Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Gift of Charity

I have had some experiences that are most tender for me running through my mind strongly these past few weeks.  I jotted them down thinking that would stop them from flooding my mind yet they continue to flood my mind.

I was planning on working today but when I started my car I had a warning light appear which has to do with my brakes, so taking today off since I can't get my car in until the am to have it looked at.
Since I have an unexpected day off I decided to catch up on my monthly Visiting Teaching message and as I was reading through this months message which is entitled, "Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ:  Filled with Love and Charity"  I instantly knew why my memories were still flooding my mind and so here I am again wanting to share some precious moments with you.

As a Hospice Nurse you have the unique opportunity of going into a families home during a very tender and at times stressful moment for families.  For me it is a very sacred time where loving bonds are formed that will travel with me well into the next journey of my life.

I have many cherished moments that have touched and forever changed my life.  So many that I am not able to share them all here in this post but there are three that have recently flooded my mind and I would like to share those with you.

One evening I was called and I found myself sitting with a beloved wife, mother, grand-mother, sister and aunt.  My memory started when everyone had turned in for the night from an exhausting day of sitting by their loved ones bedside.  One family member was sleeping on the couch in the living room where I was seated by her loved one.  In the early morning hours of the morning I noticed this sweet woman beginning to struggle and my medications weren't helping to calm her.  I had a feeling that I should play some beautiful music for her; so I found my favorite station of music on my smart phone and the music began to play.  That beloved adopted grand-ma to me immediately relaxed and a beautiful peaceful look came across her face and then a short time later she took her final breath in this life.   As I was preparing to leave the home I was deeply touched by the scene that was in front of me.  Sitting quietly at the kitchen table was this sweet adopted grand-ma's husband.  His back was to me and he was staring out at their window softly stirring his coffee.  I'm not sure why that scene touched me so deeply but as I watched him this love started feeling my entire being.

A year or so later I was again called and as I made my way to the home, the front door was opened and a woman came out and quickly threw her arms around me and told me how happy she was to see me.  That memory of the husband sitting at the kitchen table immediately came back to my mind and as I entered the home I was hoping to see him seated at the table but the table was empty.  I then gazed into the living room and there in a hospital bed in the same place his wife's had been I observed that man lying quietly.  As I began to perform my assessment the daughter shared with me how that night I had played the music for her mother, her cousin who had been asleep on the couch had been deeply touched and that moment had changed her life.  I was humbled and surprised and then a scripture started running through my mind, "...By small and simple things..."  During my shift that man was reunited with his beloved wife; another tender moment that deeply touched my soul.

The second happened during the Christmas season.  I was again called and found myself at a facility sitting with another wife and mother.  This hit home because this sweet mother was just a few years older than me.  Her family was struggling emotionally and physically.  I spent many hours just listening to them; especially her beloved husband who was truly at a loss.  I came to realize that this special mother was the glue that kept her family together.  A local Pastor who was a close friend to the family came and offered his support.  Oh how I loved this humble man.
This valiant mother was holding on for something, something which I was unable to share.  In exasperation at seeing his wife in her condition her husband turned to me and with tear filled eyes asked my, "Why is she just lingering...I can't stand seeing her suffer like this..."  I had no answers for him.  I tried to give him the answers I had heard and from past experiences shared with him that maybe she was waiting for someone or something.  I just did not know.  He turned back with shoulders drooped to face his beloved.  My heart was breaking right along with theirs.  Even their Pastor friend had no answers to bring them comfort.

A few minutes later this husband pulled out his phone and started playing "Amazing Grace."  I will never hear that beautiful hymn in the same way.  Words cannot describe the love and peace that filled that room.  Everyone was in tears including me.  As that beautiful song finished up, his beloved took her last breath in this life.  With tears in his eyes he turned to me and said, "I don't know why I played that song for her....I just felt she needed to hear it one more time."  I told him, that that was the most beautiful final gift he gave to her.  It was Christmas Eve.

