Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 29, 2009

My mind immediately went to testimonies this morning. I’m not certain why, except to think this is something my Heavenly Father would like me to write about today. It wasn’t until several minutes later I remembered today is Fast and Testimony meeting for our Church and I thought perhaps this is where I need to bear my testimony.

For those who may not know, Fast and Testimony meeting occurs once a month in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church). While it typically comes on the first Sunday of the month, twice a year it’s moved to either a week before (like today) or a week after when we have General Conference (an annual and semi-annual broadcast from our worldwide leaders). We fast (don’t eat) for two meals, beginning and ending with a prayer, and it’s usually done with a purpose in mind: struggles or questions we may have, in behalf of others who may be sick, etc. Then during our main meeting in Church we are given the chance to stand and bear our testimonies.

Testimonies are precious things. They can take a lifetime to build, and are put together by a combination of careful study of the scriptures, loads of prayer, much teaching and learning, personal experiences and then the testifying of the Holy Spirit. In some people they are strong throughout their entire lives. For others, well, the testimonies may crumble, though we all hope they will eventually be rebuilt.

Perhaps some of the strongest testimonies one hears come from the mouths of children. They have such an incredible ability to trust and know what they are being told is true. When they state the words, “I know Jesus Christ lived,” it is done with all the trust and knowledge their little hearts can hold!

And yet…there always seems to come a time when that knowledge is challenged. As we grow from children into teens, we begin to doubt what we’ve been taught all along. Though you may not believe it, this is a good thing. Every child of God must move from relying on the testimonies of parents and church leaders into gaining our own firm testimonies. This process can be frightening for those parents and leaders, but it is the time for them to trust they taught all they needed to teach – providing a fixed and solid foundation – and rely on the Holy Spirit to help guide the teens toward the right path.

A little over a year ago I was directed to an article written by a woman who was very anti-Mormon. Her basic idea revolved around how Mormons bear their testimonies, and how she helped a friend from being swayed by what she believed really happens.

I had to separate myself from writer and Church member as I read her article. As a writer it was obvious the “story” was contrived, made up in her head. There were too many things that could have gone wrong for it to have truly gone so smoothly. It was also obvious she didn’t really understand the Mormon Church, as she got several things wrong in her account of what she believes to be true.

As a Church member I only felt sadness. Her belief as to what a Mormon’s testimony entailed was to 1. Stare the person right in the eye. You had to make eye contact, and 2. Say the words, “I know” to everything.

It’s true, when we bear our testimonies we do meet the eyes of those we are speaking to, and the words “I know” flow from our lips for one simple reason: we know! I believe anyone who has ever stated a spiritual truth has done the same, not matter what church they belong to.

This woman did not recognize the third step to bearing one’s testimony. We as members of the Church have no control over this third step, but it is vital in the convincing power of what we attempt to portray.

Before I tell you what it is, let me continue with this article. At one point the writer is confronting her friend, who talks of the warm and overwhelming feeling she experienced when the Mormons had given their testimonies. To this the woman said something to the effect of, “Don’t believe it. It’s not real. It’s a trick.”

Those words were powerful, but not in furthering God’s work. They broke my heart the moment I read them, and I ached for this lost, misguided and well-meaning woman. Why? She just taught this friend of hers not to trust the third step in the testimony process: the witness of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Holy Ghost. No matter what you name him he is the key, the most vital step in gaining and giving one’s testimony. It is that warm and gentle feeling, that sudden knowledge of peace, that gentle heavenly witness that what we are hearing is the truth. It is his influence that converts, that helps seal our belief into knowledge, that testifies to our own spirits and the spirits of others.

I walked away from the article with a heartfelt prayer that even if this writer did convince her friend not to join our Church, hopefully she at least didn’t teach her not to trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

I’d like to leave you today with my own testimony. Trust when I say these are things I’ve known in my heart for too many years to count. They are things I’ve studied, been taught, have been prayed over, have counseled with others about, and have of a surety been told by the Holy Spirit that they are true.

I know Jesus Christ is the Savior. I know He lived, and that one day He will live again. I know He endured more for our sakes than we will ever be asked to endure. I know that He did this all so that the Father’s plan of salvation could be fulfilled. I know that He loves me, and understands everything I am called to bear, bring upon myself, or must suffer due to the choices of others.

