Wednesday, February 25, 2015


"Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith." (Mosiah 23:21)

When I came across this verse while reading the Book of Mormon the other day, I realized that this is my life. My patience and my faith are constantly being tried through daily life experiences. Ten years ago it was making it through my sophmore year of college. Five years ago it was almost losing myself in debilitating anxiety. Two years ago, it was my husband's brain surgery. Today, it is taking care of two beautiful children after a sleepless night. Who knows what next year's test will be, or even tomorrow's.

But I am realizing that this is what it boils down to: Will I turn to Heavenly Father and do life His way, relying on the help and grace of His son, Jesus Christ? And then will I be patient as I go through each day and trust that He is answering my prayers and delivering me from my own forms of bondage, even if I don't see the results right away?

It is so hard sometimes to remember, to keep that perspective. So I appreciate the reminder that is in the story of Alma and the members of the church during his time (story found in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon). They had all recently heard the word of God, first through the prophet Abinadi, and then through Alma, who had listened to Abinadi's words, felt their truth, and then repented and with the Savior's help, changed his way of life. Many people listened to Alma and felt the truth of his words and underwent the same transformation. They had willingly chosen to turn away from past ways and turn toward God and His way of living, when another group of people found them and essentially subjugated them. Seems a little strange that God would reward the people who turn to Him with physical defeat and subjugation.

However, Alma and his people did not despair. They simply prayed -- I imagine they prayed more fervently and frequently and:

"And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage." (Mosiah 24:15-16)

The Lord did not remove the burden right away, but He did strengthen them and their ability to function with the burden still on their backs. I don't know how long Alma and his people had to live under the dominance of another government. But however long it was, they remained faithful and true to the God to whom they had pledged themselves and eventually, their faith and patience was "so great" that the Lord completely delivered them out of physical bondage.

To have that kind of faith and patience--the kind that draws power down from heaven--the kind that brings deliverance. That is the kind of faith and patience I want. But it seems you only get that kind of faith and patience through difficulty and struggles and heartaches. Consider Abraham and Sarah who wanted a child. Consider what Abraham was asked to do once he had the child. Consider Job. Consider Noah's family on that long ride in the ark. Consider the widow and Elijah. Consider just about every story in the scriptures--every life story, in fact.

I had the privilege of knowing a wonderful man who, like all of us, had experienced difficult things in his life. But it was amazing to watch the way he devoted just about every scrap of time to trying to help others. I remember one story that I heard him tell multiple times. Every time he told it, I wondered why he kept repeating it. I thought he might be going a bit senile. It was a simple story that went something like this: At church one day, he noticed a woman he knew become very emotional. When he approached her to ask if he could help her in any way, she merely said that she was fine. That God had just recently answered a prayer that she had been praying for 20+ years.

I am beginning to understand why that story deserves to be repeated. That woman is the epitome of faith and patience.

One last thought: Later on in Alma's story, the "immediate goodness of God" is mentioned in relation to his people's deliverance from bondage (Mosiah 25:10). But the thing is, they weren't immediately delivered. They had to endure the burdens for awhile before deliverance came. So though escape from sorrow and pain and trial did not come immediately, it was still evident to them that God was immediately good. He is always immediately good, even if we don't recognize how the situation we are in will ever be for our good.

I have so much to learn about patience and faith.

"Paul, speaking to the Hebrews, brings us up short by writing that, even after faithful disciples had 'done the will of God,' they [had] need of patience' (Hebrews 10:36). How many times have good individuals done the right thing only to break or wear away under subsequent stress, canceling out much of the value of what they had already so painstakingly done? Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in patiently, not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years. Paul speaks of the marathon of life and of how we must 'run with patience the race that is set before us' (Hebrews 12:1).  Paul did not select the hundred-meter dash for his analogy." Neal A. Maxwell, Patience, BYU Devotional, November 1979

Whose 2 year old just voluntarily went and took a nap. Miracles happen.

