Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We are Children of God!

It was a warm, sunny morning and only my shear excitement could have gotten me up and out of bed at the bright and early hour of seven a.m. However, I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and I had no time to waste. I made good time loading all of my worldly possessions in my tiny, yellow Ford Festiva. It took me all of 30 minutes. I then went inside to wait for my parents to come home from their morning walk so I could say good-bye. I would then get on the road, finally heading towards the long awaited college scene!

I was inside fiddling on the computer when I heard a ruckus outside. When I got up to see what was going on I saw my father pulling out all of my suitcases and putting them on the sidewalk next to my car.

"What are you doing?" I asked as I rushed forward to stop him.

"I changed my mind. You can’t go," was his reply. I gave an exasperated sigh and started piling the luggage back into the car.

"You knew it was coming and you can’t change your mind," was my callous reply to his heartfelt statement of gloom over his only daughter leaving the roost.

After I got the luggage back in the car, we went into the house to say good-bye and my dad had me sit down while he told me how sad he was for me to go. Yet he also needed me to know how proud of me he was. I was off to new experiences and memories and he was excited for that too.
He told me all about how he wished he could be a "mouse in my pocket" and see everything I saw. He wanted me to have a good time and to enjoy the journey, even during the hard times.

I remember thinking about the "mouse in my pocket" the whole six hour drive to School. I often wanted to stop and take a picture of the different places on the road so he could have a mouse’s view. I stopped myself though. I knew he had driven this drive before and that was not what he wanted to see with me. He just didn’t want to let me go yet. He knew I needed experiences to grow and shape me but it didn’t stop him from being a father.

I often think about that day when I am facing different experiences in my life. I think of a loving father who wants to be part of my life but understands that part of that life is rising and falling on my own. I also think about how much I wanted to share my experiences with him because knowing he loves me makes me want to include him the whole way. I also think about my relationship with Heavenly Father and how it might be pretty close to the same thing.

God’s purpose is "to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). He wants us to be able to grow and to have the kinds of experiences we need in life to become like Him. Just like any father, I imagine that He had a hard time letting us go. But we needed the experience, He knew it was coming, and I know that at some point before our entrance into this world He sat us down and talked to us about the experiences we would have. D&C 138: 56 says: "Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men."

Like my father, He told us how much He loved us and how our earth life would help us grow. He did this hoping that we would have the faith to believe in His love and in a sense, let Him be a mouse in our pocket through a relationship gained through study and prayer.

I know that this life is fun, it’s hard, it’s long, and it’s a blink of an eye. It is everything good and bad that shapes us. But we are never alone if we remember that we have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to be the best we can be "prefect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48). And even more than that He prepared us for this and we always have the ability and responsibility through our love for him to let him into our lives. What a blessing! We are Children of God!

Friday, December 28, 2012

If I Wasn't So Smart I Would Know More

Two years ago my brother and I had a conversation about how smart we were. We have always been able to do well with little to no effort. We started talking about how easy some classes were in high school, and the minimal amount of work we actually had to put in. It was a fun conversation but eventually the regret started to seep in, when we had to confess that we didn't remember much of anything. Then my brother made a profound statement that has stuck with me. He said, "If I wasn't so smart, I might know more."

What truth is contained in these words!  I can't help but look at the value of hard work and the advantage to trials in our lives. There is not anyone who is not struggling or has not struggled with a big obstacle in their life and contrary to popular belief when in a tough position there is not just a fight or flight instinct, there is also a "fudge your way through and worry about the damage later" instinct. That isn't God's plan for us however. He wants us to have experiences from which we can learn and grow stronger. We can't do that if we believe we are "smart" enough to skip the learning process, part of which is turning to the Lord for help and growth. The Book of Mormon tells us,

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."                                                                    Ether 12:27
The only real learning and growth in life comes when we acknowledge that we are not smarter than God and recognize our need for His guidance. Then with His help, we can become strong and overcome the challenges in our life. On the other hand we can also trust the words in Heleman 4:13:
"And because of this... their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten..."
 I know one thing in life, I never want to be left to my own strength. I don't want eternal regrets in not knowing anything. The trials and concerns in our lives are often things that are made to show us weaknesses that we can overcome but it only happens as we turn to God and allow them to become strengths. Don't be smart, KNOW MORE!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Touch of the Master's hand with a Twist

Most people are familiar with the popular poem "The Touch of the Master's Hand" by Myra Welsh. I love that poem because it illustrates so wonderfully the truth that we can all be masterpieces with our Father in Heaven's help. I know that is true and I have definitely seen that in my life. However, one experience in my life has shown me another way to look at the touch of a master's hand.

When I was nine years old, my family purchased an acre and a quarter of land in Espanola, New Mexico and set out to build a House. The first step in the process of building a house is the foundation. For our foundation, we needed cement.  My father is a do-it- yourself man. Dwight Shrute in the popular TV show, The Office, made the comment, “I never tip anyone for doing something I could have done myself.” My father is the same way, except that he just won’t pay for the service at all if he believes he can do it himself. Therefore when it came to pouring cement, it was not a matter of calling a cement truck to come with wet cement and let them pour it into frames. No, we not only built the frames, but we mixed and poured the cement as well.

