Friday, December 30, 2016

Their Hope Shall Be Blasted

Grey skies and low temperatures often bring productivity to a halt and recently the dismal atmosphere led me to break from typical scripture study with my children and place Matthew on the back burner while bringing the teachings of Joseph Smith to the foreground.  I related to them one of my favorite passages from Smith's writing whilst languishing in the unthinkably destitute confines of Liberty Jail. 
 
Smith had found himself imprisoned on false charges and made to endure severe hardship in a tiny cell while many of those who believed on his testimony lay wounded and bleeding in the streets.  He pleaded to God for answers and received the gentle reply that all these things would be but a small moment and give him experience.  The Lord further promised that as to those who would charge him with transgression "their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun."
 
These words rang afresh in my ears, and with them a clear impression dawned to resume writing publicly under the direction of heaven as I have done erstwhile.  My momentary lapse arose in part from certain souls who, priding themselves as upstanding disciples of Christ and honorable men and women, sought to twist my language, hearken to venom tipped rumors and charge me with ill intentions.  Gentle reader, I trust your heart proves more sincere and Godlike than theirs, for in truth, I have prayed fervently about every word I have ever published and those who would condemn such language shall have not me, but the very King of heaven as their judge.  When we are in the service of our Lord, we need not fear what man can do. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Tapestry Called Life

If my experiences in life prove anything akin to yours, I imagine my gentle reader must often ponder as to the meaning of seemingly baffling circumstances that might accompany this, your sojourn on earth.  Various learning moments, countless hours of cross stitch and a great many trials have taught me that often when things make no mortal sense, they are moving perfectly along in a course toward exaltation. 




Consider for a moment a masterpiece half finished.  We do not understand the meaning behind shades of color blending together in confusing patterns, and neither do we fully grasp the significance of the completed project.  But once the Master has placed His last touch upon the canvas we catch our breath and recognize the genius that guided the project from its conception.  






Sometimes we cannot believe in ourselves and incessantly find error and fault in our person.  Sometimes we ask why we cannot do better, why we must submit to limitations or we feel that who we are proves insufficient.  Why doesn't God give us greater personal gifts?  My beautiful friend, perhaps He and all the world are already well aware of the famous and unconquerable beauty we possess.  Perhaps we do not need to be any more than who we are right now and allow the rest of the world to admire God's handiwork in our lives. 



Then there is the argument that others cannot see our divine talents enough.  We know who we are but we suffer at the hands of undeserving and narrow minded individuals.  Perhaps we strive for truth and have found it in great measure but when we attempt to express it to the world, it falls upon deaf ears.  Fear not - it may not be in this lifetime but eventually truth and beauty will prevail and take its rightful place among the greatest masterpieces of mortal existence.  



And then there is the trial that comes in an altogether varied form.  We do not understand why logical answers do not arise when we seem to know what the correct answer ought to prove.  Perhaps, in a manner of speaking, God wants one kind of stitch placed in one area of your tapestry, but another, more beautiful and complex type placed in another.  It may make absolutely no sense to us now but the Master understands all the variety and exquisite beauty our lives can possess and He understands those things humans fail to comprehend.   


Whatever trial graces your life now, please remember that the Master Craftsman has you in hand.  He knows what He will do with your life.  We may not grasp everything right now, but it is well, for we do not have to.  Let us allow the Lord to work on the canvas of our lives, adding a bit here, throwing some color there until He creates a soul far greater than we could have ever planned, one small stitch at a time. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Together Forever...Alone

Stenciled in gold above my bedroom's picture window reads the words "Together Forever."  It is a mantra to those of my faith and an expression of love and hope that families can exist in love and devotion not til death do us part but throughout the expanse of eternity.  It is the pinnacle of religious fervor and the goal of every soul that partakes of the goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As so much of our doctrine surrounds families, it slices like a knife and proves beyond devastating to those who either cannot find a partner or have faced the horror of divorce.  Incidentally, it has been my observation that some of God's noblest children have faced  either or both of these trials, and I extend a message of hope to those who strive toward an eternal marriage but through no fault of their own find themselves continually and, it might often seem, unalterably, alone. 
 
My dear, gentle reader, I know your heart aches desperately, longing for the completion of spirit that seems so simple and even commonplace for others.  I know your longing, your brave smiles, your hidden tears, and your prayers of "how long, oh Lord?"  I know your periods of wanting to give up, followed by the continual nagging of the truths inside you that refuse to let you quit.  Gentle reader, don't you quit!  Never mind about what you see around you at the moment - love and fulfillment is ever and always just around the next corner. 
 
As I view many couples happily married, I reflect upon how lightly they often treat the blessing they have.  They squabble, they mistreat each other, they behave in manners needy, destructive, selfish and weak.  They tend to forget the marvelous blessing they hold daily before their eyes.  Gentle reader, take a lesson from this illustration.  Look at yourself now.  What flaws have you in your moral character?  Mend them now.  What circumstances irk you or lead you to impatience?  Practice patience now.  What tendencies would make it difficult for someone else to live with you?  Change them now.  What qualities could you have that would strengthen a relationship, home and family?  Strive to obtain them now.  We often say, "if only I found the right person, I would change."  My friend, you will have to live with your own soul for the rest of eternity.  Make it a delightful resort of joy. 
 
I know your spirit hurts.  I know that sometimes you pine.  I know you may wonder what is wrong with your life.  But you, I, and each human being breathing on this earth have no time to shed tears of sorrow.  We have a soul to improve, a body to strengthen, a mind to enrich and a world of service to provide to others.  Let us get on our feet and get to work. 

Happily Rejected

Long ago in a high school far away there resided an adolescent Michelle, a lady in red who spent her Saturday nights on the dance floor and early mornings in the music room.  Many gentlemen vied for her favor and one fateful night she spied a young prince crafting rather impressive display in the realm of creative dance. They became acquainted and over a year forged a friendship with perhaps occasional, mild  dating. She often recounted him as the most God fearing, excellent fellow that high school had given her.


Losing track of each other they pursued various paths until college brought them face to face once more.  They met as old friends, but she marked the deep disappointment on his features as she showed him her diamond and related she was no longer on the dating market.


Years separated our heroes again until Christmas Day nigh the close of  one fateful year. Chance and familial relations brought the erstwhile prince once again to our lady's presence.  Not certain he would recognize her, and still adorned in breathtaking red, she approached and uncertainly called his name. His response was one of both boredom and happy obstinence. "Hi Michelle." It proved evident he not only recalled her but also had likely already noted her presence in the room. His expression made it evident, as he snuggled closer to the woman by his side that he was not about to move an inch to accommodate our lady's existence and that he considered himself planted quite firmly by his own princess's side.  Far from feeling insulted, a wide and instantly brilliant smile graced Michelle's features and the two reached out in a polite and mutually acceptable handshake. His next words were not to inquire after her health or family but to immediately introduce his wife, who Michelle instantly complimented and embraced.


Sometimes we find souls in this world who seek the thrill of wrongdoing with past friends. I submit there is a greater happiness in seeing past acquaintances rooted in joy and commitment and to applaud their fierce and passionate loyalty to husbands and wives. I knew there was a good reason I counted him as the most morally excellent fellow of my high school experience and I have never found myself so ecstatic to face complete and thorough rejection in all my life. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ode to the Shoe Store

This is neither an ode nor about a store. This is what happens when a natural born poet is feeling too sick to work but alas! Cannot sleep.  Enjoy!

With love to Crystal Junior, who has the best collection of shoes I have ever seen.

