Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Joy is Full

Hello children, this is a guest posting from your father, with the editors permission of course.  Today in Sunday School, I had the opportunity to think about each one of you.  When I say each one of you, I hope you know Brittney and Emily that that includes you. (Molly too)  I have six beautiful and talented girls! And of course The most beautiful granddaughter in the world.
Any way, we are studying 3rd Nephi and today we discussed chapter 17.  We were discussing theses verses:

  20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
 21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
 22 And when he had done this he wept again;
 23 And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
 24 And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
 25 And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.
Sister Hoffman, our wonderful teacher then got very emotional, especially when we discussed verse 21 where he took the little children one by one and blessed them, and how in a blessing you are called by name and so we presume he called each child by name. She then asked, " how many of you have ever heard your name in a prayer that was being offered?"  She went on to say that for most of her life she never had.  Her parents were very devout about praying at meal time, but not much on family prayer.  She remembered that the first time she had this experience she was away at school, living with a family and feeling stressed about a test the next day.  That night, as the family knelt for prayer, the child offering the prayer asked that "Heather be blessed in her important test tomorrow."  She was overcome with the feeling of actually hearing someone pray for her by name.  
I was thinking how sad for her to never have that experience in her home.  She then went on to say that even now when she visits her parents, (who now by the way have family prayer) she hears them pray for each one in the family by name, except her!  She knows they skip her because she is there, and that they surely pray for her by name when she is away, but how she longs to hear her prayed for by name.  
Well I began to think that we often do the same in our home.  All of you boys were prayed for by name as you served your missions. You all have been prayed for by name as you were away at school, and Derrick, Brittney and Molly are always prayed for by name because they chose to live sooooo far away!!  But I fear that sometimes when you are home, and especially with Holly and Hannah, we fail (me especially) to pray for you by name.  In my personal prayers I almost always mention each by name, and I hope you know and feel that.  I think also that like Heather, you know you are prayed for when you are away because you hear us pray for those who are not present.  But I felt the importance of praying for you by name even when you are home.    
I found myself consumed with these thoughts and then thinking of each one of you.  The GREAT blessing I feel having each of you in our family.  I saw each of you in my minds eye, one by one.  It wasn't Derrick and Brittney and Molly, or Daniel and Emily, it was Derrick, then Brittney then Molly.  It was Brandon then Daniel then Emily, then Travis then Noelle then Natalie.  It was Holly then Hannah.  And I felt my mind going back to verse 20, "and behold, now my joy is full" 
 I know that everything is not perfect in all of our lives.  We all have struggles and challenges and concerns and cares.  As I pray for you individually, I pray for the concerns I know and also that I feel you have.  It may be as temporal as a job or a car, or as spiritual as feeling your faith is being tried, or the desire that each of you feel the love that your Savior has for you just as when he blessed these little Nephite children.  When the Savior said his joy was full, it was because of the faith of the multitude.  My joy is full because of the faith of my family.  I look forward to adding new members, so it is not full numerically, but it is full spiritually knowing that you and WE are facing our challenges with faith and increasing our faith as our challenges increase.
Take a moment to watch this video, picture yourself there, and the read the words that follow.

Elder Holland from this last conference: (did you watch the video?  Its only about 4 minutes?  Watch it before you proceed!!!)
 My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,”Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
I testify from the bottom of my heart, with the intensity of my soul, to all who can hear my voice that those apostolic keys have been restored to the earth, and they are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To those who have not yet joined with us in this great final cause of Christ, we say, “Please come.” To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d’oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand. I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.”That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well. To the youth of the Church rising up to missions and temples and marriage, we say: “Love God and remain clean from the blood and sins of this generation. You have a monumental work to do, underscored by that marvelous announcement President Thomas S. Monson made yesterday morning. Your Father in Heaven expects your loyalty and your love at every stage of your life.”
To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, “Do you love me?” And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, “Yea, Lord, we do love thee.” And having set our “hand to the plough,” we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world. 

I hope that we can all pray for each other by name, not just in times of sickness and crises, but every day, every morning, every night.  I know it will strengthen those sacred bonds that tie us together as family and that in doing so our hearts will be "knit together in unity and in love one towards another."  Love Dad

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