Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. 3 Nephi 22:13

I've read the scriptures by the bedroom doors of my children for the better part of their lives.  And in recent months we've added morning scriptures where the children read.  Today my son Carter took the initiative and began reading on his own while the rest of us were still getting ready.  Consistency and dedication have brought us to this day.  I love the spirit that the scriptures bring and the spirit we all take with us each day for reading them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Glimpse of Charity - The Pure Love of Christ

As I sat with a good sister left ever so weak by the ill effects of the cancer, that is consuming her, I felt her strength.  Not just in the surprising grip of her frail little hand but her faith unwavering.

I found myself overcome by the spirit and pleading within my heart to release her from the pain and discomfort.  I felt compassion for this woman who has never lost faith in the Savior and his Priesthood power to bless the lives of men on earth.  In the moment I was asking for her comfort I felt impressed and reminded that the Savior suffered these pains as well.  And by so doing he knows each of us individually, as well as anyone possibly could.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Today we did something in our Elder's Quorum that I conceived a month or two ago.  Rewind to January and our quorum made some goals to get out and visit less/inactive families/individuals.  The goals are to go from the 30% home teaching that we had in December of  2010 (on par with the Stake Average) to 40% in March, 50% in June, 60% in September, and finally 70% by December of 2011.  When I became Elder's Quorum President we were at 13% so we've already doubled that and I believe we will make our goal of 40% this month if not better than that.

What I had conceived was Home Teaching Blitzes or Because We Care Blitzes.  Perhaps it was the NFL Playoffs or the Super Bowl that gave me the idea to somehow incorporate the idea of rushing the quarter back mentality when going out in force to visit families that had not been visited in a long time.  So at 9 am this morning I and 11 other Brethren met at the church, knelt in prayer, then divided a long list of names and went out visiting.

Our focus on this first blitz was to contact brethren that were already Elders or prospective Elders within our ward.  The first success was the overwhelming participation from the quorum.  We had one High Priest, one Priest (my companion Josh Sponenburg) a recently reactive member and recipient of the Aaronic Priesthood himeself, and even one brother who was baptized a few months ago but has yet to receive the priesthood.  All the others were Elders.

The second success came in discovering that one third of those on our list had moved.  The next task will be to determine if they've moved to another location within our ward boundaries or if we need to send their names to Salt Lake to have that team try and find them.

The third success was that of the remaining two thirds half of them welcomed the idea of visits from the Missionaries and Home Teachers and this doesn't mean that the other third was not receptive because some of them simply weren't home.

The greatest success in my mind though was that the brethren that participated realized that they had made a difference.  That they had blessed lives, including their own, by the service they had performed.

Luke 15
11¶And he said, A certain man had two sons:
 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of agoods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
 13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there awasted his bsubstance with criotous living.
 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
 16And he awould fain have filled his belly with the bhusks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
 17And when he acame to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
 18I will aarise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have bsinned against heaven, and before thee,
 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
 20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had acompassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
 21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more aworthy to be called thy bson.
 22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
 23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
 25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
 26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
 27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
 28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
 29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
 30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
 31And he said unto him, aSon, thou art ever with me, and ball that I have is thine.
 32It was ameet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Great Faith

I received a call late yesterday afternoon from a sister in our ward who is fighting cancer.  She first asked if she had home teachers since she was fairly new to the ward.  She did indeed have them and I was saddened to discover they had made no attempt to contact her.  In the absence of dedicated Home Teachers I of course take the call and make the visit.  I love to visit the members and would home teach each and everyone of them if I were able BUT of course there is not enough time and that is why we have a quorum.

I called a nearby priesthood holder and asked them to accompany me to her home to administer.  We found her frail and weak yet full of faith and hopeful of a good outcome.

Despite how aggressive the cancer has been and the ravaging effects that it has had on her body, she has faith in the power of the priesthood.  Her husband shared the promises of previous blessings she had received which of course gave her hope of a cure.

I did not feel the impression that she would be healed but more a feeling of comfort which was conveyed through the blessing.  I know that it is the faith of the one receiving the blessing that is most important.  "Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole"  I certainly have faith but I know that it is something that I can and should continue to strengthen.

