Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Powerful Answer

In my last post, I pondered how we can increase the "Staying Power" of spiritual experiences to keep their impact in our lives fresh longer. Today I got an unexpected answer to my own question. Today I spent a good portion of the morning ... mourning. But I was not mourning my own losses or trials. I was mourning for a sweet family I don't really even know.

Oh I am sure I have crossed paths with this family. Their oldest child and my Annie were in the same grade at the same school and both on the cheer team together. But they were never in the same class. We were never in the same ward. Still somehow their loss this last weekend hit me hard today.

A few months ago my best friend had told me about a friend of hers who found out she had cancer, a mother of 5 young children aged 11 to 1. After spending the last couple of months feeling pretty good despite getting treated for the cancer, she passed away rather suddenly this Saturday, three days before her 33rd birthday.

There have been a few times in my life where I am keenly aware that I am literally fulfilling my baptismal covenant to "mourn with those who mourn" or "comfort those who stand in need of comfort." I am not sure how much comforting I could do for this sweet family who is aching for their mama, but this morning, I was mourning with them... for them.

I am fortunate to still have my own sweet Mama with me on this Earth. What a blessing she is to me! But, as a Mama myself, I know what it is to be separated by the veil of death from your baby girl. And today I was feeling for this Mama and most especially for her daughter.

I cried grief ridden tears on their behalf. I felt the injustice of and anger and pain of loss that came to me early in my own grief only this time under the umbrella of their loss. By the time I said my prayer on my breakfast, I was unable to speak in audible words. So halfway through, after saying grace for my food, I prayed silently, fervently, for this family.

And an amazing thing happened. I felt the Spirit wash over me in a stillness and peace that was both powerful and undeniable. I felt the anger leave and a whispering in my soul told me all was as it was meant to be. Where everything in me was yelling the opposite and that surely God didn't need a young mother of 5 small children, I felt that somehow this was all part of a Master Plan. And I felt that this family will be okay.

Then I prayed that they would be able to feel that comfort I had just felt through the powerful emotions of grief. I remember how hard it was to feel comforted in those early days of overwhelming, crippling grief. I prayed that this family, each one of them, would feel that peace that is so life sustaining at such a time. I will keep praying for that and for them.

In this day of mourning for those that mourn, I have discovered that doing so is one powerful way to keep the flames of a searingly powerful spiritual experience fresh in our hearts and minds. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons we are commanded to do so.

Tonight after reading my scriptures, I decided to do a little extra and read a talk from last April's General Conference. Is it any coincidence that I randomly chose Elder Nelson's talk "Let Your Faith Show" in which he talked about his own sweet daughter Emily, mother of five, who died of cancer? I think not. His talk spoke directly to my heart. Allow me to end by quoting some of it here.

"When we speak of faith—the faith that can move mountains—we are not speaking of faith in general but of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can be bolstered as we learn about Him and live our religion. The doctrine of Jesus Christ was designed by the Lord to help us increase our faith. In today’s vernacular, however, the word religion can mean different things to different people.

"The word religion literally means “to ligate again” or “to tie back” to God. The question we might ask ourselves is, are we securely tied to God so that our faith shows, or are we actually tied to something else?..."

"Contrast the fear and faithlessness so prevalent in the world today with the faith and courage of my dearly beloved daughter Emily, who now lives on the other side of the veil. As mortal life was leaving her cancer-ridden body, she could barely speak. But with a smile on her face, she said to me, 'Daddy, don’t worry about me. I know I will be all right!' Emily’s faith was showing—showing brightly—in that tender moment, right when we needed it most.

"This beautiful young mother of five had full faith in her Heavenly Father, in His plan, and in the eternal welfare of her family. She was securely tied back to God. She was totally faithful to covenants made with the Lord and with her husband. She loved her children but was at peace, despite her impending separation from them. She had faith in her future, and theirs too, because she had faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son.

"In 1986, President Thomas S. Monson said: 'Of course we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. … Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with [faith] have courage as well.'

"President Monson’s counsel is timeless! So I plead with you, my dear brothers and sisters: Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!

"I pray that you will be securely tied back to God, that His eternal truths will be etched on your heart forever. And I pray that, throughout your life, you will let your faith show! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Staying Power

Once in a while you have an experience that sears into your soul. Perhaps it is a major life event that fundamentally changes you. Or it could be as simple as a powerful answer to prayer or an experience where you learn something important from or just strongly feel the Spirit. I have had experiences both great and small that have profoundly and deeply touched my very soul.

In the moment of these experiences and, to varying degrees, the time just after the event, I am so committed to living to my fullest potential and being so dedicated to living according to all the truth I know. But as time goes by, inevitably, I get lazy. The iron clad grip the experience puts on my determination slackens. I suppose it is just human nature. But I want to find ways to keep this from happening. Maybe it isn't possible to keep it from happening. Maybe that is why we need to be always seeking and knocking and asking so that we have more soul touching experiences to keep us going in our determination.

What I have tried to do to keep these experiences with me is to write them down. Also I do share them with others in lessons or conversations when they are applicable and when I feel prompted to share them. This does help. I also do consciously "Remember" many of them when I am feeling weak or challenged. I remind myself when my faith is feeling faint of the MANY answers to prayers I have been given and the miracles I have seen in my life.

But I want to do more. I want to feel more of these experiences in my life. I the effects of them to last longer and I want to build on their momentum. Is that possible?

Maybe just writing this out will help me lose the laziness and recommit myself to be more mentally and emotionally engaged in my daily spiritual workouts or prayer and scripture study.

What do you do to keep those fires burning once you have had a spiritual fireball sear your soul?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Good Day

Today was just a good day. I have long been saying that there will be a party in our house the day Harrison is both potty trained and water safe. Today at his swimming lesson he was swimming all parts of the pool and flipping on his back every time he needed a breath or got nervous. He is finally kicking well and really swimming about 10 feet pretty well. We have come A LONG WAY this summer after 4 months of lessons from Feb. to May of him just launching himself into the pool and hanging out there vertically waiting for someone to grab him. He used to just use his legs like rabbit.

Also, Harrison kept his pants dry and clean today all day without me even having to tell him to go to the potty once. Wahoo!

This morning I turned on some Mormon Tabernacle Choir for our breakfast/scripture reading background music. It was maybe a little too good since Noble didn't want to go up and get dressed because he "couldn't feel the Spirit" upstairs. He just wanted to sit in the family room and enjoy the music and the feeling it gave him. Can't really blame him.

Today I also went shopping with my buddy Harrison, make 7 loaves of whole wheat bread and a batch of yummy sour cream rolls plus salmon, salad, mashed potatoes, gravy and strawberry, blueberry and banana (red white and blue for 9/11) salad for dinner with the missionaries and a recent convert/friend in our ward.

It was great to hear the sister missionaries message of faith and the importance of tithing.

I have been going all day today. I am beat tonight. But it is a good kind of beat. I have been fighting an asthma attack for about 5 days. Finally got to the Dr. yesterday and got lots of drugs to help my body kick it out. They are doing their job and I am breathing so much better today. Breathing is good. I am so grateful for the health and energy to accomplish all I have been able to get done today.

It is good to feel tired after doing good purposeful work all day. It is even better to feel the Spirit in my home and feel the blessings of a gracious Heavenly Father in my daily life.