Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How Do You Give Thanks in All Things?

How Do You Give Thanks in All Things?

I have told people before that I am grateful for this trial.  That statement is either received with looks of shock or awe.  I do not intend to inspire either feeling, but to convey my understanding for the purpose of trials.

The year before Scott died, I wanted to be a better person. I was praying to be a better person, praying for more charity, for more empathy, for me to feel more love for others in my life.  I was praying to feel for settled and at peace with my life, for a feeling of purpose and acceptance with God.  I was trying to achieve those things to.  Going through the motions of listening to more spiritual things, forcing myself to do more service, but I didn't feel that I was moving anywhere.  Then my husband died.....

At first I thought, did I pray for this trial to happen?  In time I  have concluded that is not the way that God works;  this trial was part of a master plan formed long before the words of those prayers.  The desires in those prayers were simply the Spirit prompting me to prepare my heart for the things I needed to learn.

Looking back a year ago at my last Thanksgiving, I see a tremendous change in myself.  Not just in the grief, because that was truly profound at that time, but in the person who existed before the accident.  

I am not that same girl... and I am glad for that.  

I am thankful that the girl who has replaced her is further along the road in obtaining those desires that I was praying for.  I thankful that she is more in tune to the spirit and what the Lord wants her to do.  I am thankful to be living each day with faith and hope in the Lord's plan for my life.

I would like to share some quotes and scriptures given by Dallin H Oaks in a conference talk back in 2003.  Elder Oaks is well aquainted with trials, having lost his father at a young age and then later in life his wife.  Elder Oaks watched his young widowed mother's example.  This is what he said of her...
"Nevertheless, I often heard her say that the Lord consecrated that affliction for her gain because her husband’s death compelled her to develop her talents and serve and become something that she could never have become without that seeming tragedy. Our mother was a spiritual giant, strong and fully worthy of the loving tribute her three children inscribed on her headstone: “Her Faith Strengthened All.”
Last March I attended an LDS Widows/ Widowers conference in Utah where Elder Oak's older brother spoke of his mother.  His words inspired me at the time to put myself back together and start to set a better example of faith.  Elder Oaks went on in his talk to share some scriptures...
"The revelations, for which we are grateful, show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become. " 
The Lord taught the prophet Moroni, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).  
In the midst of the persecutions the Latter-day Saints were suffering in Missouri, the Lord gave a similar teaching and promise: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;… and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3). 
And to Joseph Smith in the afflictions of Liberty Jail, the Lord said, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). 
Brigham Young understood. Said he, “There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain”  
If we truly understand the Lord’s teachings and promises, we will learn and grow from our adversities. We will let them change and refine us into better people.  Instead of just persevering through our trials we will actively allow them to purify us.  
"When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life. We are sent here to be tested. There must be opposition in all things. We are meant to learn and grow through that opposition, through meeting our challenges, and through teaching others to do the same."

That process of teaching and helping others bring fulfillment and joy into our lives.  We feel God's love more fully!  We understand that our life here is not about acquiring things and self- gratification, but about acquiring the ability to unselfishly love and serve others.

So I am filled with gratitude for so many things.  I feel to fall to my knees daily to thank that Lord for the many blessings that He has given me.  I do not feel slighted; I feel blessed. I know that I will see my husband again, and that will be a glorious, wonderful reunion.  I look forward to that day with hope, yet I remain committed to finish my work here while he is doing his there.  I am committed to letting this trial and future trials shape me into the woman who will be able to fall at her Savior's feet and express her appreciate to Him who has given her everything.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Gray Day

My Gray Day

Yesterday was kind of a gray day for me.  I say gray because it wasn't a dark day.  Thankfully I seemed to have moved past those now, but it definitely wasn't a sunny day either.  I just felt kind of 'blah' all day long.  I know the rain, and cold and the cloud cover outside were not helping my emotional status, but it was more than that.  I was tired, having had only 3 hours of sleep the night before, but my mind was also a little troubled.  Not being able to do the yard work I had planned, I decided to tackle some of the boxes of photos I intended to get scrapbooked this winter.  Going through the pictures didn't seem to help.  I was reminded of times and memories when Scott was present and that continued to add to my sadness.  Scrapbooking isn't hugely mentally engaging, so I let my mind wander far to much to the future and to worries and concerns about what may happen in the next few years.  So many things to think about and wrap my head around.  So many roads to take and options and wondering which one the Lord will lead me down.  So many FEARS.  Can I really do what the Lord wants me to?  Will I be strong enough for the task at hand?  I know I need to stay in the present and just NOT go there yet.  The answers are not coming, the time is not right to know them yet, but my curiosity leads me to this place every now and then.

