Thursday, November 26, 2015

Humbly Grateful

This morning I went on a run/walk and was thinking as I passed the beauty all around me of how humbly grateful I am for every great and simple blessing in my life. Gratitude is a partner to humility.

I gave a talk on humility last Sunday. I thought today I might share it here.

I’m sure many of us are familiar with a pair of Chinese handcuffs.  For those kids out there who haven’t run across a pair yet, they look like this. They are sometimes given out as party favors. They are tricky little things. I remember the first time I curiously put my fingers into them to see what they were all about.  It was only a few minutes before I felt trapped and a little worried about how I would ever get them off. Then someone told me to stop pulling my hands apart and put them together instead. As a child, I couldn’t understand how in the world that could get my fingers apart but I was desperate enough to give it a try at that point. Although the instruction seemed counter intuitive, it worked. It loosened the handcuffs enough that I could gently slide my fingers out.

Many principles of the gospel are counter intuitive just like these Chinese handcuff. Today I have been asked to speak on one of those, Humility.

Humility is one of those things I try never to pray for because I am afraid of the experiences the Lord my send my way that would grant my prayer and compel humility. I have had a few of those and they are difficult ways to learn. Whenever possible, I prefer to humble myself. Preparing this talk has helped me examine a few ways to do just that and I hope you too will find something in it that can help you increase your humility.

So how is Humility counter intuitive? Often, when we think of a humble person, we think of someone who is weak and powerless or who doesn’t feel good about themselves. While those people may be humble, true humility does not require any of those things. True Humility comes through Knowing our Standing before the Lord, Submission to His Will in all things, and Selflessness. Think of these as the 3 S’s of Humility. STANDING, SUBMISSION, SELFLESSNESS.
STANDING King Benjamin is one of my favorite examples of humility from the scriptures. We have been talking about him in Primary as our scripture this month is Mosiah 2:17 when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.  Here he was a king. Most kings have servants doing service for them all day. But King Benjamin was a different kind of King and in the verses in Mosiah 2 he lays out that he is just the same as every other person in the Kingdom. He notes that he has not been living off taxes of the people but has spent his life Serving his fellow beings with his own two hands and thus serving God.  He then notes if they feel thankful to him they ought to be thankful to their heavenly king even more.

In Verses 20-21 he says:  “I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning,
and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will,
and even supporting you from one moment to another—
I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

True humility comes through knowing both that we owe everything we are to the Lord and also that due to our sins we have zero standing before Him. We literally cannot stand in His presence.  

And yet we are taught from the time we are born that we are children of God and Heirs to Him with the potential to become like Him. We are-- each of us -- Princes and Princesses in the Kingdom of the Almighty God. We are each of infinite worth and precious in His sight.

But like the handcuffs, in order to attain our potential we must humble ourselves and realize all our worth comes from our connection to that Great Being who created us and our potential made possible only by the Savior’s atonement.

We are all Eternally indebted.

Every thing, every talent, every blessing in our lives is only ours because the Lord has LENT them to us.

The only thing that is truly ours-- and even this was granted to us from Him-- is our agency.  That brings us to the second S of Humility. Sumbission.

SUBMISSION  Once we truly realize our Standing before the Lord, we ought to be sufficiently humble to use our gift of agency to Submit to His will. Submission is an ACT of humility. The world often portrays or sees submission as a sign of weakness. In this they are mistaken. Counter intuitively, like the Chinese handcuffs, acts of submission require great strength and brings power.

It is harder to be humble than it is to be proud. It is a very difficult thing to adopt the Lord’s will when it goes directly against our own desires or will directly hurt us. Such submission requires great courage and strength.

Sometimes, it requires strength beyond what we possess. In those cases it also requires great faith. Faith that the Lord will bless us with power and strength to see us through the trial to which we are submitting.  

Each of us in this life will be faced with our own personal Gethsemene. Perhaps we will face more than one of those type of trials. These are trials that make us shrink and not want to drink the bitter cup.

Maybe it is following and sustaining a priesthood leader you don’t agree with on an issue,
or sacrificing monetarily to follow the will of the Lord in your life path,
or accepting the will of the Lord in the death of a loved one. Perhaps it is something even harder like a trial that has come into your life by another person’s wrong doing.

When we are faced with such trials it is easier to be angry and think “Why ME?” than to let ourselves feel the depth of the hurt. But in this we must look to the example the Savior set for us. The Savior himself did not ask WHY ME when He was asked to drink the bitter cup. He asked 3 times if there was any other way. He did not want to do it. But of course there was no other way and in the end, He submitted to the Father’s will.

