Sunday, November 25, 2018

Living in Thanksgiving Daily

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

This past week was Thanksgiving here in the U.S. This is the first thanksgiving holiday we have been away from our family in the 43 years of our marriage. Though it was tough to not be able to celebrate our favorite holiday with our family, we did have the blessing of spending it with the Jensen family here in Fishers, Indiana and with the other office missionary couples in our mission.

Thanksgiving in Indiana

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many blessings that we have received and to give thanks to the Lord for those blessings.

While teaching the Zoramites, Amulek taught that we should “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38). What does it mean to live in thanksgiving daily? Elder Joseph B. Worthlin speaking about this scripture said:

In the Book of Mormon we learn that we should “live in thanksgiving daily”. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? To live in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if you lived in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if others did the same? Do you think the world would be a happier place? Less stressful? Less angry? More spiritual? Those who live in thanksgiving daily, are usually among the world’s happiest people. And they make others happy as well.” (Live in Thanksgiving Daily)

I think that what Elder Worthlin is saying is if we follow the principle to live in thanksgiving daily, we will be happy. Happiness is not dependent on things always going the way we want or getting everything we want. Nephi said that they lived after the manner of happiness and this was just after they had to flee from their homes because the Lamanites were trying to destroy them. The people of Nephi found happiness even during their trials.

In his talk, Elder Worthlin gave three suggestions that can help us live in thanksgiving daily:

1.       Open our eyesI encourage you to look around you. Notice the people you care about. Notice the beauties of this campus. Notice the fragrance of the flowers and the song of the birds. Notice and give thanks for the blue of the sky, the red of the leaves, and the white of the clouds. Enjoy every sight, every smell, every taste, every sound. When we open our eyes and give thanks for the bountiful beauty of this life, we live in thanksgiving daily.”

2.       Open our hearts“We must let go of the negative emotions that bind our hearts and instead fill our souls with love, faith, and thanksgiving. Anger, resentment, and bitterness stunt our spiritual growth. Would you bathe in impure water? Then why do we bathe our spirits with negative and bitter thoughts and feelings? You can cleanse your heart. You don’t have to harbor thoughts and feelings that drag you down and destroy your spirit.”
3.       Open our arms“We can live in thanksgiving daily by opening our arms to those around us. When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone who has always been there for you, someone who has sacrificed for you, someone whose heart has always been filled with hopes and dreams for you?(Live in Thanksgiving Daily)

Some of the things that I am grateful for as we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday include:

My wife who has been my rock, my love, and my best friend for 43 years
Our four children and ten grandchildren
The wonderful daughters-in-laws that my sons married
My parents, my five brothers, my sister, and their spouses
Those who took a chance and hired me and provided a living that provided for my family
My neighbors who put up with our crazy family
The raging storms that remind us of beauty of the earth when things are calm
Serving as missionaries in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission
The other office couples in our mission office
The 261 full-time missionaries serving in our mission
Our mission president and his wife
The restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith
The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ
Living prophets and apostles today
All who serve in their callings
The Savior Jesus Christ and his Atonement
Repentance and forgiveness
The plan of salvation
A loving Heavenly Father that made all this possible

The list can go on and on, but you get the idea. If you have not tried to make a list of the things you are grateful for, I challenge you to take the time to do it today.

One of the best ways for us to live in thanksgiving daily is to express our gratitude to Heavenly Father when we pray. When was the last time you offered a prayer of gratitude and did not ask for anything? Try it sometime and I promise you that you will be filled with thanksgiving and gratitude and you will find happiness in all you do.

Your comments and questions are welcome. If you like this post, I would ask that you share it with your family and friends on your social media.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Surviving Spiritually

Today (Sunday October 18, 2018) in our sacrament meeting Silas Smith talked about a friend from his high school days. Todd was one the first friends he made when his family moved to a new community and went to a new high school. Todd became involved in the popular crowd and strayed from the Gospel and God’s commandments. Because of his popularity, Todd did not hang out with Silas and his other friends.

Todd’s life changed when he was involved in an accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. His “friends” stayed with him for a while but eventually stopped coming to see him. Silas and his friends, however, did not abandon him and continued to be with him and encourage him. Eventually Todd began to read the scriptures and do the things he needed to get back on the gospel path. One day Todd told Silas that the accident was the best thing that happened to him. He was headed in the wrong direction and could have never come back, but because of the accident he would eventually be ok and have eternal life.

