Monday, December 30, 2013

One of The Ninety and Nine

I wrote this  November of 2004

As most of you know, I attended the “Women’s Time-Out” in Boise a few weeks ago.  It was GREAT.  There was such a Spirit there…it will always be a cherished memory for me.

Michael McLean was there and as usual he was a spiritual magnet.  
I have always been a fan of his music because of the way it touches my soul and the spiritual insights I have gleaned from the words.  I had noticed that he had written a book about the stories and inspiration behind his songs, but I had been putting off purchasing it.  Needless to say, that day in Boise I picked up a copy and have not been disappointed.  It has touched me in a very profound way.  
Music is a very powerful tool for me in learning and sharing the gospel.

One of the stories and songs that spoke volumes to me was one titled: 

“I’m Just One Of The Ninety And Nine”

Ever since I can remember, I have felt an extra special bond with our Savior and our Heavenly parents.  All of my life, I have turned to the Savior because He was my only true friend.  And yet I still turned and walked away for many years.  
But I never stopped missing that beloved friend.  
When I found my way back I found myself wondering how the Savior could ever go back to being my best friend.  
I had been a very spoiled and rotten child.  
But He did come back right as if I had never left.  
I have countless times felt like His favorite.  
He is truly once again My Best Friend.

The last few years, I have watched countless of my friends who had never walked away and at times felt that, “they were not all that unique.”  They just keep plugging along as the Shepard goes and looks for that one.  
When I read Michael’s story concerning his inspiration for this song, I got so excited because in my minds eye also, it spoke to all my valiant friends who never went astray:

“I’m not a morning person.  
The only 5:30 I’m very familiar with is the one in the afternoon.  
I join the non-morning people in proclaiming that if God had really meant for us to see the sunrise, He’d have scheduled it later in the day.
This is not to say that I haven’t ever seen a sunrise or that 
I’ve never experienced the other 5:30.  I have. 
It’s just that I tend to arrive at dawn by staying up rather than getting up.  
That’s why it was so strange the Sunday morning I woke up at 5:00am and couldn’t go back to sleep. 
I stumbled into my writing room and picked up a copy of what Mark Twain labeled “chloroform in print” and started to read.
Why is it, I wondered, that the lost souls get so much attention in the scriptures?  If you’re the prodigal son who comes home, your dad throws a party.  If you’re a world-class persecutor on the road to Damascus, you get a light and voice.  Even if you’re a sheep that strays from the fold, the good Shepard leaves the ninety and nine good-guy sheep in search of the lost one.
            The argument can be made that all of us are lost, and these stories remind us that no matter how far we’ve strayed or how far we’ve fallen, there’s hope and a way back.  
These stories are exactly what we need to hear when we’re feeling lost and alone.
But what about the people who aren’t particularly lost but may feel unnoticed?  What about the ones who are carpooling Cub Scouts, serving in soup kitchens, taking clothes to Goodwill, donating blood, singing in the choir, volunteering at the hospital, visiting the nursing home, tutoring students, teaching Sunday School, coaching Little League, and doing the thousands of other activities the regular good guys do…without any spotlights or fanfare, without seeking any credit, without building themselves up?  What about the ones who are wearing out their lives more or less being the kind of people the good shepard doesn’t have to worry about?  What about them?  
I was rather surprised at how intensely I asked this question and 
how quickly I got a musical answer:

I am one of the ninety and nine.
I’m not perfect, but basically I’m doing fine.
I have not lost my way.  I have not gone astray.
I’m just one of the ninety and nine.
And I’m here in the heart of the fold.
I’m not mindless, but I try to do as I’m told.
I’m not tempted to run and become a lost one.
I’m just here in the heart of the fold.
So why is my Shepard coming this way toward me?
He’s holding His arms out and calling my name.
He’s calling my name, but how can this be?
I’m just one of the ninety and nine.
I have stumbled and fallen, but I’ve kept in line.
I’m not one He must seek; I’m not all that unique.
I’m just one of the ninety and nine.
So why is my Shepard treating me like His lost lamb?
He’s searching to find…me…and He’s holding me now,
He’s holding me now, and teaching me who I am.
And why am I feeling like I’m the only one here?
It’s like…it’s like I’m His favorite…

And He takes me aside and He sweetly confides
These remarkable words in my ear.  He says:
“You’re one of the ninety and nine.
Have you any idea how brightly you shine?
You are safe in this fold
And it’s time you were told that I know where you’ve been,
So I know where you’ll be,
Because all of your life you’ve been following me.
You are more than just one of the sands of the sea
Or just one of the ninety and nine:
You are mine…You are Mine…You are Mine…You are Mine.”
Guess I’m one of the ninety and nine.