Since the one year mark, I have felt  an excited anticipation for the coming year and the big changes looming before me.  Most days that has been more like waiting for Christmas because I have felt these will be good, happy changes.  Today I was focusing on the difficulties I would encounter with those changes.  I don't know why I expect to have a free ride for the rest of my life.  I know that loosing a husband doesn't give me a 'trials exempt' card, nor do I really want it to be the case. At one time I had hoped it would, but I have learned that is not what this life is about.  This life is about learning what we need to learn through those trials and letting those trials refine and shape us so we can become who the Lord wants us to become.  We came here for this purpose, so why would I want an "exempt' card from the very experiences I came to have?  Because every now and then I let the mortal part of me take over and worry.  I turn from faith to fear.

After a day of pondering and scenario building I called a close widow friend of mine.  She said, "Veronica, don't go there. STAY IN THE PRESENT."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Principle 9: Mentors can give us vital spiritual guidance

Principle 9

The Lord can give us guidance through 
the experiences shared by others

Mentors, people who are interested in our well-being and want to help us by sharing their experiences, can be a  great source of help.  It is important that these individuals are willing to give COUNSEL that is FOUNDED in PRINCIPLE and DOCTRINE. 

"Some of the greatest lessons I have learned in my life have been taught to me by those brethren and sisters who have mentored me, given me counsel, seen me struggling with an issue and taken the time to share their experience and provide tremendous encouragement. " - Richard G Scott 
**Be prepared because our experiences will call us to be mentors sometime in our lifetimes.

"To serve and to intentionally reach out to help each other is a great blessing.  When you can become a mentor for another because of personal experience you have gained, do it. Age does not matter: experience does."
Our duty: God does not give us experiences so that we can lock them up for our own benefit.
  He requires us to be brave and to unselfishly share our insights and experienced 
with others who are in need.

"Sometimes just the way a person lives provides a mentoring experience for others."

  We have to be strong and immovable in our examples

MY THOUGHTS:  Richard G Scott, having lost his wife 18 years ago, has been a great mentor to me through this process.  When I was in 7th grade, I had a wonderful friend in 8th grade who was mentor to me.  She was the president of our young women's class at church.  She was such a happy, positive and spiritual person that I couldn't help but want to be like her.  I found out what goals she was setting and I set those same goals.  At a very pivotal time in my life, her example along with the other girls in my church youth group helped me to choose the right and helped me to stand strong.  I will forever be grateful to those girls for mentoring me. Thank you Bawesomes!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giving up My Plan and Learning to be Content with God's Plan

Giving up My Plan and Learning to be Content with God's Plan 

So I was talking to a widowed friend today and we were discussing me selling my house.  I thought back to last summer and all of the weeping and wailing and some gnashing of teeth that occurred as I fretted about selling it.

Something you need to know about me is that I really like to have a plan.  All of my life I have planned things, and all of my life I have worked those plans until I was sure that they would succeed.  My life experiences have taught me that if I want something to happen, all I have to do is to work hard enough, and it will happen.  Pretty much everything that I have ever tried, I have willed it to succeed.  There are some good things about that trait and some bad.  I am very motivated and hard working.  I also have a lot of confidence, and I have a large repertoire of things that I know how to do as a result.  The bad part is that I can drive spontaneous people a little crazy.  These were things I already knew about myself; however, this past year has taught me some other things as well.

