Sunday, November 8, 2009

To Serve Is A Pleasure

“Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?”

Good Morning brothers and sisters! I am thankful for this chance to speak to you today. This is an occassion that no one should let pass. Like teaching, we individually learn so much more than our recipients.

Having the opportunity to serve others is another honor that we should not avoid. I don't know how many of us really had the blessing of truly hearing what President Monson had to say on this topic in our last general conference. It spoke directly to my heart because for so long I would say “If you need anything, let me know,” but never openly looked for those people. And would decline the offers when they were too much of an inconvenience.

Do we really see what our neighbors need? Do we pray for the Lord to help us find things that fit with our current circumstances? My personal feeling, reflecting on my reactions to offers to help with services, on occasion are rather selfish. I have turned down having children in my home because I have not kept it up, or, I reason, that the extras in my small home would be too stressful. It is true that I do find extra children to be stressful in my home, but why should I let a little discomfort stop me from helping another?

As for most, it is easy to help those closest to us, such as friends and family. But what about the sister we don't know, who never comes to church? Or the brother who has been a few times and then never returned?

Home teaching and visiting teaching is easy, when we make those few calls and make the time. Its easiest when the person(s) are active and open to visitation. How do we react when they aren't active in the church or 'too busy'?

President Monson says “I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need.” ... “How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need.”

Every Sunday we are offered the sacrament. When we take the sacrament we are renewing our covenant that we made at baptism right? Well what did we covenant? reminds us that “Those who are baptized covenant to take the name of Jesus Christ upon themselves.
The prophet Alma explained this covenant to a group of new converts who wanted to be baptized. He observed that their desire to "come into the fold of God" included a willingness to give meaningful service—to "bear one another's burdens, that they may be light," to "mourn with those that mourn," and to "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8–9).”

Our wonderful apostles prepare messages for us and post them on Sister Smith watched “Choose this Day” by Elder Henry B. Erying, and she encouraged us to watch it as well. I watched this video, it was very inspirational and I am glad Sister Smith told us about it.

Elder Erying speaks of service in this message. He urges us to be watchful of us becoming complacent or overwhelmed by the need of service. The warning for the word 'Someday' is emotionally spoken in this video. I was close to tears and I related to what he was saying. He says that Christ even set the example when he said 'I must work the works of he that hath sent me while it is day; the night cometh while no one can work.' The temptation that we will start to believe that we will 'return someday' is dangerous for we do not know how many days we have left. We can 'choose this day' by praying for ways that we can serve and watch for those answers to our prayers. Erying promises us that if we do these things, that as hard as things may seem today, things will be better in the next day, if we choose to serve this day. And we will also feel his love and grow to love him more. This will create a cycle. We will want to feel that love continually and we will return the next day.

I am very grateful for this message. Frequently I say “someday”. I am not as busy as some, but we can create our own excuses not to do something. Most times I think its just because I am lazy. I don't want to do something that is disruptive, per say, to my normal day, my routine. The ironic thing is that most time the philanthropy is not complicated. A phone call, a note, a meal, an errand, a ride, help with dishes, giving a talk, teaching a class, help finding a job, a smile, a conversation at church, an invitation to sit with you.... The list goes forth. On and on we could list services that would take but a few moments, and are seriously that easy.
Children, as with most things in life, are a wonderful example; (which is probably why Christ admonishes us to be like little children). President Monson included a story in his talk from conference that emulates this example for us.
It reads: “Just over a year ago, I was interviewed by the Church News prior to my birthday. At the conclusion of the interview, the reporter asked what I would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give to me. I replied, “Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her.”
I was overwhelmed when this year for my birthday I received hundreds of cards and letters from members of the Church around the world telling me how they had fulfilled that birthday wish.
The acts of service ranged from assembling humanitarian kits to doing yard work.
Dozens and dozens of Primaries challenged the children to provide service, and then those acts of service were recorded and sent to me. I must say that the methods for recording them were creative. Many came in the form of pages put together into various shapes and sizes of books. Some contained cards or pictures drawn or colored by the children. One very creative Primary sent a large jar containing hundreds of what they called “warm fuzzies,” each one representing an act of service performed during the year by one of the children in the Primary. I can only imagine the happiness these children experienced as they told of their service and then placed a “warm fuzzy” in the jar.
I share with you just a few of the countless notes contained in the many gifts I received. One small child wrote, “My grandpa had a stroke, and I held his hand.” From an 8-year-old girl: “My sister and I served my mom and family by organizing and cleaning the toy closet. It took us a few hours and we had fun. The best part was that we surprised my mom and made her happy because she didn’t even ask us to do it.” An 11-year-old girl wrote: “There was a family in my ward that did not have a lot of money. They have three little girls. The mom and dad had to go somewhere, so I offered to watch the three girls. The dad was just about to hand me a $5 bill. I said, ‘I can’t take [it].’ My service was that I watched the girls for free.” A Primary child in Mongolia wrote that he had brought in water from the well so his mother would not have to do so. From a 4-year­-old boy, no doubt written by a Primary teacher: “My dad is gone for army training for a few weeks. My special job is to give my mom hugs and kisses.” Wrote a 9-year-old girl: “I picked strawberries for my great-grandma. I felt good inside!” And another: “I played with a lonely kid.” From an 11-year-old boy: “I went to a lady’s house and asked her questions and sang her a song. It felt good to visit her. She was happy because she never gets visitors.”
Sure there are things that we could do that take much more time and effort. And for the few that have the time and resources for those things, they are welcome to do them.