I have thought many times about that family and wondered how they had been doing since losing their mother and spouse.  Again I found myself called and when I approached the door the young man that greeted me looked so familiar to me.  He immediately greeted me with a hug and said, "Your the one that sat with our mother, who we lost on Christmas Eve."  I felt like I was reunited with a long lost friend.  We visited as we entered the home and then I realized that I was know going to sit with their father.  He was still alert when I entered his room and he expressed his recognition of me.  I had a a brief window to visit with him and his family to catch me up on how their lives had changed since their mother passed and how they all turned to their Pastor friend and started attending his church. I was so happy for them.  Shortly after my friend slipped into his coma.
The day he passed the family and I were gathered around him and visiting about their good times and their bad times.  Again this wonderful love and peace filled the room.  My friend did not pass while I was there but a few short hours after I had left he peacefully slipped away to be reunited with his beloved wife.  This time I know his family will be alright they continue to have the love and support of their beloved Pastor friend who again was right there at their side.
Another scripture ran through my mine, "...I will not leave thee comfortless..."

The last memory I want to share involves a loving man that works at one of our local grocery stores.  I met him years ago when I would take my lunch break and walk over to the store to get a bite to eat.  He had the most warming and beautiful smile.  I immediately loved this gently man.  I was in the store awhile back so looking forward to seeing his contagious smile but alas he was not there it was someone else who greeted me.  I must admit I was a little worried and very disappointed but then I received the call and as I entered the home I found my friend holding his sweet sweet wife.
My heart instantly broke as I took in that beautiful scene.
There is such a special bond between husband and wife.

The day my friends sweet companion was called home I had a verse of scripture that had been playing out in my mind from the moment I had entered their home.  I shared with my friend that a scripture had been running through my mind and told him that I would like to share it with him and his beloved wife.  Thank goodness for smart phones, I plugged in a few words of the scripture and my phone took me right to the chapter and verse so that I could read it to my friend,

"For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course and I have kept the faith.
Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness
which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day;
and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
(2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

Soon after this sweet sweet woman was called home.  I was touched by the out pouring of love that came to this humble man from his churches congregation.  They truly showed the love of Christ.

Below is a copy of the Visiting Teaching message that tied all together for me the memories that have been flowing through my mind.  Each and every time I am called to a home I feel that I get to taste that pure love of Christ and oh how sweet it is.  I hope to one day be filled with that love what a wonderful day that will be.


"Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Filled with Charity and Love

Prayerfully study this material and seek to know what to share. How will understanding the divine attributes of the Savior increase your faith in Him and bless those you watch over through visiting teaching? For more information, go to reliefsociety.lds.org.
This is part of a series of Visiting Teaching Messages featuring divine attributes of the Savior.
women
The Influence of Righteous Women, by Julie Rogers
The Guide to the Scriptures defines charity as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love” (“Charity”). It is the pure love of Jesus Christ. As we learn of Jesus Christ and strive to become like Him, we will begin to feel His pure love in our lives and be prompted to love and serve others as He would. “Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down,” said President Thomas S. Monson. “It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”1
In the Book of Mormon, we learn the great truth that we “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that [we] may become the sons [and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:48).

From Our History

“A sister who had recently been widowed was grateful for visiting teachers who mourned with her and comforted her. She wrote: ‘I was in desperate need of someone to whom I could reach out; someone who would listen to me. … And they listened. They comforted me. They wept with me. And they hugged me … [and] helped me out of the deep despair and depression of those first months of loneliness.’
“Another woman summed up her feelings when she was the recipient of true charity from a visiting teacher: ‘I knew that I was more than just a number on the record books for her to visit. I knew that she cared about me.’”2
Like these sisters, many Latter-day Saints around the world can attest to the truth of this statement by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015), President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “How consoling it is to know that no matter where [a family may] go, a Church family awaits them. From the day they arrive, he will belong to a quorum of the priesthood and she will belong to Relief Society.”3

Consider This

How is Christ our perfect example of love and charity?"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Journey through Revelations

Image result for image revelationAll one has to do is mention "Revelations" and people gasp.  I have been one of those.  I have bought book after book to help me understand the symbolism that John is writing about and each and everyone of those books brought a little understanding but overall I was still groping in the dark.

I recently had to have a major surgery and while I was gathering reading material to keep me busy during my recovery, I came across a book written by an LDS author that I simply love and adore concerning the Book of Revelations.  It was entitled:
"Who Shall Be Able to Stand?  Finding personal meaning in the Book of Revelation."



