Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Comes First

Wow, is anyone else amazed that we're already at the end of June? I can't believe how fast the summer months fly by these days. I suspect it's because we're so busy running to varied events, making the most of the warmer weather (we're pretending it's warm in Bear Lake) that the days pass in a hurry.

So far this summer, we've enjoyed spending a lot of time with family members. We've already savored a couple of cookouts, a wedding, and the first in a series of reunions. This past weekend found us up in Wyoming, attending a reunion on my mother's side of the family tree. Held near Cottonwood Lake in Star Valley, it was a fun time of catching up on the latest adventures with beloved family members, sharing awesome food, and playing silly games, like guessing the number of candy pieces inside varied containers.

To me it's also a way of keeping in touch with those who should matter the most. As my mother sat posing for pictures with her siblings, it hit me how fast life tends to slip away. One of these days, these choice people will pass through to another realm and our time spent with them here in mortal mode will be over. How important it is to take the time to enjoy them while they are here.

In this world of hustle and bustle, it can become easy to get bogged down in items that don't really matter. I know in my own life I have had to re-examine priorities. I experienced a little heart glitch a few months ago and have been told to slow down. This is a challenge when life is crazy busy and you find yourself involved in numerous things that are good--but time-consuming none-the-less. So I've been trying to focus on those items that matter most, like family. This means I've had to weed out a few activities that are important, too, but not nearly as crucial as spending time with loved ones. 

When it comes down to it, is it really going to matter how many committees we served on, or how many hours we spent volunteering in the community if we ignore the people in our lives who should be first priority? Don't get me wrong, I know it's important to serve in our communities--I've done so in varied capacities, like the county diabetic support group I helped run for years. But if we're so involved in civic responsibilities that there isn't time to spend with loved ones, something is wrong--especially when time,  energy, and health are at stake.

So this summer, I choose to spend the time at weddings, reunions, cookouts, and enjoying family members while I can, savoring moments that cannot be recaptured. I suspect that when this life is over, and it's all said and done, that is what will matter most of all.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Enjoying the Journey

Yesterday I spoke in our ward with my husband.I thought for today's blog I would draw upon some of what I shared during that adventure.

After we were asked to speak, and were told that we could tackle whatever topic came to mind, I began praying to know what to touch on. I shouldn't have been surprised when I found myself wide awake early one morning with a multitude of thoughts running around inside my scrambled brain.

All of them had to do with finding joy as we journey along in this mortal life. I suspect this came to mind because so many of us are dealing with heart-wrenching trials during these interesting latter-days.

So, here's a snippet of what surfaced inside my head that morning: It is actually a commandment from our Savior to find joy in this life. In essence he has said: " . . . verily, I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst and have not forsaken you;" (D. & C. 61:36)

I was reminded that there have always been challenging times, beginning with Adam & Eve. Think about what they went through--going from a heavenly setting full of bliss and peace in the Garden of Eden, to a place where they had to work for every mouthful of food, create their own shelter, and basically, fend for themselves. It definitely could've been a time for self-pity and depression. Instead, both Adam and Eve celebrated this chance to learn and grow and have a family. (See Moses 5:10-11)

I was guided toward the wisdom of King Benjamin found in Mosiah 4:20. I found the humor in his wording of how we tend to "beg" for help when things hit the fan in our lives, and how our Father is always willing to listen to us and help us find peace and joy, regardless of what it is we're struggling through.

We've all been blessed with character-building moments--and since we're all very unique, they are all very different. These are the things that help us learn and grow, stretching us spiritually in our quest to become more like our Heavenly Parents. But it's seldom a "fun" process, gaining the education we came to find in this mortal world. And there are times when we wonder if we'll survive the curriculum. But there is always hope. I often find peace of mind by searching the scriptures.

Mosiah 7:33 basically tells us to do the following:
1-Turn to the Lord.
2-Trust in Him.
3- Serve Him--with a good attitude.
4-And if we are willing to do all of that, we will be delivered from the trial we are enduring, or receive the strength to hang in there.

Alma 36:3 states:
1-We must trust in God.
2- And if we are willing to do that, we'll be supported in our trials.

Proverbs 3:5 shares:
1- We must trust in the Lord with all of our heart (not just a tiny portion)
2- Realize that we are not always going to understand 'why' some things happen.

D. & C. 19:23 instructs:
1- We need to learn about our Savior.
2- We need to listen to His words.
3- Be meek enough to feel the Spirit.
4- We will be given peace.

So on and so forth. If you look through the topical guide under the word, "JOY," you will be amazed by how many references there are to this emotion. I was told once that if you find something mentioned in the scriptures 3 times or more, we need to pay attention. From what I have found, "JOY" is mentioned way more than 3 times. This means it's important. 

To sum things up: we're in mortal mode to learn and grow. This is not always a fun quest. We seem to grow the most from those soul-stretching adventures that come into all of our lives. Despite these challenges, we can find peace and happiness--if we'll seek a cheerful attitude. It's not easy--but things of worth seldom are.

As Lehi so eloquently phrased it: "Adam fell that men (and women) might be; and men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:24)