Our Relief Society Activity on October 20th was a 'spoon party'. Sister McClellan read us an analogy that I would like to relate to you guys today. It's called Make Me A Spoon.

“Did you ever compare your service to silverware? All silverware is made to serve, but the different pieces serve in different ways. Forks stab: “This is mine,” they say. Bits of meat, carrots, pickles, salad and cheese. “This, this and this are mine,” says the fork. “Everything for me, me, me.” And soon every last morsel on the plate has been pinned by the spear of the selfish fork. Knives cut: “Too big,” says the knife. Slice. Cut. Chop. Dice. Everything must change its shapes to satisfy the whim of the knife. Nothing is right as it is. Everything needs paring down, carving or separating. Spoons serve: cereal, soup, peas- all the impossible foods can be handled comfortably from the smooth bowl of the spoon. Spoons say, “Here, let me help you. We can manage together.”
Autumn then showed us a belt she had created with various spoons. The object was that each of us has different 'amounts we can serve'. Teaspoons have a little bit of time they can contribute. While ladles have a lot of room to serve. As long as you find what will fit into your life, the Lord will be pleased.

Too often it is just a handful of regulars that are called by the Relief Society and Priesthood leaders to lend a helpful hand, because those are the ones that they know will. Being in the compassionate service leader calling, I am grateful for these willing and able people. It is my prayer that as needs arise in the ward, that we all can rise to the occasion and lend our hands in uplifting one another. As I think about this I am impressed to speculate the impact that this would have on our ward. How many in-actives would return. How our rate of future inactivity would decrease. And all from a hand of service, a smile and notice to some lonely, needy member among us. We would truly be that of a Zion Ward.

I was curious what the Relief Society manual said about service; so I looked it up. “Relief Society sisters provide continuing and compassionate watch care to each other, making themselves, aware of one another's needs, circumstances, and challenges.” What really stuck out to me in this was the 'continuing' part. We are supposed to be always watching out for one another. Always looking for what can be done. The creed “Charity never faileth” implies to us that charity is not just a one time act. Charity is an enduring and an eternal practice.
The manual even goes into ways that we can become aware of needs of others. “Visiting teaching,... praying for guidance, and responding to promptings of the Spirit.” To this I would like to add home teachers. The entire ward, together as a whole, should work together to uplift and bring one another to the fold; Making one another's burdens lighter. It's amazing to me how the Lord has organized his Church. Think about it. We have the entire church which has been broken down into smaller groups. And it's even broken it down into one on one care. Our visiting teaching and home teaching responsibilities have been assigned so that we can be continually involved in service!

My mother frequently is telling me ' a time and a season'. This statement is true on so many topics. And service is definitely one of them. We should never compare ourselves to others in the ward. We are all of different life stages and life styles. I fall victim to that as well. Amy Williams and Bishop have always been people I have looked up to. People I strive to become like. Having a goal based on others examples is good. That is why Christ is our example. We are not asked to compare ourselves to him to see all our faults and feel horrible about them. We are asked to “Come unto him” that we may be like him. The gospel topics site says “During His ministry on earth, Jesus Christ spent His time serving and helping others. True disciples of Jesus Christ do likewise. The Savior said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The Savior is the best example of service.
Even though He came to earth as the Son of God, He humbly served all those around Him. He declared, "I am among you as he that serveth" (Luke 22:27).”

The church recently has had a focus on bringing investigators to our devoted missionaries. One way that we can do this is by serving in our communities and neighborhoods. Stepping outside our comfort zone of our church and ward, we will find greater happiness and answers to our prayers to find readied hearts for the missionaries.

“Therefore chances for work all around just now, opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying “Sometime I'll try,” But go and do something today. 'Tis noble of man to work and to give; Love's labor has merit alone. Only he who does something helps others to live. To God each good work will be known.”
“Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above. Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty of love.”

