Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chapel Clean-up.....A Pathway To Discipleship

We had chapel clean-up this morning.  It was a life changing experience.

The first person I saw was a young father of three boys and soon to be daughter. As I greeted him and looked into his kind eyes, I was reminded of his circumstances. His  story is truly one of agony and uncertainty.  He is literally fighting for his freedom  and there is a possibility that he may loose that fight.  He has been falsely accused of horrific charges and is emotionally and physically exhausted in the continuing efforts of trying to clear his good name. Certainly the Lord would understand if he were to have stayed home this morning  to rest and spend the day with his wife and children. His overwhelming circumstances surely has earned him a pass in chapel clean-up.

The second person I saw was Dola Davis.    Sister Davis had gotten up early so that she could walk the several blocks to the church.  The 85 degree weather wasn't a deterrent for her.  In fact she undoubtedly had been up earlier than that pulling pesky weeds in her yard (a daily routine for her). I found her scurrying about in the Relief Society room, cleaning chalk boards and straightening chairs.  She was one of the first members to come and one of the last members to leave.  Sister Davis will turn ninety-one in August.  Certainly the Lord would understand if she were to have stayed home.  Ninety years of age surely has earned her a pass in chapel clean-up.

The third person I saw was Ken Herron.   His body is tired and worn out from years of hard work.   He strapped on the portable vacuum and went to labor in the chapel.  I talked with him for a few minutes after he was done.  Here is his story.  His wife is ill.  She suffers from severe seizures and progressive dementia. His eyes welled up as he told me how Sister Herron's sweet, loving personality has become hostile and combative due to the drugs she is taking and her frustration of not remembering  literally from minute to minute.   He told me of his concern for his  son who is dying from alcoholism and how he is caring from him as well. Bro. Herron fought back the tears as he  briefly expressed  the toll that these situations are taking on him. His burden was so heavy this morning.  My heart ached for him.  He then left and hurried back to his home, not daring to be away from his sweetheart and son any longer.  Certainly the Lord would understand if he were to have stayed home this morning.  His plight surely has earned him a pass in chapel clean-up.

So why did they come?   I once heard a thought provoking definition of sacrifice and consecration from Sister Bednar.  Sacrifice is what we "give up" for the Lord.  Consecration is what we "give to" the Lord. They did not make on offering of sacrifice as they chose to come to chapel clean-up this morning.  Their lives were already lives of sacrifice on so many different levels.  These three individuals live a higher law. Theirs was a consecrated offering this morning. They were "giving" what they had to Him, who they love and exercise faith in.

I write that my children may know........keeping our .covenants of sacrifice and consecration qualify us as true disciples of the Savior.   I am so grateful to have witnessed what I witnessed this morning;  humble, pure discipleship.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

From the Perspective of Wife & Mother

A Few of My Favorite "Dad Moments"

1.  Jared instinctively knew how to soothe and care for babies.  I did not.  It was something I had to learn and develop. He became my example and teacher. When Derrick and was just three days old, he cried and cried.  Nothing I did calmed him down and   I was exhausted.  Jared took over and for hours walked with him until he fell asleep.  This wasn't a one time thing. Jared loved the challenge of taking a crying, distraught infant and bringing back a peaceful, happy baby.  He never got upset or frustrated.
     I have cherished memories of seeing him holding a baby, looking straight into their eyes and softly singing to them.  "Faithfully" from Journey was his  go to song for each baby, but he also sang hours of Eagles, Dire Straits, John Denver,  Beetles, and Pink Floyd, to name just a few.  As a wife, there was nothing sweeter to witness and I would fall in love all over again.  As a mother, I loved the affect his singing had on our children.  Jared loved his time with his babies.