Think of the strength and courage and faith that submission took. And think of the power born of that submission. As Richard Edgley, said in his 2003 conference talk,  

“His submitting His will to the Father brought about the greatest, and even the most powerful, event in all of history. Perhaps some of the most sacred words in all the scriptures are simply, “Not my will, but thine, be done”

We must not underestimate the power of that act of the Savior’s submission we call the Atonement. Because of the Atonement, we can benefit and grow from even the most difficult of trials when we set aside doubt and anger and exercise the faith to humbly submit the Hurt we feel to the Savior to heal. It may take time.

But I testify to you that the Savior can and will heal any and all hurt that we humbly bring Him.  It may take years but He can and will bind up the broken heart that is fully submitted to Him.

Only when we use our agency as the Savior did in submitting to the Father’s will in all things can we truly show our love and gratitude to the Lord for all His many blessings. And in submitting in humility the Lord blesses us with strength to endure and eventually over come our trials and bring us to salvation and exaltation.

That leaves us with our 3rd S. SELFLESSNESS.

Humble people don’t need to lack self esteem. We need not feel lower than other people to be humble. We need to feel lowly in comparison with deity and equal to all other humans. And as equals we choose to be modest in the sense that we do not self promote. Humble people look outside themselves. They focus on others.

In 2010 Brandon Stanton, a photographer, began a blog called Humans of NY. He began photographing people on the streets of NYC and telling a little of their story one by one. He now shares these on Facebook as well and has published his Blog in 2 best selling books.

He recently shared a story of a young couple he photographed who met on Instagram. The woman shared the following:

“I’d been engaged recently. We broke it off in January. I was trying to make some changes in my life. I stopped wearing make-up for a few months to see what sort of things I’d notice if I stopped looking in the mirror so much.

I made a deal with myself that I wasn’t going to post any selfies for a while.
I was only going to photograph things that weren’t me. I started posting photos of nature, art, and my teacup collection.
That began to attract other people into my life who were interested in those things.
One night Chris sent me a message. It was a photo of a bridge he’d just taken. We went back and forth for a couple weeks, then decided to meet.”

I loved her story because in our selfie and fame obsessed society she found the paradox that she drew more people to her including her boyfriend when she stopped taking selfies and focused her camara and her life on things outside of herself. The same could be said of Brandon Staton, fame and success came to him when he began telling the stories of others.

This is not to say we should take no concern for our appearance. But, it should not be a focus of our lives or the basis of our self-esteem.

Sister Susan Tanner the General YW Pres in 2005 conference shared her feelings of struggling with self-esteem over her appearance as a teen.
She said her mother taught her a valuable lesson as she said over and over. “You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk out the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others.”

Her mother knew that paradoxacle Chinese handcuff truth that humble acts of selflessness do more to garner friends and build self-esteem than spending every moment worrying about and working to perfect your look.

You see it isn’t that humble people think poorly of themselves, it is that they think of others instead of themselves. In a world where people are trying to “Find themselves” the counter intuitive truth that the Savior taught recorded in Matt 16:25 has often been rejected but still is true

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

The Savior is our supreme example of Humility. It is He who created the worlds and all that is in them, the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, our Elder Brother and our God who condescended without reservation to be born among men in a lowly stable manger. To live a life among mortals never seeking His own but continually seeking the Will of His Father and doing His Father’s work.

And it was our Savior, the very Son of God with power over the elements, the heavens and even death itself that after suffering for us in the Garden allowed mortal men to take him to that trial and eventually to that hill on Calvary.

Surely we would not call our Savior-- our perfect example of humility-- weak, powerless or lacking in self-esteem. We follow the example of the Saviors humility when we acknowledge our true standing before the Lord and choose to be submissive and selfless.  In so doing, we demonstrate the true strength of self mastery and tap into heavenly empowerment waiting to lift us closer to our Heavenly Father.

During this week of Thanksgiving, I hope we can all reflect on the degree of gratitude we ought to feel everyday to that God who breath by breath gives us life. It is my prayer that our humble gratitude will help us to become more submissive and selfless and thus help each of us become more like our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


It's early. The sun is cresting over the horizon showering its rays across the tops of the trees. I am running in their ample shade with a cool bite in the crisp morning air. In my ears my earphones are blasting out my workout playlist. It's a tired list. I don't update it often. But it still helps motivate my body to move. 

I have reached that point in my morning run where I am ready to be done running. Up till now it's been pretty easy. But I am running up the last long hill in my loop. Today I am letting that music in my ears push me the rest of the way up the hill. I know once I crest the top, it's all downhill to my house.

As I round the bend at the pinnacle of the hill, I see the lights from the high school stadium and the tops of the trees and water towers in my town. My playlist Odin the middle of the song "Home" by Phillip Phillips. The scene and the song hit me causing a tidal wave of emotion.

I listen to these lyrics, taking in the beauty of this town that has become Home over these last two years. And I feel Camille there with me... singing to me, comforting me, and letting me know she has been helping make this place my Home.

"Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble—it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reunited... In a dream

I just woke from a vivid dream in which I was reunited with Camille after a long separation. In the dream all my family (both Waites and Harris') were traveling together through strange foreign lands in Africa and Europe. Somehow we fell into a river and we got separated from Camille. I knew she was safe with family in my dream. But I also knew there was no way to find her or contact the family members who were with her. All I could think to do was to go back to our home base hotel and pray those who had her could make it there.

Much time passed. I had all my other kids and we were going to the pool to play at this home base hotel where we had been living and waiting. Suddenly a messenger came to me with a note saying Camille was in the hotel with these family members who had been caring for her and we would see her the next day. I dropped everything. Grabbed my kids and told them the news. Then I turned to the messenger and told him to take me to the person who sent the note. I have waited all these weeks and months to see my little girl and I will not wait another day! With Noble running ahead breaking souvenirs in the gifts shop along the way in his zeal and excitement, we finally reached Camille and I took her in my arms and held her and talked softly to her.

It has been years since I last had a dream with Camille in it. Oh how I miss her! What a gift to spend a little time in my dream with her last night. Oh how it makes me look forward to that glorious day when we will in reality be reunited. 

I am so grateful to my Savior Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice that enables my hope for that great day. For it is only through Him that we can repent and be worthy to live as families in God's presence one day. I am so grateful to be able to perform ordinances here on earth to show Him my commitment to following His plan and living His gospel. I am grateful for the restored priesthood authority on the earth that gives effectiveness to those ordinances and has power to make assurances of eternal blessings in as much as we keep our covenants. 

One day I will hold her again, all thanks to the Savior. Glory to His Name!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Be Prepared

This morning I went for a swim to get a little exercise. While I was swimming I got a chance to do some pondering. My thoughts turned to how we can get the most out of going to church on Sunday. Sometimes, our time in church can seem to do us little good. This is especially true at various stages of life.

This morning I realized how important preparation is to a meaningful church experience. It really can make all the difference in the world. I remember one of my most meaningful church experience many years ago.

I was 17 years old. I was living in Spain as a foreign exchange student for the summer before my senior year of high school. The town I was sent to was tiny. I could easily walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes. I was one of only 2 English speakers in town (the other a man who had lived in the States for some part of his life to whom I was introduced once.) I was the only Mormon. The closest church building and congregation was 30 miles away. My host family didn't have the money or inclination to take me all that way to church.

I went through some serious culture shock and missed everything American. I also didn't speak Spanish well enough to understand or talk to people. The only one I could speak to in English was God and the only book I had in English was my Quad of Scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.)

So I read lots of scriptures and I prayed almost constantly. After about 6 weeks there my family, I think in an effort to cheer me up, took me to the nearest city to go find the church. They took me on a Sunday so I could attend services. I had never in my life been 6 weeks without taking the sacrament.

I was living in a home with people who were good people but they didn't have the gift of the Holy Ghost like I did. I felt for the first time what it was like to live in a home where the Spirit wasn't a part of the framework of the home. I realized that if I wanted the Spirit to be there, and I NEEDED the Spirit to be there, I would have to bring it myself. No more relying on my parents for that.

After six weeks of preparing myself, I was finally able to take the sacrament and renew my baptismal covenants and be blessed once again with that feeling of renewal and of sanctifying that we can feel when we worthily and preparedly take the sacrament. It was a sacred experience for me that changed me in profound ways.

Today I asked myself, "how am I preparing myself to get the most out of church tomorrow? Am I prepared to fast? Have I thoughtfully pondered the purpose of my fast? Am I planning today so that tomorrow morning will run more smoothly as I get myself and the family ready for church? Do I have a plan to bring the Spirit into our home tomorrow morning to get us ready for feeling the Spirit at church? Am I hungering after righteousness?"

The reflection this morning has changed the way I am spending my day and it will change how I run my Sunday. I am hopeful that these things will help me make the most out of my time in the church building as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy Birthday! Eight is Great!

Today would have been my Camille's eight birthday. I was a fairly peaceful and low key day for us. We celebrated with family and cake and released a few balloons. We really enjoyed our Cami Kindness week. I kinda wish my kids would keep that up all year long because they really do step up their game and are kinder to others that week.

The reason our birthday celebration for Camille was more low key this year was because we are in the middle of a move. I really wanted to do something big to celebrate Camille's 8th and I think the move is a celebration all its own.

about 7 months ago, I told my friend in the ward who is a real estate agent what my ideal house looked like and asked her to keep an eye out for one that might fit that description. We were not necessarily looking to move. Our house was suitable for our needs in many ways. Still I felt limited in how much I could entertain in our current home and there were a few other features I wanted in a home. I didn't think there was a home already built that would fit what I wanted. I thought I would have to build to get that. But I asked her to let me know if she saw anything I might like.