The author is S. Michael Wilcox.  Needless to say I invested in the book and for the first time I am seeing the book of Revelations with new eyes.  He commented that "Perhaps the most important commentary on the Book of Revelation is the Old Testament...As you begin fitting the pieces of the Old Testament into the puzzle of Revelation, you will notice that what John leaves out is often as critical, or even more critical, than what he includes.  Many times understanding Revelation will depend on turning to the Old Testament and receiving the entire subject to which John is alluding.
Frequently inspiration, counsel, and insight will be found in the verses of the Old Testament associated with the allusion.  It is therefore essential that we find the allusions, turn to them, and read the entire account." (Who Shall Be Able to Stand? pg 5)

Image result for image poetryHe continues, "I cannot stress the notch of poetic imagery.  We must approach Revelation with a different mind-set than the one we usually use...So it is with images of Revelation.  When reading it, we must leave our prose minds at the door and pick up our poetry minds.  We should read Revelation the way we study serious poetry..." (Who Shall Be Able to Stand?"  pg 6)

He then goes on to give one a visual understanding of poetry, "Poetry aims at awakening thoughts and feelings within us.  It draws upon familiar objects, stories, and events giving them added significance...More than one meaning can be held by a single image...With each new image, we must stop and ponder...Our Father in Heaven wants us to use our minds, and nothing stimulates the mind quite like figurative language.  Jesus was a master of this type of teaching, particularly the parable..."
(Who Shall Be Able to Stand?" pg. 7)

He comments that "Acknowledging that Revelation will require much more of the reader than other scriptures, the Lord wants us to know that our labor will be well worth the reflection:

"Blessed are they who read, and they who hear and understand the words of this prophesy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time of the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
(Revelation 1:3)

Image result for image revelationThe first of the four responsibilities is relatively easy.  It is well with our ability to 'read' Revelation.  Hearing and understanding what we read is more of a challenge.  We may take some comfort in a phrase used repeatedly by the Lord in his message to the seven churches." 
 (Who Shall Be Able to Stand."  pg 16)

So here is where I begin the first week of my journey along with a friend and all else who would like to join us in the first set of scriptures that the author noted, "Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6,13,22.

In these verses we are taught, "that if we desire to learn and understand, if our ears are tuned and straining to listen, the Lord will impart truth through the Spirit.  Our hunger for knowledge counts greatly with the Lord, who will know of our listening ears primarily because of our prayers asking for insight."  (Who Shall Be Able to Stand?"  pg 16)


In closing for this part of my journey I shall again quote S  Micheal Wilcox's words, 

"We must constantly remind ourselves that the main purpose of Revelation is to help us make correct choices and discern between the forces of good and evil."
(Who Shall Be Able to Stand?"  pg17)

And now I am going to ponder on the above verses in Chapter two and three and thus my journey begins.
Image result for image revelation

Monday, October 5, 2015

"First Observe, Then Serve"

I loved all the talks that my speaker referenced in her devotional on service so I figured I would go ahead and add the last one she mentioned.  I guess someone is giving me a subtle hint on how to serve more effectively.


