who you are, but the healing does.  How I love my little band of warriors.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Everyone Needs A Judy"

Back in April, when Derrick and his family came down for a visit, Brittney accompanied Judy and I on some of our early morning adventures.  It was fun sharing not just our adventures with Brittney, but also our long- enduring friendship.  One morning after a particularly lengthy hike, Brittney made the following comment to me:  "I need a Judy".

I knew exactly what Brittney meant.

*Everyone needs  a friend who makes everyday just a little brighter.  (See previous posts: Adventures with Judy)

*Everyone needs a friend who listens.  (Even at nauseam.)

*Everyone needs a friend who tells them the way it is.  (She always says it in a kind way and I know she still loves me regardless of my flaws.)

*Everyone needs a friend who will show up where they are needed and works harder than you do. (What would we have done without her at Daniel and Emily's wedding luncheon and both receptions?!)

*Everyone needs a friend who loves your family almost as much a you do.  (She would do anything for any member of my family.)

Yes, everyone does need a Judy in their life.  A Judy just makes life better!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Emily Rust = Down-To-Earth Elegance

It is with sheer joy and delight that I ponder and  give thought to the newest member of the Rust family. It really hasn't sunken in that Daniel is  married to Emily and Emily is really a Rust!  I guess that will come with time.  I have contemplated what the addition of Emily gives to our family and happily share in this blog post.

Emily is a "Elegant"!   The first time I saw Emily, I was not expecting her to look like she did.  Daniel had only described her to me as being a "great girl".  I wasn't sure what a "great girl"  looked like, but in my mind it wasn't a tall, strikingly beautiful, blonde-haired girl.  And when I first met  Emily I was  taken back by how elegant and refined she appeared.  I must admit I wondered how on earth she and Daniel found each other.   I love how Daniel handles himself with confidence and ease and  I think he is a very darling, handsome man, but elegance and refinement do not come to mind when I think of him.  I was certainly intrigued with this combination and their relationship!

I remember going to the BYUI Christmas Concert that both she and Daniel played at.  I sat there mesmerized as I watched Emily in that first violinist chair, looking so beautiful as she played so effortlessly.  At the end of the concert when the guest performer, Brian Stokes,Mitchell, acknowledged Emily as the concert mistress and shook her hand, I really thought that I would burst with pride.  Although she and Daniel were not  seriously dating at that time, I just felt honored in knowing someone  with such talent and grace.

I shall never forget the moment I saw Emily after she and Daniel had been sealed, when they walked out of the temple annex onto the grounds outside.  I literally gasped when I saw her.  She was so regal, graceful and stunning.  I could not take my eyes off of her.  She was exquisite, inside and out and I found myself in awe of who she was.

Emily is "Down To Earth"!  Even though Emily is refined, she is far from being stuffy and unapproachable.  She is welcoming, loving and twinkly!  You know when she puts her arms around you, you are really being hugged.  It is a " I really am happy to see you and like you" hug;  so warm and so real.  I had my first hug from her the night of that concert.  I remember it well.  She wrapped her arms around my waist and clasped her hands together and did not break that grasp for some time.  I don't know if I had ever been hugged like that before.  It was so real and sweet and I didn't even know her..............but I knew I loved her!

Emily has always been just fine and at home in our under construction house.  I have never felt that she was concerned about the conditions are lack of space.  She just adapts and fits in.  One of my favorite memories of Emily is when she was down visiting before she and Daniel were engaged.  Jared and I  would call everyone in for breakfast and family prayer.   Knowing that they had stayed up late and were probably exhausted, I didn't count on them actually getting up and joining us.  But I  was endeared to Emily  as she would jump out of bed, still in her pj's,bed hair, no make-up or contacts, and run in and quickly kneel down with the rest of us.  No pretense, fuss or embarrassment.  She wanted to have family prayer and be with us. That warmed my heart so much.

It was wonderful seeing her join the girls in our one and only bathroom to get ready for church.  She found a tiny bit of counter space and set up shop right along with the rest of them.  No special invitation or time schedule, she just jumped in when she could and called it good.  The funniest thing was to see her patiently putting Daniel's contacts in for him in the morning.  I was a little shocked at first, but grew to love seeing this sight.   I knew she was the one for him.

