While sitting at church, I was perusing the hymn book (as I am sometimes wont to do) and started reading the lyrics to the hymn, 'I Need Thee Every Hour'. I've always liked the song, but it has never been a particular favorite. Usually it is associated in my mind with cries to God for help. "I NEED you. I need you to help me. Because I'm having a rough time of it." This time through, I was caught up by the lyrics to verse 3.
"I need thee every hour, in JOY or PAIN."
And I thought to myself, "This song isn't so much of a desperate plea as I've always thought it was." Or even further, it isn't just an acknowledgement of God's deity and our insignificance.
God has never said that our relationship with Him is only based on our need for Him to fix all of our problems. I think it makes Him happy when we share our happiness or joy with him. Think about it- in an example applicable to our own lives, if we were to only go to our friends when we were having a difficult day to complain or draw on their strength, that would be an EXHAUSTING relationship for them. I am by no means saying that the Savior can't handle that kind of a relationship. He can, He does, and I'm sure that He actually welcomes it. But! My point being! I want to try and make sure that I am also coming to Him with my JOY. That I am praying with just as much sincerity expressing my gratitude as I do when I am struggling. Which! I think is a difficult thing for all of us. When life is good and things are going smoothly, it's easy to half-heartedly pray to God, "Hey! Things are going really well. Thanks for that. I have no major complaints or issues... so I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow."
I'm glad that this hymn was able to remind me to make the Savior an active part of all of the happy things in my life. I think that is done through more sincere gratitude on my part. Not only expressing that gratitude through prayer, but also allowing myself to be happy and exude that happiness to those around me.
I love my Savior. I do need Him every hour, ALL the hours. The happy and the sad hours. And I am particularly grateful to know that He will be my friend through them all :)
My husband is very accident-prone when it comes to injuries. He was one of those kids who always had a scraped arm from climbing a tree, bruised knee from falling off his bike while going off a jump, or scratched arm from playing army man in the rose bushes. He has had some fairly serious injuries as well. He fell from a tree fort when he was 3 resulting in a depressed skull fracture, accidently cut his finger to the bone with a knife, had to have surgery on his knee after a skiing mishap, and even came close to losing sight in one eye after someone threw an ice ball. Out of all of his injuries, however, the one that affected his life the most was a tiny splinter in his finger. He recorded the experience in his journal:
“My dad and I work in construction so splinters are a regular occurrence. Dad had taught me to always pull out a splinter right after getting one, and one day I learned why. As I was moving lumber, a board slid out of the stack I was carrying. It rubbed up against my hand as it fell and I got a sliver in my finger. I tried half heartedly to get it out but it was lodged deep and hurt badly, so I decided to wait until I got home at the end of the day.
By the time I got home, my finger had swollen significantly and hurt even worse than before. I tried to get it out, but the pain was unbearable. So, I went to the splinter expert: “Dad, you have had millions of slivers, how do I get this one out?”
He explained that the body has an amazing healing process for slivers. It recognizes the splinter as a foreign object, so it festers, swells, bleeds, and builds pressure in an attempt to work it to the surface. It also shoots out pain signals, telling the brain something is wrong and has to be treated. The pressure and pain continue to build until you do something about it. The entry wound starts to heal, however, so it becomes harder to get out the longer you wait. After some painful surgery at the kitchen counter, I had dug the sliver out.
Several months later a Sunday school lesson on the atonement made me think back to the experience with the splinter and I learned a very valuable spiritual lesson. The spirit has a healing process for sin, much like the body has a healing process for splinters.
It recognizes sin as foreign thing-something that does not belong in someone of divine worth. It brings guilt, which President Packer refers to as “spiritual pain” letting us know something is wrong and has to be dealt with. If left untreated, our conscience festers and guilt continues to build until we do something about it. As time passes and the sin is repeated, it becomes harder and harder to overcome.”
Just like my husband, I know that the Savior is the “Great Physician” who lived and died in order for us to have the great cure-all of repentance. It is my prayer that we read the scriptures, attend church, and keep the commandments to learn how to treat our spiritual splinters. I know that as we do that, we can be healed.