Oh mighty sneaker, soft and fast
Allow my toes to rest at last!
They've been cramped up and hardly feel
Up to the strain of Prada heel.

Of times a shoe from Coach will do,
Stilettos always make us rue
The night's long party. We're never whole
'Til slippers comfort every sole. 

Self Written Poetry

*Classic example of my trying to write a poem but the poem writing itself completely different from my intention.  Not sure where this came from and it will take me some study to fully comprehend it. The third stanza holds an interesting truth, though.  

Attentively I watch his eyes,
Their look of sacred secrets deep
Of all things mortal much despise,
But 'ternal joys he seeks to keep.

Oh how doth mine orbs seem to him?
Hold they the same intensity?
Instead of bright, appear they dim
Bedraggled by necessity?

We seek not only daily bread
But sainted joys above this earth
Not just avoiding hellish dread
But relishing all heaven's mirth.

And when those eyes lock into mine
I find in them all joy sublime. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

So it Begins

From well before the dawn of mortal time
Intelligence excited from the throne
Of Father, Lord of earth and heaven's clime.
Bestirred into creation new beings shone -
Not yet in form, His children start to wake
As infant gods, before they're spirits, grown
Into the image of Parental make
But filled with light and shaking off the sleep -
The bonds of nothingness begin to quake.
Our minds arise so brilliant from the deep,
Eternal flames within us keenly burn
To make the angels laugh and demons weep.

For Father made us glorious in His sight.
We rise from sacred darkness into light. 

The Gaze

Into those eyes I often gaze
To find eternity
Discovering by passion's blaze
My future's history.
For in that look I found my soul
In humbled dignity,
From melancholy rigmarole
To moral's standard right.
Myself an object to cajole
Up to eternal height
Those eyes induce me to give in -
Lay down the need to fight
What I had his - a mortal sin
Of hiding oft my face
Of disallowing love within,
Thus spurning offered grace.

Surrendering, all strife doth cease.
Now in this state, at last find peace.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Lady

*Dedicated to women who have striven to do rightly before God and through no fault of their own find themselves lacking a prince charming.  Inasmuch as I know many women of this description, I would invite such women to see themselves as beautiful and cherished.  

A lady slept on golden down
And dreamt of gentle night
Whilst just beyond her sacred room
The din of anguished fight

Fell oft upon her sainted ears
As men and hell crossed blade
In effort to break through the door
To where our woman laid,

Now trembling from mighty threat
Though often finding peace
Which passeth man to understand
But telleth fear to cease.

The castle shook, the fire scorched
Outside her holy cell
And gazing out her balcony
She watched as starlight fell

Upon the dark and sweetened night.
She learned of God and space -
Her spirit danced across the 'spance
Of  heaven's very face.

For Father granted joyful thought
Into her troubled heart
Until at last she understood
That she'd been set apart

From normal life and harbored here,
A prize for man to win
By reaching up in purity,
Forsaking vice and sin.

Thus on her daily hallowed throne
She scatters glory fast
Enjoying simply who she is
Until all waiting's past.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Daughter of the Universe

*The final e on hindered ought to have an accent. Copying my scrawl into an iPhone rather cramps the archaic style. 

Among the reeds and brambles lush
I wade in white dress to my feet,
Communing with the wilderness 
Detoxifying all deceit,

Hate, darkness that the world demands.
Bright purity of heaven's hue
Illuminate the seeking mind
And all my aching fears subdue.

I give my heart to elements 
Which swirl beyond my mortal reach
But in my Father's rich domain 
This all proves mine and none impeach

Authority that God bestows
Upon His daughter giving all 
Her love and strength unhindered 
Into His will and protocol. 

The universe sweet rumbles back 
To pay respect to cherished maid 
Unleashing glory on her head
With all her troubles firmly stayed.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

God's Gift

I remember before I started becoming as physically active as I am.  I recall how I and others looked at body builders and fitness models.  I know many people look at them with distaste because, after all, they walk with a confidence that borders on conceit.  There are more important things in life, after all, than being a chiseled supermodel whose beauty is only skin deep.  Books, doing good, helping others, passionate prayer, sacrificing self and cultivating mental creativity seemed much more important and these were the things that filled my life entirely. 

But then I learned some secrets.  I didn't mean to - God seemed to force this understanding on my unwilling heart.  He blessed me with a great deal of tension and stress and gave me only one way to curb the pain.  I had no choice but to become a fully devoted gym rat.  More than that, I found myself facing agonizing stress and the only idea I could consider to render me strength enough to breathe proved to pump more and more good things into my body and throw out the bad.  Salmon, hummus, Greek yogurt, dark green veggies, collagen tablets, fish oil, biotin, plenty of water - these have become staples to me.  And it wasn't necessarily about being vain. 

As I suffered through intense but wonderful power yoga classes, my teacher, Jeff, explained much about the spirit/body connection.  He taught me to use my body to cleanse my spirit.  As I continued to learn, I realized meekly that I had missed one of God's greatest blessings.

We were sent to this earth for many reasons, not least of which proves to gain a mortal body and learn to become master over it.  It is the body that allows us to do many wonderful, uplifting things.  It is through the body that we can create children and thus families.  The body, therefore, proves far more important than I had ever considered.  Here was this marvelous gift that God had kindly offered me quite freely, and I had been arrogant enough to believe myself above gratitude for it. 

There are many in this world who find themselves with severe physical handicaps.  I honor them and their extraordinary spirits beyond measure, for I believe God gives some of His greatest spirit children these tremendous trials.  They will spend their lives learning about the human body in ways I likely will never be able to comprehend in this life.  I look forward to learning as much as I can from them with humility and thankfulness. 

Those of us without severe disability, however, have little excuse.  Let us open our eyes a little wider, let us recognize the blessings around us, and let us thank our Maker for this marvelous gift He has given to each and every person born on this earth.  Our gratitude to Him will inspire us to take care of this sacred trust, to keep it fit and healthy, to bow humbly to His will should He decide to cripple or maim it, and learn to appreciate it in all its glorious aspects. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Before We Were Born

Tender Father overlooked His spiritual children and gazed across the vast expanse of eternity.  He had attentively watched them learn and grow and now He ascertained in His wisdom and mercy that they needed another learning experience to help them become more perfectly happy and stronger - like Him.  They needed to gain a physical body and they all had much to learn, and all in different ways.  He called in a servant, who paid homage to Almighty God and asked Him His will. 

"You shall take notes of where I shall send  each child."

"My Lord, I shall.  We have a child here who has a wonderful spirit.  She is sweet and loving to all people.  What shall her life hold?"

"Give her many trials in her youth and let her be injured by those she desperately loves that she may remember to love herself and also to know to more passionately choose light over darkness.  Let her use dance to combat the stress of her young life, and when she is older she will be a bright ornament, bringing joy and peace through dance to help others through their trials as well."

"My Lord, it shall be done.  We have our next child, who has great capacity to stand strong in the faith and be Thy servant.  What shall be done with him?"

"Let him be born into a home of chaos where he learns the gospel early but then is not allowed to continue in it until he leaves his home as a young man.  His tenacity will act as a light to his family and through him all those who sought to keep him from Me will be converted to My truth."

"Thy will always, Lord.  Now, here, we have a delight woman who is bursting at the seams to become a mother.  We should surely make her one quickly!"

"Yes, but not in the way you think.  Make this daughter barren."

"Sire?"

"Make her barren, for she is choice above many.  Her love is to great to be confined to one or two earthly babies.  I want her influence felt in orphanages, schools, and to lonely beggars on the street.  She will be a mother to everyone she meets, and she will learn to be a parent like unto Me, for I am also mindful of all my children sent to this world."