I also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the Lord’s Church restored at this time. I know the Book of Mormon is His word and teachings, given to help guide us through these latter days, coupled with the Holy Bible, and brought to light by Joseph Smith. I know Joseph Smith to have been called of God as a prophet. I know this mortal man endured more than we can ever recognize in his efforts to bring this Church back to the earth.

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church with the whole truth, that it only leads us into a better, happier way of life if we will simply follow the precepts. I know it’s not an easy Church to belong to, but I would rather struggle here than get by somewhere else.

I know so many other things, but this I want to leave you with. I have stated what I know to be true, but it’s okay if you don’t know it. This is my testimony. It is what the Holy Spirit has witnessed to me. It is something that cannot be taken away from me, no matter how the winds may howl nor how loud others may say nay. I know, and it is enough for me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Can't Dance...So Don't Ask Me!

Actually I can dance, although I don't do it any more. Too many things jiggle in all the wrong places. The title was inspired by three of my children, who got up to jam to the "Highschool Musical" soundtrack tonight.

No one really expects a two-year old to have solid moves. And even at seven you can't expect much. What makes me laugh is my oldest, who not only believes she can dance, but also thinks she's the smoothest thing on two feet since Grace Kelly. The problem is...she can't, and she's not!
There's no rhythm in her movements, no hip in her hop, and not even a smidge of grace in her kelly. She is utterly unaware of how her arms flail, her legs fly, and her head flops in her efforts to dance her little heart out.

I will never be the one to tell her, though. I'll let some rude and inconsiderate peer tell her that, and then take all the credit for being her loving supportive mother. So long as she's having fun and getting a bit of exercise without realizing it, she can continue to live in ignorant bliss.

Besides, I distinctly recall thinking the exact same thing about myself when I was her age...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 22, 2009

The truth is I've been feeling quite inspiration-less these last two weeks. Though I have a good day every now and again, my depression has hit a point when I can no longer claim I can take care of it myself.

Earlier last week I lay on the couch, completely unable to move. I was so physically tired I fell asleep, even when I kept telling myself no because I did have to pick up my son from school. If my husband hadn't called and woken me up, I don't know if I would have made it to pick B up on time. Only a day or so later it was time for me to fix dinner. You have no idea what an extraordinary effort it took to get me into the kitchen, only to cook up something simple.

For several months now my husband has been encouraging me to go into our family doctor to talk about the possibility of depression medication. Likewise my mother has been gently suggesting I speak with a therapist. To both of these ideas I said no, not because I didn't think I could benefit from them, but rather because I never wanted to feel as though I was taking what seemed to me an easier or more selfish road. Easier because taking a pill doesn't require much effort. Selfish because I think of what others in my own neighborhood are enduring, and what are my problems compared to theirs? How can I justify taking someone else's slot with a therapist when someone else who is far more needful of counseling might be there instead?

I've been on depression meds before. Shortly after the death of our son I needed something to help me cope with life. I only had to be on them a few months, but they were precisely what I needed to get back on my feet. Of course that was nine years ago. I did well for several years, but these last few have seen me struggling to pull myself out of this dark and oppressive state of being.

This last year has by far been the worst. I don't know precisely what has set me off on such a downhill course, but there has been no going back uphill. I have good days, but how sad is it to say I have some good days, rather than the occasional bad day.

But no, I needed no help. With the Spring things would get better. With a bit of exercise I could feel happier. If I ate a little better my outlook would brighten. I would read my scriptures more, pray more, attend church with more determination, soaking in every word I heard or taught. By sheer force of will I would get better.

And for a day or two, I would, but the sadness invariably settled back in, sometimes worse than before. This last week when my husband again suggested going to the doctor, I did not immediately say no. Instead I asked for a blessing.

There are no words to describe what it feels like to have the hands of worthy and righteous holders of the priesthood placed on one's head preparatory to having a blessing bestowed. On Saturday my husband, my father, and my younger brother all did so, and gave to me a blessing from my Heavenly Father. Many things were said, more than I had expected and most of which I've forgotten. One thing rang loud and clear. "You can't do this on your own," I was told. "This is an hindrance," it was said.