My husband dying kind of messed up my plan, at least the one Scott and I had formulated for the rest of our lives.  I was left with no choice other than to scrap Plan A. Everyone who looses a spouse has to do this.  They call it, "Finding a new reality." (Which sounds like a much more of a fun adventure than it really is.) I think I mourned the lost of the old plan as much as I mourned Scott because they were so integrally connected.  However, being a planner, my husband and I had talked extensively about a contingency plan should something  happen to either one of us.  I knew what to do.  Even though I was still lamenting the loss of the old plan, I quickly moved into "work plan B" mode.  I knew I needed to sell the house, move to Omaha so my kids could be around my husband's brothers, and go back to school.  I called the relators the day after my husband died.

Everyone told me, don't make any major decisions for at least a year, but these were not new decisions. They had been carefully discussed and thought over and revised over the years, and they had been made with him.  They were all that I had left of my former life. So I set to work at willing my plan to succeed.  I refinished floors, redid counter tops, washed woodwork and doors.  I touched up paint, recaulked bathrooms, and kept my house pristine and spotless.  I even put all of the shampoo in the cupboard so it would look more like a model home than a lived in house.  That was just what I did on the inside; I'm not even going to discuss the 13 acres that I had to keep mowed and weeded and mulched.  I literally drove myself crazy trying to have my house ready to show at any moment.  When it did not sell, I lowered the price and lowered it again.  I put fliers at businesses where I thought there would be potential customers.  I did everything I knew to do to sell a house, and yet 9 month later it had not sold.  My plan was not working and I could not will it to work no matter what!

This is when I learned,

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Will Give Myself to Him

I Will Give Myself to Him

These are my notes from a devotional given to young adults in our church.  I love this talk because it is about giving our will to the Lord.  This is a principle I have studied and sought to apply in my life more fully this year.  As I have actually done this, I have found peace and direction.  I hope that it will help you turn your will more fully to Him.  I testify that it is the best and the happiest way to live.

Reflecting on our blessings gives us strength to move forward in life, but we all know that moving forward is challenging.

When other turn away,
When no one seems to care,
 How can I feel His love?
How will I know he's there?
When pain and sadness come
To those who question why,
How will I bring them peace?
How will help them try?

Sometime we wonder...Why do bad things happen to good people or why do hard things have to happen?

For God's will to be done by us and through us,  our will needs to be the same as His.  As you submit your will to God, you are really giving Him the only thing you have to give him.  Don't wait too long to find the alter or to begin to place your gift upon it.
  1. What is the meaning of the word WILL?
  2. How do we give our will to God? 
  3. How do we know that we are succeeding? 
1. Will is the inclination to do something and the desire to act

We often need help to overcome our natural desires and to strengthen our will to do the things we should do. 
2. Giving our will to God

Our will can overcome our bodily desires through the active use of agency.  We can change our desire through the cleansing and enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

When we give our will to Him we are giving ourselves, withholding nothing. Our will is a gift that is uniquely ours to give.  This doesn't happen all at once, but as you make right choices you gain momentum and the ability to choose right easier next time.  Yielding to Him requires a lot of trust in God.  We allow Him to mold us into the people he wants us to be.  This life is a battle of wills.  Will we want to do the things that He asks us to do?

Helaman 3:35
Nevertheless they did afast and bpray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their chumility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the dpurifying and the esanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God.

As we give our will to the Lord, the more our own ability to exercise our moral agency grows. God gave us agency so we could yield to Him , not so we could succumb to temptation.

When we withhold part of our will, that part can succumb to Satan. 

When we have a change of heart we actually change our motives or desires along with our conduct.  We put off the natural man and yield to the enticing of the Spirit.

Time stamp 36:00

Repentance is a process of changing desires.  When we make a place for the spirit, there is no place left for sin.

3. One of the clearest indicators that we are giving our will to God is...

If we are reaching out to others then our capacity to reach out more increases.
We can build everyone in our path by showing love,  just like the Savior did.  
We can say the words he wants us to say and we can do what He wants done.
Righteous action that is backed up by a pure motive; (actually wanting to do it) it is indicative of giving our will to the Lord.

Covenants play a central role in will.  Keeping promises strengthens our will.  
When we covenant to consecrate ourselves we give our heart, will and soul to him.  The more we follow this path, the more he can bless us with His Love. The more love we feel the more we know we are succeeding in giving our will to him.

