Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What Does Charity Mean to Me

I have found myself reflecting on what does Charity mean to me?
I posed this question to myself quite a few months ago and intended to share my thoughts here at that time but this blog post has been sitting in my draft column until now.

I had been reading and once again stumbled on a story about Elder James E Talmage who has authored some great books one in particular is "Jesus The Christ."
That book touched me deeply.
For anyone wanting to learn about the Savior I would highly recommend this book.

Shortly after I had finished that book I came across this story about Elder Talmage that has stayed with me for many years:

"Elder James E. Talmage, a man who is remembered for his doctrinal teachings,
showed great kindness to a neighbor family in distress. 
They were complete strangers to him. 
Before he was an Apostle, as a young father, he became aware of great suffering at a neighbor’s home whose large family was stricken with the dreaded diphtheria. 
He did not care that they were not members of the Church;
his kindness and charity moved him to act. 
The Relief Society was desperately trying to find people to help, but no one would because of the contagious nature of the disease.
When he arrived, James found one toddler already dead and two others who were in agony from the disease.
He immediately went to work, cleaning the untidy house, preparing the young body for burial, cleaning and providing for the other sick children, spending the entire day doing so.
He came back the next morning to find that one more of the children had died during the night.
A third child was still suffering terribly.
He wrote in his journal: “She clung to my neck, ofttimes coughing [germs] on my face and clothing, … yet I could not put her from me.
During the half hour immediately preceding her death, I walked the floor with the little creature in my arms. 
She died in agony at 10 A.M.” 
The three children had all departed within the space of 24 hours.
He then assisted the family with the burial arrangements and spoke at their graveside services. 
This he did all for a family of strangers.
 What a great example of Christlike kindness!" 
(Joseph B. Wirthlin, GC, Apr 2005)

This past Saturday, I had my Spa Day Activity, which had been inspired moths ago during a conversation with a Branch Sister.

As I was visiting with my friends, who do not share my beliefs about my idea, many immediately jumped on board with ideas to make this activity a fun filled day.

One offered to share her knowledge of essential oils, while others shared their favorite home spa treatment recipes
to share with attendees.
One jumped right in and assisted with the planning and decorating ideas.
 Another made lip balms to go with the goodie bags. 
One friend hooked me up with a friend of hers who operates a little bath boutique where I was able to get some spa day soaps etc for goodie bags.
At the last moment I asked a friend to share with us how to make bath salts and 
a good friend donated all the supplies for that activity. 
My artsy friend made us a beautiful post card of the message I wanted to share with my friends and sisters that day.
My true blue friend had been to the church the night before to set up and came back to the church when I got home late that evening to assist me with the finishing touches since I had to work that Saturday.

Others assisted with the baking treats and at the end of the day stayed and helped with the clean up.
Oh, how I love my friends!!!!!

I think Heavnly Father had other ideas for my Spa Day because I I had all these great spa activities planned;
and spoke with other friends who were anxious to assist and share their talents also.
Bt as the day approached life happened and many had to back out.

My faithful organizing friend made up the difference by taking time out of her busy life to create a folder
 with at home spa tips and getting spa day items for door prizes.  
We went shopping to purchase other needed items to fill out blessing bags for the less fortunate.
Another friend gave me a bag of sample sized soaps, lotions and hair care items for the bags.
We were looking to get decorative bags for our spa day goodie bags and on the day of activity we discovered we had bought easter basket sized bags for our goodies. 
So our goodies wound up in extra sandwich bags.

The treats were heavenly.
Thank goodness for friends who love to bake and cook.

Our turnout was fair.
Some regular faces and some new faces.
My friends from all over the Magic Valley got to meet a few of my Branch Sisters.
Everyone visited shared ideas and shared some smiles:)

We had a table set up for our blessing bags and the ladies scrambled around that table filling our bags with the
donated spa items.

I was standing back taking everything in, some of my friends were still seated at the table visiting while another group was at the bagging station.
As I looked at both groups my heart began to swell inside and this immense outpouring of love began to flow through my entire being and then I heard in my heart and mind, "This is what Charity means to you."

It was at that moment I realized that I had not taken any pictures, so I grabbed my phone and snapped this one picture of my friends sitting at the pretty vacant table visiting with a couple of my Branch Sisters.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind
and envieth not, and is not puffed up,
 seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked
thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity 
but rejoiceth in the truth, 
beareth all things, believeth all things, 
hopeth all things, endureth all things."