"As Thou sayest, my Lord.  And may I say, that such is a brilliant idea?"

"You may.  Next I see we have a woman who is quite ready to be married.  She was born to be married, aches for it and could make nearly any man quite happy."

"My Lord, do I understand rightly...?"

"Give her excessive trouble with men.  She will keep herself morally clean, for it is in her nature to be chaste, but I want many men to feel of her bright spirit and be inspired by it.  I want men to yearn for a chaste and honest woman like her and it will inspire them to cast aside their tendencies for lust and seek something higher and better.  She will have her own excellent husband in time."

"It shall be done.  My Lord, here is one of your brightest, most talented, most able children.  He nigh outshines all the rest.  What shall become of him?"
"Yes, he is indeed a spirit of greatness.  Bless him with mental retardation.  His spirit will shine out the clearer and he will not miss touching every single life in his path.  I will be so very watchful of him, for he is one of my greatest warriors in teaching others to combat evil."

"Yes my Lord.  And one more here I see.  She is also one of the greatest of all.  Shall we make her a world  leader, a prophetess?"

"Nay.  Make her a slave."

"My Lord?"

"Make her a slave that her blood and sufferings may cry the louder against those who would dare keep my children in bondage.  Her anguish will smite the consciences of the weaker, lesser spirits who will be her masters and they will receive the more excessive punishment in due course.  Oh, and one more thing about those last two most excellent children we have placed."

"Yes my Lord?"

"Get started on their mansions in my heavenly kingdom.  They have both already made it."
 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Breaking from the Status Quo

The scriptures are rife with stories of strange episodes where our hero comes face to face with a very difficult decision.  Do they follow the letter of the law or the spirit?  We find times when these horribly conflict and I cannot help but ponder not only how these people found the strength to follow the Lord, but why the Lord would ask it of His servants in the first place. 
 
Consider Abraham.  Murder was forbidden, and yet he found himself commanded to sacrifice his own child.  What emotions must have rushed through him, conflicting one another?  What of Jacob, who lied and cheated in order to all but steal his brother's birthright?  He knew he was to be the next in line, that God wanted him to be the next prophet, but he had to do things he blatantly hated in order to make it so.  What of Jesus Himself?  He healed on the Sabbath, He claimed the right to clean out the temple, and called Himself the Son of God.
 
But there is another story that intrigues me.  Let's look in the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 4, for those who have a copy.  Enter Nephi - a teenage boy from Jerusalem who has devoted his life to the fervent and devoted service of God.  He glories in doing the right thing.  His father is apprised that the Babylonians are going to destroy the city and he is commanded to take his family and flee.  There is just one problem.  They don't have a copy of the scriptures.  A relative has a copy of the scriptures but he is a bad tempered fellow with no love of God but a great love of violence and money.  Nephi tries to ask for the book and this relative, Laban by name, rejects him.  Nephi tries to buy the book.  Laban insults him, runs him off, steals his money, threatens to kill him and still won't give him the scriptures.  Nephi's brothers are about to give up and they beat him with a rod to take some of the piety out of him.  Still Nephi returns to Jerusalem alone, praying to God for help and not knowing what he will do before he does it. 
 
He meets a man, dead drunk, in the darkened streets.  He recognizes the man as Laban and the Spirit constrains Nephi to kill him.  Nephi shrinks at first but the Spirit insists, telling him "It is better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief."  This is war.  All things considered, Nephi takes the man's sword and slashes off his head, wears his clothes, gets the book, bullies a servant and then brings him along to join his brothers and parents in the wilderness. 
 
This is a man who delighted in doing the right thing, who was taught that lying, killing, theft and cheating was wrong.  And yet in the space of a few hours God required all of these things from his likely trembling but always willing, adolescent hands.  Nephi continues in the strength of the Lord to become a great leader, even a king, among his people and a prophet before our Master.  I cannot imagine that God in any way condemned his actions, but imagine the wrestle afterward within his own heart.  Even with heaven cheering him on, I cannot help but think that it took some deep prayer to be able to forgive himself, to convince himself that his hands were clean, and really gain a testimony that he had done rightly. 
 
My own experience with God and life has made me consider the story of Nephi with new eyes.  Our purpose here is to progress and grow, and when a person already has a passion for being morally strong, his next test might be to follow the Lord, even when it might seem or feel contrary to the standard commandments from childhood.  Are we here to follow the book or to follow the Lord?  It seems counterintuitive, but those who reach such a pitch are truly the super stars of the spiritual world, and I cannot help but think that God brings us to that point, asks us to jump off that cliff, that precipice over gaping hell, that we might more fully cling to him, become ever more wary of our actions and our egos and in order to give us, finally, our own ethereal wings to fly. 

Are We Not All Family?

Contrary to popular belief, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does in fact allow women to teach from the pulpit.  We are not called as bishops, but we are asked to preach quite frequently.  I received the invitation to teach on Father's Day and the following is essentially the gist of the talk I delivered.  Inasmuch as I purposefully did not write out the sermon beforehand, but relied completely on mere bullet points and it is unlawful to record our Sacrament services, I cannot relate it exactly. 
 
My brethren and my sisters, I am grateful for the talk just given because it flows directly into my remarks today.  I love the way Elder Bednar begins his talks and would like to begin by doing much the same thing.  He invokes the Spirit of God to be present before he speaks, and I would invite the Spirit to be here with me and with you that all of us may be edified together.
 
As I have pondered and prayed about this assignment it seems that the Lord has directed my thoughts toward one venue and disallowed me to consider any other means of address on this subject, so I will follow with how I feel impressed to speak. 
 
When I was a very young child, I remember looking at the tangible objects around me and the world around me and feeling that all this was very foreign.  I remember feeling that I came from another place, a better place, a place I couldn't quite remember but knew had existed.  I pondered these things deeply in my childhood and felt very homesick for a world from before my mortal birth.  I was noted to be rather a strange child, and those of you who know me today are probably thinking that not much has changed.  (giggles from the congregation)
 
I was about five when, in pondering these things, I felt a very familiar presence with me.  It was a presence I knew well, and felt I had spent many millions of years with this person in one on one activities.  It was then that I knew perfectly that God was not only the Master of the universe, but also very much my Father.
 
Joseph Smith indicated that when we meet God the Father the surprising thing will not be how different and strange He is, but how familiar He is to us.  I testify that I know perfectly that this is true.  He knows us and He loves us.  He knows us, not merely from our births into this world but He knows who we have been from long before this world was.  (Mormon) scripture indicates that He knew us when we were intelligences, before we were clothed in spiritual bodies and He knows us more intimately than all the world including all our Facebook friends together possibly could. 
 
That being said, I began to grow up and became acquainted with life and all its chaos.  Sometimes life is full of unexpected trials and sometimes we do not know which way to go or which way our life will take us.  I have been praying much the last two weeks, unsure of which way my life would go, but even though I don't know, I know that our Father does.  He gives us trials that He knows we need.  He knows who we have been for forever in the past and He knows who we can and will be in the eternities in the future, and every trial He gives us is designed to be exactly what we need. 
 
Now, today is Father's Day, and we honor our fathers.  They work so hard and they leave their families for forty hours a week and sometimes longer in order to work.  This is wonderful.  It is noble.  It is heroic.  But when our Heavenly Father goes to work, what does He do?  My brethren and my sisters, we are His work and His glory.  Our progression is His work, and I am continually amazed that He would even care about how we progress and improve, but He does.  We are everything to Him.
 