Ten years ago this coming summer, I graduated from high school and moved 2,000 miles away from home to begin college. That first year away from home was rough on my heart. I deeply missed my family and friends, and I felt overwhelmed by the heaviness of the looming future. Sometime during that first year away from home, I came across a poem called “Steps to Happiness.” I don’t know who wrote the poem but the message resonated deeply with my heart. I printed out a copy of the poem and put it in a purple frame that resided on my desk throughout my college years. I’ve since lost that framed copy, and until a couple months ago, I had forgotten about the poem entirely.
About two months ago, I came across this poem again on the internet. As the poem did nine years ago, it lifted my spirits and brought perspective in a time when I needed it. Today I share that poem with you in the hopes that it will bring you strength as it has for me.
Steps to Happiness
You can’t be all things to all people.
You can’t do all things at once.
You can’t do all things equally well.
You can’t do all things better than everyone else.
Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.
You have to find out who you are, and be that.
You have to decide what comes first, and do that.
You have to discover your strengths, and use them.
You have to learn not to compete with others, because no one else is in the contest of “being you”.
You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.
You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.
You will have learned to live with your limitations.
You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due. And you’ll be a most vital mortal.
That you are a wonderful, unique person.
That you are a once-in-all history event.
That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.
That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish. And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.
As I looked at my cute baby, Olive, a few days ago I had this overwhelming feeling that she belongs to me. She is my baby. I don't own her, but she belongs to me in a way that I have a hard time bringing to words. She is the most precious thing in my possession. I don't want to let anything bad ever happen to her. I hope to love her so much that I can protect her from any bad thing. Which makes me think of Harry Potter and how his mother, Lily, saved his life from Lord Voldemort and how cool that would be if I could just put a shield of love around her at all times for the rest of her life. A kid tries to throw a rock at her at the playground in a few years, and said rock would just fall to the ground two feet from her face. HA! Nice try! Love shield deflected! If only...
Being a parent is incredible. It's terrifying--but incredible. And my love increases every minute. For her. For Joey. For my Heavenly Father. It has allowed me to feel in the smallest way how our He feels about us. He always loves us, even if that love doesn't manifest in a force field around us to keep us safe from the bad. He puts what is best for us first, even if it makes us upset/mad/sad/frustrated initially. Which, I already have to do with my little one. It might make her upset to have her diaper changed while it's happening, but we all know sitting in a dirty diaper forever will cause her more pain in the long run :)
My sweet Olive is loved by so many already. But most importantly, she is loved by her Father in Heaven. And it gets to be mine and Joey's job to teach her that for the rest of her life. Because it is the most important information she will ever learn, and will help her in every decision and heartache in her life. Closest thing to a Love Shield you can get in this cold, Muggle world (and, really it's even better).
"Who are we? We are children of God. Our potential is unlimited. Our inheritance is sacred." -Elder Russell M. Nelson
Last Sunday I was at a mission homecoming and a lady gave the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting. In her prayer she kept saying things like, "Please bless us that we will feel of thy love and know that we are important to thee" or "Help us to feel of thine approval and know that thou art aware of our efforts." I got the impression that this young mother was actually praying for herself or for someone else in particular. It was almost like she was trying to convince herself that Heavenly Father loves us and knows how hard we are trying.
As I have reflected on this prayer that obviously flowed straight from this sweet woman's heart I have realized that really all we want in life is to know that we are enough. We want to know that Heavenly Father is pleased with us and how hard we are trying because let's be honest some days it seems like we should just throw our hands up in the air and cry out, "I surrender! I can't figure this life thing out and I'll never be as good as I want to be. I'll never be good enough." As overdramatic as that may sound I think we've all felt it but then I realized that this is what the story of the fishes and the loaves from the New Testament is all about.
I love this story. I love it because it was never about bread and fish. It is about me. It is about you. It is about the miracle that Christ can work in our lives if we will just let Him. It is how we can come to understand that whatever we have to offer can be "enough."