Linda K. Burton

 By Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General President



"With practice, each of us can become more like the Savior as we serve God’s children.
One of the greatest evidences we have that our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is the Lord’s chosen servant is that he has learned to follow the Savior’s example—serving individually, one by one. Those of us who have entered the waters of baptism have covenanted to do the same. We have covenanted to “always remember [the Savior] and keep his commandments,”1 and He has said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”2
Notice how the following words from President Monson include the same invitation: “We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. … We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”3
Did you hear it—the invitation to love one another? For some, serving or ministering one by one, following the Savior’s example, doesn’t come easily. But with practice, each of us can become more like the Savior as we serve God’s children. To help us better love one another, I would like to suggest four words to remember: “First observe, then serve.”
Almost 40 years ago my husband and I went to the temple for our Friday night date. We had been married only a short time, and I was nervous because this was only my second time as a newlywed. A sister sitting next to me must have noticed. She leaned over and whispered reverently, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.” My fears were calmed, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the temple session. She first observed, then served.
We are all invited to follow Jesus’s teachings and to minister to others. This invitation is not limited to angelic sisters. As I share a few everyday examples of members who have learned to first observe and then serve, listen for the teachings of Jesus they illustrate.
A six-year-old Primary child said: “When I was chosen to be a class helper, I could choose a friend to work with me. I picked [a boy in my class who bullied me] because he never gets chosen by others. I wanted to make him feel good.”4
What did this child observe? He noticed that the class bully never got chosen. What did he do to serve? He simply chose him to be his friend as a class helper. Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”5
In one ward, Aaronic Priesthood holders first observed and now serve in a meaningful way. Every week the young men arrive early and stand outside the meetinghouse in rain, snow, or blistering heat, awaiting the arrival of the many elderly members in their ward. They lift wheelchairs and walkers out of cars, provide sturdy arms to grasp, and patiently escort the silver-haired seniors into the building. They are truly doing their duty to God. As they observe and then serve, they are living examples of the Savior’s teaching: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”6 As the new youth curriculum is implemented, the eyes of these young men will undoubtedly be opened to even more opportunities to serve in a Christlike way.
Observing and serving sometimes requires great effort. An inspired young woman named Alexandria noticed that her cousin Madison was unable to complete her own Personal Progress requirements because she suffered from severe autism. Alexandria rallied the young women in her ward, counseled with her leaders, and determined to do something for Maddy that she could not do herself. Each of the young women completed a portion of the Personal Progress activities and projects vicariously to enable Maddy to receive her own medallion.7
These young women will progress well into roles of motherhood and Relief Society sisterhood because they are learning to first observe, then serve in charitable ways.
President Monson has reminded us that charity, “the pure love of Christ”8—or in other words, observing and serving—“is evident when an elderly widow is remembered and taken to ward functions” and “when the sister sitting alone in Relief Society receives the invitation, ‘Come—sit by us.’”9 The golden rule is applicable here: “Whatsoever ye would that men [or women] should do to you, do ye even so to them.”10
An observant husband served in two important ways. He relates:
“I was assisting my wife one Sunday with her Primary class full of energetic seven-year-olds. As Primary sharing time started, I noticed one of the class members huddled on her chair and obviously not feeling well. The Spirit whispered to me that she needed comfort, so I sat by her and quietly asked what was wrong. She didn’t answer … , so I began to sing softly to her.
“The Primary was learning a new song, and when we sang, ‘If I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice,’ I began to feel the most incredible light and warmth fill my soul. … I received a personal testimony of our Savior’s love for her … and for me. … I learned that we are [the Savior’s] hands when we serve the one.”11
Not only did this Christlike brother notice the need to help his wife with a class full of energetic seven-year-olds; he also gave individual service to a child in need. He followed the Savior, who taught, “The works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do.”12
Recently a flood opened many opportunities for disciples of Jesus Christ to first observe and then serve. Men, women, teenagers, and children saw businesses and homes destroyed and dropped everything to help clean and repair damaged structures. Some observed the need to help with the overwhelming task of doing laundry. Others painstakingly wiped down photographs, legal documents, letters, and other important papers and then carefully hung them out to dry to preserve whatever they could. Observing and then serving is not always convenient and doesn’t always fit our own timetable.
What better place to first observe and then serve than in the home? An example from the life of Elder Richard G. Scott illustrates:
“One night our little son Richard, who had a heart problem, awoke crying. … Normally my wife always got up to take care of a crying baby, but this time I said, ‘I’ll take care of him.’
“Because of his problem, when he began to cry, his little heart would pound very rapidly. He would throw up and soil the bed clothing. That night I held him very close to try to calm his racing heart and stop his crying as I changed his clothes and put on new bedsheets. I held him until he went to sleep. I didn’t know then that just a few months later he would pass away. I will always remember holding him in my arms in the middle of that night.”13
Jesus said, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.”14
Sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. When Elder Robert D. Halestaught the principle of provident living, he shared the example of buying a gift for his wife. She asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?”15 If we adapt that question to ourselves as we serve and ask, “Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?” our service will more likely resemble the ministry of the Savior. The Savior asked, and so should we, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”16
A few weeks ago, I was hurried and frazzled, with too many to-dos on my list. I had hoped to go to the temple that day but felt I was just too busy. As soon as that thought of being too busy for temple service crossed my mind, it awakened me to what I most needed to do. I left my office to walk over to the Salt Lake Temple, wondering when I was going to recapture the time I was losing. Thankfully, the Lord is patient and merciful and taught me a beautiful lesson that day.
As I sat down in the session room, a young sister leaned over and reverently whispered, “I’m really nervous. This is only my second time in the temple. Could you please help me?” How could she ever have known that those words were exactly what I needed to hear? She didn’t know, but Heavenly Father knew. He had observed my greatest need. I needed to serve. He prompted this humble young sister to serve me by inviting me to serve her. I assure you that I was the one who benefited most.
I acknowledge with deep gratitude the many Christlike people who have served our family throughout the years. I express heartfelt appreciation to my beloved husband and family, who serve selflessly and with great love.
May we all seek to first observe, then serve. As we do so, we are keeping covenants, and our service, like President Monson’s, will be evidence of our discipleship. I know the Savior lives. His Atonement enables us to live His teachings. I know President Monson is our prophet today. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Convenient Service"