After I wrote this song, a new paradigm started settling in for me.  I started seeing certain stories in the Bible revealing Jesus as being less critical than I used to imagine.  
For example, for years I thought that “Doubting Thomas” was a bit of a disappointment to Jesus because he was a fellow who couldn’t take somebody else’s word for it.  
But now, imagine the exchange between the skeptical apostle and the resurrected Master as being far more understanding and less critical of the personality that needed to see to believe. 
Remember, Thomas wasn't abandoning ship after Jesus died.  
He was just having a hard time putting all the pieces together.  
My new post-Ninety-and-Nine feeling is that if we’re doing the best we can and we need to see to believe then surely we will see if that’s what helps us on our journey to follow Him.  
And if seeing is not that important to us because we have believing blood, other blessings will be available, 
as needed.  Whatever blessing we need, we’ll receive.

I’m feeling that wherever we are on the path, that’s exactly where God will meet us and walk with us and teach us and encourage us and love us, if we’ll let Him.  
If His burden is easy and His yoke is light, that’s how He makes it so:  
He meets us where we are.  In the fold or out, 
He lets us feel what perfect love feels like.  
Life is hard enough without distancing ourselves from the One who has been willing to do whatever it takes to help us become all we have the potential to become.
I’m not sure how long it will be before I read these scriptural stories and see yet another way of thinking about the things that I missed earlier. 
But I’m open and waiting.”

My dear friends, maybe it’s just me, but I love how Brother McLean can put into words the power of Our Saviors love for each and everyone of us the lost and the ninety and nine.  It is my hope and prayer that we will all be “open and waiting,” for whatever our Savior wants to share. 

"Your Not Alone"

Another LDS Songwriter I love is Micheal McLean.  Brother McLean suffers from depression, a fact that I just recently learned.  All I know is that the lyrics of his songs are so very powerful and uplifting.  When I'm feeling down I love to listen to the words of this song he wrote entitled, "Your Not Alone:" 

"Here’s a little song, to help you get along.  It will see you thru, when you’re feeling blue.  And though it’s not profound, when you’re feeling down somehow, sing this little tune and you’ll feel better soon.

You’re not alone
Even though right now you’re on your own
You are loved in ways that can’t be shown
You’re not alone

And when you cry, you’re just letting go heartache deep inside.  So tomorrow there will be sunshiny skies and love close by.

You’re not alone

And I know that it’s not easy; but I know that it won’t last.  There is one who loves you more than me, he’s sending blessings fast.

You’re not alone
Say it one more time
I’m not alone

And even when it’s hard to find the words, you’re prayers are heard.

You’re not alone"

How Firm A Foundation

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed
For I am thy God and I will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand…
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot desert to his foes
That soul, though hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never forsake thee
No never forsake.


You're Late

I wrote this story in 2008, the Twin Falls Temple had just recently been dedicated and I was so excited about having our very own temple that I found myself trying to attend a session whenever time would allow.
This day my plans were not going as I had hoped, hence, "Your Late:"

 I have always loved the story, “Alice in Wonderland.”  I especially love the white rabbit who was always running by muttering, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date; no time to say hello goodbye I’m late I’m Late I’m Late.
Each time he would run by Alice she would try and stop him to ask for his help but she would always get the same response, “I’m late.”   Looking at that with a gospel perspective how sad would that be.

Another story I have loved was the story of the Good Samaritan.  A man had been beaten on his way home from the temple and left for dead at the side of the road. A Levite and a Priest passed on by him on the other side of the road.  I wonder if they had the same attitude of the white rabbit, “I’m late, I’m late.”  Then a Samaritan came and took the time to dress his wounds and get him settled into a room until he healed.  The Samaritan reminded me of another story which involved one of our former Prophets; I believe it was Joseph F Smith.  President Smith had a dream in which he was standing in front of this beautiful gate and he was in his street attire and in need of a shower.  Under his arm he had his satchel which contained his clean clothes and so he turned and went and cleaned himself up and then represented himself at the gate.  Brother Joseph Smith was there and stated, “You’re late brother.”  President Smith simply stated, “Yes brother Joseph I am late, but I am clean.”  I loved that simple yet profound statement, I am clean.