Here is when this post will become an inspiration rather than a pity party. We all have crosses to bear, some we take on ourselves, some which are placed upon us due to the choices of others, and some God gives us to help us grow and learn. In all things we must do everything in our power to do all we can to bear our crosses. Then, and here's the part you really need to concentrate on, there are times when we must finally acknowledge we honestly have done all we can.

The Lord does not intend for us to suffer needlessly, not when there are no more lessons to be learned nor when there are ways to help us get better. Some of us get this idea early on and are able to find the blessings of health without putting ourselves through unnecessary hardships. Other of us (and I definitely include myself in this group) are a bit stubborn in relenting and admitting we honestly can't do it all on our own.

My Heavenly Father and my Brother want me to be happy. They want to see my children with a mother who has the energy and will to play with and take care of and teach them. They want to see my husband with a wife who he doesn't have to constantly worry about, who can support him in his work, and will bring happiness into the home without so much effort. Most of all, They want to see me reach the potential They know I posses, potential I cannot attain while smothered by this relentless and overwhelming sadness.

So now, I look forward to this new week filled with hope for honest change - a hope that feels more real and more promising than anything I could have done on my own.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Do you ever feel a bit snackish? I sure do, and it's usually at the most inappropriate times. For instance, I tend to want a snack about an hour before lunch. Then there's the hour before dinner. The kids haven't figured out yet why I insist on being alone in the kitchen! That's right, even as I'm telling them they have to wait to eat until the food is ready, I'm busy sampling it all "just to make sure it's aaaallllll gooooood."

One is rarely in the mood for a snack that's healthy, at least in my house. Crackers are a favorite among the children. Peanut M&M's are preferred by my husband and I (and knowing they're low on the Diabetic Index just means you can have double, right?).

I was thinking about being snackish because it's after ten at night and my tummy's sending me a message that goes something like,

"Hey Brain, I've been empty for a few hours now and could sure use something to get rid of this gnawing sensation. Got anything on hand?"

As this message heads on up towards my brain, my sweet tooth immediately picks up on the vibes and says,

"Ooooh, yeah. Make it something chocolate. There's nothing like a bite of chocolate late at night. That'll make both me and your tummy feel real good."

Well, my poor brain can't take more than one message at a time. It tends to feel overcome with peer pressure. Of course my digestive system, which tends to work on the slow side anyway, can't get it's message up to the brain in time to say,

"Chocolate at this time of night? You've got to be CRAZY! You'll have acid reflux, not to mention the serious amount of work you'll put me through trying to digest this all night long. Sure you'll be sleeping, but it won't be a good sleep. Think about it!"

Needless to say by the time this message has reached my already overtaxed noggin,' a nice square of Hershey's Symphony has already begun melting in my mouth. This glorious sensory overload manages to quell any other messages my body might try to send after it's too late.

So my body tries to get back at me the whole rest of the night long. I know - so rude! I don't like feeling snackish, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it...except maybe head off to bed now.

(In case you were wondering, and I know you were, I didn't eat any chocolate tonight. And for a snack earlier today I had a small handful of Sugar Snap Peas. What a good girl!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Online Schools

I think the idea of gaining one's education online is a fantastic idea (no, people, there is no sarcasm involved). Too many adults simply don't have the freedom to get themselves to a local college, sit in classes for hours, or even move to the state their college of choice resides. Perhaps they don't have a car, their health doesn't permit, or like me they have little children at home and don't want to give up time with them while they're still little.

So yes, I think the ability to take online courses is utterly fantastic...unless you want to go into something besides business, education, or graphic design! I've combed through the Internet looking for any schools offering degrees in English or creative writing, my subjects of choice, and come up blank every time.

I also tried looking up possibilities of doing online courses through our local colleges and universities. The schools offer degrees in English, but you have to have been on campus for at least 30 hours before they'll even consider you.

Hmph. Frustrating for me, especially when I consider how many years before my youngest will be in school long enough for me to even consider attending classes.

That being said, I think online school are such a great idea. And when I've accomplished my goal of graduating from college I will definitely fight for the right of all people who don't want to go into medical billing but feel they must because it's all that is offered...unless someone else does it first.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sending Out a Birthday Wish

I struggled with whether or not I should blog about this today. One danger about putting oneself into cyberworld is you never know who might be reading. That's one of the major reasons I don't share my children's names and work hard to only give out vague information on where we live.