As I have prayed about what gift we can render our Father today, my thoughts have been led to one idea and I invite you to join me.  This Father's Day, let us remember who we are.  Let us remember a little more that God is our Father, that we are brothers and sisters, and when we interact with each other, let us remember that we are all one eternal family, for that is exactly what we are.  When we say "Sister Driggs", "Sister Richardson", or "Brother Hopkins" (gesturing toward these people) or whoever it may be, let us mean it.  They are our siblings.  We are all family. 
 
I know not only that Heavenly Father lives, but I know our Father.  I love Him.  I know perfectly that He loves His children and is involved in everything we do.  I know perfectly that the doctrines of this Church are true, and I leave this with you in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

Abortion and Autism

I have heard increasingly frequent reports of parents who decide to abort their unborn child upon the discovery of some special need or other in the fetus.  I have prayed much on how to address this and to keep my fiery nature, sometimes sharp tongue and very passionate feelings balanced with compassion and understanding toward those adults considering taking this step.
 
My friends, let me speak peace to your mind.  I know that it must prove overwhelming to discover that your child has what we generally term a disability.  Allow me to share with you my own experience in raising an autistic child. 
 
Tests during pregnancy did initially tell me that something was unusual with my daughter's brain development.  Further tests conflicted with each other and the doctor assumed she would be neuro typical.  But from the beginning I could tell there was something very marked and different in my firstborn.  I could feel her excited spirit.  I could tell she had a passion to take this world by storm and turn it upside down.  During pregnancy she kicked me so hard that a bruise the size of a silver dollar appeared on my waistline.  Her active antics and some external factors sent me into preterm labor a few times over and the hospital nurses nicknamed her "the wild child." 
 
 She was bright and watchful from the beginning and it wasn't until later that I realized something was wrong.  At first the doctors blamed me for her hysterical meltdowns.  I was the bad mom, the unfit parent because my daughter would scream hysterically, kicking everything in sight and even hurting herself for hours every day.  She could readily say nouns but nothing else and in the end a team of specialists had to teach her to speak in sentences. 
 
It was difficult.  It was challenging. I surrendered to the idea that she might never learn to potty train and prepared myself for a teenager in diapers. 
 
But to my surprise, toilet train she did.  Her first sentence, stuttered out in her precious little baby voice was "Pwease hewp me (please help me)."  You may imagine that the moment she uttered those three magic words I fell into uncontrollable tears.  I would help her.  I would believe in her.  I would do anything for her.
 
Julia has touched many lives in her short ten years on this earth.  She has survived being hit by a semi on the freeway, she has shared her beautiful testimony of God and her Savior Jesus Christ with many people, and she has proven both a blessing and a challenge to many of her teachers.  She has knit hearts together in service in a way no one could have imagined.  Her spirit has melted walls of stone and sliced through hearts of granite.  She used to have a team of specialists to teach her to control her body and use her fingers.  It took two years to learn to consistently hold a pencil appropriately.  Today she stands as the most advanced student in her martial arts class and against all odds has taken to piano and music with a passion that surprises and delights all who hear her.  She enjoys sewing clothes for her stuffed animals and has served as a model for several beautiful paintings.  She used to melt down when around other kids.  Today, though she still needs her space after a while, she has friends over nearly every day and is studying with all her heart to become a good babysitter someday.
 
My friends, what we call disabilities are really some of the greatest blessings bestowed upon humankind.  Julia knows full well that she has been blessed with autism and she loves it.  She reports that having autism makes her feel full of light and happiness.  She knows who she is.  She is a daughter of God, a daughter of light, and each day proves that autism can be a joy beyond anything a parent might have comprehended.  She has learned to control herself so much that now she throws fits much less than most children who we generally term "normal."  Beyond that, she has become used to the idea that improvement is part of life and she is excited to continue to improve and develop in a way most children would never consider. 
 
I implore you for your own sake, gentle reader, do not throw away one of the greatest blessings you can possibly have.  A child with what we call disabilities is a joy and a reward in himself.  Face this decision not with fear but with faith and love.  I promise you that if you will see it through it will be the best choice you will ever make. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Because I Couldn't Say Thank You

My earliest memories include hazy visions of your kitchen, the old fashioned metal stove, the cracked, concrete floors, the tortilla and cheese strewed across your table.  Your home was a haven to me, a place of love and warmth that transcended almost any other structure on earth.  I remember feeling of your goodness from my infancy and yours was the example that taught me the meaning of dignity.  You were never rich, you never earned shiny awards at some ivy league college.  I'm not even entirely sure how much you could read.  But I saw that you were a lady of the first order nevertheless.  I remember your generosity, and I saw with my own eyes that you would offer me and anyone who entered your home all the food you had, even if you had literally nothing left for yourself.  Your wealth of spirit more than made up for your financial poverty and of all the old women I knew, you were the one I most wanted to emulate.

But I could never tell you these things.  I felt shy as a child, surrounded by so many rough adults, speaking so fluently in a language I couldn't even begin to command.  I wished so many times I could tell you how much I admired you, but I had never learned the words sufficiently to express my deep appreciation.  I tried.  When I reached the university I majored in Spanish for no other reason but to be able to speak to my Hispanic family.  Still I stumbled and couldn't seem to string the ideas together coherently.

I remember the last time we spoke.  You invited me to sit next to you.  We were alone in that sweet, beloved kitchen, and you saw that I was no longer the two year old rolling in dirt and chasing the hens about your front yard.  You gave me the best advice you had to offer after a long life of attaining, if not worldly applause, then heavenly wisdom.  I remember how you felt ashamed of your lack of formal education.  Eagerly, I tried to tell you that your intelligence proved higher than that of the many college professors I had known, but alas!  My curséd tongue tripped over the Spanish again, and this time for the last time of your mortal probation.  I couldn't convey how divine and beautiful you were to me.  How much I wanted to show you how special you were, and when you finally passed from this life, terrible circumstances hindered me from even paying respects at your funeral.  I have not yet had the blessing of traveling to Mexico to even visit your grave.

But I have a gift that seems as graceful as my Spanish is clumsy, and I offer it to you with all of my heart.  It doesn't seem sufficient at first glance, but I pray your patience just a moment longer to allow me to explain.  I am well versed in religion and in certain types of mental labor, and through this I gathered the details of your life and took them into a place of light and peace today that I might honor you in the best way I know how.  You had no opportunity to be baptized and come into the fold of Jesus Christ in this lifetime, but in the temple my nieces were honored and blessed to take part in doing so on your behalf.  There is more, much more, and I will not stop until I have seen all of it complete. 

We will go on to do more things to honor you, to express how precious you in God's eyes, and how your spirit will go on and on in glory and joy.  You adored your husband and bore fourteen children, and I will see to it that through the temple you will be able to be with them, not just til death do us part but literally forever.  During your lifetime, you lost children in devastating and unexpected accidents and illnesses, but I will labor for as long as it takes to ensure you will be with them in an everlasting bond of familial love.  I couldn't say thank you sufficiently in your own language but let me show my gratitude in doing all within my power to raise you up and seal you to your loved ones eternally.  You gave me a role model in many ways and truly, it is the least I can do.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Anonymous Guest Author

Once again I post those words that spilled from my pencil from a genius other than my own. I have no idea how or why this happens of late but perhaps someday God will make this clear.  These are the words clearly of a man and is remarkably different from my own style. It bewilders me even to the point of confused (almost) discomfort. I suppose this is merely something God would have me learn in this manner at this time. One reader has suggested I write a poem in reply. Possible. Stay tuned. 