The other night I was watching a BYU Devotional given by Sister Sherry Patten Palmer.
It was entitled "Convenient Service."  The title had me intrigued.

I had been raised by a mother who was always serving.  I remember asking a trusted friend after she passed what scripture would describe her he instantly responded, "Mosiah 2:17"



And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom ;
 that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings
 ye are only in the service of your God. 

That verse beautifully described my mother.  So, as I was listening to Sister Palmer speak I learned that she too was a nurse and I began to feel a little pride sweep into my being as I reflected on all the grand-mas and grand-pas I had the great blessing of serving and then as I thought about those around me that I tried to serve as my mother's example had taught me.


She proceeded to share a couple of experiences where she had not exhibited "Christ like service."
One was while she was in a poor country working.  She commented on an elderly mother approaching her and she knew this sweet women was going to ask her for money.  She talked about how she could not wait for the end of her shift, so that she could take her last $20.00 and get a great piece of Roast Beef."  She was more concerned about her "Roast Beef then she was about his poor sisters plight."  I had a major ouch moment because just earlier in the day I had my own "Roast Beef moment and I totally fell short of what the Savior would have done.

She then mentioned another experience where she was in a local retailer at Christmas time and the couple in front of her were digging through their pocket trying to come up with enough change to make their purchase.  She commented that "I looked away."

She then shared this quote by Elder Vaughn J Featherstone:

 "...I could list many, many more opportunities that may well come to all us in a lifetime 
but most often at an inappropriate time.
You can make a decision that you are to busy, 
but that is generally only an excuse,,,"

I had a major "ouch" moment.  A painful ouch moment that I continue to have when I read President Bensons talk concerning Pride.

I will now share her words with you and I included Elder Featherstone's talk "Why me? Why Now?  on another blog post.

I hope that her words and his words will inspire us to exhibit a purer Christ like Service even when it is most inconvenient.

Sherri Patten Palmer

"The title of my talk is "Convenient Service."  You may think this is an oxymoron,
but during the course of this talk I hope to explain why it should not be.

Jesus Christ preached:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
(Matthew 7:12, 3 Nephi 14:12 and Luke 6:31)

Jesus also said:

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up the cross and follow me.
For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25, Matthew10:39)

President Thomas S Monson said:

I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others,
there is little purpose to our own lives.
Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up figuratively lose their lives,
while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish--
and in effect save their lives.
("What Have I Done for Someone Today?" Ensign, Nov. 2008, 85)

Furthermore, we read in Revelation 2:19:

I know thy works, and charity and service, and faith,
and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Notice how "works" is in this scripture twice--actually, I believe it is in there four times, as charity
and service could also be our "works."  Heavenly Father is saying here that He knows our works.
So what works or service are we personally known for?  Do we hesitate when confronted with the opportunity to serve?  Is it convenient to serve?  Or is service something we sign up for once in a while when the sign-up sheet is passed around?

With my profession as a nurse and my job here at BYU, I have the opportunity to work both locally and abroad with the sick in hospitals and various communities.  Much of what I see is humbling and life changing.  I would like to relate an experience of service I had a few years ago.

I was in a hospital in a developing country doing research for my doctoral project.  In many hospitals our healthcare facilities in third-world countries, medicine is not available to the patients from the hospital itself.  If the doctor feels the patient should receive a particular medicine, even if it is lifesaving, a prescription is written out to the family, and they need to take it to a pharmacy, pay for it, and then bring it back to the hospital for administration to the patient.]
Understandably, this is difficult for many patients, and they do not get medicines, as their family simply cannot afford them.