This good sister is an example of great faith.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Good Man

I was informed at lunchtime today that a good man that I've know for the past 3 years passed away.  Al Granato passed at about 11:30 PM last night.  I had been to visit him at the hospital on January 31, one week ago today, after finishing a day of Jury Duty.  He was in a an induced coma because most of his organs had failed or were failing.

I was alone and did not feel impressed to give him a Priesthood blessing but rather speak to him for a few minutes and ultimately offer a pray with/for him on his behalf.  I touched his had and expressed to him that he was a good man and was on my way.

On the Sunday evening previous I had gotten a call from his wife Kathy, who incidentally is also now in a coma at another hospital.  She had expressed to me how much she wanted for Al to have a Priesthood blessing and her concern that something might happen to him.  Arrangements were made and a blessing was administered.  She had also expressed concern for Rachel her daughter in the event that something should happen to both of them.  Call it premonition but Rachel is indeed on her own at the moment so we are hopeful for Kathy's recovery now.

Al had just recently started returning to church after years and years of inactivity.  Rachel is quite active now and although Kathy was not attending with the same regularity she too had been coming out after years of inactivity.

Al was anxious to serve his fellow man and to help where he could.  He had been going out with the missionaries when able and had even accepted a Home Teaching assignment to his neighbors in recent months.  I know that his weight and health made it difficult to do much but I know that his heart was in it and I feel like I missed knowing so much more to who he was because of his death.  Al and I are about the same age, in fact I think I'm actually a couple years older than he was which is to say He was a very young man at his passing.

I know that Al and Kathy, although not living all of the gospel principles of late had been to the temple to be sealed.  I know that our Heavenly Father will bless them for the works and I admire Al for his Charity.

I was at his home with the missionaries just a couple of weeks ago where he fed us quite a feast and we spoke of Charity after which we visited Kevin Algood.

Al will be missed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Still Small Voice

I can't tell you how many times I've had the impression to turn this way or that and I've followed it only to never really know why it was that I had the impression.  I believe that in some of those cases we're being diverted from danger or misfortune and the fact that we followed the prompting prevents us from encountering said problem.  I also believe that there are probably times when it doesn't matter if we turn right or left but our Father in Heaven is teaching us, testing us, preparing us to always be listening so that we are in tune and more readily recognize that still small voice so that when something really important comes along we are ready for it.

Last night I took the missionaries out to teach a couple of lessons.  The first was with a less active family and the second was for a new investigator, a single woman, and the missionaries must have a priesthood holder with them in order to teach in that home.

The first family fed us and we read from Moroni chapter 7 on Charity and discussed it's importance.  The second appointment a few doors down canceled on us at the door.  The Elders not to be deterred suggested we visit some nearby less active members.  I felt impressed to visit someone not quite as close but someone equally important.

Upon arrival at the home we discovered the young man in humbling circumstances and receptive to our visit.  I believe the visit was inspired and something much needed by this young man.  I really do love it when we can see our Heavenly Father at work.  When we can truly be instruments in his hands to bless the lives of those in need.  To bless and be blessed by or brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Conquering Mountains

Conquering Mountains – Ward Conference January 9, 2011

In the June of my last year of undergraduate studies at BYU I was at a crossroads in my life.  There was much I needed to pray about so I determined to make it different from my day to day prayers and I put I put much thought and consideration into the place where I would pray and the preparations I would make to ready myself for it.

I had decided that a particular mountain peak several miles up the canyon behind my home would be a place where I would feel closer to Heavenly Father.  There were many things that I did not anticipate and had I known what was in store for me and how my life might be threatened I probably would have done things differently.

What I did know was that even though I wanted to fast it was not a good idea to go without water on a hike of this magnitude so I chose to drink plenty of water and I set out on my journey.  I of course told my mother where I was going and what time I expected to be home.  The hike was only 6 miles each way but what I had not anticipated was the amount of snow pack still present even with summer about to begin.

Within the first mile I had to take a slight deviation from the trail because the heavy spring run off had washed it out.  With my goal in mind and a quick detour I safely got around the problem area and was again on my way.  About 3 miles into it and about 8000 feet above sea level the snow was increasingly present in the shaded areas.  By the time I’d put 5 miles behind me I was starting to feel fatigued and began to question the wisdom of my trek. 

