Monday, November 26, 2012

No Victims Allowed

We had a Family Home Evening lesson tonight about victims.  Being a victim is a choice.  Some people who truly are victims by definition have chosen to not let themselves be victims.  It is a choice.  And we are free to make our choice and be what we choose to be - 2 Nephi 2. We can make ourselves victims when we really aren't or don't have to be, or we can be in the exact same circumstances as other "victims" and decide that the current unfortunate event will not define us, as taught by what Viktor Frankl witnessed and learned in a concentration camp (Man's Search for Meaning).  It's easy as you watch this video to see who of all these little people view themselves as victims and who don't (or kinda do but try to fight it):

Easy to tell, right?  Pretty much day and night.  Made us all laugh and smile, cause unfortunately we've all chosen to be victims in our lives, and as we could all plainly see in the Halloween candy video, it's not pretty.  We all know we haven't acted pretty more than once in our lives.  So, of these two choices ~ victim vs. survivors ~ who do I want to be like?  Kids, which of those kids do you want to be like?!  I love those happy kids who just roll with it, it'd make me want to give them anything/everything they want!  I admire the kids who are sad but try to control themselves and be brave.  "Be brave, even if you're not pretend to be, cause no one can tell the difference."  I laughed with understanding at the kids that cried/collapsed with sadness, and if any of my kids would have thrown things, hit me, or screamed, they would have truly lost their candy and gotten a serious talking to.  Not impressed, and it would have been a red flag for me as a parent if I saw my kid acting like that that something's gotta change.

We have to fight for joy, fight to choose to be happy despite hard/unfair/unfortunate turns of events in our lives.  I choose JOY!  I will fight for joy.  I'm still working at it, and I won't give up, cause I want happiness and joy.  Help me in this fight, dear Lord.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Enemy is Combined

“If the hunger for liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty.” - Will Durrant

What an amazing talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell -

Years ago, I wondered over the scriptural imagery of angels waiting “day and night” for “the great command” to come down and reap the tares in a wicked and suffering world; it seemed rather eager to me. (See D&C 38:12; D&C 86:5.) Given such massive, needless human suffering, I don’t wonder anymore!

Even so, the final reaping will occur only when the Father determines that the world is “fully ripe.” (D&C 86:7.) Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, the challenge is surviving spiritually in a deteriorating “wheat and tares” world. (See D&C 86:7.)

Yet we must not be intimidated or lose our composure even though the once morally unacceptable is becoming acceptable, as if frequency somehow conferred respectability!

I hear a call to repentance for those indulging in all types of immorality and sexual sin from those words above.  It doesn't matter what the world accepts as the new normal, God's law is God's law.

Abortion, which has increased enormously, causes one to ask, “Have we strayed so far from God’s second great commandment—love thy neighbor—that a baby in a womb no longer qualifies to be loved—at least as a mother’s neighbor?” 

Text of talk here ~ amazing how everything he shared seems even more relevant today, 20 years later.  God bless and help the world, He is in control and my hope is in HIM.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't Give Up

Corey is in Colombia right now, went down for business, still trying to get his business off the ground.  Had a meeting today with a company down there and things did not go well. 

from our skype conversation ~
Corey: Nothing worked today. Networks was too slow. Machines had so much restrictions we couldn't install anything. And when we removed those restrictions it still wouldn't work. Doh! And it all happened with professionals standing by.
Corey: right before we left, we tested in Gabriel's computer...didn't work but I did have a great feeling last night when we prayed
me: well, we'll have to cling to that feeling then, God is in it.  He's leading you along without letting you know where
Corey: but what is he leading me to? should I not assume business success? guess not. I'm feeling the fight leaving me...

