Friday, February 21, 2014

How do I have courage to move forward in the face of change in my family?

How do I have courage to move forward
 in the face of change in my family?

Gettting Cooper's Mission Call to Ecuador!

Change has always been difficult for me and required me to muster all of the courage I can to move forward.  Lots of changes happen after a husband dies, but my life has been compounded by my oldest two sons graduating and leaving to serve 2 year foreign missions for our church.

 My family is really changing.

The dynamics in our family without Scott and Alex are really different. They were the comic relief. They were the ones who were always creating family activities. They loved to play. Cooper, Rachel and I tend to be more of the workers of our family, so it takes a concerted effort to keep up the fun relationship building activities. We are waiting for Cooper's mission call this week, and it is hitting me that in three months we will be missing him as well. 

I am watching my family leave me, and that is really hard.

As the second year of widowhood begins, I find myself thinking more of the future. Healing has happened in our family this past year, and I feel that we are all really in a good place. There is acceptance, understanding, and the desire to look for happiness in the future. I know were not all there yet, and I wonder if you really ever get all there, but now I feel it's time to start preparing for the future. I know someday that I will remarry, and that we will have a blended family. We have been talking a lot as a family about what that means. We understand now that it will be hard to join with another family that has different traditions, habits, and already established relationships. 

I started stressing with my kids the importance of our family relationships being strong.

If we are strong, then that strength will hold all of us together. Some of my children will live every day with their new blended family. Alex and Cooper will definitely be gone out of the house. I really don't want them to feel left out or not a part of the new family dynamics. My hope is that their bonds with me and their younger siblings will draw them back to our family. That with time and effort, new family bonds can be formed and we can be a strong united family together. 

God wants strong united families.

We would love to have dad back, but since that is not possible, we have to make the best of things. Helping another family who has also lost a parent, I think, is better than making the best of things. It is a chance for us to practice charity in our home. 

It is a chance to take two things that are broken and make them whole again.

As I discuss these things with my children, we talked about how important it will be for them to be helpers. I've always felt that I would marry a widower. When Scott and I talked about what we would do if something happened to him, that was the option that we settled on. It is the option that I felt was right for me and my family as I prayed for guidance a few months after his death. 

At first when I begins talking to my children about remarriage I encountered a lot of resistance. There were tears, there were threatenings involving a the shotgun, and there was a lot of hurt and a lot of misunderstanding. 

I let the subject lie, and I made it a matter of prayer.

From that prayer a new idea in my mind. I started to talk about 'adopting a family' instead of meeting remarrying. I talked about my personal impressions and I told my children that I felt they could get confirmation through prayer that this is what our family was supposed to do.

Following an example I heard at a widow's conference,

Friday, February 14, 2014

On Valentine's Day: Love or Charity can heal our own loss and the loss of others.

 On Valentine's Day: 
Love or Charity can heal own loss and the loss of others.

Valentine's Day can be a sad day for a lot of people who have lost a love or never had one, but we can make it a healing experience for ourselves and others.  Today I decided I wasn't going to focus on my loss, but instead I was going to spend it showing love for other people. I went out to lunch with a new widow and took her some flowers and I am cooking dinner with some single ladies from my church.

“No, love isn’t an emotion or even a noun.  It’s a verb.  Better defined as giving.  As putting someone else’s needs above your own.”  
Real love transcends romantic feelings.  

One thing that the past 16 months has taught me is that God cares about each and every person on this earth.  If we are willing to pray to feel a portion of how he feels about someone and we are willing to act and show caring towards them, God will bestow upon us that gift of His love.  The Scriptures call that love CHARITY, or the pure love of Christ. 

Caring can open a person's heart and create in them the ability to feel the love of The Lord. 

His love is a powerful tool. 

This love is DEEPER and STRONGER and a MORE POWER MOTIVATOR for selflessly doing good than anything else.

It can help you make the right choices and sacrifice things for someone else.  I think the love t

Monday, February 10, 2014

Something Beautiful from the Ashes

     Something Beautiful from the Ashes

When the dust settles after the destruction, you look around at what your life is...      


                                and Broken...

You wonder how you ever find happiness again, how anything will ever be made right.