My love, I speak how God allows
Though wishing I could hold you tight
My gratitude, though, knows no bounds
And all my soul feels filled with light

For having this sweet window close
Into your ear I whisper love
And plead you know I love you most
My angel, yea, my purest dove. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Eternal Poetry

Once again, I began to write and this, from a man's perspective, seemed to flow from the pencil's own will.  Though I suppose that makes me the author, I have had a difficult time comprehending it in its entirety.  The style and rhythm are not my own - they arise from a different place entirely.  This seems to denote both love and a battle with this cold and hardened mortality, with a plea that his beloved turn away from what she sees of life and it's cynicism and trust that this relationship transcends all of those common and degrading things.  I find the structure particularly interesting, not only because it is so remarkably different from my own style but because it creates a strong, straightforward sense of urgency, almost as a warrior entering battle with reckless valor. 

We find our souls entwined
In sweet embrace
That mortals never find
By earthly grace
But by God's help and will.
You love me here
I'll love you ever still -
Forget your fear

Men's armies cannot break this grasp
When you in loving arms I clasp. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Did You Plant Me Here?

Sweltering heat woke her from oblivion, the arid atmosphere already biting into her tender heart.  Her young hopes felt dashed already, her desire to expand and progress in the lush support of a pampered garden shattered cruelly and immediately.  She tried to move but alas!  She found herself thoroughly rooted, not in the soft embrace of sweet and gentle leaves, but shackled in thorny chains of continual injury. 
 
 
Father of heaven, why did you plant me in this scorched, nigh forsaken waste?  What have I done to displease Thee or lose Thy favor?  I know that other regions exist where rain falls abundantly and the air teems with blessed coolness and humidity.  I know these areas house countless flowers that stretch and yawn in easy luxury.  Dost Thou love them more than me?  I know deep inside that they are not more beautiful than I am.  At least, why didst Thou not give me a chance?  Is it because in truth Thou seest me as weak and ugly, and Thou knowest in Thy might wisdom that I would fail?  Dost Thou see me as second rate and worthless beside those well kept oft tended blossoms?
 
 
Thus the little bud questioned, prayed, wondered and wept, and as she did, the heat increased with vehemence.  No helping rain splashed down from the heavens to her rescue, no respite saved her from the ever increasing fire of the Arizona sun, and yet, trapped in her prison, the flower began to look about her. 
 
 
Everything is so horrible here.  I know in my heart what beauty is and what should exist.  I know and comprehend loveliness that these poor, wretched companions can scarcely comprehend.  I wish they could see the beds of flowers that I know exist. 
 
 
Little by little, the blossom matured, and, in the ordinary course of her nature, spread her petals outward and gazed at the cloudless, azure sky.  Many came from far to gaze upon her face and whisper in hushed wonderment at her form.  And then, the little flower began to understand what she had not dared hope to believe.
 
 
Little one, I knew who you were when I planted you.  I knew how strong and beautiful you were.  I knew you needed the heat and horrors to become what you presently are.  It wasn't because you were less or second rate that I planted you among thorns.  It was because in this barren wasteland, I needed my strongest, my sweetest, my most resilient creations of glory to cheer the gloom and uplift the downcast.  I planted you here because you are strong enough to give life to this dreary, agonizing desert. 
 
 
The flowers in the carefully tended gardens would have wasted away under this rigor, but I knew you were one of the few who could survive and make this hellish atmosphere a place of unmatchable and unutterable joy.  You are my ensign, my beacon to the world, my symbol that nothing is impossible, and because of your strength and beauty, many people who have forgotten what miracles are shall remember where to look in their distress.  I know it has been hard, but it was necessary to raise you up as the example of power and resilience that you are to millions throughout the world. 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big. Phony. Laugh.

*I have tossed and turned much in considering this endeavor and for my own part I would just as well forget the issue and go pursue better things.  But I feel much impressed that for a great many reasons, someone needs to openly voice the truth about persecution and encourage those facing threats and jeers such as I have experienced.  I speak from compassion for both the persecutor and their innocent victims.
Paperwork piled on my desk drew my eyes and attention and I found myself immersed in the mortal, pressing labor of the day.  Tax calculations, invoices and the like littered my workspace and I plowed through with studious intent until I found myself interrupted by a voice at my door.
"Hey Michelle, have you heard the latest on how screwed up your church is?"
Here we go again. 
I must confess this associate has after many years for the most part given up on attacking me directly, as he has found I prove generally impenetrable, but I find myself often the quick tongued vigilante who steps between him and others he seeks to demoralize. 
I hear him travel down the hall to seek out other God fearing individuals and likewise interrupt their work in order to belittle their beliefs.  I hear him stop at another Christian's door and begin unleashing a tirade of how absurd it is to believe in God. 
Oh no you don't.
Rising from my desk, I stride toward his dulcet tones and ready myself to face this fight.  The tax forms will just have to wait.  I find him taunting this noble hearted Christian, who is clearly feeling the heat and exhaustion of verbal and psychological battle and I jump right in with a retort.
Gratefully, I have questioned just about everything about Mormonism and God in general, and voluntarily ripped my testimony to pieces that I might rebuild it more firmly from the ground up.  He lashes back at me and I side step him, swipe at the foundation of his argument and watch his position crumble to the dust.  He starts from another angle and I quickly jerk the carpet from under him and watch him hit the bare concrete below.  I have to get back to my work, so I go on the offensive to finish him off.  I pin him in and quite simply show him the absurdity of his lack of belief in such terms as cannot be refuted.  He literally has no intelligent place to go.
And then it happens.  He throws his head back and lets out a loud, brash, derisive laugh.  The sound echoes off the stone floor and reverberates across the office.  He saunters away with an ear to ear grin as though my words were so idiotic that he has nothing left to say.
Liar.
This, my friend, is not a man who thinks me an idiot.  I have known him for years, since before he turned his back on the truth.  I know his mannerisms and his thought processes.  This is not the behavior of a person who truly believes I am hopeless.  But the fact is that laughter is no argument.  Personal attacks are also not valid, issue related arguments.  The fact is that this is the hollow, empty, maniacal laughter of a man trapped in his own weak and brittle agenda, knows that my logic has hemmed him in and has run out of ideas.
Gentle reader, when you find the world laughing at you, please remember that it isn't you at whom they laugh.  They laugh out of fear that they may be wrong.  They laugh out of desperation in the need to cling to their easily broken ideas.  They fear so terribly that the house of cards they have made their platform will fall apart that they have to close the discussion and make a quick getaway.  Know, my dear friend and fellow follower of God, that deep down they fear that all they preach is wrong, for so it is and somewhere in that beautiful, eternal soul of theirs they know their falsehood perfectly.  They fear having to change.  They may fear that God will never accept them after all they have done to fight against Him.  They may fear that this hatred of God which made them feel strong will shatter and they will be left to see how weak they really are.  They have not learned yet to trust that with God they can be made stronger than ever they were erstwhile.  Pity them and pray for their welfare, for they live in a one dimensional existence, purposefully blinding themselves to all that would make them truly rich and everlastingly happy.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Julia

My daughter and I were writing poetry together in her room, listening to meditative music and eating snacks.  She requested I write a poem about her, and I was glad to oblige.  It is in terza rima, which I reserve only for very special subjects.
 
 
A magic rain begins to fall upon
The hungered earth.  Those drops of heaven's grace
Sweet renders all the parched and aching sod
Anew with life!  And when I see her face
I feel at once the bright and glorious soul
That taught my injured heart and gave it place
In heightened faith.  I glory to extole
The blessing that she daily, ever proves,
Her happiness, my always present goal.
 