Today is a day when I'd like to share a bit about one of my favorite people. I knew him in this life for just over an hour, and really didn't get to see much of him even during the time he lived. I was there, however, when he crossed from this life into the next. I'm talking about my son. You'll see him listed to the side as my second born.

D would have turned nine this month. I say 'would have' because he died just an hour and twelve minutes after he was born. I've blogged about this experience before in posting a talk I gave several months ago (Sunday Inspirations Oct. 26, 2008). You're welcome to click on the link and read the full talk if you haven't done so before. Today I want to share my son with the rest of you, and so will copy a large part of the talk here.

I went into labor in the early morning hours of the baby’s due date. M, who was only two at the time, was sent over to Grandma W’s house around nine or ten when we determined it was time to head into the hospital (i.e., I couldn't take the pain!!!). I remember hoping they wouldn’t tell me it was indigestion and send me back home. Fortunately they didn’t.

In no time at all I was appropriately dressed in one of those becoming hospital gowns, all the right sensors in place, watching the little heartbeat of our son on the monitor to my left. I was a little distressed as my regular doctor would be in meetings all morning long, but his partner would be available when the time came.

As my labor progressed the nurses began to worry. With each contraction the heartbeat of my baby would dip. This had happened as well with M so I didn’t think too much of it. There were other concerns as well, but in my agony and excitement I didn’t pay them much heed. The hours went by in this manner, my parents and older brother in attendance, all our attitudes happy and anxious.

Things went slowly enough for my regular doctor to finish his last meeting and he was able to attend me, much to my relief. I eventually felt it was time for the baby to come, my family exited, and I began to push. It didn’t take too long before this tiny, scrawny baby was placed on my chest. Two things jumped out to me at once.

First was the color of our child. All babies don’t exactly come out looking pretty. Our son was too gray, too dark. The second thing was when he tried to cry. I can still hear his fervent attempts to take in a breath, to make a noise, and all that came out was this tiny squeak. As I tried to take all this in the nurse whipped the oxygen mask off my face and placed it over his, but his skin wasn’t pinking up. She grabbed him, towel and all, told my husband to follow, and rushed out of the room.

I was left alone to wonder and wait for word that all was well, though a part of me knew this was not so. The nurses and my doctor were busy all around me, but I was hardly aware of their presence. I went through many silent prayers, hoping against hope all would be well. Into my mind a quiet voice broke through.

“Everything will be okay,” it said.

I heaved a sigh of relief. “Everything will be okay,” I thought. “My son will be fine. We’ll get to take him home. M will get to see her baby brother. Everything will be fine.”

“No,” came the voice again. So gentle. So quiet. Yet so firm. “No. But everything will be okay.”

My doctor went to check on what was going on, and my mother came in to sit with me. Neither of us said a word. We really didn't need to. Only the occasional thank you to those who kept us in the loop. At last I was told I needed to come with the doctor to visit my son, that it just didn’t look good.

During this time my husband watched with an aching father’s heart all that the paramedics did to try and help our son live. What he witnessed I cannot imagine, but I am grateful that since his own father couldn’t stand there with him, that my own father and older brother were able to be there in his stead.

It wasn’t long before my mother and I joined them. When I first witnessed D's tiny body being worked on, my immediate thoughts were, "Please, just stop. Don't hurt him any more." As my husband and I talked later, he told me his thoughts echoed my own.

Dr. Jung, the physician taking care of my baby, knelt by my wheelchair and told me the 'little guy' just wasn’t going to make it. I nodded, knowing this already, but not able to stop my heart from breaking nor a brief sob from escaping. They took the wires off his body and the tube from his throat, wrapped him in a blanket, and placed him in my arms.

At that moment my husband, my father, and my older brother laid their hands on this little baby’s head, gave him a name and sealed him to our family. For several seconds after not a sound was heard in that room besides gentle weeping. Dr. Jung finally knelt down beside me, took out his stethoscope to place it on my son's chest, and declared what we already knew: he had died.

Several minutes later we were all back in the delivery room taking turns holding this precious little one. I distinctly remember the moment I no longer needed to hold him any more. I firmly believe that was the same moment his spirit left the room.

