Monday, April 28, 2014

The Faith to Not be Healed

We often hear in the scriptures, in church and in life that miraculous healing often requires faith enough to be healed, and this great faith is all that we need in order to have our maladies taken from us, yielding our weary souls to lives and paths of light and ease.  I do not argue that having faith to be healed is a laudable thing but allow me to open the idea that sometimes the faith to be healed is not enough.  God sometimes requires of us a greater kind of faith, which says in essence, "But if not, not my will but Thine be done."

Some years ago when I first endured the symptoms of post traumatic stress and seizures I thought to myself that it would be a momentary trial for I knew point blank that I had more than ample faith to be healed.  After much prayer, however, the answer I received was that merely having the faith to be healed and requesting an antidote was not enough.  I needed faith enough to not be healed and faith to accept the Lord's will no matter what it was.  The Lord took much time and effort, it seems, to drill into my head for years that I was to relinquish any hope I had in healing from post traumatic stress.  This took quite some time because my faith and optimism proved very deeply rooted.  Nevertheless, I came about two years ago to say within myself that it was okay if I never healed in this lifetime; if that was the Lord's decision then He knew better than I that which was most prudent.  I came to recognize and gain strength from people I saw who carried lifetime burdens - mothers who had lost children, couples who were physically unable to bear children, people throughout history who never found a spouse throughout their long but service rich lives, and people who were born or later contracted severe disabilities.  These people are my heroes and champions.  The Lord loves them, knows them, and understands why He gives them the trials they have.  

One of my favorite Apostles from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, David A. Bednar (yes, I know.  I oughtn't have favorites - they are all superb) discussed in his latest book the faith to not be healed.  He recounts an anecdote in which he counseled a young, newly married couple in the hospital when they discovered that the husband had just been diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer.  They discussed the faith to be healed, and then Bednar spoke words that he claims were not his at all and which he never intended to say.  He asked them if they had faith to not be healed.  Did they have the faith to say "Thy will be done"? I would recommend Power to Become to any interested as a tremendous read and highly encourage all to read the powerful history associated with this young couple.  Sometimes I think we believe that if we do the right thing, God is obligated to bless us in the ways we see fit and desire, but this is hardly the case.  We do the right thing because it is the right thing, having faith that God knows what is best and in the words of Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, "will always give us what we want or something better."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Timeless Miracles

I have of late considered the power of the good people do long after the deed is done and how the light and influence our positive actions have long after we have moved on in life.  Last week a cassette tape fell into my hands after years of my assuming it was lost (to the teenagers reading this blog post, a cassette tape is...never mind.  That was from way before youtube and ipods.)  It was a recording of my aunt's ex husband singing the beautiful gospel music he wrote when I was a mere babe in the cradle.  His expressive voice has always touched me deeply and the power and light of his music proves exceedingly close to my heart.  

Please allow me to explain what happened in the years between the time that recording occurred and now.  After he wrote and recorded these beautiful lyrics and melodies he came face to face with a trial that seemed to him beyond insurmountable and at least in part due to that trial he renounced the faith that inspired these heart rending songs.  But earlier this afternoon, in the heat of a very painful trial of my own, I found myself in my room facing a tremendous amount of fear, pain, depression and consuming rage.  In an effort to distract myself and steal me a while from my own company I desperately forced myself on my feet and with my last ounce of strength hit the play button on the tape player that sat upon my desk.  I had no idea where the tape would begin playing but the first words that greeted my stricken ears were, "Fear not, little children."  Other lyrics in the same song include "The Savior will be with you through the darkness of the night" and it ends with the idea that nothing can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  A voice from the past rang beautifully into my pained and anguished heart when I most needed it from a man who no longer believed the inspired message he had given me. 

My dear friends, sometimes we cannot see or comprehend the good that we do.  Sometimes it seems that all our efforts are fruitless and that God does not bring to pass miracles through the things we do.  Perhaps we may think that our words, our actions, and our good deeds go unnoticed but I can promise you that no good work is ever wasted.  More than twenty years after the fact and unknown to him at the time, this man's sacred music continues to inspire and reaches into the saddened heart of a fellow disciple of Jesus Christ, helping to give her courage to stand up and face those agonizing tests of faith that we so often encounter in this veil of tears.  I feel sweetly and happily grateful to God and to him for the timely and powerful aid they worked together to render me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mormonism: No Better Way to Raise a Child

Anyone who knows me understands that I spend most of my time and effort in raising my two beautiful children, Julia age eight and Joshua age six and a half (these half years are very important to children, we must understand) and as I see the challenges that await these young souls and experience the difficulty of raising a child I cannot help but prove exceedingly grateful for the structure, order, strength and power of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in their lives.  My late grandfather joined the church later in life and he said that though he wasn't sure about the whole Joseph Smith idea, he recognized that there was no better way to raise a child than within the walls of this church.

What makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints so different?  Well, let's discuss what children learn within its embrace.  Families are paramount in the doctrine of the church and parents are instructed to read scriptures as a family daily, hold family prayer daily, and every Monday night is set aside for Family Home Evening, which is simply an evening where the family joins together to study the gospel and grow together in love, service, gospel teaching, and wholesome recreation.  When a child turns three or four they are invited to publicly stand at a pulpit in front of the others in the children's class and give prayers, bear testimony, read scriptures or even give miniature sermons.  At the age of eight they have the choice to be baptized and this is their choice, not that of their parents.  The bishop will interview them and ensure it is something they want to do of their own free will and choice, and that they understand the implications of so doing.  Also at the age of eight boys enter Cub Scouts and girls begin Activity Days and work on earning their "Faith in God" award, which is essentially the feminine counterpart of scouting.  At 12 it becomes more exciting, as they are invited to preach to the entire congregation on Sunday, can enter a small portion of the temple, boys receive the priesthood with its duties and responsibilities and girls begin a fantastic program called Personal Progress.  Girls can earn their "Young Woman Recognition" award which is essentially the counterpart of the boy becoming an Eagle Scout.  At the age of 12 they are now expected to study for and help teach their own Sunday School lessons as well and often have leadership responsibilities over the others withing their age groups, planning and executing activities and consulting with the bishop on how best to reach those who are struggling.  Dating is forbidden until 16 and at that time they are to go out in groups, avoid dark places or being alone with the opposite gender and abide by high outlined standards of dress, speech, behavior and the like.  In high school they enter seminary, which is usually early in the morning before school every school day and they study one year of Old Testament, one year of New Testament, one year of Book of Mormon and one year of History of the Church before graduation.  