August 25th of 2008 we had our dedicated Temple opened so that we could start our work.  I have been so excited.  I had promised Heavenly Father that I would attend once a week and so I decided that Friday would be my “temple day.”  One Friday came along and at my job I found myself dealing with three beggars in need.  Glancing at my watch I figured that I would have time to assist them and still make it to my session.  I could hear my watching ticking as time continued to coast by.  When I finally got them settled I took off for the temple.  Knowing that I did not have time to change, I simply pulled my skirt over my work Capri’s and hoped that my blue work shirt would not clash awfully with my skirt.  I then grabbed my bag and sandals and still attired in my white tennie runners I found my self running to the entrance of our Father’s house.  I pulled those doors open and hurriedly approached the front desk.  Looking back I must have been a sight.  The gentleman looked at me and simply asked it I had an appointment.  I was still trying to catch my breath and managed to get out a squeaky, “Yes, 3:30.”  He then boomed, “You’re to Late.”  I know my face fell and I found myself wanting to explain why I was late and if he only knew all that I had been through just to get there.  For a brief moment I felt as if I was standing at the Celestial gates and the guardian there in a voice of thunder proclaimed, “You’re to Late.”  Words cannot describe the emotions running through my mind.  I was not even like Brother Joseph who could proudly proclaim, “Yes, I am late but I am clean.”  Due to the simple fact that I was still half clothed in my street attire.  This attendant must have seen the disappointment on my face because he then stated, “you can go to Initiatory.”  I was so relieved.  At least I could serve somewhere in my Father’s House.  Once again it felt as if I was standing at the gates of the Celestial Kingdom and the attendant took pity on me and let me go in as a servant.  A servant was better than no admission at all, I was taking it.  But first I had to change into my sandals.  I did not feel comfortable going into my Father’s house in tennis shoes. 

Once I had my shoes changed I entered His holy house.  Then I felt as if I was a disobedient child who had stayed out past curfew and was trying to sneak back into the house undetected.  I had my tennis shoes hidden behind my back as I tried to sneak into Initiatory passing by familiar faces.  I just knew Heavenly Father was going to “catch me in the act.”  I finally made it to Initiatory and a lovely sister was there to greet me.  Ridden with guilt at how I was attired, I briefly shared with her what I had been through in just trying to get there to serve.  I then pulled up my skirt and explained that I was still technically in my work clothes.  She just gave me a brilliant smile and told me that at least I had come.

What a relief to get my secret out.  Needless to say the session was beautiful.  I wanted to ask each attendant, “Can you hear them singing?”  The Spirit was beautiful.  As I pondered the event of the day it was reaffirmed to me that our Heavenly Father looks upon our hearts desires not the outward appearance and my heart was so full of love and gratitude for that great blessing.  After I had finished my work for that day; I went into the dressing room and put all my street clothes including my white tennie runners into my bag and then put on my Sunday best.  As I emerged from the dressing room my head was high.  Though I had come in looking as an orphan, I was leaving as a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father.  As I passed the attendant, I simply smiled and the words ran through my mind, “Yes, I was late, but I am clean.”                      

Where is your Faith?

I was listening to Saturday afternoon session of conference and one of the brethren shared a story about a young married couple who were debating about not having a family until he had finished medical school.  

He wound up sitting in President Kimball’s office and found himself visiting with the Prophet about the decision he and his wife were in the process of making.  
President Kimball listened and then softly made this comment, 
“Would the Lord want you to break one of His commandments, so that you can become a doctor?...Where is your Faith?”

What a powerful question which would require one to dig deep into the depths of their soul to answer.  What is faith?  “Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true. 
(Hebrews 11:1, Alma 32:21) and most be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation.”

What are the requirements of Faith?  “To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone.  The Lord has revealed himself and His perfect character possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power and every needful thing, so as to enable the mind of men to place confidence in Him without reservation.”  (Bible Dictionary)
Many years ago I was told that I would never be able to bear children. 
I become pregnant and lost our babies each time.  It was quite an emotional roller coaster.  
There was a period of peace where I felt I was finally starting to heal from the heartache of that roller coaster.  During that period I once again found myself sitting in my doctor’s office awaiting results.  The results had come back uncertain so my doctor was explaining to me what possibly could be wrong.  
The first thing was pregnancy.  
I felt that knife piercing my heart as my mind started screaming, “I can’t do this again.”  
Then he patted my knee and said or it could be cancer.  
I felt my blood slowly start to drain to my feet and I felt the icy fingers of fear penetrating my very being.  Just as I felt I was going to pass out, this great strength started flowing over me and  I heard a soft voice say, “not mine will but thine be done.”  I then felt loving arms wrap around me and I knew whatever the outcome I would be okay.