This sort of experience can scar a person, even destroy their faith in God and His plan for us. For myself, it has been the single most faith-building experience of my life thus far. I have been beyond blessed by this extraordinary spirit encased in a boy for now lost to me. I know more now than ever before the beautiful blessings that come from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the knowledge I have been given of the eternal nature of families.

I know I will have the opportunity to raise this special child in the next life. I know he is promised to us so long as we live our lives in accordance to the gospel. I know peace. I know love, not just the love of my Heavenly Father and Brother, but that of my earthly family, friends, and church members.

This is not to say I stood strong the entire time. Countless tears were shed. There were moments I found myself crumpled on the floor in agony. I went on depression medication for several months just so I wouldn't burst into tears every time I saw a little boy. And March is a most dificult month for me to get through. Yet I am also grateful for the time of year he came to us, for just after we celebrate his birthday, we celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior. Easter has more meaning for me, thanks to my little boy.

This is my story to share. He is my little missionary, my way of helping to strengthen the faith and testimony of others who may have experienced something similar. He is my testimony that we can come out of the harshest moments of our lives stronger, more blessed, and at our most able to bless the lives of those around us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Homework Woes

My son came home from school today saying he had "a lot" of homework to do. Typically J's definition of "a lot" of homework means more than just 20 minutes of reading. Tonight, however, he really wasn't kidding. He had a lot of homework. Here's the kicker, though.

He wouldn't have had so much to do if he'd worked harder to finish it all in class.

J's teacher is great about giving these kids second (and sometimes third) chances to get their classwork done. If something goes missing or they didn't finish it in time and didn't think to go finish it at home, she'll put together a packet of what needs to be done, along with a list of each assignment, and sends it home.

This has happened to J before. Often papers included in the packet will spark a bit of memory with me. As I've gone through the massive piles of paper J occasionally brings home (after he's been told repeatedly to clean out his desk until it's so full he can't shove anything else in there) an occasional uncompleted assignment will appear, but when asked if he needs to finish and turn it in the most I'll get is a shrug of the shoulders. So the paper typically gets tossed.

Normally this isn't a big deal. At the most he might bring home a packet of two or three papers. Tonight was so vastly different I almost wanted to cry. There were ten papers included, some of them front and back! When I asked if he was supposed to get them turned in by tomorrow (Friday) he just kept nodding his head. Whether or not this is true I couldn't say for certain, but I could see it was important to him that we finish it for tomorrow.

So after dinner we went to work. He accomplished about four pages in an hour's time, and I let him off to go play outside. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of physical exercise in keeping one's brain sharp and active (which may explain why mine's so dull and rusty). After about 40 minutes of play I was pleased to see him come back willingly to continue working.

There was so much to do it was almost nine before we called it a night. His little hand was practically shaking it was so tired - he does clutch the pencil rather tight. He still has one more paper to complete, and his spelling words to practice in the morning, but he didn't complain a bit and did a great job. His little eyes were so tired and his already illegible handwriting just got worse the later we worked.

There were two lessons J and I learned out of this experience, one for each of us. For J, to bring home any assignments left uncompleted in class, finish them, and get them turned in so he's not doing the same assignment more than once. And Mom's lesson? The next time he shrugs, I'm definitely not throwing the paper away!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 8, 2009

It's been a difficult week in our house. I hope it has not been so prevalent that my children have been burdened, but I know it's been enough for them to have certainly noticed. I hadn't planned on blogging about this, but every time I start another subject my mind simply stops. And so here I sit, struggling with putting things in such a way as to not hurt any one's feelings, and trusting the Lord will influence my mind and fingers.

My husband is a Mormon bishop, or spiritual leader of a local congregation (ward). Mormon bishops typically serve for about five years time, during which they willingly volunteer time and energy in counseling, guiding, directing, and serving the needs of those placed under his care. We consider this calling, or position, to be given by God through the proper priesthood authority. It is not something to be taken lightly.

To be a bishop is not easy. There is no official schooling, no way to prepare to become a bishop other than through life's experiences and learning to listen for the voice of the Lord to help him along the way. Bishops are not considered to be more important than another member. They are not super-human, nor are they impervious to hurtful remarks or actions. I add this part because both my husband and I were very hurt this last week.