"But charity is the pure love of Christ,
 and it endureth forever
and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, 
it shall be well with him."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Our Divine Nature

With Mother's Day fast approaching I have found myself reflecting on my mother, my grand mothers, my aunts and cousins many who are on the other side of the veil and how blessed I have been because of their knowledge and total awareness of their divine natures.

During this period of reflection I found myself searching for a devotional message I heard months ago by Elder Pace.  It originally aired in 2010.
In his devotional Elder Pace was talking about the Divine Nature and Destiny of Women

In one section of his thoughts, he talked about the creation of Mother Eve and his words struck me:

"...Milton goes on to suggest that God delayed the introduction of Eve 
until Adam could fully appreciate her.
Seeing that Adam is now ready for the introduction of Eve,
God describes what is going to happen next.
I love Milton's description of what Eve would mean to Adam:

What next I bring shall please thee,
be assur'd, thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
thy wish exactly to thy hearts desire.

"Thy fit help?"  No, this doesn't mean she would be in good shape.
It means she would be a match, a complement, a counterpart, 
even his "other self."
Finally, Eve stood before him, and she exceeded his highest expectations.
He has never seen anything like her in the garden.
Milton continues:

Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely so fair,
That what seem'd fair in all the world, seem'd now
Mean, or in her summ'd up, in her contain'd,
And in her looks, which from that time infus'd
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before.

I hope Milton will forgive me for adding my opinion that "sweetness" 
Adam felt, which was "unfelt before," was much more than that
which was generated by Eve's physical appearance.
Those feelings flowing into him had as their source her wellspring.
His feelings were the direct result of standing in front of one of the daughters
of heavenly parents who had a divine nature different from,
but complementary to, his own divine nature."

I am surrounded by heart broken friends who feel they are "nothing and nobody."
I believe they have been saturated by the worlds view of beauty.
Again I would like to share some of Elder Pace's Thoughts:

"The world we live in has gone awry with its focus on the physical,
the vital areas of intellectual, emotional and spiritual union are not being placed
in an environment where they can flourish and grow.
Our current society is so obsessed with "making love"
that they are not developing a complete relationship that would
enable them to "express love...
Sisters, keep in mind anything that detracts from your divine nature should be avoided.
You live in a time when you have more opportunities and options available to you
than any other women have had through-out the history of mankind.
Some of these options will complement your God-given natures.
Others will chip away at it.
Some things will make you strong.
Others will make you hard.
Some will increase your spiritual sensitivity.
Others will separate you from the Spirit."

Toward the end of his remarks he shared this Quaker proverb:

 "Thee lift me and I'll lift thee and we'll both ascend together."

He then asked this profound question:  "What will happen when we finally "ascend together?"

He then quoted this verse from one of my families favorite hymns, "Oh My Father:"

"When I leave this frail existence
When I lay this mortal by
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length when I've completed
All you sent me here to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you."

He then closed with this powerful testimony that sank deep within my heart:

"Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and look into her eyes and behold Her countenance,
any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom 
will evaporate into the rich celestial air, 
because at that moment you will see standing directly inf front of you,
your divine nature and destiny."

I believe with all my heart that the reasons his parting words rang deep within my soul was because as a child growing up I had been surrounded by women who knew their divine nature and destiny
 ie my mother, my aunts, my grand-mas, my female cousins and life long friends who have molded and continue to mold me into the woman I have become and the woman I hope to be.

Oh how my heart longs for the day when I shall not only be in the presence of my loved ones but I shall be in the presence of my Heavenly Parents and once again bask in the warmth of  their eternal love.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"I've got to find out who I am"

"I am so grateful for the joy and peace that is so much a part of my life and the knowledge that I am a divine daughter of a Divine Heavenly Father and that He knows my name personally and He is aware of my fears heartache and challenges. I also know that He is always there listening and bringing peace when my soul becomes troubled. He is my best friend." (May 1 2011)

Five years ago today I posted this thought on my FB feed now five years later do you think I can remember what touched me to post that thought....sadly I can't.

Today this first day of May 2016 I am finding my thoughts being taken back many years ago during a period of my life I was not sure who I was or where I belonged.  
It was during that period I stumbled across this song and its lyrics touched me deeply.

