Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 245, August 31

Semper Aequus.  Always just.

I ran across this phrase recently and was immediately struck by it.  We live in a flawed, imperfect world, a world that is not alway just or fair.  Many times I've railed at a situation and shouted, "It's not just.  It's not fair.  It's not right."   I imagine you've done the same. 

And then I remember there is One who is always just, who is always fair, who is always right. 

So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord, whose justice and fairness and rightness is perfect.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 244, August 30

Recently I was praying for a family member.  Deeply concerned for her, I knelt repeatedly and begged the Father for His healing and mercy.  As I am wont to do in such circumstances, I made all kinds of promises.

Even as I was making these promises (you know the ones I mean--I'll be more forgiving, I'll be kinder, I'll be ... ), I heard the Father's gentle reminder:  All I want from you is your broken heart and contrite spirit.

Of course that is the hardest of all (for me at least) to give.  Pride and stubbornness render me unwilling or unable to give what should be a simple thing, a certain sign of my weakness and spiritual immaturity.

So, for today, I am grateful for the Lord's continuing patience with His most recalcitrant child.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 243, August 29

"In the hush of quiet moments may God fill your tender soul and with His gentle presence give you peace and make you whole."---Kris Decker

Have you noticed that our world provides few quiet moments?  We seem to be continually bombarded with noise.  Ipads, ipods, and iphones constantly demand our attention.  These things, which a decade or so ago, we didn't know existed insistently command our energies and time.  It's not as though there is anything wrong with such devices.  They allow us to communicate, to learn, to share. 

The danger lies in our willingness, indeed our eagerness, to give them such power over our lives that we have no place where we can be still and feel the Lord's spirit.  Perhaps we need to turn off and tune out, if only for a few minutes, every day.

So, for today, I am grateful for quiet moments.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 242, August 28

"When in doubt, just take the next small step."

This was another quote among those sent by a friend.  How many times have I doubted and feared to take the next small step?  Too many.  Even knowing that taking a step, any step, would make me feel better, I don't do it.

Sometimes it's because I don't know what that step is.  Sometimes it's because I fear the consequences of that step.  And sometimes it's just because I'm lazy.  Whatever the reasons, though, failing to take that step never solves a problem or fixes anything.

Action has a way of making us feel more in control when we feel our world spinning out of control.  As the quote says, it doesn't have to be a big step or action.  A small one will do.

So, for today, I am grateful for small steps.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 241, August 27

"Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways."

This quote was among ones a dear friend sent me.  I felt a guilty pang as I read it as I tend to collect clutter.  Papers.  Books.  Doo-dads.  Clothes.  I go through a purging session every so often, get rid of the excess, but, darn it, it starts to collect again.

And it isn't just things that clutter my life.  It's unwieldly emotions such as guilt, resentment, fear, worry.  Just as the physical things do, they weigh me down.  They keep me from functioning at my best.

So why is it so hard to get rid of them?   I don't know.  Perhaps because I'm not willing to do the hard work in getting rid of them.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can purge my life of clutter of all kinds.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 240, August 26

I grew up watching black-and-white westerns.  (If that doesn't give away my age, I don't know what would.)  Many of these westerns had a plot of searching for gold.  Too frequently the gold-miners were fooled by iron pyrite or "fool's gold."  A few shiny flakes and the miners believed they had found the real thing.

A week or so ago I wrote about distinguishing between real gold and fool's gold.  I suppose that is still on my mind as I hear stories on the media of people who are deceived a "few shiny flakes."

 Here are a few examples  I've noticed, in the media and in my own life:

A mother who abandons her principles and family for material things and worldly pleasures.
A movie star who trades his family for an immoral relationship.
An individual who promises to show up for a church assignment and chooses to blow it off.

Whether it's personal or in the media, the choices of mistaking fool's gold for the real thing are the same.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who are not deceived by a "few shiny flakes."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 239, August 25

When the Prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in the Liberty Jail in Missouri in the 1830s, conditions were so bad that he cried out to the Lord, asking Him, essentially, "Why?  Why is this happening to me?  What have I done to merit this? "

Have we not all asked these questions at different times in our lives?  I know I have.  And I have not suffered nearly as much as did the Prophet.  (A bit of history here:  Joseph and Hyrum Smith and a couple of friends were unjustly put in jail.  Aside from the cramped space where the men could not stand upright, the horrible food, the cold, they were subjected to the taunts and foul language of the guards who described in intimate detail what they would do to the Mormon women.)  