I won't go into what happened. Let's just say my husband tried to help a member understand certain mistakes made. Instead of listening to his counsel, the member chose another path, one that had both my husband and I feeling hurt, confused, and frustrated. I was very angry for a day or two, and spent a lot of time crying.

It didn't take long for the anger to pass, however, and now I am more concerned about this member. He/she has displayed an outward defiance, and is even searching out members who might prove him/her right, rather than seeking prayer and understanding through further counsel. Why does this worry me so much? It is the beginnings of apostasy.And so now my heart aches. I ache for this precious, impetuous yet lively child of God. I ache for what he/she is inflicting on his/her family especially after all they've worked to accomplish and how far they've come in spiritual matters this first year of my husband's calling.

A spirit of apostasy is subtle. At times we may not even recognize what is happening even as it creeps into our own souls. One of the first signals, at least that I've seen in those I've witnessed, is an attitude of defiance. We know better than the bishop, or the prophet. The Bible is so old fashioned, it can't possibly be of any use in today's world. Instead of willingly turning to prayer when we disagree with something in the hopes of learning what the Father deems as correct and true, we actively seek for those who will tell us we are right.

Shortly after we got married my husband and I were members of a ward that was not easy to be a part of. Cliques abounded, none of which I 'fit into,' and callings (jobs in the ward) were given more out of desperation than inspiration. One Sunday I was asked to accept a particular calling. I prayed about it over the course of a week, and consistently felt sick about accepting. It wasn't right, not for me, not for that time. Yet we have been taught not to turn down a calling.When I was approached once again, I said no. I gave my reasons why, even though they sounded lame, and I could tell the brother was vastly disappointed. For years I have claimed I did the right thing. Only with the passage of years (and a mighty bit of humbling) have I come to realize I should have accepted the calling, even if it wasn't right, simply because it was offered by one of the leaders of my church. I should have accepted, even if I didn't agree.

Perhaps this seems like a silly thing, but looking back I could have become so bitter about how it was handled. I could have begun twittering in the ears of other members about how it was handled, and came close to not attending church at all because of how very alone I felt. I even complained to two certain people in my life specifically because they had turned away from the Church and I figured they'd be sympathetic.

The seeds of apostasy had been handed to me, and I was searching for fertile ground. In God's wisdom, and in knowing me so very well, I was presented with the opportunity to accept a calling I not only felt was right but gave me the chance to feel a part of something. It didn't last long before ward boundaries put us into another beautifully warm and loving ward. Still, it was exactly what I needed to blow those seeds away and allow me to continue on in the church I so dearly love.

We have to be so cautious. And I believe we have to be more aware of the possible seeds of apostasy more so now than in previous years. We need to sit our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews down and help them to build strong testimonies upon the foundations of Christ's church. They need to understand the reasons why, not just be told to tow the line. For if we fail them, if they allow tiny bits of apostasy to grow within their hearts, generations of precious children of God will be lost. All because of one choice.

I do not know what this new day will bring for us and the member with whom we are struggling. I pray he/she will come to church so things can be straightened out, forgiveness can be given, and we can all move on from the hurt. Most of all I pray this member will allow the seeds of apostasy to blow away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Give Away Game

Here's the latest craze in blog hopping...The Give Away Game.

Be the first 4 people to comment on this post, and you will get a lil' somethin', somethin' from ME!! =) The catch is this, YOU must now blog about this, and volunteer to give things to your first commenters! It can be ANYTHING, nothin' expensive! A pay it forward game.

If you didn't catch that...recap...

1. Be one of the first 4 people to respond to this post and you get a present, if that is what you want to call it, from me!

2. Re-post this on YOUR page for five of your friends! It's like a chain letter, only without the threats -AND- not annoying because you GET a present in the end.

3. AND hopefully one of my friends will do this, and I will get to comment and get a prize back. ;)

4. Oh, and make sure you leave your e-mail address if I don't already have it. Good luck!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 1, 2009

A few years ago I went to my husband to ask a favor. “Will you pray with me?”

There was a class I wanted to take on how to break into the world of writing for and being published in children’s magazines. It was a correspondent school (through the mail), and I’d be able to work one-on-one with an instructor. The problem was, the class cost a little over $300. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like an awful lot to some of you. To others it may sound exactly as it felt to me: about two weeks worth of groceries!

