Joy in Serving

Joy Blooms in ServiceWhen I was a young mother, I had just had my fourth child.  There were some complications during the birthing process.  Consequently my precious tiny boy was rushed to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  For most of the 12 days that he spent in the NICU we wondered if he would be coming home at all.  It was heart wrenching to see that tiny little body lay lifeless in the incubator except for the machine that was helping him breath.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed with heartache, pain and anguish, blaming myself for something that I may have done during my pregnancy.  I had wished so hard for this baby to be born early and now he was, (2 weeks) and at what cost?  What Had I done. It was a terrifying experience that many young couples experience when their child is born with medical issues.  Luckily for us, his stay was brief and we were able to bring him home with just a feeding tube, which he was able to go without in just a few days of being home.

But what I really wanted to talk about today is the joy that can be had through serving others.  That experience with my little boy was hard but it was made bearable by the people who stepped up to serve us.  Bringing meals, taking care of our other children, giving phone calls of encouragement.

One particular act of service was so sweet and thoughtful that it left an impression on me to this day.  One day as I arrived home from the hospital I found a beautiful Easter Lily on my porch.  It was not in full bloom.  Just a couple of blooms were visible.  But it had many buds ready to bloom.  Inside the card that was placed so tenderly among the flowers, it read something like this:  “I know that this has been a really hard time for you.  We wanted to give you something to look forward to each day as you go through this trial.  These beautiful white lilies are precious and gentle just as your baby boy.  They take time to be nourished and to bloom fully.  Hopefully, by the time your little one recovers and is able to come home, the lilies will be in full bloom.”

What a sweet way for us to count down the days until he was able to come home.  And the lilies were in full bloom by the time he was better.

That little act of service brought so much joy into my life when the days were long and hard.

Today, look for small ways that you can reach out and serve others.  It’s the start of the holiday season and a time that we all want to spread joy.  So start today and make someone’s day a little brighter.

XO Wendy

 

We All Matter|We Are Here to Love

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the love and support that I have had over the years.  I am so, so grateful for it.  Let’s face it, this life can be difficult sometimes and it’s nice to have someone to talk to and lean on.  I believe that we are all here to help each other on this journey through life.  Whether it be by kind and simple acts of service or being a shoulder to cry on, or someone to hang out with.  Sometimes it is even through the roughest moments of our lives that someone comes along and is able to give us the push we need to move forward or says the exact right thing we need to hear.  I call that divine intervention and I don’t believe it is a coincidence at all.

Some people may not believe that there is a divine being that cares about us more than we can ever imagine, and that’s ok.  We are all different and have different paths and journeys that we take in this life. As I always say, I can only speak from own experience.  But there are so many other people’s experiences in this life that we can learn and grow from.  And if we shut people out because they don’t believe exactly as we do, we are literally passing judgement on them.  Does not Jesus Christ (whom I believe is that supreme being for me and all of us), say in Matthew 7:1-2?

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

I have spoken of this subject before. But I firmly and so totally believe that we are going to speak at some point for how we judge our fellow men.  I believe that is a question that we will be asked, “How did you treat others? How did you think of others?  Were you your brother’s keeper?”  No matter the situation that we came to this world in, all people including ourselves, are deserving of unconditional true love and charity in it’s deepest form.

In this world, unfortunately, we are so completely bombarded with judgement and selfishness and harshness from those we love the most and those who don’t know us at all.   There is so much negativity in this world as we know it.

Fortunately for us there is an opposite side to that negativity.  However there must always be a push and pull, or good and bad.  In the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, we read in 2 Nephi 2:11

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.

With that being said, we must embrace positivity with all that we are.  And upon on doing that we must grow in acceptance and love, pure and unconditional, that reaches out and fills the cups of others.  Can we not accept the fact that we are and always will each be individuals in this the human race?  We are all human beings!  That doesn’t make us any better or worse than the person sitting next us.  We are each deserving and worthy of love and light! Our responsibility is to see the divinity in others, no matter what situations they may be in.  We need to be better , we need to do better in that treatment of each and every one we come into contact with.

I’m certainly not saying that I’m am perfect at this in any way!  In fact quite the opposite.  I am such a work in progress.  That is why I write what I do.  It is usually because of some experience that I have had that inspires me to speak about something like this.

Jesus taught us so much in parables about the way we are to love and treat each other.  Did he not teach the parable of the good Samaritan?  And the prodigal son?  Those who labored in the vineyard, some that came in the morning and some that came in the evening to work, yet all were payed the same? Do these parables not teach us that we are equal in His eyes?  That we need to treat each other with respect and divinity, no matter how differently we may think or act or look? Are we not all deserving of this great love that Jesus so spoke of?  The answer is a resounding YES!  We are all deserving, all worthy and we are all worth it!