I gave him this talk for listening homework - it's one of my all time favorites, it applies to my life everytime I listen to it even when the circumstances I'm in change.  We must remember the Lord's grace in times past, we can trust in Him, He will give us everything that He deems right and good for us.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Elusive Happiness

I was just listening to this talk by Elder Christofferson when I paused it to look up the video he referenced - this is Amar, a 14 year old boy from India and what a day in his life looks like:

How does it compare to my life?  Well, I felt pretty humbled, I think he works a lot harder than I do.  And how about comparing our happiness?  I think as a mother I do find the same kind of fulfillment that I'm guessing Amar does - pretty exhausting but so worth it.  I bet that compared to Amar there are many people in the world who would probably rank lower on the happy/content scale than him.  He works and serves everyday, and I judge that there are many people who find misery and unhappiness are their companions, because they are looking for joy in all the wrong places. If you want to find your life you've got to lose it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Humbly Receive

More from "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (have I mentioned that I absolutely love this book?)
From page 177-179 ~
Joy is a flame that glimmers only in the palm of the open and humble hand.  In an open and humble palm, released and surrendered to receive, light dances, flickers happy.  The moment the hand is clenched tight, fingers all pointing toward self and rights and demands, joy is snuffed out.  Anger is the lid that suffocates joy until she lies limp and lifeless.  And for me, it's a cosmic-numbing notion that far eclipses this domestic moment.  (She's relating a story of how she got angry when her children were chasing each other in the house and broke the glass of a cabinet door) It speaks to the whole of my life and the vision brands me: The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy—nothing else.  
Pride, mine—that beast that pulls on the mask of anger—this is what snaps this hand shut, crushes joy.  when I would read Henry Ward Beecher's words later, I'd take it for my own story, so familiar his thoughts: "Pride slays thanksgiving...A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."  Dare I ask what I think I deserve?  A life of material comfort?  A life free of all trials, all hardships, all suffering?  A life with no discomfort, no inconveniences?  Are there times that a sense of entitlement—expectations—is what inflates self, detonates anger, offends God, extinguishes joy?  

And what do I really deserve?  Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts, our bodies, our times, our very lives.  God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities—response-abilities—inviting us to respond to His love-gifts.  And I know and can feel tight: I'm responding miserably to the gift of this moment.  In fact, I'm refusing it.  Proudly refusing to accept his moment, dismissing it as no gift at all, I refuse God.  I reject God.  
I look down at the shattered glass, glass that brings memories, glass that gives me eyes to see in.  And I see: I had thought joy's flame needed protecting.  

All these years, these angers, these hardenings, this desire to control, I had thought I had to snap the hand closed to shield joy's fragile flame from the blasts.  In a storm of struggles, I had tried to control the elements, clasp the fist tight so as to protect self and happiness.  But palms curled into protective fists fill with darkness.  I feel this sharply, even in this ... and this realization in all it's full emptiness: My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy. 
Flames need oxygen to light. Flames need a bit of wind.

All light seen is light from the past and light now old from the sun streams through the windows, glints off the glass shards.  Broken glass ignites in light and there it is, the secret of joy's flame: Humbly let go.  Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control... let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.  Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for you's fire.  Leave the hand open and be.  Be at peace.  Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because he only gives love ~ and (I) whisper surprised thanks. 
This is the fuel for joy's flame.  Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will.  And I can empty.  I can empty because counting his graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me I can empty because I am full of His love.  I can trust.  

I can let go.

Let go of fear, let go of resisting the pain that comes with life, feel it, be real and feel, then open your heart and let Christ come and comfort, He will always come to us if we open our hearts to receive Him.

Here is a talk by President Packer along these lines ~ "Guided by the Holy Spirit"

Friday, November 9, 2012


While I believe I've pretty much recovered from my depression over the Presidential election, I am still lamenting what might have been...
From One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, page 175 ~

Lament is a cry, a belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty.  Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love beat of the Father's heart.  God's anger kindles hot when the essence of the complaint implies doubt in His love...

Doesn't God Himself express righteous indignation, wounded deep with His own sinning Israelite children?  Didn't God's heart often break?  Didn't he grieve and rage and feel rejection (Genesis 6:6, Exodus 4:14)  I read it in the pages of Scripture, lines of His own story, the Joy-God owning His own grief, so I won't be Naaman and I won't pretend I don't feel any pain.  