2.  Jared taught the gospel like no other to his children!  Scripture study was always an adventure when the boys were small.  He would grab  diapers & toys  to signify the cities and various landmarks in the Book of Mormon.  Bottles and pacifiers became markers for the Lamanites and Nephites.  He taught on a level that we all understood.  As the children progressed in age and knowledge, so did his teaching.  I have often thought how lucky we are to have a dad who knows the gospel so well and has been blessed with the ability to make it come to life and have personal meaning for us as a family.

3.  It is always a treat to see what Jared brings home from his grocery shopping excursions.  As a husband, he saves me over and over in what is generally considered a "wifely" duty.  He loves to grocery shop and does it well!  As a father, he is very mindful of his children's "little life pleasures" and takes every opportunity to bring that "pleasure" home with him.  Just the other day, knowing that Travis would be coming home for a few days, Jared bought some Reese's peanut butter chips so that I could make cookies for him.  I didn't make the cookies, but Travis did take back his package of Reese's chips.  From time to time, Dad will surprise Natalie with a can of oysters, a delicacy that both she and Jared enjoy. He often comes across foods that the boys have mentioned regarding their missions and can recall every detail about it and their experience with it.  Going to the International Market Place with the kids and Jared is always a hilarious  adventure.  I will never forget the challenge of eating the pickled duck eggs (or whatever disgusting thing it was.)

4.  Jared is like a little boy when it comes to the ocean.  Some of my fondest memories are sitting on the beach watching he and his kids dissect seaweed for ocean life, build sand castles and forts, dig for sand crabs, and catch the waves.  He loves the beach and has passed that passion down to his children.  I have always thought that he is most content and happy when he is there.  It was fun to see him come to life as he brought these things to life for his children and now for Molly.

4.  I will never forget the "hair do's" that Jared so lovingly did for his daughters.  He was particularly proud of his side and double pony tail styles.  It is hilarious to hear the girls recall that memory, but at the time, Jared was performing a sweet act of service for me and for them.  I am not sure what the specific reason why he needed to do their hair, but I do remember his willingness to do it, and his desire to express his creativity while doing it.  Jared was so sweet and darling with his cherished, little girls.

5. It is a treat for me to listen to Jared and his adult sons talk.  It usually encompasses only two subjects:  1) Recipes and Cooking questions, and  2) SPORTS!  Sometimes when a son has called, an hour passes by  and  they are still discussing a particular dish or a particular team.   He loves to talk with his boys!

These are only five "father" experiences, but they have sparked many more memories and thoughts.  I realize that I have been  greatly blessed to have a husband who anticipated and accepted the role of being a father.  I have been blessed beyond measure for the kind of father he has been and continues to be.  He takes his stewardship seriously, understanding it's sacred and eternal implications.  He loves his children deeply. I know this.

I write that my children may know..............I love your dad. I love him because he loves you.  I love him because he loves his Savior.  I love him because of his goodness and how he honors fatherhood.  I hope that each of you children will reflect upon a few of your favorite "Dad Moments" today.  Your heart will be turned to your dad in love and gratitude as you do so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

1981 - Eternity

A a couple of weeks ago Noelle requested a Skype session with Dad and I regarding a project for a class.  She asked us a series of questions regarding our marriage.  I have spent considerable time pondering her questions, one in particular. "What traits and characteristics did dad possess that made you want to marry him?"  (Or something along those lines.)

So today, as we celebrate our wedding anniversary, I share two of those wonderful qualities that drew me in.

I am sure this isn't a news flash to any family member, but dad is all about details.  I was intrigued early on in our courtship by how he could recall not only things I said and did, but the exact place where I said it, the clothes I was wearing when I said it, and the old Jewish woman wearing diamond earrings who happened to walk by when we had that particular conversation.  Of course this is a dramatization, but it is not an exaggeration!  His ability to recall details has really been a sweet part of my life.

The other characteristic that I share will not be a surprise to many either.   Dad  is and always has been a hopeless romantic.  When you combine those two traits you end up with  a sentimental sweetheart.  I fear I have taken those qualities for granted in my life, but I have always considered myself to be one lucky girl on the receiving end of such characteristics.