Partly due to these situations, it is not uncommon for there to be many beggars just outside the hospital grounds with their hands outstretched for money.  But once you get in the gates of the complex, you usually aren't asked for money.  As I was an obvious foreigner, I was asked for money many times a day.  In fact I had become quite calloused to this situation.

I had been in the hospital working a few days in the intensive care unit.  As I was doing research, I was observing and taking notes on the care that the patients were receiving.
Little did I realize that people were also watching and noticing me.
I was walking across the hospital campus and a little lady came up to me.  She introduced herself and said she had been watching me in the intensive care unit; her son was a patient there.  She state that her son was unconscious from a car crash.  He was on a ventilator and doing well.  I could not remember which patient was her son.  As she continued explaining the situation, she started pulling out a piece of paper.

I saw it and thought, "Oh, this is it.  This is a prescription, and she is going to ask me for money."  I then thought about the twenty-dollar bill I had in my pocket.  I don't carry a lot of money with me when I travel, and I had been waiting all week to eat in the hotel restaurant and order the roast beef, which is delicious and cheap compared to American standards.
I told her I couldn't give her any money and walked away.  She was just another beggar.

I walked away quickly, and after a few moments I turned around and looked at her.
She was looking around with a look of "What do I do now?"  My heart was pierced.
I couldn't believe I was so eager to eat roast beef over giving this woman money that could possibly enable her son to live.  I couldn't allow it!  I quickly ran back down the steps and said, "Espera, Senora--wait!  I have money to give you."

She accepted my twenty-dollar bill with tears in her eyes.  And tears were in mine also.
The desire to help another was strong.  I am glad I had this experience, because I have been able to reflect on it a lot.  I call it my personal parable of the roast beef.

What of those people who are less fortunate that we are?  How do we serve them?  In my travels I have wondered why there is so much variation of wealth, health, or material blessings.  What do others desire when they appear to have so little?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said something that has helped me understand:

God thus take into merciful account not only our desires
and our performance, but also the degrees of difficulty
which our varied circumstances impose upon us.
("According to the Desire of {our} Hearts," Ensign. Nov. 1996, 21)

Of course everybody has a similar desires, but it if the performance and the degree of difficulty it takes for us to perform that God considers.  God takes into account the degrees of difficulty.
So what does that say when it truly is quite easy to give a little service because of our blessings and fortune?  Well, "unto whom much is given much is required." (D&C 82:3, Luke 12:48)

We have a low degree of difficulty, and we should really be getting off the couch, so to speak, and providing meaningful service.  We are blessed for a reason. 
 If it is only a little difficult to render service, should we not do it more often? 
 It is only a little inconvenient, why can't we do it more frequently?

What about those who have a higher degree of difficulty in providing service?  Think of those who are struggling in the world.  I am sure many missionaries can relate to the experiences I had while I was on my mission years ago.  Families who had little to eat would prepare food for the missionaries.
Surely these families have a different degree of difficulty when it comes to giving and rendering service.
I clearly remember an episode of service on my mission over thirty years ago.  This was one of those occasions in which we thought we were the ones giving service, but, as it turns out, we were the ones being served. 
 My companion and I had traveled out to a little settlement in Itakyry, Paraguay.
This area basically consisted of a large member family and a few neighbors who were investigating.
We were going to visit the family and attend church and a baptism the next day.

Since it tool do long to travel out there, down the dirt roads and over streams, we had to stay the night with the family.  Even though it was in a jungle, it was cold.  The parents gave me and my companion their one bed and their one blanket.  The large family then slept on the dirt floor in the next room, with the little ones tucked between them.
I froze that night.  I kept on all my clothes, my sweater, and even my rubber boots.  I felt so guilty and was so cold I could not sleep.
The next day, as we sat on logs under the open sky for fast and testimony meeting, the family could not express enough thanks to me and my companion for coming all the way out to visit them on this special occasion.  My heart was pierced.  It was then that I realized that this family had been providing me service--in the way that they could--by providing their own bed and blanket on chilly night in Paraguay.

Even though there are material inequalities in the world, we  all can have the righteous desire to serve.  And it is the pursuit of these righteous desires that measures our reward in heaven.