I will never forget the time when we all went for a hike in  one of the washes up by the mesa.  The girls and I were walking quite a ways ahead of Emily and Daniel.  It was a beautiful day,  so peaceful and calm...........until Emily came sprinting past us yelling at Daniel to stop and laughing at the same time.  Just as Emily passed us, here came Daniel chasing her while carrying a stick with a dried-up cow pie situated on the end of it.  I was horrified that Daniel would do such a thing (not surprised, but nonetheless still horrified), but I couldn't help laugh at the sight.   I figured Emily had to be ticked off, and rightfully so!  But it was her laughter and her twinkly eyes that made everything alright and fun.  She loved Daniel and I knew it. Strangely enough, I also knew that if Daniel could actually be okay with chasing Emily with a cow pie, he must really love her too!

So today as I think of our sweet Emily on her birthday, I give thanks for her and what she has already brought into our home.  I am so grateful for the grace and refinement she has.  She is truly a lady by every sense of the word.  The Rust family can use some refinement!   I am so grateful that she also brings to our family a very down-to-earth love and acceptance.  She not only loves us, but I really think she likes us!

I always knew that the girl who would win over Daniel's heart would be very lucky indeed.  But Daniel is the lucky one and so are we!    Happy Birthday dear Emily and welcome to the family.  I love you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sept 2012 Sacrament Mtg Talk on Self-Reliance

This summer our family had the opportunity of visiting the Mormon Battalion Historic Church Site in San Diego. Just like every other historic site the church owns, the Mormon Battalion has been restored in such a way, that you are able to put yourself right there in that moment of time. Not only was I able to catch a glimpse of what the early saints had experienced but I felt my heart turn in love and gratitude for what they had accomplished.

At this time in church history, the saints had endured extreme, on-going persecution. Their homes had been burned, their temple destroyed and their prophet murdered. An extinction order had been placed on their heads and once again, angry mobs had  driven them out of their communities, leaving the saints scattered over the plains of Iowa in makeshift encampments. With just the clothes on their back and what few personal items they could carry, the cold nights and the shortage of food left many ill and some died. It was at this time that the US Army approached the saints with the order to enlist the able men as soldiers to march 2000 miles and fight in the Mexican- American war. This was the very same government that stood by as they were driven out of their homes and persecuted. These saint-soldiers would actually march under the command of a military officer, who, a decade earlier had led a mob to run them out of state of Missouri. Now, consider for a moment not just the physical state of the saints, but also their emotional state. Would they not have every reason and right to stop in the plains of Iowa and say: “We will do no more. We are done!”

But they didn't.  And this is why. ( 1) They trusted in the counsel of their prophet, Brigham Young. (2) They knew that they were armed with power from on high because of the covenants they had made and because of this power, they could do hard things.

President Young did ask the saints to comply with the demands of the army, promising the soldiers that they would not loose their lives in battle and that their families would be blessed. Five hundred men, and about twenty women enlisted with the army, leaving behind wives and mothers with families to pick us the pieces of their shattered lives, and also the tremendous challenge of making their way west without their husbands. The soldiers marched 2000 miles in extremely difficult conditions and endured the demanding work of forging new roads. These saints, both those who enlisted and those who were left behind, did extraordinary hard things for their families to be spiritually and temporally self reliant. The soldiers received wages and money for a uniform allowance,and sent it back to their families to help buy food and supplies for their trek west with the rest of the saints. Although it had been an tremendous trial, the unmeasurable blessings of self-reliance and freedom were manifest when soldiers were finally reunited with their families in the Salt Lake Valley.

The circumstances may be different, but the effects of our trials are much the same today. Some have lost homes and jobs; others suffer from ailing health and troubled minds. We may find ourselves in a physical and emotional state where we want to say: “No more, we are done!” In these crisis situations, we are grateful for the help of church assistance, government programs, and aid from extended family. But that assistance and help must be short-termed and temporary. The Lord wants and needs self reliant families.

President Henry B. Eyring stated:
...All people are happier and feel more self-respect when they can provide for themselves and their family and then reach out to take care of others.”
Elder Robert D Hales adds: “The purpose of both temporal and spiritual self-reliance is to get ourselves on higher ground so that we can lift others in need.
The Lord hasn't left us alone to figure out how to do this. Just as the early saints, (1) we have been blessed with a prophet and leaders who have given direction and counsel on provident living (2) And we too have made covenants and been endowed with power from on high so we can do hard and difficult things.
We have been taught much about the bondage of credit card debt, the dangers of idleness, and the suffocating grasp of addictions; all which take away our spiritual and temporal self reliance. Elder Hales describes these things as: “Patterns of thought and action that diminish one's sense of worth. All of these excesses affect us individually and undermine our family relationships.”