 
And as my Father lent her unto me,
I plead Thy help to bring her back to Thee!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Church of the Lost Keys

*Dedicated to one particular naysayer.   You know who you are.

Sounds like something out of Indiana Jones, doesn't it? 
 
I find myself informed that many who dislike Sunday School in general, and as I comprehend it, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints specifically, have bestowed this title upon organized religion and Mormonism.  Their mode of thinking goes something like this:  We often hear stories from church members who relate that in the midst of a busy and stressful day, they lost their car keys, and, after some prayer, God directed them to find said engine starter between the couch cushions of their Lazy Boy.  This, they conclude, stands as proof to them that God knows and loves them, and is involved in every aspect of their lives.  Those who oppose the Church point out that there are many in the chains of bondage, dying of starvation and torture, and this God we believe is so close to us has most certainly forgotten and cast aside these people and left them to their much larger troubles. 

Touché.
 
I see their concern and from a brief and disgruntled view it seems a very good point. My heart goes out continually toward those in third world countries as do regular contributions from my pocketbook.  But let me aid my gentle reader in broadening their horizons a little. 
 
My life, though in a first world country, has generally excited the eyebrow raising, gossip ridden whispers and groans of supreme and bewildered pity from those who have watched the events transpire.  I have become accustomed to fight desperately for my health and life, facing abuse, betrayal, amnesia and many other trials on a daily basis.  This bizarre and often blighted sense of existence has become my daily stroll, and the repercussions prove far more intense than the consequences of a momentarily lost set of keys.  Years have passed without one day that I do not plead to heaven to release me from bondage and anguish, but to no avail. 
 
 
I do not mean to pretend I know all the pains that other people suffer, but I will say this for certain - God knows all things and He is aware of our trials.  He is aware of the sex slave being trafficked just as much as He is aware of the exhausted mom searching desperately for a pacifier to calm her screaming child.  He gives us trials, not because He dislikes us, but because He knows that we need to be tested and tried in different ways to become what He knows we can become.  My heart bleeds for those held in bondage, but it also goes out to those who are the abuser and the offender, for in the long run, their agony shall prove so much worse than those they injure.  This world exists for but a moment and all things shall be made right, either in this existence or the next.  I trust to God that those in dire circumstances shall enjoy a better resurrection but I fear for those in first world countries who face different and more condemning trials.  We in first world countries often fall victim to selling those things that prove most important for things of naught.  We sacrifice family for the love of money and prestige.  We willingly place ourselves in bondage to addictions and hold more to pride than to the saving safety of humility.  We teach our children to scoff at religion and traditional values, damaging them sometimes irreparably in an effort to remain politically correct.  Our dear brethren and sisters in mortal bondage have it rough for now.  True.  But those with education and leisure to read this post often sell ourselves into eternal bondage voluntarily. 
 
 
To those who refer to my religion as the Church of the Lost Keys, I would ask you if you seek to lift the burdens of others?  We do.  We reach out to the homeless, the forsaken, the starving and the rejected.  Do you spend your time in humanitarian service to make a difference in this world, or do you spend it in watching the internet eagerly, looking for a way to speak badly of others?  If your behavior proves more the latter, I grieve for you, for you are in at least as terrible bondage as physical slaves, and worse because for you there is no rest neither night nor day in the confines of your own mind.  Their bondage will come to an end - that much is certain.  The end of your bondage, my dear gentle reader, proves far less a sure event.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bumper Stickers on a Lamborghini

Dedicated to all the wonderful teenagers and young adults out there!

Sounds awful, doesn't it?  What right thinking human would dare desecrate the fantastic vehicle with such unholy filth?  I personally have never seen too many bumper stickers on luxury or super hot sports cars, and I doubt you have either.  But I have seen many times another phenomenon that proves altogether worse and which we tend to view daily without batting an eye.  

Firstly, please understand that I judge no one.  I love all people and I respect the human right to agency, but because my concern and love runs so deep I feel moved to relate to my dear younger friends a trap into which I fear they may fall.

I understand that people make mistakes and would judge no one I see meandering about this earth with a tattoo.  But truly, isn't that the exact same thing as plastering absurd sticky messages on the backside of a Ferrari?  Indeed, the human body proves more beautiful, worthy of reverence and perfectly constructed than any hot rod.  

I see frequently dear, wonderful people who I feel seem lost about their own self worth, made evident by their many body piercings.  My dear, beloved friends, you are worth more than that!  I love you and wish you well, and would therefore enlighten your eyes to a fact to which we may sometimes find ourselves quite blind.  As cool as they may seem momentarily, body piercings look, well, trashy.  This is me stepping out of the realm of political correctness in a spirit of love and offering my dear gentle reader a better kind of correctness.  I offer you the correctness of honoring your body and your spirit in spite of all the howling winds of dissent and trumpeting moral bigots on earth.  I pray you value all that you are enough to offer the same peace and love to yourself.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Lady from Turicachi

Happy Mother's Day to Martha Duarte Smith!


From Turicachi's sequia clear
A lady's birth once changed the world
When one leapt from bright heaven's 'brace
And into dark earth's vacuum, swirled
Among the rough, the brash, and wrong
She set example in the ranks
Of wayward souls who hinderéd
Bright righteousness, who loved the dank
And loathsome wrong.  From BYU
To West Berlin, her influence
Brought daylight sweet to hearts of night,
In this, demolishing constituents
Of Satan's plan.  Her faith so dear,
Fast opened up Sonora Ward,
Led souls to Christ and strengthened them,
Destroying vice with flaming sword.
A volume great might well be writ
Regarding deeds from little hands
And angel's heart proves honoréd
To point and say, "Behold, she stands!"

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Song of Soulmates

In much meditation and pondering, reaching outward with my spirit, I questioned how a man would feel attempting to win over, not just any woman, but his soul mate.  I wondered how he would feel without her in his life and how he would feel when he finally married her.  And it seemed that as I considered this question, my pencil began scribbling by itself and I was left to read, astonished, what words it formed upon the page.

My adoration reaches far
Into the centre of thy heart,
O'erwhelming all my pride, despair
In lack of thee, my counterpart.

From nigh the first within my eyes
My spirit found eternal home
And caught me swift, so paralyzed
That I am thine, where'er I roam.

I cannot speak my heart to thee -
My tongue yet stumbles in attempt
But surely thou canst ready see
My soul is thine, and none exempt

From thy command, my goddess fair.
I worship and adore thy form,
I tumble and try not to stare
Or 'vision thy embrace so warm,

But soul alas!  I find me caught
In sweetest web of darling love.
I grasp in hand she who I sought
And thank my noble Lord above.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Decision to Divorce

Each of us know someone who has divorced and perhaps those reading these extensions of thought have contemplated filing the ultimate paperwork ourselves.  Most of us realize that the decision to continue on this path leads to difficulty, much change, and often exquisite pain.  And though this proves the case, we still see marriages falling apart in rapidly increasing numbers, creating a social and moral epidemic such as this world has never known before.  The frequency of reckless, needless divorce drives me to my knees in sorrow for this world and for many of the decisions that lead to destroying the family unit.  I speak today, my friends, to those who currently contemplate severing this powerful connection.  I realize that sometimes divorce proves inevitable, but perhaps we can decide whether our marriage is truly worth saving or not.  Come and let us reason together.
 
My friend, I implore you to ask yourself some vital questions in making this decision.  My heart breaks for you and the difficulties you face.  Please consider some ideas and ponder deeply what you can do to make a better life for yourself. 
 