We used an old rickety cement mixer, passed down from my grandfather. It had been sitting in the front yard of his farm, unused and broken for at least ten years before my dad found a use for it, and adopted the thing. In order to get it running, we employed the use of a new belt for the pullies, welded on a new handle, and, finally, installed a new plug. When my dad was finished, it was adorned with duct and electrical tape every couple of feet along the cord, and a new handle that consisted of nothing more than a metal piece sufficient to do the job of tipping the mixer over to expel the cement. Now I am not going to lie, I was not convinced that it would work. Yet I gathered around the mixer with the rest of my family and pretended confidence, like my brothers seemed to have. To my surprise, as soon as my father plugged the mixer in, it roared to life.  By roar, I mean more of a wheeze. It would make almost a complete rotation before pitching itself forward as if on uneven legs with a shuddering noise that, quite frankly, left me wondering if it had been fixed. Even so, it was a hallelujah moment for my nine-year-old self. This mixer had been standing in Grandpa’s yard for as long as I could remember, framed by weeds and used as just another broken piece of machinery, like the old tractors, on which my brothers and I could play. Now, at the touch of my father’s magical hands, it was rumbling along. I knew at that moment that my dad could fix anything, even if it was a little doubtful as to how fixed it was.

My dad was able to take something unusable and create a piece of machinery that allowed for us to build a strong foundation and ultimately a wonderful house. The twist I see in this story as opposed to the poem, is that in this story the master fixed something for me to use rather than just me. I have quoted the scripture found in Heleman 5:12 but I am going to quote it again.
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundations; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."                                                                                     
I noticed the other day the phrase "ye must build your foundation".  Christ is the rock that we build our foundations on. But how do we manage to pour that cement? Through the cement mixers that the lord has placed in our path. Every commandment that He gives allows you and me to have a tool to build our sure foundation and strong house of faith.

The Lord does not just make us masterpieces but he often gives us masterpiece situations for growth. Every Sunday we can attend church and feed on spiritual strength. Every day we can read our scriptures and have a daily prayer with him. Every trail that backs us up to our wall of faith. These are the pieces of duct tape and pulley belts that make up the mixer from which we can pour our foundation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trust You?

Two winters ago, my brother and I started on a road trip to see a cousin's wedding. The trip started out fine and in spite of the warnings we received about the weather, we set out with confidence in a smooth trip. It wasn't until we hit Soldier Summit's Pass between Price and Spanish Fork, Utah, that the snow began to fall. Then the wind began to blow and the roads began to ice and I began to panic. It had been a few years before this incident that I had hit a patch of black ice in the same canyon, popped a tire, and spun out of control into oncoming traffic.

In light of that incident and my control issues, I was more than sufficiently nervous to be on icy roads, with little to no visibility and sitting helpless in a passenger seat. It was a test of self-control not to scream and backseat drive every time the car went a little off course. The only thing holding me back was the knowledge that my input and complaints did nothing at all to help the situation. I felt that I was doing really well until we tried to stop and began to slip and slide all over the road and into the parked car in front of us. I couldn't help it the words -accompanied by a scream- were out of my mouth before I could stop them.

"Adam, watch out!"

The rebuke came quickly but calmly. "I'm trying." Then when the car came safely to a stop the final words of censure. "I'm not taking any chances. Trust me."

Of course I trusted him. I had driven with him many times and I knew he would never do anything to cause me extra worry or concern. He knew my past experience. He knew my fears. He also knew his vehicle. My lack of trust, though a natural response, just put more stress on the situation.

It's the same with our trust in God. President Henry B. Eyring in a conference address entitled Trust in God, Then Go and Do says that our trust in God "comes from knowing God. More than any other people on earth, we have, through the glorious events of the Restoration of the gospel, felt the peace that the Lord offered His people with the words “Be  still, and know that I am God.”  My heart is filled with gratitude for what God has revealed about Himself that we might trust Him."


I know that God loves me. I know that He lives and that He knows me personally. I know that He is always there for me. I know that He gave his Son for me and that everything He asks of me is for my happiness. Yet do I demonstrate trust in Him?

President Erying continues, "You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn and repent and then you go and do whatever He asks. If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song, and prayer...you will find it. And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you. "

Sometimes, I don't exercise trust in God. Sometimes, I accidently scream. But I know that as I repent  and continue to learn about the Lord, I can have this promise of greater trust, both in Him and His trust in me. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ballet, Broadway, and Who We Are

I took an Introduction to Humanities class, five years ago and I still remember a statement that my professor made while talking about the dancing unit. His statement lingers in my brain, because it bothered me. He said, "Ballet is all about defying gravity, while modern dance embraces it." I suppose it was the professor's tone that irked me more than anything. He made it sound like Ballet was so rebellious and unappealing, while modern dance was clever and superior for using its limits as strength. Having grown up dancing ballet myself, I have a great love and respect for this noble form of dancing. I am more than aware of the fact that many people find it to be traditional, boring or unappealing, but I beg to differ.