"There is also a dimension of patience which links it to a special reverence for life. Patience is a willigness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance. Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising. So it is with us. If we are are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be.

When we are impatient, we are neither reverential nor reflective because we are too self-centered. Whereas faith and patience are companions, so are selfishness and impatience. It is so easy to be confrontive without being informative; so easy to be indignant without being intelligent; so easy to be impulsive without being insightful. It is so easy to command others when we are not in control of ourselves."

Neal A. Maxwell, Patience, BYU Devotional, November 1979

Monday, February 16, 2015

Little Children

Recently I have taken on more responsibilities regarding our 2.5 year-old daughter, due to the fact that we have a new baby in the house. For the most part, this has been an enjoyable experience. Entirely, it is a learning experience. One of the great things about being a parent is the perspective it gives about my own parents, including my Heavenly Parents, and my relationship with them.

A few weeks ago around bed time my daughter was putting up a fight and she dropped her water bottle, which she is very attached to (fortunately it is nearly indestructible plastic; one of the great advancements of our age). In her highly emotional state she cried for me to pick it up for her. The bottle was probably six inches from her foot. All she had to do was bend over and pick it up. Because it was so easy for her to do, I declined to do it for her and told her to pick it up. And she really hollered about it. At this point we were both feeling stubborn, I suppose. I was irritated that she was having such a meltdown over something both insignificant and easily remedied. I'm not sure what she was feeling, except that she didn't want to pick up the bottle.

In my head I was thinking, You silly child, the bottle is RIGHT NEXT TO YOU! Just PICK IT UP! At the same time I had to wonder how many times Heavenly Father has had similar thoughts regarding me and my behavior (although certainly His thoughts are more loving than mine were). How many time have I just needed to reach out and grab whatever it was I was looking for, but didn't because I was distracted by emotions or other temporal needs and desires? And how often have I demanded His help when He has already provided whatever I need? More often than I can imagine, I imagine.

One of the reasons I don't see or comprehend or accept His offers is explained by these verses in Isaiah 55, which I have used before:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It's my continued responsibility to seek to understand His ways and thoughts, in order to become more like Him.

--Who is glad for a day that actually feels like winter, but hopes it doesn't last very long

Evie and her water bottle

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Imagine a World Where It Is Never Too Late

Imagine a world and life in which you can make mistakes, experience physical, mental, and emotional pain, and make some really poor choices and have the effects (not necessarily the consequences--but the effects of the pain and choices on our bodies and spirits) entirely erased. You would still gain all of the learning and wisdom and experience that come from mistakes and pain and choices...but any negative effects would not be permanent.

That is, in fact, what our Heavenly Father promises if we turn to Him in faith. If we love Him (which means we will strive to keep his commandments (John 14:15).

He tells us that "[. . .] all things work together for good to them that love God [. . .]" (Romans 8:28) Not some things. Not just the good choices we make. All things work together for our good.

This is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ--through His mortal life, His suffering in Gethsamane, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, 3 days later.

"Jesus was . . . a being of flesh and spirit, but He yielded not to temptation (see Mosiah 15:5). We can turn to Him . . . because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle. . . . The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us (see 3 Nephi 27: 16-20). It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation. As we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble."

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "That They May Be One in Us"

The more I live and make mistakes, the more grateful I am for my life and the learning experience it is for me--the more I am grateful for the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and His Son--the kind of love that turns darkness into light (or scarlet to white (Isaiah 1:18) and can pull beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). So if I have anything to say today and hopefully every day, it is this: It is never to late. You and I have never gone too far. God can make all things work together for your and my good. He can "erase the effects of sin" in you and in me.

Last of all, awhile ago, I put together a little picture montage to go with my favorite arrangement (arranged by Rob Gardner) of my favorite hymn. The words to the song are below.

Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish;
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish.
Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, Light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
"Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot cure."

Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav'n can remove.

Text: Thomas Moore, 1779-1852. Verse three, Thomas Hastings, 1784-1872

-who wishes she could sing like the girl in the video and compose music like Rob Gardner....