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the twelve apostles said, God sees you not only as mortal being on small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and  designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.”

Yes we are worthy of and worth His love.  Which in turn means that we are worthy and worth the love of others, no matter the circumstances or the choices that have been made on our individual journeys.  Remember we have our journey and other people have their journey.  We all respond and learn differently.  But we are asked to love others without condition. speaking of the two great commandants in  Mark 12:31 we read:

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I will completely and wholeheartedly take responsibility for my own shortcomings in this  area.  I have so much to learn and so many people to accept and love. And I’m am so grateful to the supreme being who loves me and knows my shortcomings and doesn’t expect me to be completely perfect.  He knows that I am going to fall short and yet loves me anyway.  He loves each of us anyway!  No matter how broken or  wronged or battered you feel, you do have one who loves you so greatly and so completely that He died that you might live!  You are important, you are loved, you are enough! You are the you that you were meant to be!  Embrace that.  Embrace others for the diversity that surrounds us.

We are SO blessed to live and love and have this great adventure that we call life!  My challenge is for myself and for you to go out today and love on someone who needs your love.  Love so hard that you forget that they are different and think different than you do.  Love them unconditionally and perfectly.  As that is how our maker loves us.  “As I have loved you, LOVE one another!”

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 13:34-35

 

 

 

The Messenger

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

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Over the past several months I have been trying to become better at discerning when the Spirit speaks to me.  I have prayed for the ability to know how I can be used as an ‘instrument’ in the hands of the Lord.  Subsequently, I have been having regular experiences that I can not deny, come from listening to, and following through with the promptings of the Spirit.

One such situation that I will share, happened with one of my daughters.  One of the practices that I’ve started is to end my evening prayer with a plea to the Lord, “Is there anything that you would have me do or know?”  And then I will try to listen intently to the promptings as thoughts begin to fill my mind.  I say try, because that seems to be a difficult thing for me (and probably most of us) to do… just calm my mind and listen.  But I am finding that as I practice, I am getting better at discerning what thoughts are actually coming from Him.

Anyway, on this particular night I said my evening prayer and then proceeded with my usual question.  Very quickly and with great force, my daughter’s name tumbled through my mind repeatedly.  I was perplexed, as I had just spoken with her that evening and things seemed to be fine.  I made a note to call her in the morning and make sure things were ok.  I had a busy morning but I texted her first thing and asked if she had some time later that day that we could talk.  The morning went by as usual and I wasn’t terribly concerned and I didn’t feel that she was in danger or anything, but she continued to weigh on my mind.  When we were finally able to talk, I briefly explained what had happened and then she began to cry…. and then I began to cry, lol.  I knew that the Lord had spoken to me and that I was to be the messenger.  She told me that she had been having some hard days.   And we both agreed that the promptings that I felt to call her and tell her of my experience were meant to help her realize that He is there and that He does hear her cries and that He is very aware of what she is going through. And above all that He loves her enough to use someone else to bring that message to her.

And that is how it works a lot of the time.  We are are the Lord’s messengers.  We just need to be open and ready to receive the message and then, the most important part, is to deliver that message, or ACT on that prompting.

It’s funny because in life we always seem to want the latest and greatest!  We can’t wait for the new thing to come out and we stand in lines to be one of the first to see it, or have it, or hold it and try it out! The world promises us money, fame, and fortune but the Lord promises us peace, understanding and eternal life.  In the world today, we have a hard time seeing past ourselves and our selfish desires.  But what the Lord wants is for us to look to Him and His ways to find ourselves.  King Benjamin preached in the  Book of Mormon: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).  And in the New Testament the Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24).

I believe another important aspect of learning to listen to and follow promptings of the spirit is to get “unplugged” and tune in.  Kind of sounds like an oxymoron.  How do you “unplug” and “tune in”?  Technology is a great and positive tool for sure!  I mean you are probably reading this blog on your smartphone, lol, so I can’t tout them.  But I do know that cell phones, tablets, computers, etc. take up an extreme amount of our time and can cause the lines to our spiritual communication to be full of static and distractions.  And it is so important for us to be “tuned in” to the still small voice of the Spirit to feel and hear the promptings when they come.

I found it so funny when I saw a photo of someone on FB that said “Here we are, all watching a movie.  And then in the photo several of them were looking at their phones, and a few others were really watching the movie, haha.  How can you focus on listening to a still small voice when your mind is full of distractions?  Again in the Bible we read in (First Kings 11-12) “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:   And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

In April 2017 Elder Ronald Rasband of the Quorum of the twelve apostles taught:  “The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord. By divine assignment, He inspires, testifies, teaches, and prompts us to walk in the light of the Lord. We have the sacred responsibility to learn to recognize His influence in our lives and respond.”