In 2003 after mom had been called home my husband was involved in an accident that left us without income for three months.  Once again panic set in, “How are we going to get through.”  Again those loving arms reached for me and that familiar voice whispered, “All will be well.”  I knew without a doubt His promises are sure.

Now here I am facing that uncertain future.  As He promised, my knee is healing rapidly and through all the changes and uncertainty at work I have a job and I will be able to work; yet we will be reduced to one income for the month of November.  He has assured me that our financial obligations will be met, but here I am already doubting and questioning. 

There is an internal struggle within me as a part of me is so amazed that even a part of me could question.  After all He and I have been through not one time has He broke a promise to me. Hence that powerful question, “Where Is Your Faith?” 

"Facing the Storms of Life


When trials come, don’t forget there is someone who can bring you peace.
After a long day of teaching, Jesus Christ boarded a ship with His Apostles. They were going across the Sea of Galilee to teach the people on the other side. Christ was asleep when a storm came upon them.
The Apostles began to fear the storm as they were tossed by the winds and water filled their boat. They awoke Jesus, crying, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38).
Christ arose and calmed the winds and waves with His power, saying“Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). He turned to His Apostles and asked, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). Christ gently chastised them for being fearful and not remembering that He can calm the tossing seas during a storm.
I recently heard a friend say that “life is a storm sometimes.” How true that is! Life can be tempestuous, tossing us with winds of misfortune, grief, shame, or stress.
In a hymn based on the experience on the Sea of Galilee, we sing:
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!
(“Master, the Tempest Is Raging,” Hymns, no. 105)
Christ not only calms the physical seas, but He can also calm the seas within our minds and souls.
Christ not only calms the physical seas, but He can also calm the seas within our minds and souls. Do we call on Heavenly Father and His Son when the waters of anguish begin to fill our ship? Do we have the faith to trust in Christ?
It’s hard to remember there is someone who can bring peace when we are being tossed so hard that we feel like we can barely hang on. Sometimes in life we just try to outlast the storm, forgetting to call on the One who can calm it.
Peace may not always come as it did that long-ago day on Galilee—the storms and winds may not be replaced by perfect calm. Instead, when we hasten to call on the Master and allow Him to bear our burdens, our peace may come in small reminders of His love and care, giving us strength to get through the storm.
That is what happened to me one April. The end of another school year was fast approaching—and with it came the cares, worries, and work I had experienced during the past nine months. I was exhausted, emotional, and lonely. I felt like I was being tossed by the storms of life. General conference was coming up, and I looked forward to hearing the prophets of God speak to me, hoping to feel a calmness enter my “sinking soul.”
A closing hymn brought great peace. As the choir sang the third verse, I felt the Spirit calm the seas inside me:
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
(“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 85)
It is our faith in Christ’s calming power and our hastening to call for His help that allows Him to calm our hearts during life’s storms.
My storm may not have been as tempestuous as the storms others face, but it is not the velocity of the storm that makes our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ willing to help us. It is our faith in Christ’s calming power and our hastening to call for His help that allows Him to calm our hearts during life’s storms.

Joy Can Be Ours

“My brothers and sisters, however dark conditions may seem in this world today, whatever the storms we are facing personally, in our homes and our families, this joy can be ours now. …
“… Our faith in Him and obedience to His commandments will bring ‘a perfect brightness of hope’ [2 Nephi 31:20] and dispel the darkness and gloom of despair in these troubled times. The One who had power to calm the elements of earth has power to calm our souls, to give us refuge from the storm” (Robert D. Hales, “Faith through Tribulation Brings Peace and Joy,”

Three Empty Chairs

I believe I wrote this in 2011 or 2012 

I recently attended a Stake Conference where we were privileged to hear from one of the twelve Apostles.  While listening to the talks I found myself looking around at the packed chapel thinking to myself how neat it was to be seated with so many of my brothers and sisters.

Then my eyes spotted three empty chairs and I felt a sadness welling inside.  
Once again I looked around at my brothers and sisters some were intently listening to the speakers’ while others were trying to console tired children.  
No one seemed bothered by the three empty chairs.