I know with a surety that this is the teaching of Christ. Christ wants us all to be happy. And it is by serving others that we can become more like him. He has a plan for us. It is perfect and divine. He has organized everything in the Church in such a way to provide a clear and simple path to return to Him. This is my testimony: I know that He lives. I know this with all my heart. This is His Church. His Plan. He sent His servants to guide us through all that life will throw. President Monson and the other general authorities are trying to do just that. Heavenly Father is showing them what we need to hear. I am grateful for their inspiration and testimonies that have taught me so much.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There are days when I think, Did I make the right choice? There are days when I say, Is this really my life? Being a mother of two is difficult at times. But I enjoy the adventure most days. My daughter is who puts me through it most days. My son is pretty easy. But so was Abi once. I had a conversation once with a relative and we were discussing the ages of children and the difficulties. She made the comment that she loved toddlers. I said toddlers are cute, but I have an easier time with infants. She then inquired and speculated at the same time. She asked "Why? Is it because toddlers require interaction?" I actually look that offensively at the time. But for the most part that's not it. I have an easier time with infants because their needs are basic. I know what to expect with an infant. I have a hard time with the toddler who doesn't listen. The toddler who keeps peeing on the floor. I love having a two year old. But somedays I get so stressed by life with her, that I wonder if she'll live to see three. I honestly dread my son entering the two year old stage most times. I want him to stay little, and sweet. I love the fact that if he's fussy all it takes is me to talk to him. Rattle a toy and he's all better. He makes no messes. Diapers don't count. Doesn't strangle the cats. And he doesn't fight bed time. If he's tired he usually takes little convincing to get to sleep. Abigale wants the light on, to read, to play. Of course she's always needing ice water.
But in the times when I am not stressed, and even times when I am, I see her smile. Or she says something sweet. And I fall in love all over again with my daughter. I see her develop into a little girl, toddling no more. And I watch my son grow before his age into clothes some toddlers wear. Where is the time going? My babies are growing up.

And then I try to think of the future. Of the prospect of more children, and I want to cry. I know that I am not ready for that leap. But I know we aren't done. There are missing pieces. I also feel like I need to learn. I want to go back to school. I feel a drive for the medical field. A desire that is pulling at me so strongly. But when is it time? A little at a time, I move forward figuring things out. A little at a time. I pray for strength to be able to make it through having and raising children and that I will learn what I need to learn.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trials or Opportunities

Experiences give us opportunities to learn new lessons for life.How we handle the experiences life has given us dictates what we walk away with. Imagine a car wreck. What do you see on the people's faces? Maybe there is an angry individual. Perhaps there is a teen driver. And lets say there is a mother with children in her vehicle. Most car accidents are jostling to anyone. Its embarrassing for the person(s) at fault. Terrifying for everyone if more than a bump.
What reactions do you see in the faces? Anger. Stress. Relief if there were no injuries. Maybe some confusion if people don't know exactly what happened. Have you ever seen understanding? How about compassion?
I was recently in a car accident. For those of you familiar with the area where I live, I was on 172nd Pl Ne stopped at a light to go across 67th AVE NE. The car behind me stopped. And the car behind her did not, from what I can discern. I am not sure what exactly happened on his end. But it is irrelevant.
After the crash, we all got out to assess damages. The other two vehicles, both SUVs, sustained minor damages. My Cavalier on the other hand was more intense. The trunk is pretty severe. I cannot open it for the latch has been bent at a 45 degree angle into the trunk. Both lights are cracked and there are some other things that aren't right anymore.
The driver behind me was the veterinarian technician that actually helped me put down a cat just a few weeks ago. (Small world huh, that I knew the driver behind me.) She was not happy. She was actually very upset and angry that this happened. I don't think she was far from home. She was probably coming home from work; she was still in scrubs.
The driver at fault was a kid. He was just 16. He was mortified. His feelings were intensified when he found out about the kids in my back seat. My 13.5 week old and 2.5 year old were fine so I wasn't feeling any worry about them.
Surprisingly, I was not upset. I was scared I guess you could say because I did not see that coming. I have a bit of whip lash from it. But that's it. Instead of anger, I felt sympathy for the kid. I have been in his exact situation before. And being involved in this reminded me of all the feelings I felt when I rear-ended another car. I felt no anger. No animosity at all. I seriously kept telling him "its okay. It happens." At the time I did not know his name, nor his age. It didn't even cross my mind to get his name. It didn't matter. What mattered was everyone was okay.
Looking back, I am surprised. And I have come away from that experience with a couple thoughts. The first thought is how do we react in situations? Are we being proactive or reactive? Is what we are doing what Christ would want us to do? We are all here together to help each learn and become better. Are we doing that for one another?
Secondly, Though it should have been minor, the assessment of the damages are adding up quickly to be a large sum. My car, though it still looks nice, is not worth as much as one might think. For months we have been praying for ways to spend less and get rid of debt. Chad may have a good job, but it does not pay very well at times. This makes parts of the year difficult to make ends meet. The probability of my car being a total loss is high at this point. So I have been batting around my options and trying to weigh the pros and cons now so I can make more educated decisions when the time comes. This being said, I have been feeling like if my car is totaled, I would take the settlement money and pay off debt. This means I will be without a car for awhile. But it feels like this is the opportunity I need to take in life. This is the lemon I am to see as lemonade. Isn't that what we should do, coat our lemons with sugar and squeeze?
"When life give you lemons, make lemonade." Though the saying remains, to practically a point that it is cliche, how many of us really take its advice. To listen to such means to suck up our pride and realize we are in this position for a reason. Lemons are opportunities. They may be disguised as very sour fruit and often make us more than pucker, but we will benefit in the end.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Okay Okay... I give