That is a pretty good outlook and I am not sure I would be that strong. When I face adversity my first reaction is why is this happening to me? When we feel this way, we must remember what Elder Neil L. Anderson taught in the past October General Conference:

“We each understand that difficulties are part of life, but when they come to us personally, they can take our breath away. Without being alarmed, we need to be ready. The Apostle Peter said, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” Along with the bright colors of happiness and joy, the darker-colored threads of trial and tragedy are woven deeply into the fabric of our Father’s plan. These struggles, although difficult, often become our greatest teachers.” (Wounded)

One of the other speakers in today’s sacrament meeting, Cathy Gorge, talked about what is happening in Paradise, California where the campfire wildfire has destroyed over 12,000 homes and there has been 76 confirmed deaths and almost 1,300 people unaccounted for. A bishop of one of the wards said that every member of the ward has lost their homes. He told the Church news that as he was leaving home on the morning before the fires started, he was prompted to go back and get his family out. He did, and he also sent messages to his ward to evacuate as well, all church members and missionaries are safe and accounted for. (Church News)

Photo by John Locher/AP Photo

Elder Anderson reminded us that we will all, even those who keep the commandments of God, experience trial in our lives:

Although the details will differ, the tragedies, the unanticipated tests and trials, both physical and spiritual, come to each of us because this is mortality. Wounds of the soul are not unique to the rich or the poor, to one culture, one nation, or one generation. They come to all and are part of the learning we receive from this mortal experience.”

Elder Anderson give several suggestions that will help when we are faced with adversity.

1. Never Give up - no matter how long the problems persist we will get through them.
2. Pray with all your heart - strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, he will not leave us comfortless.
3. Take your wounded hear and your family names to the temple as frequently as possible.
4. Look forward - your troubles and sorrows are real, but the will not last forever. 

Photo by Noah Berger/AP

Elder Anderson concludes by reminding us:

“No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound—however deep, however wide, however painful—will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence, and God shall wipe away all our tears.” (Wounded)

Speaking in an April 2018 general conference address President Russell M. Nelson said:
“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” (Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives)

I have had trials, but nothing compared to the ones mentioned here. I can only pray that I will have the faith and testimony to survive spiritually when more difficulties come alone. I also hope that I have the compassion to help others when they face adversity and together, we will all help each other endure and overcome our afflictions.

Your comments and questions are welcome. If you like this post, I would ask that you share it with your family and friends on your social media.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Mother’s Love

One of the themes throughout the Harry Potter books is the importance of the love that a mother has for her children. Dumbledore tells Harry that it is because of strength of the love his mother had for him, Voldemort was not able to kill him when he tried. He said:

 “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mothers for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

In addition to Lily we have several other mothers that J.K. Rowling includes in the series that provide great examples.

1.      Narcissa Malfoy
Narcissa risks her own life to protect her son, Draco, as the battle for Hogwarts concludes and Harry battles Voldemort. It is Narcissa that approaches Harry’s lifeless body to see if he is alive or dead. When she realizes that he is alive she asks if Malfoy is alive and Harry whispers that he is and is. She knows that the only way to save him is to get him to safety, so she tells everyone that Harry is dead and in the midst of their celebration she leaves to find him.

2.     Augusta Longbottom
Augusta Longbottom is Neville’s grandmother. After the death of his parents, Neville is raised by Augusta. Neville often talks about how his grandmother has always been an enemy to Voldemort and his followers and fights for what is good and right. She is one of the few that come to Hogwarts as the battle is raging. She is the last to come through the tunnel from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts and she seals the tunnel so no one else can get through it into the castle. When she asks where Neville is, they tell her that he is inside fighting and she leaves the others to join in the fight with her grandson.

3.     Molly Weasley
Besides Lily, I think the strongest example of the love of a mother is found in Molly Weasley. Molly is always there when her children need her. She adopts Harry as one of her own and is his protector. With only the love a mother has Molly, teaches, corrects, and disciplines Harry along with her own children. She is there when Fred is killed, she is in the middle of the fight for Hogwarts, and charges in when Jenny is in danger and is the one to kill Bellatrix.

The scriptures and modern revelation also testify of the importance of the mothers in our lives. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” it states:

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another… Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

In Alma we read of the 2000 stripling warriors were protected because their mothers taught them to have faith in Jesus Christ and that he would preserve them. Heleman wrote to Captain Moroni that it was this faith that saved them saying they did not doubt they would be safe “because their mothers knew” (Alma 56:48)

The scriptures are full of examples of the power of righteous mothers. There is Eve, the first mother; Sarai, the mother of Isaac; Mary, the mother of Jesus; Sariah, the mother of Nephi; Lucy, the mother of Joseph Smith, and many others.

We must never forget how important our mothers are. Heavenly Father has given us our parents the responsibility of helping us return to his presence and it is our mothers that have the greatest influence in making sure that happens.

Your comments and question are welcome and would that if you agree with what I have written to please share this with your social friends and family.