While young and infatuated with each other, I must have mentioned once that I loved train rides.  Honestly, I have no recall about such a statement. It is no surprise to anyone that I am neither detail oriented or a romantic. That is  probably why I love those things in Dad so much.
Back to the train.........  
We were both living in Provo, and remembering my comment about trains, dad booked a train ride from Provo to SLC.  The ride was fun, but it was the fact that he planned a date according to something I had said and he had remembered and actually put stock in it,  that touched me most.  Our courtship was made up with lots of fun dates and experiences all revolving around things that dad had paid attention to regarding me and his desire to bring it to life in a fun, romantic way. Now I ask you........WHAT GIRL COULD EVER RESIST THAT?!

At one time during our dating years,  I was attending  BYU and dad was working in Vegas.  It was also a time when there were fifty-two Americans being held hostage in Iran for a total of 444 days.  Every day, on  the national news broadcasts, they would run  a graphic saying:  Day # 25 of AMERICANS IN HOSTAGE. (Or whatever #  it currently was for that day.)  Everyday that dad and I were apart he wrote me a letter and on the outside of that letter, starting with the first one, he wrote "Day # 1 Of MY HEART IN HOSTAGE".  The next day, letter #2 came with "Day #2 of MY HEART IN HOSTAGE."   These romantic, numbered letters kept coming until we were reunited.  My roommates lived for the mail and so did I!

Happy Anniversary to My Sentimental Sweetheart!  I cherish your romantic nature.  I am in awe of your detailed mind. These are just two of many amazing traits that have made my life better .  Thanks for your service, your care and love.    I LOVE YOU TOO!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prompting...Primary...Prophet = A Touch of Heaven

At the end of last year, I carefully studied and pondered the 2013 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation outline and the songs I would be teaching the children for the coming year.  There are several months where I am given the opportunity to choose the song I would like to teach to reinforce the preassigned  gospel topic.   May was such a month.  The topic for May is:  "Prophets Teach Us to Live the Restored Gospel". Although I was free to choose a song, I noticed that the outline had instructions on how to teach "We Thank Thee O God, For A Prophet".  I felt that that was as good of a song  to sing about prophets as any other, and added it to my list of songs to teach.

When May rolled around I began to prepare how I was going to teach that hymn. I studies the words.  It basically is a beautiful  prayer of gratitude to the Lord for his bounteous blessings.  Although it is commonly sung to show our love and respect for our prophet, I was somewhat disappointed when I realized that only the first line made reference to a prophet.  With that realization, I had a very clear and distinct thought come into my mind: "Help your Primary children  have a relationship with their prophet, Pres. Monson."  With that thought, I made the decision to change songs and teach the hymn "We Ever Pray For Thee".

I spent two hours scouring through Ensigns, Friends and New Eras  finding different pictures of  Pres. Monson.   I matched these pictures to corresponding phrases in the hymn. For the phrase "As the advancing years" I showed the children a picture of Pres. Monson smiling as he was holding on to a wheel chair with Sis. Monson seated in it. For the words "furrow thy brow", I found a fitting picture of the prophet with the pronounced wrinkles on his forehead.

The children quickly learned the song and sweetly sang it as a sacred plea to Heavenly Father for their prophet  I challenged them to really think about Pres. Monson through the coming week and to make a special effort to pray for him.  I accepted my challenge as well.  It was nice to reflect on our prophet  every day and night  in preparation for my prayers and I felt a greater love and appreciation for him.

I was shocked and so saddened to learn just three days after I issued that challenge, Pres. Monson lost his beloved Francis.   I know it wasn't by coincidence that I changed hymns at the last minute.   I know I acted on a sweet, tender prompting and that prompting was as much, if not more, for me as it was for my Primary children.

I write that my children may know...when we listen and act upon our promptings, heaven is so close.  Please know also that I am grateful for revelation, our Prophet dear, and my calling in Primary.