I remember thinking, "God, I don't have to be happy I just need to quit hurting. If I could just breathe and have this crushing weight removed from my chest, then that would be enough."

                         All seemed lost...

                                             All I saw was the devastating ashes.

Periodically forests need a cleansing process. Trees are old and diseased, underbrush  crowded. Very little light reaches the forest floor. Despite the fact that every year trees produce seeds that fall to the fertile soil below, they rarely grow into trees. The lack of light and space prevents their growth.

                                 Sometimes our lives are like crowded forests. 

Dead wood decays. Lack of light hampers our growth.

            Perhaps it's an uncontrollable act like a lightning strike, 

...  or a stray spark from a careless camper that starts it. 

With the right conditions, the fire rages through acres. Leaving devastation in it's wake.

             What remains are the charred ashes of a once beautiful green paradise.

How can God allow so much destruction
of so much beauty?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Lord Looketh on the Heart- My Journey of Becoming Less Judgemental.

The Lord Looketh on the Heart:

 My Journey of Becoming Less Judgmental.

"I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out my others and changes course." 
"What I am suggesting is that each of us turned from the negativism that's so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with him the associate, that we speak of one another's virtues more than we speak of one another's faults."                 -President Gordon B. Hinckley

I have some confessions to make about myself and some of those are pretty ugly. Money and affluence has the ability to corrupt your heart.  It happens slowly, almost imperceptibly.  It creeps into attitudes. It slowly changes how you perceive yourself and the world. 

My husband made a very good living, and in the last five years he made and extremely good living.  We watched our income continue to rise, and we marveled at the new opportunities that extra income provided.  With that income came worries...

Are we giving enough? 

How much are we justified in enjoying ourselves? 

Overtime it became easier and easier to justify more for us. We began to feel entitled and our experiences began to jade us from helping others as much because we noticed that they began to feel entitled as well. 

"The minute you feel irritated, inpatient, scared, sad, angry, or betrayed because of something someone else has said or done realize that you may be sitting in an righteous judgment,"- Joseph Bishop Peace be unto thy Soul 

 It is easy for those feelings to start to creep in even when you are trying to be grateful to the Lord and acknowledge his hand in all things.  We knew He was blessing us.  We knew and understood that we were stewards and that it was our responsibility to use our money wisely.  We were doing charitable things, we were looking for ways to bless other people's lives, we were trying to be generous, but at the same time we began to feel that our righteousness was entitling us to those blessings, that the Lord was blessing us because we were good stewards and for our good choices. We thought we were reaping the benefits of good character.  

Can you see elements of pride beginning to creep in?

We began to feel that we deserved to personally enjoy the fruits of our labors.  It was a very fine line to try to judge how much giving was enough and how much keeping was justified.  

We watched as friends, family and aquantances who used to be grateful when we shared with them began over time to expect and feel entitled to share in those things or to receive help.  They quit being grateful.  We even had people who came to us and expected that we would give them money.  One person even said that because we had extra, it was our duty to give to them. We began to feel used. Those feelings caused us to withdraw our support from some people. 

I was watching it change me.  I was watching it change my family.  I saw it in little comments and attitudes and it worried me. 

"The man or woman who lives with a need to judge others often does so to prove that he or she is always right and better than everyone else. Often the mistakes of others would have been ours had life given us the opportunity to make them."       - Joseph Bishop, Peace be unto thy Soul 

But what could I do?

I couldn't make Scott make less money.  Plus I was starting to enjoy the benefits of this life style.  Gradually luxuries became common place to me. At first I used to get mad at Scott for buying me things.  I felt he was too extravagant, but that made him feel bad so eventually I just allowed it.  The more I allowed, the more I became accustomed to. I liked flying to a big city for dinner.  I liked being able to get new outfits each month or to get my hair and nails done. Things that were special treats just became regular occurrences. As my personal budget increased, I found that I easily spent more.  

I have found that whatever your income is, you can spend it. That is what we did.  We spent it, shared some of it and saved very little.  Again this troubled me, but not enough to make drastic changes.

I heard my kids make judgements about strangers based on appearance and I began to make those in my mind as well. Family jokes were centered around the most extreme person we had seen at Walmart.  I realize now, that we thought a awful lot of ourselves and our 'good' decisions.  We rarely gave anyone the benefit of the doubt and or expressed compassion for people who had caused their own trouble by their own bad choices.  