As my eyes wandered back to the empty chairs two thoughts started playing out in my mind; the first one was how easy it is in the hustle and bustle of this mortal journey to overlook empty chairs here and there. 
I then found myself sitting at a table in the Celestial kingdom with our Father and Elder brother. 
People were happily chatting away with their table companions but I observed a few people who were sitting alone with sadness in their eyes; each with a vacant chair at their table.  
I then felt our Fathers and Elder brother’s sadness because they too knew about those three empty chairs.  
I then wondered “was it a brother, sister, child, mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece or nephew’s chair that was vacant. 
And I began to weep for those whose hearts were broken because one of their loved ones had not made it.

Sensing my sorrow my family turned and looked; with love and sadness they gently patted my hand. 
Then one of my cousins with tears in her eyes thanked me for finding her and giving her the opportunity to once again be seated with our family.

Once again my eyes traveled to those three empty chairs and I felt a pang of sorrow and thought, 
“this is a taste of how Enoch must have felt when our Father showed him the reason for His tears.”  
And just like Enoch our Father offered me comfort by reminding me of that lost cousin that the world had forgotten but He had not and He allowed me to be an instrument so she could once again sit at our families table.

Those three empty chairs have created a desire in me to make sure that there are no empty chairs in my part of our Father’s house.

Lord Help Me Love The Least of These

I wrote this July of 2011:

I have always love the Janice Capp Perry Song Lord help me love the least of these.   The first verse talks about a lonely woman sitting all alone in a wheel chair in a nursing home.  Since my chosen profession is as a nurse and I work in a skilled facility those words ring true.  Each and every day I pass by my special friends who are sitting in wheelchairs waiting for a friend to call.
Their faces light up when they hear my voice calling out, “good morning beautiful.”  Then their tiny little hands reach out eagerly for mine.  I stop and visit with them briefly before starting my day but make it a point to visit them each time I walk by them and before I head for home I always tell them good-bye.
One day as I was leaving my sweet little beautiful friend grabbed my hand just a beaming away.  This friend does not talk much her communication is found in her eyes and smile but his day she was nodding her head and trying to talk to me.  She was excited about something and each staff member that walked by she would eagerly hold out her other hand to them but they were to busy to see that small gesture.  When I made mention of it to one who was quickly walking by they raised their hand and waved as they passed by and told us, “I will be right back.”  I offered my little friend both my hands and continued to visit with her.  Finally it came time for me to leave.  As I kissed her little forehead and told her that I would see her tomorrow my friend reached for an empty drinking mug that I had picked up.  I asked her if she was thirsty and she eagerly shook her head yes.  I stopped a passing aide and asked them to get her drink and sat with her until the drink arrived.  As I placed the cup into her hands I noticed that she was unable to drink because she could not get her feeble hands to lift the glass to her mouth.  The verse in A Poor Wayfaring Man came into my mind, where the stranger was spotted by a fountain but was unable to drink and how the heedless water mocked his thirst.  As I helped her lift glass to where she could drink, the verse continued to play out in my mind, “I ran and raised the sufferer up thrice from the stream he drained my cup the returned it running oer, I drank and never thirsted no more.”  How I wish that drink I helped her with would have “never let her thirst no more.” 

Joseph Smith testified that “Nothing is so calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness.  When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind…

The House of My Heart

This story was given to me many years ago when I was a troubled teen looking for I don't know what.
It really touched my souls then and continues to touch my soul now.
May you enjoy this story also:

"One day when I really understood what Jesus Christ had done for me, I invited him to come into the house of my heart, and as soon as I invited him, he came without any hesitation.  When he was there, he filled the house with joy, and I wanted to run and tell all the neighbors about my guest and how wonderful it was to have him there.

When everything was settled, I said, “I hope you will stay and feel perfectly at home here.”, and, he said, “I’m sure I will and now since we are friends, why don’t you show me around.  I would like very much to see the library in the House of your Heart.”,  and so I did.

Now the Library is very small and has very thick walls and is filled with everything I’ve read; books, magazines, news articles; everything I’ve seen, like television shows, movies, plays; all the Sunday school lessons I have listened to, the sermons, the lecturers, they’re all there in the library.  As his eyes gazed over all the things that were on the shelf.  I was a little embarrassed that there was so much trivia there; I wished that more scriptures and church books were really mine and on the shelf, and I suggested to him that maybe I could stand a little bit of renovation in this room and he agreed that maybe we together could add more worthwhile things to the library.  You see the library is a very important room because it’s the study so-to-speak of the mind—a sort of control room for the whole house.  It affects the lighting, electricity, and everything else in the house.

