Monday, July 2, 2018

My favorite people on trek

I loved trekking with this little family of mine. I had tiemes when I trekked with the company the boys were in and times when I was with the company that Liz was in. I loved catching glimpses of them working hard, having fun and interacting with others. 

Brian and I were in different companies most of the time. We chose this so that We could each have times with each of the kids. At the end of the first day he caught up to us just as we were about to head into camp.

We sure missed Megan, but knew she was safe and being spoiled by Grandma. We loved having this time on trek.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lessons from another Women's Pull

Five years ago we participated in a pioneer trek and a women's pull. The impact of that day and the many lessons I learned are still so very fresh. It only takes seeing a picture or thinking about that day and so many emotions come flooding back.

This last week Brian and I, along with three of our kids, participated in another trek, this time at Martin's Cove. Remembering the Women's pull from five years ago I have been praying for strength (physical, emotional and spiritual) to take on a similar task again. My assignment on this trek was to take pictures and document this time.I didn't do a whole lot of pushing/pulling, but all women were invited to participate in the Women's pull. I handed my cameras over to Brian and took my place pulling in the front handcart.

Our incredible and inspired stake Young Women's president (Sister Lott) gave an amazing message to the young women. She talked about the difference between can and will. Sometimes we might not think we can do something, but if we say, "I will", with the Lord's help we can accomplish anything. We each received a bracelet with a charm and two knots. These knots represented "Doubt not" and "Fear Not". I knew the pull would be hard, but I was ready to give it my all with some incredible women alongside me.

The handcarts were stopped at the base of the hill. Sister Lott started with the back cart and went from group to group inviting one person to ride in the cart. I had seen this happen with the first company and had even put my arms around a "Ma" who didn't want to be that burden in her cart. I had told her it will be OK. When Sister Lott got to our cart she looked right in my eyes and all she said was "Jen?" I asked, "really?" and she nodded. Tears started to flow. I was willing to do what I was asked, but it was hard.

As I sat in the cart two sisters pulled and one sister pushed. I could easily see how difficult it was for them. I could hear the labored breathing of the sister behind me. We slowed as rocks covered the sandy hill. Men, young and older, lined the trail, with hats over their hearts. I didn't want to look in their faces. I wanted to be pulling, but instead I found myself praying for those who were pushing and pulling. I had no doubt we would make it, but I felt bad for not being part of this strong effort to get to the top of the hill.

I thought over and over again that is is so hard to watch people struggle, and to not be able to help, especially when you see that some of their struggle comes from serving you.

We reached the top of the hill and were able to watch the other carts reach the top too. I pulled out a little camera from my backpack and captured some poignant moments, all while watching for Liz and her group to arrive. I saw Liz. She had also been chosen to ride in a cart. And in the instant I saw her the Lord taught me my lesson of this Pull. Sometimes Liz (and me, and each of us) feel like we have to do things on our own. But in this moment I felt like God was telling me that there are countless people around who love us and are wanting and willing to help. I watched those pulling Liz's cart and was reminded that she (and me and each of us) are never alone. We have family, we have friends, and more importantly we have the Lord. And we should never feel like it is weakness to ask for help.

This experience was not as physically demanding for me as it was for those pulling, but I will venture to say it was just as difficult, but in a different way.

In the hours and days that have followed, I have pondered this experience and talked about it and the Lord has continued to teach me. Here are a couple of lessons that have sunk in during the last couple of days.

- Sometimes we are asked to push and pull, and sometimes we are the ones that are asked to climb into the handcart. We are given different responsibilities and assignments at different times in our lives. Sometimes we are called to serve in "big" or "visible" callings. Sometimes we are asked to serve in ways that may seem to go almost unnoticed. Sometimes we are called to go to exciting and exotic places to serve, and sometimes the Lord needs us to stay where we are and serve there.  Are we willing to do what is asked of us, no matter what it is? I wanted to be part of the force that got up that hill. I knew I would be strong enough with God's help, but the Lord needed me in the handcart.

- The Lord gives us the experiences that we need, not necessarily the experiences we want. Our stake president used a phrase in a conversation that I had with him, something like "customized curriculum." The Lord knows exactly what each of us needs to learn and gives the the experiences, trials and opportunities to learn those lessons. Five years ago I had that grueling physical experience that taught me so much. This time the Lord taught me different lessons in a different way, in the way I needed.

- And today during the sacrament I was taught another lesson. It is something I have thought about, by my experience with the Women's Pull on Friday gave me a whole knew perspective. We have been called to minister, to care for one another in a bold, new, holier way. I think often of sisters in my stewardship and others in my ward and neighborhood. Many face significant challenges and I often feel completely inadequate to lift their burdens. Like sitting in the cart, I feel like I am watching and listening to them struggle without being able to push alongside them. But during the sacrament today I was reminded that it is OK that I cannot take away their burdens, and often I cannot "fix" things to make their burdens lighter. Rather, I can find small ways to strengthen them so that they feel more able to carry the burdens that they have been given. Remembering them in my prayers, sending a thought, talk or scripture that has brought me strength, offering encouragement and letting them know they are not forgotten. These are all small things, but can significantly strengthen those we are called to minister to. I can encourage, lift and pray so that those I love are strengthened and able to keep pushing their carts.