One might think this is too rigorous for a child to handle, but I lived through most of this (Activity Days were instituted fairly recently) and I can tell you it is an absolute joy!  Children feel accomplished, strong, capable, intelligent, resourceful, special and important, and they learn from a very young age several skills which prove great advantages in life including public speaking, individual accountability, service to others and the like.  Maintaining high moral standards can prove challenging in this world but these kids already know what is expected of them and their friends also know the difference between right and wrong and the outlined moral code.  The Mormon kids often band together to support each other and have fun, drawing with them those other kids who want to have good clean fun and creating an atmosphere of light wherever they go.  Perhaps there is somewhere a better way to raise a child, but I haven't found one yet and as soon as my daughter entered Activity Days it felt like a massive weight lifted from my shoulders, because I had a support system to teach not only about God but about manners, budgeting, service, developing talents and the like.  And you don't have to be Mormon to join up with the troops of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and the other activities.  One of the main reasons we do this is to bless as many people as we can possibly reach. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Climbing the Financial Ladder

Yesterday I happened upon a conversation with a man who insinuated that the wealth some people had was "sickening."  I confess I have to smile a little when I hear things like that because I myself come from extremely humble roots and through much labor, sacrifice, prayer and faith my parents have financially succeeded in a miraculous way, which has blessed all of their descendents tremendously.  I inherited my mother's financial wisdom and discipline not only by nature but because many lessons in that respect came along with my homemade baby food, and I see no reason I ought not share the wealth in disclosing how to become financially successful.  No need to be sickened -  choose instead to be inspired!  Anyone can do it, and it is very simple.  As a caveat, however, simple does not necessarily mean easy.  

I never went to a McDonald's as a child.  My mother scoffed at fast food as both unhealthy and unnecessarily expensive.  I ate rice, beans and homemade tortillas so much as a child that I hardly remember eating anything else.  We had minimal toys and from my infancy I knew that asking to buy something from the store that was not on my mother's well prepared and researched shopping list would prove a complete waste of time and effort. Buying candy bars was unheard of and my clothes that did not come from Goodwill were homemade.  Credit cards were chains forged by the devil and my parents would rather starve than have anything to do with them.  They worked incessantly and my mother built houses, doing the manual labor of a bricklayer with her father and brothers through much of my childhood.  I learned the importance of hard work and saving every penny.  Could my mother have bought me McDonald's?  Of course.  But she had vision and instead would sometimes make hamburgers at home on the grill, laughing that other silly people wasted their money on food which was not nearly as healthy and fresh.  And with the money she saved she built a beautiful four story house in the foothills, took all four of her children on tours of Western Europe as we graduated high school and paid for our college educations.  Weighing the options of eating at a Happy Meal at McDonald's and enjoying gourmet food in Paris, I think I know which was the wiser choice.  

Let me put it to you plainly.  There are only a few things you need to know in order to strengthen your financial situation, whatever it might be.  Firstly, work.  Secondly, and this is much harder, do not spend money simply because you have it.  Save it.  I think of it often as a game, actually.  How high can I bring the balance of my savings account?  Thirdly and truly most importantly, involve God in your labors.  Devotion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints includes paying tithing, which is 10% of a person's gross income (before taxes).  My parents both swear by this, as do I.  When people say that this is too much and they cannot afford to pay that, I answer that if they want to succeed they cannot afford not to.  My parents own a successful company that weathered the recession with sushi dinners and even bought a house, paid off in full, in this time of widespread financial trouble.  When things get difficult the first thing my mother does is pay more money to the Church.  They have never regretted those decisions and I have often heard them gratefully praise God for protecting them when so many other home builders were crumbling into oblivion.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shattered Chains

*I wrote this some time ago, just scribbling one night after an intense emotional release, hardly knowing what I wrote.  I suppose the man might be the Savior Jesus Christ, save I have never heard of Him bedecked in black.  It's one of my favorite, most pensive colors, so that might be the explanation, I suppose. 
I walk along a tight rope chain
And shackles clang around my feet.
Tomorrow’s prospects seems so dim,
Hope stifled by the world’s conceit
And tarnished goals, dank, ill and weak
With base diversions as its prize

And struggling faith, so innocent

Learns sadness and such things despise.

But here a man stands paramount,

Bedecked in black and quietude

Doth permeate with grace the air

Serenity, and does exude

A gentle sweetness – shackles fall

To my surprise, exhausted frame,

I faint into his warm embrace

Awake, arise and speak his name. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Healing Moment

I wander through the dead of night
With quiet reverence of the soul,
Amid the stars and soft moonlight
I feel my aching wounds made whole.

In hallowed peace I bow my head
Restoring gratitude to God,
Then gazing up, my wings full spread
But stoop to kiss the holy sod

That held me steady in my walk
Through tribulation now dissolved
Observing here the solid rock
Around which healing life revolved.

The tears stream down my cours├ęd face
Not knowing where to rest my head
But trusting God, Almighty grace
To lead me on to love's homestead.