Then he said he would like to see the dining room; and I took him in.  Now in my house this is a very large room because this is the room of appetites and desires.  It was stacked with all kinds of boxes of things.  I told him I was always hungry but never seemed to be satisfied and he told me that it was because I was eating the wrong things.  He said, “If you would diet as I do, you would never feel hunger; for I live on the word of the Lord, the Father.”, and, then he offered me a taste of it; and it was delicious—and oh, the flavor of it and I agreed with him that this alone satisfied and I knew that I would spend less time in the dining room now that he was a guest in the house.

Next he asked if he could see my Workshop.  Now I had a workshop, it was down in the basement.  We went down and looked at the workbench and produced much.  He looked everything over and said I had a lot of good equipment but that I really hadn’t used it to produce much.  Oh, there were a few gadgets and trinkets and half finished projects, but nothing of great value and I said, “Well, if I wasn’t so busy maybe I could do better.  I know all the tools are there but I’m awkward and clumsy and I really don’t know how to use them.”, So he said, “Would you like to be able to use the tools in your workshop?”,  and I said, “Oh yes, would you help me?”, and he said, “I was wondering if you would ask me.”  And so he stood behind me and put his great powerful hands over mine and guided them and he showed me how to use the tools in the workshop and with his hands directing mine, I marveled at the work of art that came out and I said, “Now that you have helped me, I am going to come into the workshop often, and this will be a fun room to come to.  Will you always help me?” 

So we left the workshop and the next room we went into was the Drawing Room.  Now this was a small quiet, peaceful place in my heart for deep thoughts and meditation and he seemed pleased with it and comfortable there.  And, so he said, “Lets meet here often at least twice a day and we can have long talks together and you can tell me all your activities and all your ambitions and all your problems—and we’ll talk it over every day.”  I thought that sounded wonderful, so I made an appointment with him every day that I would do that; and I did at first, faithfully but then I got to busy and sometimes forgot to come in the morning and sometimes I would forget to come at night  and sometimes days would go by and we never talked at all.  Now it wasn’t I didn’t want to talk with him, it was just that I was so busy and had a lot to do.

 Then one day as I went to leave, I noticed him standing in the doorway of the drawing room and I said “Have you been waiting for me there every morning?”  And he said, “Yes, we had an appointment and you haven’t been here for a long time.”  And I said, “You’re a guest in my house and I have neglected you and I am sorry.  I had called on him when I was in need to come and help me and he always came but that was about the way I used him.  When things went well, I didn’t think we really needed our chats as well as when things were bad and so I decided that it had been a very one sided relationship and I also realized I missed him, so I said, “Maybe there’s something I could do for you’ you’ve done so much for me.”  And he said, “Yes, there’s a great deal you could do for me.  I was wondering when you would want to help me. I have many projects and so many things that need to be done.  I could use a good friend like you.  For one thing, I have no money in the world at all.  I have only yours to use would you let me use some of yours?” 
“Yes of course.” 
“And there are people I just cannot see.  I could send you and commission you to go and represent me.  Would you do that?”

But then one day I got rebellious and said, “You demand too much of me.  Can’t I have anything to myself?  After all, I have things I want to spend my money for and your always there needing something.”  Now that wasn’t a very nice way to treat a person, especially a guest.  And then he said, “Look at the things of my projects and who benefits from them.”  And then I was really ashamed because everything I did benefited me as well as others and not him personally.  So I continued his work.

Then one day he said, “There is a peculiar odor in this house and it’s coming from that locked closet and although you’ve let me into every room of the house that one door has always been locked and you’ve never let me in.”  Now that made me mad!  I had let him use my money and now he wanted to look in my secret closet, so I said, “I hold the key and I will not let you in that closet.  It’s very small, only about two feet by four feet.  The rest of my house is large enough and is perfectly presentable, so it shouldn’t make a difference.”  And he said, “I cannot stay in this house if you don’t give me the key to the closet.”  And so he left.

Oh I was sad and great despair and gloom and depression came over me.  Because you see once having him as a guest in my home, life was unbearable without him and so I went and tearfully pleaded with him, begging him to “come back and I will give you the key to my closet and I will withhold nothing from you—I cannot stand to live without you.”