As I continued to think about this statement a popular Broadway song entered my mind,  Wicked's Defying Gravity. In this song, Elphaba, the misunderstood hero is telling her friend Glenda that she has decided to leave her limits behind and defy gravity. She sings:

 "I'm through accepting limits
 'Cuz someone says they're so
 Some things I cannot change
 But till I try, I'll never know!"

These lyrics put a whole new perspective to his statement. Yes, Ballet may be the rebel, but what an amazing accomplishment, striving to constantly achieve more than the limits, through careful control. It is one thing to use the limits we have to the best advantages but how much greater to reach for so much more.

 This made me thinking about perspective and how we see ourselves. Are we living with our worldly limits or rising above them? Psalms 84:6 says:
 "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." 
and Romans 8:17 expounds,
 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
We have a great potential even that of becoming like God and Jesus Christ, yet how often do we limit ourselves to the acts and beliefs of a much lesser person? If we saw ourselves as children of God, with the potential of perfection, would we take the chance to rise above the normal and reach for something more?

Like Ballet, living higher moral standards and following the commandments can be viewed as being traditional, boring and unappealing. However, we have the promise in Revelations 3:21 that:
 "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
 Of course this means that we have to defy a little gravity, trust the Lord, live his commandments, and say, as Elphaba:
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Everyone deserves the chance to fly!" 


Let's Defy Gravity! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bookshelf

   I am a reader. I could -and quite frankly, have- read a book for hours on end. When I was in Middle School and High School I got in the habit of reading under my covers with a flashlight so that my dad wouldn't see the light still on when he came home from work late in the night, hours after I should have been asleep. Which leads me to Stevensville, Montana. There is a special thing about the Stevenville library that I noticed from the first day, that pulls at me every time I visit. It's a "free books" bookshelf. How awesome is that?! Outside of the library is a bookshelf protected from the elements by an overhang in which anyone in the community can place their unwanted books, and anyone else can feel free to take them. I can't help but look at it as I walk by just to see what is on the shelf on any given day, at least I couldn't help it until about two weeks ago when a specific title caught my eye: Don't Look Twice.

   As a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ I have made the commitment to leave behind all worldly things and to lend my life to service of the Lord for the next 18 months. As part of leaving behind all worldly things, I committed to only read my scriptures and four other gospel related books. What a challenge for me, especially when I let myself indulge in the habit of looking at titles of other books! So when my eyes hit the title, Don't Look Twice, I felt immediately chastised. I had willingly made a commitment to leave books behind, and though I had no intention of reading the books whose titles I was reading, I was looking twice at something I was not supposed to.

This made me think about the people everywhere who are trying to make and keep commitments to follow the Lord and leave behind all old sins and habits. While we really want to turn away from it and have no intention of ever going back, how often do we take a moment to look back at what was left behind? While this is a natural reaction to look back, the problem becomes a true issue when we look twice. Some problems, addictions or behaviors take a long time to heal and the long lasting hold that Satan had on us can cause us to feel a strong pull backwards at times. However, if we don't look twice, we can call on God to stay the tide.

Elder Neal A. Anderson said, "When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God." The joy of turning to God is incomparable to anything else. It is our supreme and ultimate goal. We can't afford to lose it by looking twice!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What If I Can't?

When I was young my friends and I had a favorite sleep over game. It was called "What If". The game consisted of us taking turns sharing "what if" statements designed to gradually scare us beyond reason until we were huddled together in a huge clump in the middle of the bed. Statements started with things like "what if we tried to get up and realized our legs were paralyzed" and progressed to "What if our reflections in the mirror came to life and strangled us while we slept." It has never ceased to amaze me how this game of simple "what ifs" had greater power to make me shiver in my boots, than any other scary story out there.

Similarly, the words "what if" in my every day life have the same huge impact of knocking me down and beating me to a shivering mess. "What if I fail this test? What if I lose my job? What if I am not smart enough? What if I Can't...?" All these questions have power in the fear that they create, and fear is not of God, but can only be overcome through God. Moses gives us some insight to fear:

"And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory." Moses 1:20 

When we succumb to worries and fears that may or may not happen, we are opening ourselves to a downfall. Fearing the sins or addictions that might beset us, is choosing to be paralyzed by Satan and his misery. Our progression stops. However, like Moses we can all rest safe in the knowledge that the Lord can and will, always lift us out of the depths of fear. The question then becomes: "Will I let him?"

This promise is also true for the sins and addictions that already hold us. The Savior can and will rescue us from the fear and addictions we are captive to. Elder M. Russel Ballard says, "For those of you who have fallen prey to any kind of addiction, there is hope because God loves all of His children and because the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ makes all things possible." Make the choice to turn to the Lord.

A wise friend once told me not to "determine the future based on your perception of the past." When "what ifs" come along, remember: You can, through Christ!

Exodus 20:20 "...Fear not: for God is come to prove you..."