The Lord answered Joseph's questions with words to the effect that He had passed through all things and did the Prophet think himself better than Him.  Of course Joseph did not.  Eventually Joseph and his companions were released from the jail and joined the body of the Saints in Illinois. 

What of the rest of us?  When our despair is so great, so intense that we wonder if the Lord has withdrawn His presence from us, we have only to look around and see His magesty.  Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.  And I must continually remind myself that He has not withdrawn.  If anyone has, it's me.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can remember that the Lord's presence is alway there if I but have eyes to look.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 238, August 24

I wrote yesterday about hurt feelings and testimonies.  Testimony isn't something we earn through attending meetings, though some of us may think so.  Testimony isn't something we can purchase (though the man in yesterday's blog apparently thought so).  Testimony isn't even something we feel.  Testimony is what we are.

Testimony is how we live and how we treat others.  Testimony is how we invite the Lord into our lives.  I'll say it again:  testimony is what we are.

So, for today, I am grateful for testimony.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 237, August 23

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Ft. Collins Temple is taking place this month.  For members of the church in the northern Colorado area, having a temple close by is exciting news.  However, most of us are not invited to attend the event.  Church officials believed (and rightly so) that having too many people show up and crowd the residential streets with our cars would be off-putting to the neighbors.

To tell the truth, I was a bit miffed.  "Here we are supposed to participate in all sorts of cleaning and service projects but we can't go to the groundbreaking ceremony," I huffed to my husband.  (Not my finest moment, hour, or day.)

Around this same time, I read a story of church history about a man who had contributed $700 toward the building of the Nauvoo (Illinois) Temple.  In the 1800s, this was a huge amount.  He arrived late at the dedication ceremony only to find there wasn't a seat for him and he was turned away.  Like me, he was miffed.  In fact, he was so annoyed that he ended up leaving the church over the incident.  Where was his testimony, I couldn't help but wonder.

I hope I would never leave the church over what is truly a trifling thing, but as my own reaction revealed, I am not immune to those feelings. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those whose testimony is stronger than hurt feelings.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 236, August 22

I love pretty things.  I love beautiful things.  I love the things that allow me to do my work, most especially computers.  But if these things were to be taken away, I would survive.  Not happily, at least not at first.  But I would survive.

What matters to you most?  Chances are it's not a four bedroom/four bathroom house.  Chances are it's not a beautifully landscaped yard.  Chances are it's not even a collection of designer purses.

I'm betting it's what I call the trifecta of happines:  faith, family, friends.  They matter above all else.

So, for today, I am grateful for the trifecta of happiness.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 235, August 21

I've written before about fasting, as a way of coming closer to the Lord, of showing Him our commitment.  But did you know that there are physical benefits to fasting as well?

Today fasting is receiving interest as a practice that can yield health benefits.  Periodic fasting, where one skips one or two meals on certain days of the week, is a way to both cut calories and cleanse the body of toxins.

It is not at all amazing to me that the Lord's commandment (to fast) has not only spiritual benefits but physical ones also.  Would He ever tell us to do something that is harmful to us?  Of course not.

So, for today, I am grateful for the law of the fast.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 234, August 20

Those who know me well know that I am a doting (some might say dotty) grandmother.  Recently I had extra reason to be proud of 13-year-old Reynna.

Reynna has taken karate lessons for several years and has moved to the highest level, so much so that the only class available to her was the most advanced one.  She learned when the class was going to be taught and was just about to sign up for it when she learned her church activity night would be held the same night as the karate class. 

Reynna realized she had to make a choice.  "I have to go to Young Women (our church's organization for girls 12-18)," she told her mother (Alanna, our daughter).  "What I learn there is much more important than anything I can learn in karate."

I realized what a sacrifice this was when Alanna later told me that Reynna probably wouldn't be able to take the advanced karate class at a later date because she would be too old for it.

So, for today, I am grateful for Reynna.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 233, August 19

President Uchtdort concludes with these wonderful words:  "Sisters, there is something inspiring and sublime about the little forget-me-not flower. I hope it will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet. Please never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves, that some sacrifices are better than others, that you need not wait for a golden ticket to be happy.