And so I gave him the key and he opened it and then quickly and efficiently he cleansed out those things that were dead and rotten.  I wanted to feel that it was not there and wanted to ignore it.  He cleansed the whole closet out, fumigated it, painted it and he made it perfectly acceptable.  Afterwards I said, “I’m so ashamed that you know what was in my closet.” and then he said, “Why, I see only a house that is totally acceptable to me.” and then I knew why I loved him so and why of all my biggest brothers only this one could love me enough to clean out my closet.  Then he said, “You know, I’ve cleansed out so many closets buts it’s a strange thing, I can never remember afterwards what was in them”

After a few moments I said, “I get so tired of cleaning all the time, I go from room to another trying to keep up in the drawing room, in the dining room, the workshop and in the library but I always seem to be behind.  I was wondering if you could take over the whole house like you did the closet and you could be the owner and I would be the guest and sort of the helper or servant and we’ll switch positions.  Instead of me calling on you to help you can call on me to help.  Is that possible?”

 So I ran and got the deed to my house and I signed it over to him and I said, “It is yours, it belongs to you, I will withhold nothing from you.  After I gave him the deed, he immediately started remodeling the house because he was not content to own a cottage.  He was the architect, the planner, the builder and told me eventually we would end up with a magnificent castle.  It would take a while to build but we would build it together.  So he started the remodeling.  He was the master of the house and I was the servant and I did whatever he bid.  There were times when clouds came and gathered around the house, clouds of war hate and sin and they beat on the house and demanded entry but because he was the Lord of the house it had a firm foundation and none of it was allowed to enter.  Inside the house there was warmth, peace and tranquility regardless of what was outside.
He told me as time went on that he would move my house to another city.  He would take care of all the arrangements and I wouldn’t even have to know the day it took place or when.  He said I would be in a city where he had the deed to all the houses and there would be no storms or darkness and I would like the neighbors better.  It sounded wonderful and I looked forward to it with eagerness. 

As I looked back so long ago when I first invited Christ into the house of my heart as a guest and thought about the many years it took to have the courage to give him the deed to the house, I wondered why I had been so stingy and had reluctantly wanted to turn it over because he showered me with gifts and took care of all the remodeling and I was always the debtor."

Author Unknown

Save The One

I wrote Save the One in 2010

In 1994 my brother decided he had enough of this earthly journey and took his own life.  That was a very painful time for me and one that I do not talk about due to the scars that still remain.   A few months ago I attended a “Suicide remembrance walk” as I was listening to the presenter he closed with this comment, “ Our goal is to save the one.” That simple yet profound statement has been playing through-out my mind.
As I have been sitting in our Father’s house reflecting on that statement the Spirit asked, “how many of our Father’s children are committing spiritual suicide?”  and before I could answer this memory popped into my mind.  I had been teaching a good friend who was losing his wife and family.  I had borne my testimony of how I believed temple blessings could help heal him and his family.  He decided to take the journey.  One night I dreamed I was sitting in the balcony of the Boise temple.  It was my friends chosen day and I was eagerly awaiting his arrival.  I shall never forget the happiness that filled my soul as I watched him enter dressed in white.  He took his seat and then when asked if any would like to leave they may do so, I watched my friend arise and leave.  I remember leaning over the balcony with tears flooding my eyes pleading with him not to leave and feeling such a sorrow within my heart.  As the doors closed behind him I awoke tears in my eyes and pleading for him to please come back.  My friend never made it to the temple.  He lost his wife and family and has gone back to his worldly ways.
Just as quick my poppers came into my mind.  What a fantastic journey that was.  The image brought front and center was all of us in a blue sealing room, my favorite color with a sealer that also had an adopted daughter sealed to him and his wife.  Tears in all our eyes and when the sealing was complete, my poppers grabbing the sealers hand and with an emotion filled voice stating, “she is finally ours no one can take her away from us now.” 
Last year for my birthday I spent the day in the temple being baptized for my Grand-mothers and other family members.  It was a day filled with incomprehensible joy.  One in particular spoke to me.  It was a daughter of one of my ancestors that felt as if she had been forgotten.  The world had forgotten her but our Heavenly Father had not and He assisted me in finding her and completing her work.  This year was my 25th wedding anniversary and I spent that morning in the temple having all those whose work I had done in December being sealed.  Great was their joy.  No one could keep them separated now.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this mortal journey and very easy to loose sight of “Saving the One.”  I know I am guilty.  I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some things and a good friend had me step down to his register so he could assist me.  As we were visiting I related how busy I had been.  He simply stated, “Don’t get so busy that you don’t do your visiting teaching.”

In the Temple I can see clearly and my mind is brought back to what our Heavenly Father needs His little girl to do.  He has entrusted me to go out and “Save the one.”