Liz told me later that when her cart started up the hill she felt like she was either going to cry our jump out and help push. Instead she sat in her cart and gave pretty constant stream of encouragement and reminders. And I couldn't help but think of how she is so naturally good at giving kindness and support to those around her. She doesn't worry about not being able to fix things, she just does what she knows how to do. The picture below is from the night before the Women's Pull. She put her arms around a friend to help when she was sad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Love One Another

I have been thinking a lot about God's commandment for us to love one another and about the necessity of having charity and expressing that in our interactions with others. We often talk about how to become like God we need to learn to love like He loves. But this week I have thought specifically about how our having pure love, charity, really blesses those around us, far beyond acts of service that are motivated by that love. This quotation from Anne of Green Gables motivated much of these thoughts.

Marilla is talking to Anne about how she has noticed that Anne did not say her prayers the night before. Anne tells Marilla that she has chosen to not pray because she was taught that God made her hair red on purpose.

Marilla recognizes that Anne is "a girl who knew and cared nothing about God's love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love."

Later in the book Anne expresses that she feels gratitude for the beauties around her, she shows love for the people in her life and she also expresses how easy it us for her to pray. It doesn't really state it this way, but I think Anne has learned what love feels like and she so she is able to easily express it to others, and to God.

So back to the purpose of charity. I think that one reason that we are commanded to love others is that as others feel our love, they better understand God's love, because our love truly is rooted in God's love for his children. As we show pure love for others, we can help them come to know Jesus Christ and HEavenly Father. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

I Did It

Yesterday was Fathers' Day. In the week leading up to this Sunday, Brian and I talked a lot about the importance of fathers, but also, on this Sabbath Day, remembering our Heavenly Father and his abundant gifts. He invited ward members to find ways to honor our Heavenly Father on this special day.

At church, in prayers, I heard more than ever before a gratitude that we know that God is our father and that we are His spirit children. It was said several times throughout the day, and I was grateful for this reminder.

After the sacrament the Primary children sang a couple of Fathers' Day songs. They are simple, common songs, but it was wonderful to hear how well the primary children sang them. As they finished and the first children started to return to their seats, a little Sunbeam standing right in front said, "Daddy, I did it!" I don't know if she was nervous to go sing in front of the congregation or not, but it was easy to see that she felt the joy of this success, and it was so cute to see her eagerness to share this success with her daddy.

I thought about the Savior, who at the very en of his life pronounced, "It is finished." (John 19:30), confirming that He had completed all that the Father had asked Him to do.  I thought about how really a similar experience is something I long for. I look forward to the time I return to my Father in Heaven. I hope to bow before him and to be able to say, "I did it. I did my very best. I fulfilled the work you needed me to do." What a joyful experience that will be!

And then in Relief Society I read this quotation from the talk we were discussing with new eyes. 

“When you … see our Father,” Brigham Young described, “you will see a being with whom you have long been acquainted, and he will receive you into his arms, and you will be ready to fall into his embrace and kiss him.” (Am I a child of God? by Elder Brian K. Taylor)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Thankful for service

This morning we spent about an hour helping a family move into they new home in our ward. We went up and down a lot of stairs, but I was truly grateful for the chance to help.

I love that we can take our whole crew and that they willingly pitch in. Sure, they would probably rather be somewhere else, but they served happily and worked hard the entire time. I am grateful for this little army of mine nd the good they can do.

I also was reminded that there is always something we can do. Megan (or me for that matter) can't necessarily carry the biggest, heaviest stuff, but that doesn't mean our time there wasn't helpful. There was stuff for us to lift and ways for us to help.

The family was very, very grateful for our help. They didn't seem to know what they could possibly do to thank us sufficiently, but truly I was most grateful for the opportunity to serve with my family.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

something funny

We enjoyed watching the 2018 Winter Olympics. We saw many great gold medal performance, including the USA men's curling team, which was so fun to watch.

We also watched a lot of figure skating. Brian and I joked and joked about taking up pairs skating in time for the next winter games. He assured me that if I am able to learn the spin where the girls pull their leg up behind their head then we could train for Beijing in 4 years.

Later we were watching replays of the figure skating action and I told Brian I was making progress so we should get ready for 2022. He said, "I think that ship sailed a long time again."

Nathan replied immediately. "That ship was never built." We laughed and laughed.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

This passage is not one that I am familiar with, but loved reading it today. It is one of the scriptures listed under the hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace?"

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 
I particularly loved the third verse. It is a direction to approach the Lord "boldly", to ask for his help, to lean upon the power of His atoning sacrifice. But the first two verses explain WHY we can approach Him boldly, with confidence. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is perfect and sinless. But he has also been "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." He knows our pains and our sorrows because He has felt them. He can give us strength to resist temptation because He resisted every temptation. He understands it all.

And because of this we can go boldly to the throne of grace. We can obtain mercy and grace in every time of need. Because of this we can have peace, even in a world of turmoil.