"Please never forget that the 'why' of the gospel of Jesus Christ will inspire and uplifit you. And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes you."

So, for today, I am grateful for the wise and compassionate words of a man of God.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 232, August 18

Finally, we come to the fifth petal of the forget-me-not metaphor:  "Forget not that the Lord loves you."

Could anything be of more importance than this startling but simple statement?  The Lord loves you.  The Lord loves me.  The Lord loves all of us. 

President Uchtdort puts it eloquently:  "Just think of it.  You are known and remembered by the most magjestic, powerful and glorious Being in the universe!  You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time!"

So, for today, I am grateful for the knowledge that the Lord loves me, that He loves all of us.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 231, August 17

"Fourth, forget not the why of the gospel."

It is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the gospel--attending meetings, preparing for teaching callings, attending service projects.    I am sometimes too easily distracted from those things of eternal importance to focus on those more seemingly more urgent but far less important things. 

"Let us not walk the path of dicipleship with our eyes on the ground, thinking only of the tasks and obligations before us.  Let us not walk unaware of the beauty of the glorious earthly and spiritual landscapes that surround us. ... seek out the magesty, the beauty, and the exhilarating joy of the 'why' of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

The why of the gospel is, of course, Jesus Christ.  The why of the gospel is to worship Him and to try to become more like Him.  These are the "whys."  Whatever else we do in the church are only vehicles to bring us to that point.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I, when all of us, remember the why of the gospel.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 230, August 16

"Third, never forget to be happy now."

Do you ever think "I'll be happy when my children are all in school?" Or "I'll be happy when I have a bigger house" or "I'll be happy when I sell a book?" I've thought and felt all these and more.  President Uchtdort compares these to the "golden tickets" in the book CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

In the meantime, I have missed out and am still missing out on many joys because I've put limitations on my happiness. Those parameters have prevented me from feeling all that I can feel, doing all that I can do, and being all that I can be. And isn't that sad?

I'm trying to learn, trying to do better. Maybe that's all that I, all that any of us, can do.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I remember to be happy now.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 229, August 15

Back to the forget-me-not metaphor.

"Second, forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice."

It's easy to get caught up in worldly things, to sacrifice the good for things that have no eternal significance.  I have done this, telling myself that finding success in my writing, or having a nicer home, or buying the latest fashion is more important than things of lasting value--faith, family, and friends.  All I can say is that I'm trying to do better.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can distinguish between a good sacrifice and a foolish one.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 228, August 14

We're straying from the subject of forget-me-nots because today is a special day.  It is our grandson Brigham's 9th birthday.  I rejoice in this day just as I rejoice in Brigham.  He is full of energy and curiosity, frankness and, most of all, love.

Despite the divorce of his parents, Brigham has stayed strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in his love for his family.  It says much of his character that he has been able to do that.  Last year, on his eighth brithday, he made the choice to be baptized.  Since then, he has only grown stronger and more loving.

So, for today and for every day, I am grateful for Brigham.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 227, August 13

Continuing with President Uchtdorf's talk: 

The first petal of the forget-me-not reminds us to "forget not to be patient with yourself."

We are continually reminded to be patient with others.  Just when I feel like I might be getting a handle on that, I am told to "be patient with myself."

The truth is, I am not patient with myself.  I get angry that I keep making the same mistakes, that I can't seem to do the simplest thing right, and so on.  President Uchtdort reminds me that God is fully aware of my weaknesses and loves me anyway.  Who am I to do less than Him?

So, for today, I am grateful for times when I am patient with myself.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 226, August 12

Dieter F. Uchtdort, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a beautiful talk entitled "Forget Me Not."  He started by saying, "A while ago, I was walking through a beautiful garden with my wife and daughter.  I marveled at the glory and beauty of God's reations.  And then I noticed, among all the glorious blooms, the tiniest flower.  I knew the name of this flower because since I was a child I have had a tender connectionto it.  The flower is called forget-me-not.

"I'm not exactly sure why this tiny flwer has meant so much to me over the years.  It does not attract immedation attention; it is easy to overlooki among larger and more vibrant flowers; yet it is just as beauitful, with its rich color that mirrors that of the bluest skies--perhaps this is one reaons why I like it so much. 