We often file because we are angry, or because horrible things have happened.  I understand.  We may feel justified, and perhaps we most certainly are.  But think on this, my dear friend.  Have you placed your spouse's needs before your own on a consistent basis?  Have you deeply considered how they feel and sought to walk in their shoes in order to better comprehend their perspective?  Have you considered that marriage is a sacred union that it is not to be lightly destroyed?  Have you listened intently to your children and internalized the repercussions that they will suffer? 
 
So much for the easy ones.  Let us continue.  What of those who feel that they have accidentally married the wrong person?  That is a frightening thought.  Ask yourself if you might not work and learn together to become more perfectly united and pray that God, who can do anything, find a way to make you true soul mates in every possible way? Have you worn out your knees in begging the Lord to help you fall more deeply in love with this person and then looked for ways to strengthen your own affection for them?
 
My dear friends, let us assume you are contemplating divorce because of adultery.  My heart weeps as I ask you, have you forgiven your spouse completely?  Have you extended mercy and understanding, caring more for the welfare of their soul than for your anger, injury, and pride?  Whether they have apologized or not, have you prayed for their soul and vowed before God to do whatever might be necessary to reclaim their sinful spirit?  Have you examined prayerfully your own soul and asked the Lord if there has been anything in your own behavior concerning your marriage that has proven wanting?  Have you come down to the depths of humility in seeking to learn how you can be a good, strong, wonderful person yourself? 
 
Perhaps he or she has abused you.  My dearest friends, I am so sorry.  In this case, my dear friends, I love you and I honestly ache to the very center for you.  But ask yourselves this.  Can they change?  Can they take anger management and other therapy classes?  Most importantly, can you forgive them and heal completely?  Forgiveness should be a given anyway, but healing can prove far more difficult.  Can you honestly care more about their spiritual journey than about your own desire to be rid of them immediately?  This is a very tricky moment in relationships, for no one should be subject to abuse and yet abusers are in desperate need of love, sometimes very tough love, and are no less human or of divine worth than the rest of us.  It is perhaps the most difficult and painful aspect of injured marriage to forgive and in my opinion likely the one that justifies divorce the most. 
 
My friends, do all you can to stick to the commitments you have made.  I would bring to your mind a point of logic that we sometimes forget.  Let us say that your spouse has made every single mistake in the book repeatedly.  Let us assume you are more than justified in filing for divorce.  And let us assume that in prayer you feel that God would still not have you file the paperwork.  Dear friends, use this as an opportunity to learn to love yourself, to give your all to follow the Lord, and to receive knowledge and blessings at His hands.  According to the great justice of God, one day, either your spouse will change and be the person you need him or her to be, or else they will strive to repent and, if finding they simply cannot change and keep injuring you and your family, they may decide the best way to protect you in love and compassion is to create safe distance by filing themselves.  Either way, your hands will be clean and God will shower blessings upon your head even as the dew of heaven. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Walking Through Darkness

I wander through the soulless night
Where darkened howling splits the air,
Rough leaves dance dryly at my feet -
Dank enmity drifts everywhere.

In glancing up I view the moon
Grin grimly, blood like at the scene,
Illuminating trials' boast
That all the world is low and mean.

Its triumph floats in lifeless most
Full terrifying man and beast
Into a waking stupor, vague -
Satanic, overwhelming feast.

But yet I tread with naked sole -
I stand but inches off the ground,
Emitting sparks in every step,
Creating brightness in profound,

In blackness hues, in deep despair
I forward glide with gentle light.
The hellish torture holds me not
Nor stifles the eternal right. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Divorce and Dumb Men

My jaw dropped earlier today when I heard one of the most inwardly and outwardly beautiful women I have ever known relate that she currently faces divorce.  I have always looked at her and thought that any man should feel himself lucky for the bare opportunity to kiss her hand.  If ever I felt inclined to think a man thoroughly unintelligent, this was it.  

But I refuse to think of men in that way.  I know them too well, and appreciate too deeply the dynamics between man, woman and God to simply blow off any human being as an irredeemable idiot.  This labeling of men as dumb stands as a terrible plague in this world, with unwarranted damage releasing itself in its wake.  Men are dynamic, powerful, passionate beings of light, created in the image of God and each holds a divine destiny in the overarching course of eternity.

Men are not dumb creatures.  I have a friend who speaks overly harshly of her ex husband.  He apparently had extramarital affairs behind her back, which she did not discover for a while. This has induced her to speak of him as something worthless and dumb.  Dumb?  He outsmarted her, didn't he?  Many things a man in that situation may be but dumb generally isn't it.  If he intended to keep her as a wife, his actions would have proven highly unwise but still too cunning to be called unintelligent.  If she was verbally abusive and he didn't care whether or not he stayed married, maybe she ought to look toward her own behavior before judging his.  He employed that intelligence wrongly perhaps but still he utilized it and it gave him the temporary desire he sought.  Worthless?  Both she and another woman wanted him at the same time, so that clearly wasn't it either.  And may I reiterate that no human soul is worthless.  Sinful, yes.  Worthless, no. 

My dear ladies, this may seem impossible but we, who talk so much, need to work on our language and communication skills.  A man may be reckless, lustful, coarse, vulgar, dangerous, unwise, conceited, arrogant, abusive, and a plethora of other things but we make the matter worse when we do not use these specific words and immediately reach for the easy but inaccurate description of "men are dumb and worthless."  We further damage this world and our rising generation but saying that all men are unintelligent.  If all men are dumb, then your poor six year old son has no hope of a bright future.  Let us say rather, "I feel hurt when I see him do this", "I do not want him in my life anymore", "I feel underappreciated", or "I am in shock from what just happened."  In each phrase, the woman first owns her own feelings and gives herself a moment to breathe before she immediately jumps down the man's throat in retaliation and abuse.  When we recklessly lash back out of our own unbridled emotions we also become the bad guy and step across the line that divides right from wrong.  Whatever happens, it is still our right and our duty to remain Christlike.  The Savior was kind under extreme pain; so we should prove.

As for the absolutely stunning woman who faces divorce, I cannot help but think that God is doing her a great favor.  Few women can come up to her heels and if her present husband cannot see that, or if he cannot stand as tall in the way of moral decency, then God is giving her wings to fly without a morally degrading millstone round her neck and in His matchless love, giving him a chance to start over and hopefully repent of obviously failing priorities.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How to Write a Love Letter

One dear reader responded to my recent character sketches with the concern that I was raising the bar for the significant others of those people I described.  He voiced the idea that their spouses would have a difficult time expressing their tender feelings better than I had done.  Another reader expressed the wish that she could put her thoughts into words in like manner. 
 
My friends, I am no power pinching miser.  I would that all could speak in such terms and I would hardly keep such techniques to myself.  I have a degree in English Education and invite you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or cocoa and let us discuss the method one takes in creating character sketches as I have published erstwhile. 
 
Firstly, my dear friends, I would invite you to take a moment and indulge in some deep breaths and tell yourself you love yourself.  We cannot extend powerful love to others if our own souls are in turmoil.  The more peace we carry inside, the more we can offer to those we adore.  Take a moment to breath out frustration and doubt, and breathe in excitement and an eagerness to learn something new. 
 
Secondly, let us sit quietly for a moment and ponder the object of our affection.  This can be a friend, a spouse, or anyone you desire to render this gift from your heart.  Take your time; do not give yourself a time limit.  You have all the time you need.  One of the most important keys in this is patience.  It will pay off in terms you never dreamed possible.  As we ponder our beloved, let us remember that all people, no matter what they do, are children of God.  All humans are eternal beings; thusly, we cannot possibly praise them too much or lift them too high.  Each human soul is a creation of light and their glory is already there if we will look for it.  No one is exempt from this all consuming fact.  You can stretch your mind all the way to the dawn of time and find their existence there; you can reach forward several millennia and they will still exist in some form.  This understanding proves paramount.
 