I’d come this far and was not about to turn back even though the last mile and the remaining 800 vertical feet would prove the most daunting and dangerous I was committed to go on.

My boots and pant legs were wet from the snow I’d already encountered but the snow this high up was crusted over making it impossible to know just how deep it was.  I felt that if I stayed on top of the crust I could make good time getting to the peak spending some time in prayer and meditation with the Lord that I wanted to and then making the return trip. 

It soon became apparent that I had underestimated this as well.  On the steeper parts I seemed to slide back one step for every two forward.  Although it was progress it was arduous and time consuming not to mention it was draining me of what little energy I had stored from meals of the previous day.

At one point I broke through the crust up to my arm pits in snow and quickly scrambled to get myself out, cutting my bare arms on the icy snow.  With the goal now in site I pressed on and found myself finally at the peak where I had intended on supplicating my Heavenly Father for guidance in my life.  Frankly at this point the only thing on my mind was to ask that my life be preserved and that I make it safely home again.  I sat down and pulled my scriptures from my pack and discovered a Tootsie Pop sucker in the bottom of the pack.  No doubt forgotten there months earlier to provide the dose of sugar that would  get me off that mountain.  I took out the camera and took a couple of haggard self portraits as thoughts of search and rescue finding me frozen there days later flooded my mind.  I then opened the scriptures and read from Enos 4th verse. 

And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

With the sugar now in my blood stream I was feeling more alert and keenly aware that I needed to get home before the temperature started to drop.  I spotted a good walking stick repacked my things and headed straight down the mountain.  Using the stick as a rudder I was able to lean back and essentially ski down the steep slope that had taken me almost an hour to climb in a matter of minutes.

With a spring returned to my step I made my way home eager to see my family and have something to eat.

Had this experience been my wrestle with God?  What was I to learn from all of this.  I did not come down from the salt river range like Moses did from Sinai.  My hair was not streaked with grey (that didn’t start til I received my present calling ;o)

What I learned is that we need to always be prepared for the unexpected. 

We need to have constant nourishment in this case physically but more importantly spiritually.  What may seem a simple task may prove to be more challenging than we had anticipated but we have it within us as children of God to overcome. 

We will undoubtedly make mistakes and similar to when I broke through the crust in this world we live in we may almost be swallowed up by all that wrong in it and as we struggle to dig our way out of all we may be cut and bleed and in many cases have scars even after the healing has taken place. 

Our Heavenly Father has given us things to help us along the way.  Our friends and families are like walking sticks that will help bear us up and give us stability.

The scriptures are both a map and a compass that is we follow will lead us to eternity. 

And sometimes when we least expect it, when all seems lost, we will find just that little something extra in the bottom of our packs that will give us what we need to get us home.

Throughout that summer I hiked quite a bit and by August I took on Mount Timpanogas and made the hike with relative ease.  This only happened because I had conditioned myself over time. 

President Heber J Grant said, "That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do, not that the nature of the task has changed, but that our capacity to do has increased."

This is true of all the mountains we must face in our lives and I promise each of you that you will conquer if you put yourself to the task.

I know that God Lives. 
I know that he loves us. 
I know that he wants us to make it home safely
I know that he sent his son Jesus Christ to make that possible.

In closing I share with you 2 Nephi 31:20

20Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
 21And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is bnone other way nor cname given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the ddoctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the eFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is fone God, without end. Amen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year ~ 2011

Happy 2011!  A new year has begun and it promises to be a great one.  I tried something different this year that I think I will become a tradition for me.  I made resolutions for 2011 back in October/November and I started on them back then so that when today came I would actually be well on my way.

I've been studying Japanese more to better hone my skills

I also wanted to lose weight and as it turns out I started in November and I've lost 33 pounds.  Now that the new year is underway I don't have to lose any (although I probably will) I just have to maintain what I've lost.  247 down to 214 and feeling great.

I want to be very dedicated to learning the piano very well also.  This I must start today and do my best to practice 30 minutes a day.

I will continue to read, study, and ponder the Scripture, with the kids, with Liz, and personal study.

I want to get our Elder's Quorum running smoothly with consistent PPIs and effective Home Teaching assignments.

I want to go on regular dates with Liz and improve our relationship.

I want to improve my relationship with the kids.

Strive for Heaven in 2011!