"Tonight I would like to use this little flower as a metaphor.  The five petals of the little forget-me-not flower prompt me to consider five things we would be wise never to forget."

In the next posts, I will explain these five things and hope you will find them as significant as I do.

So, for today, I am grateful for forget-me-nots.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 225, August 11

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend two different wards (congregations).  In each ward, babies and little children made the noises that babies and little children make.  Babbling, the occasional cry, an infrequent scream.  You know what?  It didn't bother me in the slightest, for I love the sounds of children.

I know that in some churches children are sent to a different part of the building, kept away from the sacred meetings which the adults attend.  I understand the reasonsing, but I don't agree.  When His apostles wanted to send the children away so as not to bother Him, Christ instructed them to let the little children come unto Him.  Christ knew that children are precious and that they need to grow in the gospel just as all of us do.

So, for today, I am grateful for meetings where children are welcome.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 224, August 10

Yesterday I wrote about prayer.  Today's post is in that same vein.  We're going back in time to 1846, when the Mormons had been driven from Nauvoo, Illinois..

The mobs, so enraged at the members of the church, drove them from their homes without a chance for the Saints to gather clothing and food.  Refugee camps were set up along the riverbacnk.  Most had only blankets or sage brush for shelter and very little, if anything to eat.  Many were too sick to travel and died along the way.  Bishop Newel K. Whitney purchased some flour and distributed it among the people as best he could, but there was not enough to sustain the many hungry people.

The people prayed to the Lord, asking for His mercy.  He answered their prayers in an unusual way.  On October 9, 1846, when the food had all but run out, several large flocks of quail flew into camp and landed on the ground, even on the tables.  The pioneers caught and cooked the quail, filling empty bellies.

The Lord's answer to His people's prayers was swift and sure on that occasion.  Sometimes, His answers are not so clear, and we must find new eyes with which to see those answers.

So, for today, I am grateful for answers to prayer, in whatever form they appear.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 223, August 9

Chances are at one time or another, you've prayed and prayed for something, whether it be to bless a wayward child or for the healing of a family member or friend, only to have those prayers seemingly go unanswered.    I know you have.  And I wonder what I'm doing wrong.  Or if the Lord is even listening to me.  After all, why should he listen to a sinner such as myself?

Then, my wiser self takes over and I realize that of course the Lord is listening, that He listens even to the most lowly of us (me).  But still, I cannot help wondering (sometimes) why that prayer, a righteous desire, goes without the answer I sought.  Maybe the problem lies in that I am trying to tell the Lord what to do. 

Never a good idea.

I then try to make my prayer one of supplication, ending with "not my will but thine be done."  That's hard.  Really, really hard.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can remember that the Lord to be in charge. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 222, August 8

"A home without books is a body without soul."--Cicero

We're back to one of my favorite topics--books.  As I look around me at this moment, I am surrounded by books, books, and more books.  No, I'm not in the family room with its four ceiling-to-floor built-in bookcases.  I'm at my kitchen table.  There are romances, suspenses, church histories, and a devotional.   (I can't possibly read only one book at a time!  Where's the sense in that?)

Books feed me.  They feed my soul.  They feed my mind.  They feed my heart.  They are as necessary as food, water, and air to my well-being.  Without them, I am lost.  Literally.

So, for today, I am grateful for books.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 221, August 7

The headline read "Entre(pray)neurs."  An interesting play on words. 

As I read the article, I grew more and more interested in the research study performed that revealed that entrepreneurs were more likely than not to believe in and practice prayer. 

Personal experience testifies to that as I recall when my husband and his partner started their own small business nearly 18 years ago.  They had two old computers, some secondhand furniture, and a few thousand dollars in savings.  The business struggled, but they kept at it and added a third partner--the Lord.

With prayer and faith and hard work, they made the business a success.  We ate a lot of rice and beans during those early years, but we not only survived, we thrived.

So, for today, I am grateful for entreprayneurs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 220, August 6

Many times I avoid listening to the news, preferring not to hear of all the sad happenings in our world.  I know--that's immature,
childish even, to avoid hearing of all the atrocities, inhumanities, and simple meannesses going on.