She dropped off a brochure of some new homes going up near me. I stopped by and loved them. Jon did NOT love them. Jonathan did not want to buy new. So we looked at homes that were already built one day several months later. Every house we entered I said, "No. I would have to gut this and start over." I didn't want to live in a construction zone.

We kept casually looking over the next couple of months. It was more of a fun hobby than a serious pursuit. Through prayer Jon and I came to a sort of compromise. I just had a feeling that if there was an already built house out there that was right for us, we would know it when we saw it.

So in January we went looking at a couple of homes on the list of available homes that had been there for a while but just seemed a bit out of our price range. They had been on the market for several months though which we hoped meant the sellers would be willing to negotiate on price.

We walked into our new house and after I looked at the entry and kitchen I said, "I actually don't have this house." It was a first for me in already built homes we had seen. Then after looking at the mudroom and laundry room I thought, "Geez. This is just how I would lay out a house if I were building it. Someone really thought about the layout of this home."

Jon was exploring upstairs during this time. I eventually got to the rest of the house and it just felt like US. It felt like "the" house. Jon and I got together and both said, "This could work." Still it was listed pretty high and we weren't sure how we could afford it. We both kinda felt, "right house, wrong timing." It would have been much easier to afford in, say, a year.

Just to be sure the next weekend we had our agent take us to ALL the available homes in the area that sort of fit our needs. We wanted to make sure that this was the best and see how hard it would be to find another home we loved. We saw about 12 homes. We loved one of the other homes. It had some features we liked even better than the house we are buying but it was only 4 bedrooms, didn't have a gas cooktop, and the yard didn't really compare. Most importantly it didn't have that feeling of HOME that our new house had.

We made a lowball offer because we felt the home was very overpriced. Another couple also made an offer the same weekend. We put forward our best bid which was still pretty low. We didn't want to get in a bidding war. We prayed about it and felt fine about letting it go. The other couple had their offer accepted.

We kept looking after this and didn't really see anything we liked. We both felt a little sad not to get the house but we also felt as peace about it. It is hard to describe but the house kinda felt like ours and we both just had a feeling that somehow things would one day work out to make it ours. Still in light of the fact that it was under contract, we started fixing up our current house to make it nicer to live in and started to look more seriously into building.

We found some lots we really liked but running the numbers we found that building would be far more expensive than if we had paid list price for that house. We kinda just put the idea of moving on the back burner again and focused on fixing up our current home.

Then one day I got an email from my agent showing that the house was "Back on the Market." I called her immediately. Neither Jon nor I was surprised. We made another offer higher than our last one. The seller countered at $10,000 above our offer. We didn't really want to go up. They refused to come down any further. So we sat in a stalemate for a weekend.

That whole weekend we thought and prayed and studied out numbers etc. Finally we just thought, "are we really gonna let $10,000 make us lose this house?" After all, building would be so much more expensive. So we relented and went under contract on the house.

We move in this week and I am so glad we made the decision to buy it. It feels so right. I have felt Camille's hand in this process in ways I can't really describe. This would have been her 8th birthday. Soon after she would have been "reborn" through baptism. In a ways I feel like our family is going through a rebirth as we move into this new home. It will be a fresh start for us in many ways. I can't think of a better way to celebrate her Eighth.
                                         Our new home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cami Kindness Week is Coming

It is that time of year again! The bluebonnets are blooming here in Texas and Camille's birthday is next Sunday April 19th. We have been rather busy around here as we are moving 2 days after Camille's birthday to a new home in our same area. We are excited for the move and feel so blessed to have found a home we love!

We are looking forward to continuing our tradition of doing acts of kindness the week before Camille's birthday as gifts to our angel girl. I have felt her close to me these past few months and I feel her joy in my acts of service for others. I hope you will join us and feel of that joy as well.

Comment with any kind acts you perform so we can send them up in our balloons on Sunday. :0)


Monday, March 9, 2015

Where I have been...

Hello! I know. It's been a long time. Where have I been? I have switched most of my online presence to Instagram. I haven't officially stopped blogging though because I feel sometimes like I have something I want to write out and record or something important to share that will take more time and space than is practical on Instagram.

So if you want to follow me on Instagram my username is sawaite.

I will post there for you if I post here.

Thank you for your love and support over the years! Texas has been a good move for us. We are very happy here and feel the Lord blessing us in many ways.

As we approach what would have been Camille's 8th birthday and I watch her contemporaries get baptized I have an ache of wondering what she would be like now. But the Lord knew this would be a difficult birthday for me and has blessed me by letting me help another mother through the early days of fresh grief. 

She says I am helping her. Little does she know how much helping her helps me.

And so I will keep this blog up even though I may not post with any regularity. It is still somehow doing good for me and a few others.