I know its been a long time. But as I have told my friend, not many read this- including my husband. So I have a hard time writing when nothing really exciting is going on. That itch to write hasn't been annoying enough I suppose. After a few months of nothing, I figured I'd let the world in again.
Baby is doing great. He is very active and always in my ribs. We have a name- Caden Douglas. It was interesting to see my family's reactions to the name. I honestly felt they didn't like it. But as my husband reminded me, its our baby. I am excited to have a shower before the baby this time. Abigale's was never able to happen before her birth because of snow. And then we actually had it rescheduled for the 15th, but I went into labor that morning. Thus we had one in January after everyone was through with their holiday plans.
I am feeling very ready for this baby to come. He is becoming very uncomfortable to me. Some days I feel like the end is tomorrow. Some days... well lets just say I feel like 10 weeks is forever away.
To get ready, I was given a crib. I bought a used swing. And all the other necessities I have registered for at Babies R Us and Target. I do have some clothes, but not a lot. Sheets and other odds and ends things are on the registry.

Chad's job is going well. He has a review today that will decide on a raise in wages. Budget cuts have changed a few benefits in the company. But he still working, and that is what counts. He has also applied for other internal positions. One of which, when he applied for it, had a $100 a day bonus for being on show site. But that has been cut therefore his interest in the job has as well. It just isn't worth the extra stress for the wages offered. Which is too bad, because he would have really enjoyed it . He likes that division a lot. Maybe they will change the actual wage offered to make up the difference. But we'll see.

Life is okay, we take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Its a ....

The long wait has paid off. We have a baby who wants to show all. The radiology tech said "its a good thing you want to know because we'd have a hard time not noticing this one!"

So what did he say we are having- BOY!

Chad is very happy and so am I.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby update

We had an appointment on Tuesday. Everything is going well. I am where I should be. Baby has a strong heartbeat. It is always nice to be reassured of the health of my baby. We may have decided on a name. But we don't know if we're having a boy or girl yet.... so I am not really going to announce anything. :)

The doctors are still sticking with the due date of the 16th of June. We have an ultrasound on tuesday the 20th. If things still look a week ahead at that one, we may be moved up. The ticker on my blog is not set for the 16th due date. If I remember correct, I did it on the 12th. So its a few days different from what the doctors are calculating. But I figure its a mid mark.

We will hopefully find out the sex in less that a week!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Latest Storm Watch

Washington is a place of many changes. We have our rain, our wind, our sun, our snow... our rain.... Washington, Northwest to be specific, is home to many rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways. Some water ways we only see once a few decades.

In the last 48 hours, Arlington, in a place nick-named Island Crossing, has been transformed. In what used to be a busy highway, while restaurants and businesses on either side, there is now a lake. Once frequented restaurants are now flooded. Homes have been vacated. Cattle have been moved to higher pastures. Long standing residents have been quoted saying that "flooding like this hasn't been seen is decades" and one lady said "maybe 20 years".
I live a few miles from Arlington. Just one exit away. My particular street hasn't seen very much water accumulation, but we are a little bit higher than some. Some surrounding properties, many have fields, are flooded. Thankfully, only a few have had the misfortune of the water encroaching their living spaces. Many have barns that are flooded. Yards became lake beds. And this is just what is in my ten mile radius.

Now, the story becomes more dire if you head south. The city of Snohomish is under water. Parts of Interstate 5 have been shut down. Main highways are barricaded. Bridges are invisible.
And further south, towards Chehalis and Duvall, have seen horrible conditions.

This is the worst flooding, and the quickest, many have seen in many years. This is because we have been hit with heavy rains, especially in the passes (16 plus in some areas) in 48 hours. When you couple that with the depth of snow accumulation that is now being caused to melt quickly, the rivers had no choice.

Thank goodness for my home.