When we comprehend this, let us gaze at our object, and take notice of everything about them.  Look upon them without judgment, and with compassionate love in your heart.  Let any weakness or flaws pass out of your mind - for the moment they have none.  Look only at the positive attributes.  Notice the curve of their lips, the movement of their hair, the tenor of their voice.  Allow the love within your spirit to reach out and touch theirs.  If necessary, pray for the eyes to see them as God does.  Again, take your time.  Most of the people I described consumed my imaginative concentration for days before I ever began actually writing. 
 
Now you are ready.  Do not be afraid - there is no wrong answer.  Pick up a pencil and start scribbling.  Let anything you feel come out.  If you want to edit later, you may, but for the moment, just write the things you notice.  Focus your whole concentration on their sparkle in their eyes, consider the talents they possess, pull into the mix their trials and history.  Just scribble.  You don't need a formal introduction or powerful conclusion.  When you feel that a last sentence finishes your thoughts, allow yourself to accept that as your ending. 
 
We can edit if we like, though I would never consider it absolutely necessary.  Affection is often best when perfectly genuine and raw.  I only ever edit in order to learn more myself and sharpen my own skills.  If I find I have employed the same descriptive more than once I may rethink it or pull out a dictionary or thesaurus.com to find a new word and add it to my own personal lexicon.  I strive to avoid using the same descriptive word twice in any work of this kind. 
 
What you do with your work is your own.  Fear not - you may scrap it and start over.  No one needs to know of your attempt except for you and God.  You may read it, change it, hide it or keep it to yourself.  But the best things come when you share those thoughts, imperfect though they are, with the person you respect enough to have described.   

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Come, Come Ye Saints

Bed covers inspired a feeling of languid self spoiling this morning and diminished into oblivion any desire to rise from their embrace. I might have stayed there forever, spending an eternity or two continually hitting the snooze button on my phone.  But today was endurance day at the gym and my personal trainer isn't interested in letting me sleep my life away.

My Trainer's name is God and He's the best physical fitness instructor since before time began.  I pray much when planning anything in my life and that certainly includes my work outs. Feeling much impressed to go for endurance I designed a plan according to what I felt He would have me do.

I have never been an endurance runner. I am about as at home with that idea as an octopus would be in scaling Mount Everest, but that was what He wanted me to pursue so I kicked off my sheets and prepared to cover eight miles and then add some strength training.

Praying desperately, I asked how I should mentally approach this. I was already tired, my muscles already wanting a rest period after previous work outs, and I just could not get the motivation.  had never accomplished such a feat and intimidation began to rear its ugly head. My answer was "trek it."

Trek...I remembered the Mormon pioneers leaving everything and crossing the great American plains in their journey toward safety and present day Salt Lake City, and understanding shot through my mind like a beacon of hope.  My religious forebears had a far harder journey than this, and what kind of a Mormon would I be if I cried about a measly eight miles. Time to quit my sniveling and get to work.

Eight miles later I stepped off that treadmill with an ear to ear grin.  Training has become bonding time with God.  He leads me, like Joshua taking in Jericho, to accomplish things I could never have dreamed of doing. He inspires me and makes the way possible and I know He can aid you too!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Is Blood Really Thicker Than...?

"You're the one dating my brother?  He isn't good enough for you!"

These words, vehemently uttered alongside giggle bursts by an exuberant teenager rang in my adolescent ears and struck me with amusement on one hand and indignation on the other.  This little red haired beauty had the gall to insult my then boyfriend and her own flesh and blood to support instead a girl she had never before beheld.  Her loyalty to family at the time seemed tremendously lax, and I couldn't help wondering at what made this slightly younger female rendition of her brother tick.  

Many years have passed since the memorable evening of meeting Amber for the first time, and her brother has long since dropped out of my personal journey, but she and I are still as excellent friends as ever.  She will never be my sister in law according to the laws of the land, but she is my sister in heart, at least partly because she was willing from the first to prove honest with herself, fair to all people and cast aside those abominable blinders that cause people to irrationally support family members in terrible acts of vice, abuse and cruelty.  She had a clearer head than most from an early age and for that reason, my relationship with her and her older sister has never been stronger than now.  

God has given me many opportunities to observe how people respond when their family members do wrongly and sin against others.  For the most part, the results have proven saddening.  I have too often observed people supporting their siblings in abusive acts, simply because "they are family."  It proves most disheartening when such abusive acts injure spouse and children.  Our support of our blood relatives in such horrendous behavior essentially sends the message "You may be married into the family but you are still the outsider, and always will be."  Rather than strengthening a family or personal relationships it generally tears friendships apart.

But oughtn't we support our family?  Ah, there is the great secret.  My friends, we are all siblings under heaven.  We come from the same Creator, the same Master, the same Eternal Parent.  Are we not all family?  When we seek to cling only to those with whom we immediately share blood, we destroy many other far more deserving relationships.    We limit ourselves and place barriers to future, salvation, exaltation and joy in our paths.  Blood may be thicker than water, so they say, but it can never prove thicker than what is right.  Love your family, but remember, my dear brethren and sisters, that we are all of us eternally family.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Is The Man Always Wrong?

Friendly branches amiably blocked out the sweltering Arizona sun as some friends and I congregated around our usual tree in wait for children to emerge from school.  Falling into conversation, the topic somehow shifted toward the idea many harbor of men always being wrong.  The only man in our crowd, smilingly, brought the phrase to our attention first, and then pointed out that the people who subscribe to that theory are...women.

"Not this woman."  I countered.  "I have never believed that or said it.  And I never will."

Turning back to my feminine cohorts I caught in peripheral view this man's expression which indicated that he could have hugged the breath out of me but resisted the urge out of decency.  
 
I recall from my earliest waking moments in mortality carrying the firm belief that the masculine side of our species were filled with potential and light.  It seemed a truth that heaven often and fervently whispered in my ear, reaffirming throughout my adolescence that though guys have their faults, and a propensity toward romantic disloyalty at the foreground, yet they are sons of the Highest with divine and beautiful destinies.  I never doubted in my youth that men had the potential to be something beyond noteworthy, to stand to their full spiritual heights and create miracles beyond imagination. 

Life has illustrated the depths of evil of which men are capable.  I have seen much that might convince one that women certainly can live happy lives without their gentleman counterparts.  I believe part of the reason many women accuse men of stupidity and demean their worth is to mentally cope with the reckless masculine infidelity that have destroyed so many marriages and homes.   But though they prove imperfect, men are not as society portrays them. They are glorious, with eternal and exquisite value.  Hard to believe though it is, even the natural wiring that causes men to find monogamy difficult has its purpose in God's wisdom and will make its usefulness manifest in His time.  In the interim, perhaps ladies might consider that women are naturally inclined to prove overly emotional and harshly verbal, often causing damage and injured feelings within the walls of their home.  Perhaps women might consider that their tendency to bring up old injuries twenty years after the fact does as much damage, or almost as much, as the tendency men have toward pornography.  

Is the man always wrong?  Not at all.  Men have proven excellent inventors, scientists, historians, writers, leaders, and breadwinners through the annals of time.  Are women always right?  Hardly.  They have the ability to prove angelic if they will work with their natures and cultivate gentleness, but no, they are not always right.  We were crafted by the Almighty to work together, to believe in each other and to honor each other for the differences that make our united efforts so supremely perfect.