My heart aches for Mitt and Ann Romney who sacrificed so much and worked so hard offering us a better America, and to have the voice of the people to reject the better way that they offered.  I feel like America is ripening for destruction and rejecting God.  It's tragic but we have been warned and it's coming to pass.  So I feel sorry for the Romney family, but more than that I feel sorry for America. Continuing from the book:

Army chief Naaman (2 Kings 5:1), Naaman with the grotesque leprosy that thickens the skin numb.  numbness, too, can twist the body beastlike.  In the end, it's the numbness that kills you.  So I will be real and I will feel life and I will be Naaman who bends the knee, enters the muddy waters of emotions.  True lament is the bold faith that trusts Perfect Love enough to feel and cry authentic.

I may feel disappointment and the despair may flood high, but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions.  While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.
I trust in God and I thank Him.  I know that He loves the world and everything He does is for the benefit of the world.  I pray for President Obama that he may seek wisdom in guiding our country.  As he said in his victory speech "We rise and fall together as one nation."  I don't want America to fall, but Thy will be done.  My family and I will trust in God, not government, we'll strive to be ready for the difficult days ahead and we will stand strong in this promised land where Christ is King.

An Easier Way?

I've recovered from my post-election results depression.  God has commanded us to not fear, and that is what I will cleave to.  I know that there will be many mountains to climb and struggles to face in the future, but God is with us, who can be against us?  He is my shadow by day and my pillar by night.  I love the Lord and will live my life fully for him, no matter what happens in the world around me, I will see the good and see His hand, He is in control.  Go forward with faith in every footstep.

Just listened to an amazing talk by Elder Holland called "The Inconvenient Messiah" that helped these feelings of determined optimism to be resolved.  My favorite part:

"If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived. " - Elder Holland

If Mitt Romney had won, I had hopes that this world had a little more time to work, repent, and prepare, and that it would be a little easier than suffering through this tough Obama Economy and tolerating the taunts of those around us who do not fear God or think his commandments have any merit.  We are in for hard times ahead... We need not fear, look to the light house of the Lord and build upon His rock, he will lead us through the darnkenss...

More from Elder Holland's talk ~

Should earning our place in the kingdom of God be so difficult? Surely there is an easier way? Can't we buy our way in? Every man or woman does have a price, don't they? Can't you buy anything in this world for money? Sometimes we wonder. I offer one sobering fact about our lives together. BYU is not here to help you make money. Any university in this land can do that. We hope your education brings income sufficient for your needs, but we have no mission at all if we are simply turning you out into the best current job market, whatever and wherever that may be. BYU has been established to extend to you the very glory of God, his intelligence, his light, and his truth. And that light and truth, by scriptural promise, is to forsake the evil one, your tempter. No, not everyone does have a price. Some things can't be purchased. Money and fame and earthly glory are not our eternal standard. Indeed these can, if we are not careful, lead to eternal torment.

Emerson said once,
Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.
["Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing," Poems]

Well, at BYU we refuse to be ridden. As much as this university and this Church and you and I as individuals need the wherewithal to feed and clothe ourselves and further the work of the kingdom, we do not need to sell our souls to get them. And here again, we are tempted to think there is an easy way, a fast buck, that in the world's goods and the glories of men's kingdoms, we may ride through reaping, as the very convenient Messiah. But why do we think it when it was never so for Him? What do we do with a stable for birthplace and a borrowed tomb at his death? And in his lifetime? Not one single mention of earthly possessions. 

I now know that life will not get easier temporally for us in the years ahead, but that doesn't mean that my happiness and joy needs to be diminished.  I will cleave to God even more, Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Lord Will Not Forsake Us

As I think today about the future for my little family, I will pray for the Lord to give me hope in my heart cause I truly need it (feeling much like this right now)

"Things work out, it isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out, don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in him, if we will pray to him, if we will live worthy of his blessings, he will hear our prayers.” - President Gordon B. Hinckley 
While it hurts to be defeated and feel broken, I trust it will help me to best learn what he wants me to do to serve him. Ultimately, this things I do here in my home will bless me and my children more than the things that happen in Washington.  I have my husband and children with me, I have the word of God, I have everything I need, I put my trust in Him and not in man.  What happens in our hearts and homes is more important than any election result.  I will do my part to make my home and neighborhood a better place. 

It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. ("Broken Things," an excerpt from Vance Havner) quoted in this talk

I have a firm conviction that, if we trust in him, the growth and development and challenges we experience in life will be part of His design and ministry.
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