Feed My Sheep

In today’s fast paced technological world it is so heartbreaking to see so many searching for someone to love and to lift tired hands.

Buried deep within our souls is a longing for a love which we knew so long ago. 
A love that was pure and unconditional. How our hearts yearn for that lost love.

Elder Groberg gave a powerful talk about the power of pure love. A comment he made that vibrated within my soul was, "True love can lift you from the very depths of your deepest despair."

I have had multiple witnesses to the truthfulness of those words as I have struggled with some of my most difficult challenges; I have felt the power of love from a loved one who came back from their heavenly home to comfort me. 

I have had two near death experiences where I returned for a brief moment to my heavenly home. 
As I expressed my desire to stay, a loved one would point and ask, "what about him?" 
I then found myself looking at my husband and my heart was drawn to him with such a surge of love that I knew that it was not time for me to leave him behind. 

Sadly, there are many in their great despair who feel that they were left behind. 
They find themselves in such a hopeless state that they cannot even see the One who loves them the most.
In their small dark world there is no one willing or able to feed them.

"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter,
Simon, son of Jonas, Lovest thou me more than these?
He saith unto Him, Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
He saith to him again, the second time,
Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
He saith unto Him, Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith unto him, Feed my sheep
He saith unto him the third time,
Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time Lovest thou me?
And he said unto Him, Lord thou knowest all things;
Thou knowest that I love thee Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep"

Elder Holland gave a powerful talk on "feed my Sheep" it touched me deeply:

"The First Great Commandment

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.
There is almost no group in history for whom I have more sympathy than I have for the eleven remaining Apostles immediately following the death of the Savior of the world. I think we sometimes forget just how inexperienced they still were and how totally dependent upon Jesus they had of necessity been. To them He had said, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me … ?”1
But, of course, to them He hadn’t been with them nearly long enough. Three years isn’t long to call an entire Quorum of Twelve Apostles from a handful of new converts, purge from them the error of old ways, teach them the wonders of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then leave them to carry on the work until they too were killed. Quite a staggering prospect for a group of newly ordained elders.
Especially the part about being left alone. Repeatedly Jesus had tried to tell them He was not going to remain physically present with them, but they either could not or would not comprehend such a wrenching thought. Mark writes:
“He taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
“But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.”2
Then, after such a short time to learn and even less time to prepare, the unthinkable happened, the unbelievable was true. Their Lord and Master, their Counselor and King, was crucified. His mortal ministry was over, and the struggling little Church He had established seemed doomed to scorn and destined for extinction. His Apostles did witness Him in His resurrected state, but that only added to their bewilderment. As they surely must have wondered, “What do we do now?” they turned for an answer to Peter, the senior Apostle.
Here I ask your indulgence as I take some nonscriptural liberty in my portrayal of this exchange. In effect, Peter said to his associates: “Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. None of us could have imagined such a few short months ago the miracles we have seen and the divinity we have enjoyed. We have talked with, prayed with, and labored with the very Son of God Himself. We have walked with Him and wept with Him, and on the night of that horrible ending, no one wept more bitterly than I. But that is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So you ask, ‘What do we do now?’ I don’t know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to ‘go a fishing.’” And at least six of the ten other remaining Apostles said in agreement, “We also go with thee.” John, who was one of them, writes, “They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately.”3
But, alas, the fishing wasn’t very good. Their first night back on the lake, they caught nothing—not a single fish. With the first rays of dawn, they disappointedly turned toward the shore, where they saw in the distance a figure who called out to them, “Children, have you caught anything?” Glumly these Apostles-turned-again-fishermen gave the answer no fisherman wants to give. “We have caught nothing,” they muttered, and to add insult to injury, they were being called “children.”4
“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find,”5 the stranger calls out—and with those simple words, recognition begins to flood over them. Just three years earlier these very men had been fishing on this very sea. On that occasion too they had “toiled all the night, and [had] taken nothing,”6 the scripture says. But a fellow Galilean on the shore had called out to them to let down their nets, and they drew “a great multitude of fishes,”7 enough that their nets broke, the catch filling two boats so heavily they had begun to sink.
Now it was happening again. These “children,” as they were rightly called, eagerly lowered their net, and “they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”8 John said the obvious: “It is the Lord.”9 And over the edge of the boat, the irrepressible Peter leaped.
After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”10
The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”11
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”12
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: “Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?”
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.”13 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,”14 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”15 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.”16 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,”17 we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."