Then I am reminded, usually by the acts of friends and family members, that there is goodness in the world.  There are kindnesses, such as that which I wrote of yesterday, and others that lift my spirits.

One such kindness was extended to me on my birthday last week when a friend "gave me a heart attack."  In this case, a heart attack was to "plant" red hearts all over my front yard with qualities written on them that this sweet friend saw in me.  (I told her she was reaching in many cases to think I had those attributes.)   The hearts were held up by plastic forks and appeared to my astonished eyes as a garden of red flowers.

It started my day with a happy and cheerful note, which carried through for days afterward.  And because my heart had been lifted, I resolved to try to do that for others, a case of serial kindness.

So, for today, I am grateful for the kindness of friends.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 219, August 5

Last week in church, a woman related the story about her 50th birthday.  (She's a child!)  Rather than having a party, she asked family members to perform "random acts of kindness" to celebrate her big day.

Her grown daughter told the following story:  She decided to buy a $20 Walmart gift card and give it someone who appeared to be in need.  At the store, she stood in the check-out line with her purchases and prayed to be led to a person who could use a gift card.  The daughter noticed that an older woman, standing in line behind her, had only a few basics in her cart--bread, milk, eggs.  The woman's clothes were worn and patched.  Instantly, the daughter knew that Heavenly Father had answered her prayer of finding the recipient of the gift card.  She paid for her purchases and bought a gift card.  She turned and gave it to the lady, then fled before the woman could respond.

Isn't that a great story?  How wonderful for the woman to want to celebrate her birthday by helping others.  And how wonderful that her daughter could give her the "gift" of extending a kindness to someone else.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who are kind.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 218, August 4

I recently learned some facts about bees and beehives.  Did you know that anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 bees fill one hive?  Each bee contributes approximately 1/12 a teaspon of honey to the hive.  One hive produces a pound of honey. 

At first glance, it would seem that the contribution of one individual bee to be a paltry thing.  Take away 1/12 a teaspon and it would leave most of the honey in place.  However, what if several bees or a dozen bees or several dozen bees failed to contribute?  The result would be far different.

The speaker who gave this information then compared the contribution of a bee to our own contributions.  I am occasionally guilty of believing that if I fail to show up for church, or a work project, or what-have-you, it won't make any difference.  And then I realize that I am only rationalizing my way out of fulfilling my duty.  If I can add only 1/12 of a teaspons of "honey," that is more than what there was originally.

So, for today, I am grateful for bees ... and people ... who do their part.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 217, August 3

Recently my husband gave a lesson in Sunday School about apostasy.  (Guess what?  We're against it!)

Our church's history is, sadly, riddled with members who apostasized.  Fortunately, we also have valiant members who stand for the truth, despite persecution and threats.

Brigham Young found himself in a meeting where several prominent church members were plotting to dispose of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He listened to their blasphemy until he could stand it no longer.  He related the following of the incident:

"I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destory the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destory their own authority, cut the threat that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves in hell.  Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their meaasures ... This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition."

So, for today, I am grateful for those individuals courageous enough to speak the truth.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 216, August 2

A couple of weeks ago at a garage sale, I bought a light intended to mimic sunlight.  It is especially for people (like myself) who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). 

I am fortunate to live in Colorado, where we enjoy over 300 sunny days a year.  However, those days when the sun decides to take a nap are hard on some of us.  I crave the sunlight, even when I cover my pasty-white body with sunscreen.  (It is one of those cruel acts of nature that while I need sunlight, my skin burns to a crisp if I'm out in it for too long without protection.)

When I brought the light home and was reading the description of it, it occurred to me that the promise of sunlight was much like the promise of Sonlight.  I have referred to this idea before, that the sun and the Son each provide essential elements to our wellbeing. 
I have great need of both.  Without either, I go into a slump, sometimes even a depression.

So, for today, I am grateful for sunlight and Sonlight. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 215, August 1

On a church marquee I saw this theme listed for the week:  "Careful words."

I immediately fell in love with that.  Would not our families, our communities, our churches, indeed, our entire nation and the world be better and kinder places if we were all careful with our words?

Frequently I am careless with my words, which translates into being careless with the feelings of others.  When I realize what I am doing, I try to do better, but, still, some of those careless words escape. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those who are careful with their words.