"Many times our quick judgments of appearance are made because we don't want to be bothered to take the time to understand someone else. It may boost our own egos to belittle others like elevating ourselves. Such a habit needs to be changed if we want to follow our Savior."-Max and Bette Molgard

Then everything came crashing down. I was immensely  humbled. In a matter of seconds, all of the money in the world didn't matter. 

The first step for me in becoming less judgemental was to be humbled.

I began to look at people who were in difficult situations in a different light. Because of my own personal suffering, I began to feel empathy for them.  At first it was just for other widows, then it was for people in a variety of trials that were not of their own making. 

I had knowledge that Scott and I had chosen this path before coming to earth.  I began to look at others in difficult circumstances and see that maybe they had chosen those trials as well for different purposes.  I realized that we chose to go through hard things because of the love we had for other people. 

Now a woman in a difficult marriage was not there because of a bad choice, but maybe because she had loved her family, knew that they were going to struggle, and promised to suffer through those things with them in order to help them. 

"The pathway to that kingdom is not at all like a marathon in which those who finished first are the winners. But each of us has our own pathway with individual Kurz and trials and blessings. The only absolute requirement is that we do our best with what we have been given"-Max and Bette Molgard

My heart was beginning to open.

Still I judged people who were suffering the consequences of their own mistakes.

More time and more experiences were needed to carve out a place in my heart for them.

Then I started helping and  people.

At first it was mostly widows and widowers.  Then I began reaching out to women who were divorced or single.  I began to hear their stories.

 As I served them, I began to love and understand them.  

That love began to open my heart, that love was given to me from God, It was a portion of his love for them. Because I was serving and helping other people, and because I was praying for them, The Lord blessed me to feel his love for them. 

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has lived different lives. Those experiences affect how we see the world how we see ourselves, and the choices we make. No matter how much I try, I can never put myself completely in someone else's shoes. Only God can do that. That is why He is the only one who can judge.

"Who am I to judge another When I walk in perfectly?In the quiet heart is hiddenSorrow that the I can't see" -Susan Evans McCloud

I began to try to stop thinking negative judgmental thoughts about people that I encountered. Instead I resolved to try to feel empathy for them. I made up reasons why they may have appeared the way they did.

"I plead for understanding among our people, first spirit of tolerance towards one another, and for forgiveness. All of us have far too much to do to waste our time and energies in criticism, faultfinding, or the abuse of others. The Lord has commanded this people, saying: 'strengthen your brethren in all of your conversations, in all your prayers, and all your expectations, and all you're doing.' This is the Commandments, stated unequivocally and then follow this marvelous promise:'and behold, and low, I am with you to bless you and deliver you forever.' (D&C108:7-8) "- pres. Gordon B Hinckley

Imagine that, the Savior will forever bless those who take the time to look deeper into the hearts of individuals who need our help and understanding.

"The more perfect one becomes, the less he is inclined to speak of the imperfection of others." -Pres. Gordon B Hinckley

I remember one particular experience.... 

I had been very troubled and distraught over what I feared someone else was doing. II completely encompassed my thoughts so much that I felt I could not function.

I prayed, "Heavenly Father, I cannot help this person, and I cannot help my family and other people, if I feel this way. Please help that to change. Please take these feelings away from me and help me to just love this person unconditionally." 

Over several days I struggled with this issue. I studied and I prayed for help. Then I was filled with complete and total understanding. I knew that change required time. I knew I had to be patient during that time. I knew that God had a plan for this persons life. All of a sudden everything was okay. I no longer worried; I was filled with patience and I didn't judge.

"The more you refrain from negative judgment, the more peace you will have in your life." - Joseph Bishop, Peace be unto thy Soul  

I was free. 

I was free to just love.

Grace had enabled me to overcome my natural feelings. Grace had allowed me to see the divine attributes and potential in this person. Grace had let me feel God's love for them. 

"But when we are blessed to perceive the true motives of others (or to feel how much the Lord loves them), our point of reference is changed."- Joseph Bishop 

It changed me to the very core.