In his recent general conference address, Elder Hales teaches about the power of our covenants and it's relationship to being self reliant and he issues us this simple challenge: “Have a talk with [yourself] in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?”

He emphasizes the importance of two things: 1. Preparing ourselves to partake of the sacrament each week and 2. The importance of being worthy to makes covenants in the temple.

Speaking of the sacrament he says:
As we sing the sacrament hymn, participate in the sacrament prayers, and partake of the emblems of His flesh and blood, we prayerfully seek forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings. We think about the promises we made and kept during the previous week and make specific personal commitments to follow the Savior during the coming week.”

It is easy to get caught up in the “hoopla” of our church meetings and callings and miss the most important reason why we assemble on the Sabbath day.

A couple of months ago Sis. Muhlestein asked me to fill in for her as music director while she was out of town. I was happy to do that and didn't give it much though until Sunday morning came and I remembered my commitment.

Usually, I love my Sunday mornings. I am at a point in my life where they are quiet and I have the opportunity to be reflective and prepare myself for the sacrament. But this Sunday, my focus wasn't what it should be. I needed to get to church early so I could put the hymn numbers on the wall, get the stand and hymnal set up, and make sure I knew how to lead the songs that had been selected. My mind was preoccupied and very busy. 

The opening hymn was a very upbeat and fast paced “Called To Serve” and I could hear my primary children sing out. The sacrament hymn was “I Stand All Amazed” and the tempo was much slower. I began to beat the time and Sis. Lyon played the organ exactly according to how fast I was waving my arm. As we completed the first verse, I was a little embarrassed by how slow we were singing. With that in mind, when we began the second verse, I lifted my arm to pick up the pace but as hard as I tried, I could not lead the song any faster. I literally felt a physical resistance on my arm and even glance over to Sis. Lyon as if to motion to her to play faster. But she didn't. Being the amazing accompanist that she is, she followed my weighted arm and we continued to sing at a very slow tempo.

Not sure what to do and confused by what was happening with my arm, I started to focus on what I was singing. “I marvel that he would descend from His throne divine to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine, that he should extend his great love unto such as I, sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.”

As the words passed through my mind and found place in my heart, I became very aware of my Savior's love for me. At the realization that I  was worth rescuing, owning, redeeming and justifying, tears flooded my eyes and I could no longer see  the hymn book; a huge lump formed in my throat and I could no longer sing.

Through this sweet, tender mercy I was now prepared to partake of sacred emblems and focus on the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord. I felt renewed,  endowed with power to go and do better and be better.

 We need that power each week in our desire to overcome habits of dependency and exercise principles of self reliance.

Just as important as it is for us to return every week prepared to partake of the sacrament, we must return often to the temple to be reminded of the covenants we have made there. Although stake and ward temple nights are good incentives, and ordinances of family and friends are joyous to witness, our temple attendance should not be dependent on such events. Understanding and remembering that “the temple endowment is a gift that provides perspective and power” should be reason enough for us to attend regularly and often.

Regarding this power of the endowment, Elder Hales states: “As endowed temple recommend holders, we establish patterns of Christlike living. Through the Savior's Atonement and by following these basic patterns of faithfulness, we receive power from on high to face the challenges of life. We need this divine power today more than ever. It is power we receive only through temple ordinances.”

Establishing and maintaining a self reliant family is hard work. It's hard work for a young father to juggle his schooling, a job, a church calling, and the needs of a young family. It is hard work, but the power he receives through the covenants he has made, and his desire for a self-reliant family, gives him faith to act, and do hard things.

Consider the single sister, working full-time, facing the demands of being both father and mother, while diligently nurturing and teaching her children the gospel. It is hard work, but the power she receives through the covenants she had made and her desire for self-reliance, gives her faith to act and do hard things.

How sad it is to be asked to serve, whether it be in a calling, on a mission, or to serve another person and have to respond with the words: “I am sorry. I am not in a position to do that right now.”

Brothers and sisters, may we have the courage to examine our commitment to self reliant principles in our own lives. May we have the faith to act and do hard things. And may we find joy and peace as we work to establish a self-reliant family who stands ready and prepared to lift others to higher ground.