God's will can be done by us and through us (Time stamp 47:00- Discussion)
Giving our heart to Him is just the beginning.  Then He can take it and use it for His purposes. How does submitting my will change the things I do everyday?

So giving our will to the Lord is something we do everyday.  It is not an isolated event, but just the beginning.  

If we feel like rejoicing in the atonement of Jesus Christ right now then our heart is right and we are giving our will to Him and He is strengthening it.  If we are attracted to the things of the world, then we are not giving our will to Him.

We will never be left to our own strength alone if we will turn our will to Him.

Can you feel to sing the song of Reedeming love always.  He will help increase....
  1. our capacity to be loved and to give love
  2. to feel more capable
  3. lead us out of darkness into light
  4. he will heal and help us in ways that permit us to be forgiven and forgive.

Time stamp 21:00- 53:00
CES FIRESIDE "I Will Give Myself to Him"

The discussion in the fireside are great pieces to watch and then discuss with your kids at FHE

Friday, November 15, 2013



Quotes by President Thomas S Monson who recently lost his wife.

Two of my dear friends lost their spouses 1 year ago.  As I sat pondering tonight at what comfort I might give them, I was led to the most recent talk of our prophet Thomas S Monson who lost his wife less than 6 months ago.  I sat down to annotate his talk and here are my thoughts along with my favorite parts.

"She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant, and my closest friend. To say that miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings. 

Even after a year, I find that I echo this same sentiment for my husband, Scott

"Of utmost comfort to me during this tender time of parting have been my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge I have that my dear Frances lives still. I know that our separation is temporary. We were sealed in the house of God by one having authority to bind on earth and in heaven. I know that we will be reunited one day and will never again be separated. This is the knowledge that sustains me."

For me as well, my temple marriage and sealing brings me great comfort because I know that we will be together again.  God has promised us that if we keep our promises to Him.  That also gives me a goal and a purpose to work towards. That temple sealing also allows me to feel closer to him now.

"Sometimes in times of trial, "We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined

Thursday, November 14, 2013

People ask me how I get through this...

People ask me how I get through this...

My answer is this...
Faith and Prayer

"Improving our prayers should be one of our deepest desires if we are genuinely serious about growing spiritually."

It is the means which we can DRAW CLOSE to our Heavenly Father
 and understand better His DEEP DOCTRINES."

"Praying is part of that triad of things we must do: serving, studying and praying
in order to find joy and happiness and to grow closer to the Lord."

- Neal A Maxwell

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Principle 8: Strong personal emotions can hinder our discernment of spiritual promptings.

Principle 8

Strong personal emotions can hinder our discernment of spiritual promptings.

Our Heavenly Father encourages us to converse with Him through prayer no matter our circumstances.
We can talk to Him personally and He will ever answer.

Can we ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it?
It is in those depths that we turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him.

If we let our EMOTIONS influence decisions, we CANNOT be powerfully led by the Spirit.

The inspiring influence of the Holy Ghost can be OVERCOME or MASKED by STRONG emotions such as : 

It's like tying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeno pepper.
Strong emotions overcome the delicate prompting of the Holy Spirit.

We must keep our homes and lives free from discord or tension.  Spiritual directions will not come when the spirit is offended by unresolved differences with our loved ones even though they are small.  Even occasional uncontrolled emotion, disharmony, or anger will limit the spirit.

If we are emotionally involved in a problem, we may need additional help to see answers clearly, particularly when our challenges are difficult. 
A trusted, inspired outside source may help remind us how to better get the guidance we seek.

Richard G Scott tells of an experience that cause him immense anxiety that didn't have to do with disobedience or transgression, but with an very important human relationship.  This is what he said:

"I plead for help from that Eternal Father I have come to know and trust completely.  I could see not path that would provide the calm that is my blessing generally to enjoy.  Sleep overcame me. When I awoke, I was totally at peace.  Again I knelt in solemn prayer and asked, "Lord, how is it done?"  In my heart, I knew the answer was His love and His concern for me.  Such is the power of sincere prayer to a compassionate Father."