I realized that I didn't just have these feelings for this person, but it had extended to other people in my life, people who my judgment of them had prevented me from helping. I knew that I was free to be an instrument in God's hands. Without judgment holding me back, I could unconditionally care for them. 

"As we work step-by-step to perfect ourselves, we will be blessed with increased portions of the Lord true light.   With that light we will be in the position to serve others through love an example as we help them come to him."-Max and Bette Molgard

I realize now how much my judgmental attitude had preventing me from helping and serving others.  I realize that it dimmed my light.  That God could not use me as long as I insisted on being judgmental.  My pride stood between us.

If we help with love, not judgment or criticism, we can be a light.

Being non-judgemental is not easy.  It takes a lot of time and effort.  We have to constantly watch our thoughts and control the things we say.  Not only do we need to not say negative things, but in order to really be a light we must encourage others.  When we see them as God sees them, then this is easier to do.

"Finding fault is easy, but help and understanding take charity and time."-Max and Bette Molgard

The gift of charity allows us to do this, but the first step in gaining that gift is purging judgement from our souls, praying for that love, and then attempting to give it through the positive, patient things we say and through our actions.  When we act with courage and faith the Lord in His grace will bless us with that Love... 

His pure love...

"The magic of encouragement can fill our lives and be passed on to others. It will Not only replace the wasted negative, judging times that will fill our lives with happiness and spiritual growth. That feeling is always contagious. It will fill our life and rubbed off on our acquaintances, Friends, and most important of all, our families." -Max and Bette Molgard 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Principle 12

Principle 12

Principle 12

"The Greatest blessings from the use of the priesthood flow from humble service to others without thought of self."

Because I have people who are not members of the LDS church read this blog and  because this is something that is often misunderstood about our church, I wanted to take a moment to explain the priesthood.  The priesthood is the authority given to man to act in God's stead.  It is a power to serve others, not for the one who holds it to wield. 

Why are only men given the priesthood?  Isn't that totally sexist?

Well, maybe in the opposite way... Let me explain my thoughts (this is not church doctrine, but based on how much I know God loves His daughters, and I believe this to be true.)

Women innately have a divine ability to care and serve others.  We love more unconditionally.  We are natural nurturers.  Also, we often have the capacity to be very close to the spirit.  (Principle 13 is about women, so if this rubs you the wrong way... reserve judgement and read that principle.)

Men do their best, but honestly need a lot of help in this department.  The priesthood gives them access to some of those qualities.  It helps them to feel the spirit,  to feel compassion for others, and to serve others.  It helps them to feel God's love for His children.

We have to let our men have that so that they can better serve and love us.  

Now enough of the gospel according to Veronica,  let's hear from Richard G Scott....


To the Giver of Blessings:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lessons in Patience

Lessons in Patience

The past 15 months has taught me that there is nothing like a big trial to teach your patience!  

An interesting study about the effects of the ability to patience.
A clip from Elder Uchtdorf's talk "Continue in Patience""

Waiting Can Be Hard

Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for time—is precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
I remember when my husband died I so desperately wanted to know and have so many things fixed.

What happened with the accident?  
What is the purpose of this trial? 
How will I continue on?  
What will my life look like now in the future?  
What should I do now?

These were the questions that plagued my mind and troubled my thoughts.  I desperately wanted answers, and I wanted them RIGHT NOW!  How could God deny me answers?  After all, He had taken my husband.

Fifteen months later I look at my life.  Holy cow! It is nothing like I envisioned it to be. I would have never guessed the things that would transpire or that things that would now be in the works. That's not bad either; in fact, I think it is turning out much better than my plan would have anyway.

However, back then I wouldn't have been able to accept all of this.  I wasn't ready yet.  Time and experience and study had to carve out a place in my heart for change and acceptance.  I had growing to do first before I was ready for answers.

Indeed, patience is purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.

 If we, as God's children are ever going to mature and reach our potential,
 we must learn to wait.  
For it is in that waiting that we grow and mature.

Patience Isn’t Merely Waiting

If we are simply sitting in the mud, then we aren't going anywhere!  There were days, especially early one when I wanted to just sit in the mud and cry out that life was just not fair.  (Which, by the way is t