I simply couldn’t see myself putting our hard-earned money into something that was so incredibly just for me. At the same time, I wanted to take this class, and for me to admit to wanting something was very rare.

For most of my life I adopted the attitude, “If the Father wants this for me, He’ll provide a way.” I promise this attitude was not due to laziness on my part. Rather it stemmed from my need not to rock the boat. You can ask most anyone – I rarely ask for anything for myself. I never want to put others out or make them feel guilty if they have to tell me no. So it’s easier not to ask at all. Yet this is not the Father's way for us, a lesson I learned when praying one night: “If you don’t ask, I can’t give you an answer.”

I was a bit blown away by this concept (and to be honest I still struggle with it several years later). Even though He knew the desires of my heart was I truly required to ask it of Him so that He could answer me?

He knows me so well. It was only a few short months later the opportunity to take this class came to me, and the need to actually say the words, "May I take it" needed to be uttered.

With this radical new concept in my head, I went to my husband to ask the favor. I told him about the class, and how reluctant I was to spend that sort of money on the class. He did precisely what I knew he would, and offered to pay for the class anyway (he’d give me the moon if it was up for grabs). I convinced him to pray, and to keep three things in mind: first, to let the Father know of my desire to take the class, second, whether or not we should put our money into the class, and three, to take the desire away if it was simply not right.

Let’s fast forward to last year around this same time. I’d been involved in helping launch a new blog site that utilized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed LDS Church and/or Mormons) to write on subjects involving the Church. It was our hope to give a positive look at the ins and outs of what outsiders refer to as the Mormons, at our beliefs and order and testimonies.

During my sojourn with this group I was given the opportunity to learn an awful lot. Coming up with thirty posts a month (fifteen a piece for teens and children) demanded much study. As Easter approached I happened on three books by Andrew J. Skinner, author and professor at BYU, on the atonement and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope to share much of what I learned with you in the coming months as we approach Easter again, but one particular truth rings loud in what I’m trying to share with you today.

Three different times we are given insight into how we should ask things of our Father. The Lord has entered into Gethsemane, a familiar place of peace. He begins to sense something He’s never sensed before – the heaviness and weight sin can place upon a person. We can sense his uneasiness and worry as He kneels down to say a prayer:

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).

“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

“And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44).

I recognize each of us are individual, and being so we will take from that individual insights. Indulge me for a moment to share with you what struck me most.

First, the Savior asked. He asked! “If it’s even just a tiny bit possible for me to do what you need me to do without experiencing this horrific thing, please Father let it happen.” Not only did He ask once, but three times! The key word He speaks is ‘if.’ He wasn’t demanding a release of responsibility, but asking for something, with full realization the answer might be no.

Second, the Savior shows us the ultimate example of what it means not only to pray, but to submit our will to the Father. “Thy will be done.” How many of us say the same when asking for something? How many of us recognize the necessity of those four little words?

And third, ultimately the Lord did submit to the Father’s will, and He did so without complaint. He didn’t whine and moan and curse whatever fate led Him to that point. What is perhaps the most beautiful and poignant part of the entire thing is after knowing what was being asked of Him the first time, He came back. Not once, but twice more did He continue to submit to the will of the Father.

If there is something out there you’ve been afraid to ask the Father for, stop being afraid. He wants you to come to Him, to talk with Him in prayer, to counsel with Him in things both great and small. But look to the Savior’s example in every aspect of this prayer: be willing to ask, a few times if necessary, for that which you desire. But, and this is the part many of us forget, remember to say, “Thy will be done.” Then, if the answer is no, accept it with grace and trust He knows what’s best. You might be surprised at how things work out.

In case you were wondering, the answer to my question about putting that much money into one class was no. And I was okay with it. The desire to take the class was gone. But I was then surprised when my husband came home from his dad’s house one night with a check in hand written in the amount of the class. I was able to take the class and had a wonderful experience. I even sold a few stories which felt wonderful! The answer to "should we put our money into the class" was no, but the desire to take the class in the first place was one He fulfilled.

The lesson learned is simple yet effective, one I hope you will take to heart: if you don’t ask, Heavenly Father can’t answer.