His answers will SELDOM come when you are on your KNEES praying, even when you plead for an immediate response.

RATHER, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart.

As you SEEK His counsel in moments of PONDERING, you will rejoice to find SOLUTIONS to even your most perplexing problems.

My Thoughts:  Prayer is a remnant of the communication we used to enjoy with our Heavenly Father.  There is a familiarity and a comfort in prayer that reminds of a life we had before we came to earth.  We have to have urgent difficult problems that take us to our knees so that we can truly understand prayer and become humble enough to acknowledge our total dependence on Him. As we surrender our will to Him and our will becomes more in line with His, then we fine tune the station and communication becomes clearer and more direct.

If we really want our lives to be led by the Lord, we must take extra care to control those strong emotions.  That may mean making decisions that restrain ourselves even though restraint may not be what we want.  It is restraint in favor of gaining more spiritual help. Being aware that these feeling cause "interference" can help us understand that we may be impaired in our decision making.  I have been struck so much that this life is a time to learn to subject our bodies to our spirits, to learn how to temper those loud, strong emotions and sensations that are part of the natural man in favor of the things of the spirit.  We have to learn to turn off or turn down our physical senses so we can pay attention to the spiritual senses.  I remember the first time I put on noise cancelation headphone during a plane ride. I was surprise how much background noise there had been.  I hadn't even noticed it until that point.  With the headphones on, I could clearly hear my husbands voice and we were able to talk to each other in quiet, hushed voices.  We need to learn to put on those noise cancelation headphones to drown out the mortal white noise.

I am also thinking about how we need to remember our past successes with prayer and always go to the Lord in prayer for help instead of leaning on our own understanding.  It is important to reason decisions out in our minds, but we need to always take them to the Lord for confirmation.

This is the first time I have seen this actually written- that answers don't normally come while you are on your knees!  YES!  Thank you Elder Scott for saying that.  I thought there was something wrong with me because my answers were always delayed until the next morning when I was waking up or even days later when I was working in the yard or driving and just thinking on the matter.  IT IS SO IMPORTANT to have QUIET PONDERING MOMENTS so you can get those answers.  Now I don't have to fret when I'm not getting it right away.  I can trust that the answer will come later as I ponder my question.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Words Spoken From the Dust: Something from My Husband's Missionary Journals

Words Spoken From the Dust

I was typing my husband's missionary journals tonight to send to my sons, and I feel like he wrote this 23 years ago just for me.  This was part of his Scripture study. I'm going to include both the verses and his notes.   This is the Savior teaching the people in the America's after his resurrection.  It is found in 3 Nephi 13: 32-34 of the Book of Mormon; however, it closely parallels what the Savior taught the Jews in the New Testament in Matthew Chapter 6.

32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Verse 32- I know from personal experience that this verse is true.  Many times in my life, my prayers have been answered while I am in the process of asking.  My Father in Heaven knows all of my needs.  He knows my needs far better than I.  I am so grateful that He doesn’t always just give me what I think I need.  He gives me what He know I need.
 33 But aseek ye first the bkingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Verse 33- When I do the Lord’s work first, all things truly are added unto me.  All of my desires are either fulfilled or I realize how ridiculous they are.  The Lord truly cares for me if I will nut care for His work.
 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. aSufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.
Verse 34:  We should take no thought for the things that will distract us tomorrow.  There is enough evil to battle today.  It is important to realize that christ is not saying don’t plan ahead. He is just saying that we should not be overly concerned or worried.  we need only to do the Lord’s work and trust in Him.

Three things that Scott bears testimony about stand out as answers to me tonight.

1. His prayers are always answered according to his actual needs. (maybe not his wants, but what is best for him) 
2. He knows that we are blessed when we do His work, and our desires come in line with God's
3. We need to trust in the Lord and not be worried about the future.

As I look forward to this next year and all of the uncertainty I face,  these three things could not be more critical to me.  I know I need to have faith that the Lord will lead my life along the best path for me and my children.  I know I need to focus on service and doing the Lord's work so that those promised blessing can be realized. I also need to trust and not worry.  Thanks sweetie for the reminder.