The Lord wants to be able bless our lives by “using” us to bless the lives of others.  I know that might sound a little backwards, but that’s really how it works!  If we can find ways to serve him, even if they are small and may seem insignificant, that is how we will begin to grow to our full potential, feel his Spirit, and to become more like our Savior, who was the ultimate example of compassion and love.  We become the “messengers” by regularly submitting to His will by acting on the promptings that we receive to help and serve others.  Even the smallest act of a simple phone call can make such a difference in the life of someone who is struggling.

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I put a lot of thought into the blogs that I post hoping they will reach and touch the lives of others in a positive helpful way.  But what I have found is that as I think about and try to figure out what to write about, it always ends up helping me more than I think it will ever help anyone else.  I have come to understand that that is the way the Lord refines us and builds us into the people he wants us to be.  Sometimes I feel like the ‘Old violin’  worn and used and sometimes beaten down with the daily struggles of life,  but when touched by the “Master’s hand” able to do amazing things, not only for myself, BUT especially in being His messenger for others.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

 

 

Feed my Sheep

Feed My Sheep

Over and over again this thought has come to my mind in the last month.  I will pray and ask God, “Is there anything you would have me do or know?”  And inevitably the answer comes “Feed My Sheep”.  So of course it has been at the forefront of my mind, wondering exactly how he wants me to “Feed his Sheep”.   And then I walked into church on Sunday and wouldn’t you know it,  there were little sheep everywhere, lol.  Not real sheep of course, but the decorations that we had for our special Mother’s Day lesson was entitled, you guessed it, “Feed my Sheep”.    Super cute too!  You know how those mormon women like to decorate for everything, haha!

Anyway, that made me think that I am certainly not the only one that is feeling that prodding and poking to share the word of God with others.  I suppose that is what all of this means.  That He wants us to share his word with all that we come into contact with.   So how do we do that?

Certainly much of what we do is by example.  Matthew 8:14-16 reads:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

If we are to look at our children or children that we come into contact with through various means, how do they learn?  How do they grow?  It is by watching those who have gone before them.  Learning their way from those who have already learned.   That is why we grow up in a family unit, go to school, or to church, or are drawn to others.  It is because of that urgency to learn more, to grow, to experience life. We can not learn all things all at once.  we teach the way our Father taught us, it is ... line upon line, precept upon precept.  Here a little and there a little.  Isaiah 28: 10 . 

And again we read in 2 Nephi 28:30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little;  

This is how God wants us to teach and this is how God wants us to learn.

Another way that we “Feed his Sheep”  is through love.  President Thomas S. Monson taught “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”  

When a lawyer asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest, He could have chosen any of the many commandments from the Old Testament, from the law of Moses, or from the Ten Commandments. Instead, He summarized all of the commandments in these two:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  “This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” Matthew 22:37–39).

I remember a time when I had a newborn son in the NICU.  It was grueling days at the hospital, hoping to see signs of improvement.  I had 3 other children that had to be cared for at home.  But all I wanted to do was be with my newborn son and comfort and love on him.  I wanted him to come home with me.  Every day I would plead with the Lord to make my son whole so that I could bring him home.  He only spent 12 days there, but that gave me a whole new appreciation for those that spend weeks and months there.  It is not an easy feat by any means.  However, I was shown so much love through that experience.

I will never forget those who took my children so I could be at the hospital, or the many meals that were brought in so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.  Or the church members that came to the rescue and gave priesthood blessings when it didn’t look like he was going to make it.  But one of the acts of kindness and love, I remember the most was probably one of the smallest, but it meant so much to me.

One of my neighbors brought an Easter Lily and left it on my porch.  It was not in bloom yet… maybe just one or two were blooming.  But she had left the kindest note and mentioned that maybe each day when I got home another bloom would be out, reminding me that it is the small steps that my son was making each day that would get him home.  She said, “by the time these Easter Lilies are in full bloom, maybe he will get to come home.”  It meant so much to me that she put some thought into something so small, but that would come to mean so much to me over the years.  He did come home (he’s 22 now!) and the Easter Lilies were in full bloom and it was glorious.  The smell of them always reminds me of that time in my life when I thought my world was spinning out of control.  But it was one of his faithful servants just … responding with love and kindness to whatever came her way.   To this day, I still LOVE Easter Lilies!

 These are not the only ways, for there are many, many ways that we can love, serve, and teach others.  But know that the smallest act of love are a symbol of the love that we have for God.  John 21:15-17 

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Remember that most of the ways that we “Feed his Sheep” are by the small and seemingly insignificant acts, like the Easter Lily, that help someone feel loved, cared for and appreciated.  I hope that today you will find a way to… respond with love and kindness to whatever comes your way.