We do not have to travel abroad to have fascinating and memorable experiences of service.

We can and should start right here in our homes and neighborhoods.  Jesus did not travel very far;
often He served those very near to Him.  We have opportunities to serve simply being sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters.  We serve through our church callings and by being members of our wards.

I often think that Heavenly Father will ask me, "What did you do to serve the women you visit taught?  How did you change their lives or help them in times of need?  How did you serve your brothers?  Did you even notice when they needed help?"

These can be sobering thoughts.

So, how can we make service convenient?  We start by practicing with "automatic responses."
Let me relate another little experience.  This one was only a few months after my experience in the hospital with the roast beef money.  It was Christmastime, and I was in the checkout line at Wal-mart, thinking of all I had to do.  I was watching the young couple in front of me buy a little girl's bike.
The cost was around sixty-five dollars.  I watched the man hand over dollar bills and then frustratingly search in his pockets for change.  Then the couple searched in the woman's purse for money.  I averted my eyes to avoid the additional embarrassment for them.
Even at that moment I felt uncomfortable and ackward.  I guess they finally came up with the right amount of money.  I was too busy trying not to notice.

After I had made my purchases, I followed them out of the store--realizing I had again missed the opportunity to help.  It was most likely only a few dollars they had needed. 
Where had my desire gone?  Why couldn't I have just conveniently handed them a few dollars?
Again, I couldn't believe it!  Why hadn't I performed an automatic response by offering a dollar or two?

Giving service and having it become "convenient" is a work in progress.  While I was in the temple the other night I thought about how tightly related service is with sacrifice and consecration.
Service is a stepping-stone toward these two great doctrines of our religion.  It is up to us how big these stepping-stone of service is.  Are the stepping-stones of service huge, insurmountable boulders that we believe are set in our way?  Or are they merely soft, round pebbles upon which we tread?  If we treat service like helpful small pebbles that line our pathway back to the Savior, we may find that these pebbles become convenient guides that will help us along the way.

If we can master the task of providing service to those around us, how much easier, then, is it to sacrifice for others and consecrate what we do for the Lord.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave a talk in April 1975 about obedience, consecration, and sacrifice.  He said:


We have covenanted in the waters of baptism to love and serve him,
to keep his commandments, and to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom.
In return he has promised us eternal life in his Father's kingdom.
We are thus in a position to receive and obey some of the higher laws
which prepare us for that eternal life which we so sincerely seek.

Elder McConkie then went on to say:

It is written:  "He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom 
cannot abide a celestial glory." (D&C 88:22)
The law of sacrifice is a celestial law; so also is the law of consecration.
Thus to gain that celestial reward which we so devoutly desire,
we must be able to live those two laws.
Sacrafice and consecration are inseparably intertwined.
{"Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice,"  Ensign, May 1975, 50}

I would like to add:  How can we ever get to the laws of sacrifice and consecration with-out first applying service in our lives?  When we are physically serving our brother, we are sacrificing--whether it be our time, our physical abilities, or our material blessings.  When we perform service with the right kind of spirit, we practice consecration.  We are consecrating our time, our physical abilities, and our material blessings to others--and in essence to the Lord. 
Service in our lives is similar to stepping-stones; the way we perceive or encounter service determines the size of those stones.  Are they helps or hindrances to our eternal progression?
Just like we consciously work on the other attributes in our lives, we need to put in place a conscious decision to make service convenient.  We need to plan on this behavior.

President Thomas S. Monson taught Brigham Young University students that their student days should include "the matter of spiritual preparation," including service to others:

An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master.
He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead.
Perhaps when we {Face} our Maker, we will not be asked,
"How many people did you help?"
In reality you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.
{"Great Expectations," BYU Devotional address, 11 Jan. 2009}

I would like to look at some examples of Jesus Christ when He served.  
What were His interactions like?  Was service convenient for Him?
Let's take a look at some interactions:

And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying,
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying,
I will; be thou clean.
{Matthew 8:2-3}

And when Jesus was come into Peter's house
he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
And he touched her hand.
{Matthew 8:14}

Behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying,
My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, 
and she shall live.  And Jesus arose, and followed him.
{Matther 9:18}

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years,
came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment...
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said,
Daughter, be of good comfort.
{Matthey 9:20}

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages,
teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them.
{Matthew 9:35-36}

What was Jesus doing?  He said "I will," He "touched," He "arose," He "turned him about." 
and He "was moved with compassion." These are characteristics of kindness and love.
He was not inconvenienced.  It was His way of life.  When we act and serve as Jesus did,
we become more like Him.