Michael McClean penned these inspired words and they were on a Seminary CD I had purchased.  Music has always been a source of inspiration and peace when I found myself struggling.

I've Got to Find Out Who I Am
I've Got to Find Out Who I Am
The melody’s familiar,
I’ve heard this song before.
It’s been around the thousand years,
Or maybe even more.
And everybody’s sung it,
At least I think they’ve tried,
But even when the singing’s done
This song goes on inside.
I’ve got to find out who I am  
I’ve got to find out who I am
Got to know. And got to see what’s making me, me
I’ve got to when I do I know I’ll be what I can
When I find out who I am.
I’ll be all I can.
When I find out who I am.
And when I do know
I’ll be what I can.
When I find out who I am.
I’ll be all I can.
When I find out who I am.

Text:  Michael McLean
Music:  Michael McLean

Music still speaks to my soul and it still continues to inspire me but now I find when
 I am finding adrift reach out to friends some who share my beliefs and many who don't we wind up talking, crying and hugging.
Recently on one such visit my friend started crying and made this comment,
"I've got to work on me and rediscover who I am before I try and build something more."  
The lyrics to this song instantly started playing through my mind and I remembered a talk I had given in Sacrament many years ago based the lyrics of this song.
Needless to say we were both in tears but smiling because as the song stated, 

"When I find out who I am, I'll be all I can, When I find out who I am."

What a beautiful message of hope! 

Today I was visiting with a friend who has always been an anchor for me. 
 Her hand was always there to lift and cheer me on.

On this visit we both realized we were both emotional train wreaks dealing with long suppressed issues that we had buried and tried to run away from. 
I was amazed at how similar our stories were and what we were doing to try and avoid these suppressed emotions.

We smiled as we both agreed we were our own stumbling blocks:)

I shared with her the experience I had with my other friend and how the lyrics to that long ago song had run through my mind and how I had based a talk on the lyrics of that song. 
(A talk which by the way, I can't even remember, I just remember reading the lyrics of this song after I had shared some thoughts.)

We shared how each of us were trying to overcome these issues and what a struggle it was to let go of this long held baggage along with other insights we had gained.

As we parted I asked my friend not to be such a stranger and with tears in her eyes she sobbed, "but I have nothing I can offer you.  My first reply was "well my friend we are both in the same boat cause right now I have nothing I can offer you."  But as I drove home this thought came into my mind, "No you may not have any pearls of wisdom to share with your friend right now but you can offer her love, your friendship and your arms."
I shared that insight with my friend that she could offer me her love, her friendship and her arms.
In my eyes that is one of the definitions of Charity, The pure love of Christ.

As I was collecting my thoughts on what I wanted to write I immediately seen on my FB feed that post I had posted five years ago;and I found myself looking deep within my soul to see if anything had changed and there has been a lot of change a change in me from who I was then to who I am now.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a Divine Daughter of my Heavenly Father and there is no doubt in my mind that He does know my name personally.  But not only me He know each and every ones name on this giant earth and His love for each and every one of us is so deep we cannot even begin to comprehend that love in this mortal life but I believe that is why He blessed us with Families so we could have a taste of that divine love.
Sadly there are many who are not born into loving families they are born into as President Uchdorf commented in his priesthood address, "disposable families." 
(will share his thoughts on another post)

My heart breaks for those who come from broken homes.

Like some of my friends I became broken in life by thoughtless and careless actions and words of others around me.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am the Queen of Issues and that I have always been a runner.

At a young age I started molding myself into what others wanted me to be. 
I wore so many different masks that like my one friend I had forgotten who I was.  
As I was searching I stumbled upon that song.

I am now 50 years of age and I thought I had a pretty good handle on who I am but because of those long buried issues I find myself in a battle with myself.  
My trusted beloved friend is encouraging me to let go of that long held baggage because He sees me so differently than I see myself and He truly wants me to become the best I can and I know in my heart He truly has my best interest at heart but it is so hard to let go of something that has protected me for so many years yet I know as I told my friend today my holding on is causing me to stumble and I have no one to blame but me.

A Christian singer by the name of Hawk Nelson I believe has a new song about the Lord turning us into diamonds.  
I have worked my way to that chunk of coal and He now feels it is time to start molding me into a diamond 
(but doggone it I just hate diamonds:)

So, just keep murmuring about what a classic chunk of coal I've become and He keeps reminding me

 "I'll be all I can
When I find out who I am"