Let's review the story.
Jesus needed food to feed the five thousand disciples who had gathered to hear his words. Andrew, Peter's brother, said, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes" (John 6:9). Five loaves of bread and two small fishes sounds like it would feed a decent size family but five thousand people? Probably not. We appreciate the effort Andrew but that's probably not going to cut it. But then we read:
"And when he (Jesus) had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men" (Mark 6:41-44).
It was a miracle. Somehow those five loaves and two fishes were made to be not only enough but more than enough. How was this possible? Through the power of the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ woke his apostles up in the Garden of Gethsemane after he had suffered for the sins, injustices, sadnesses, feelings of inadequacy, heartbreak and all of the sicknesses that any of us have or will ever experience, he said to them, "It is enough."
There are of course many reasons he may have uttered this phrase but this week as I read it I couldn't help but think that maybe he was talking to me, and to you, and to the lady that prayed at Church.
"It is enough" (Mark 14:41).
What He suffered and experienced in that garden was and is enough, and it is what makes us enough. All he asks is that we bring what we can and we do our very best; that we offer up our five loaves and two fishes in hopes that by so doing he can work a miracle in us. He can make us enough.
My beautiful little sister had a gorgeous baby girl over the Christmas break. As I was looking at this perfect cutiest babe, I wondered how God thinks of us. We are so limited in our knowledge and scope. He has to know that there will be difficult times ahead for us, but He chooses instead to focus on our potential and the wonderful experiences that lay in our future. We would never sit down and tell a baby, "Life is probably going to be really not fun sometimes. Sorry about that." And God doesn't do that with us either. He knows the difficulties we will experience more so than anyone, but yet he encourages us to have faith in Christ and hope for our future.
I am a fairly avid journaler. Mostly because no one deserves to hear everything I think in my brain :) But! Also because it helps me to be more self aware in the sense that I see areas in which I have grown and areas that still need to change. I am also able to better recognize divine patterns in my life. Heartbreak is always followed by moments of peace. Challenge is followed with accomplishment. Patient perseverance is often needed, but ultimately God has blessed me with a beautiful existence.
I wrote this in my journal the other week.
"I think right now I have too much fear in my life. I am afraid of being limited, not reaching my potential, settling for mediocrity. And as long as I have doubt/fear, I am limiting how God can bless my life.
So! I need to listen more. Live better. Serve diligently. Have patience. Trust. And not be afraid of the good things that are coming my way. Because they are just over the horizon. And in a not too distant day I will look back and praise God for loving me so much."
I know that now is a time to be thinking of all our "resolutions" to be better and accomplish our goals. I would like to challenge you to join me in working to be better about looking "forward with an eye of faith". And knowing that we will always do good by God :)
Love you all- and especially love you for helping me to grow my faith. Because guaranteed if you are reading this you have done that for me. Hope it's a beautiful day and year!
Christ was the perfect leader because he was the perfect follower
In a single day there are thousands of thoughts that leaf through my mind, pages of ideas, possibilities, and actions. I believe there are three main sources for these thoughts 1.) Myself 2.) The adversary 3.) The Holy Spirit.
The battle is always, which thoughts are from which source. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon that teaches how to judge:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.” –Moroni 7:16
Those thoughts are so important; they are the infancy of action and ultimately create what I will do and who I will become. Due to my total freedom to accommodate any of the three “voices” I can really be the master of my fate- to a certain degree. It is in that knowledge that I have come to understand the need to “follow”.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth he led the way, started his church, and atoned for all the sins of mankind. In every instance he remarked that he was doing the “will of him who sent me”; one who was the perfect follower marked the perfect leader, the perfect path. His strength was found in his willingness to obey with exactness the “will” of his Father.
My new years resolution is to follow that same example, to be a leader through being a follower. As I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is with me as a constant, and follow the “still, small” direct….”be kind” “talk to that person” “play with Samuel” “read your scriptures” “don’t eat that chocolate”….I can become more like Jesus Christ, I can become a lamb to his Shepherd.
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