How can we make service our way of Life?  How can we have it be an immediate reaction instead of a thought-out-action?  How can we make it convenient?  We can prepare for service.
We may start out with creating a habit of always being willing to or being ready to do something extra.

Maybe you enjoy mowing the lawn, so if a neighbor needs help, that can be your automatic reaction--
you can mow their lawn.  Or maybe you have a special chicken enchilada recipe that turns out great
every time--that can be your automatic reaction if there is a need for a meal in your ward.
Maybe you have a keen listening ear and enjoy conversation--that can be your automatic reaction when a family member is in need.  The key is to create automatic reactions within ourselves.
They do not have to be big service activities.  President Spencer W. Kimball said:

It is vital we serve each other in the kingdom...so often our acts of service consist of simple
encouragement or of giving...help with mundane tasks,
 but what glorious consequences can flow...from small but deliberate deeds!
{"Small Acts of Service," Ensign, Dec.1974, 5}

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone gave a talk about serving when it is inconvenient.  He said:

Now my young friends...think of all the opportunities you will have to serve
at inconvenient times.  I promise you that most of the service you render to the Lord
will come at times not convenient to you.  Think about some of them:

Your call to serve an 18-month mission, right in the middle of your schooling,
courting, and vocational training.

A call to serve in the ward when you have grades to maintain and a social life to fulfill.

An invitation to speak at church.

Home teaching visits.

Early-morning seminary, which in many stakes begins at 6:00 am.,
not a convenient hour.

A hospital visit to a sick friend.
(After my surgery one of the cna's I work with after a long shift came and sat with me for over 3 hours.  The poor girl looked beat but she came.  Oh how I love that sweet cna  LB)

Assisting a friend in his or her school election campaign.

Someone with a flat tire or other auto problems on the highway.
It generally is not convenient time to stop.

Shoveling snow or mowing a lawn of someone in need--a widow or neighbor--
when your day is already too full.

Elder Featherstone went on to say:

I could list many, many more opportunities that may well come to all of us in a lifetime
but most often at an inappropriate time.  You can make a decision that you are too busy,
but that is generally only an excuse...
My beloved young friend, determine to serve one another.
Listen to the spirit when your flesh is weak.
For truly the Master said,
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me."
{Matthew 25:40}
The blessings are tenfold when we do those good, kindly acts of 
Christlike service when it is inopportune or not convenient.
{"The Message: "Why Now? Why Me?" New Era, Jan 1984, 7}

I appreciate Sister Burton's advice to "first observe, then serve"
 (see "First Observe, Then Serve, " Ensign,Nov. 2012, 78-80)

How closely do we observe?  What do we notice as we go about our daily, hurried lives?
What can you do as a BYU student?  Take a look around you.  Do as Sister Burton said:
"First observe, then serve."  I have seen students sit by themselves an entire semester.
I have seen students not talk to anybody during class breaks.  We need to serve those around us first, whether they are family, roommates, or neighbors.
I have experienced memorable acts of service.  I have been the giver and the receiver.

Yet even with many years of experience, I still struggle with now "convenient" the service is.
I have felt my hear pierced with love, compassion, thankfulness, and the Spirit.
Shouldn't these feelings be enough motivation?  My memories of the two opposite experiences 
lately are vivid.  My parable of the roast beef keeps me remembering how it feels to serve.
My experience at Wal-mart at Christmastime is a sobering, memorable occurrence of not serving, or not observing; in fact, I averted my eyes to the need for a dollar or two.

Yes, service becoming convenient is a work in progress.  Giving service throughout our lives is like being led down a beautiful path of stepping-stones.  However, to make service convenient, we must practice and practice.  I think about and study the life of our Savior. How he acted and how He served is an example to me.  Again, what was Jesus doing?
He said, " I will," He "touched," He "arose," He "turned him about," and 
He "was moved with compassion."  These are the characteristics of kindness and love.

He as not inconvenienced.  It was His way of life.  May we pray to make this our way of life also,
I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.