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I sat in Sunday school this last week finding my mind wander. The lesson was on Sadducees and Pharisees and I just couldn’t seem to focus on the topic.

Instead I delved into the written lesson on my phone. What occurred was one of those “ahhhh” moments where you feel the Angels sing and you wonder why you have never noticed the meaning behind the words before. I wanted to interrupt the current discussion and tell everyone what I just learned, I was that excited. Instead I wrote notes on my phone.

The scripture I’m referring to is Mark 1

40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

The leper has faith that the Lord can heal him. He shows that by stating “thou canst make me clean.” The leper seems very confident in the Lords ability to heal him. What I loved was the simple three words before, “if thou wilt.” Wow. That applies a deep and abiding trust in the Lords way.

I have approached my Father above telling Him why I needed my prayer answered and how I felt it should be answered. But I don’t always think to add if thou wilt. I often forget that His ways are mightier then my ways. That He can see what I can not.

The leper showed me the pattern of prayer. Plead for the things you desire. Kneel at His feet and have faith that He can do ALL things. But, and this is the hard part, trust that He will answer you in the way that is the very best for you.

An “unanswered prayer” does not mean you don’t have enough faith or that you are unworthy. I believe it means there is something better in store for you.

About a month ago a family in our ward lost their newborn baby. He only lived a few days and it was heartbreaking. This sweet women stood up in church days after losing her boy and taught me one of the most valuable lessons on prayer.

She told of being in the hospital praying her baby boy would survive. (I can’t even imagine how hard that would be) Our bishop came to visit with the family and she told him “I don’t know if I have enough faith for my baby to be healed.” His response will linger in my soul. He asked her, “Do you have enough faith to let your baby go?”

Do I have enough faith and trust like this sweet sister and the leper? To ask and then let go expecting He will grant me what He sees best.

8 ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55

When I’m being logical it’s pretty silly to trust my limited view over His all knowing view.

Ultimately we have the Savior to look to for the perfect example of prayer.

Jesus walked the path of prayer. He taught us how to pray by giving us the beautiful prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer. And who can forget His prayer in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thine, be done”? Thomas S Monson

Peace can be found when we have faith that He can answer our prayers AND trust that He loves us enough to know what is the very best path for us.

Susan

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Music

 

Yesterday, I went to a Stake Choir practice.

When I got there, the room was completely full, with extra chairs brought in.  There were so many people there ready to share their talents and contribute.  And they are all really good!!!  It sounded amazing just on the first sight reading of the music.  It was so enjoyable to be a part of the creation of beautiful music.  This amazing feeling is why I participated in Band and Orchestra in both High School and College.  It is amazing to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself.  It’s like jumping into the music, rather than just listening to it.

Then I looked around, or rather listened, to all of the beautiful voices and thought to myself.  “What am I doing here?”

When I played the bassoon in the orchestra in college, I was one of 2 or 3.  They needed me.

When I’ve been in other smaller choirs I was sometimes the only alto, or at least the only alto that could read music, and they needed me.

Now, surrounded by rows of other second alto’s, I realized that, this choir doesn’t need me at all.  If I don’t show up again, no one will even notice.  So…. why am I here?

Almost instantly I knew the answer as we practiced this song.   As I sang the words “All the vain things that charm me most”  I thought of the jewelry and shoes and clothes that I wanted to buy this week, that seemed so important at the time. But through this song, I remember that these things aren’t what lasts forever.  Buying new things does give me a thrill… temporarily, but the feeling I get from embracing all that is truly beautiful in life stays with me much longer.

So the answer to why I am at choir is, I am here because it is meaningful to me.  I feel joy throughout my soul when I fill it with music.

I sing because I am worshiping God through sharing my talents.  It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone else needs my talents, God gave them to me to share.  And regardless of how the the choir may or may not be changed by me being there, I know that I am fulfilling my duty to God by worshiping through song in gratitude that I have been given a voice to sing with.

It is the same reason we sing with the congregation when we attend church services.  We don’t sing to be heard of others, or to make the music sound better for others.  We sing because it is a glorious form of worship. Because we feel something when we sing or are a part of music.  Hymns sung in church are like a prayer spoken by everyone.  They fill us with the spirit and meaning through the words of the songs

Often through poignant beautiful music, will my heart becomes so full that it flows from my eyes in sweet joyful tears.  Beautiful music with a purposeful message can move me like few other things.  It speaks to my soul in a way that just plain words cannot reach.

Laura

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I struggle. That’s life right? Some days my very being is so filled with purpose and meaning I want to shout it on the roof tops and share it with everyone around me. And then there are darker days. Days you question yourself and your abilities. Days you wonder how you will manage the struggles of daily life.

I am learning to accept this as life. Not every day can be filled with overwhelming joy, wouldn’t that be fantastic though? The struggles bring me to the feet of my Savior. It’s in the midst of struggle I plead for and find peace in my Saviors love.

This last week was rough. All eight of us got sick. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to keep a positive attitude when you just don’t feel well.

But I was so grateful for a little reprieve in the middle of the week. I was able to make the trip to the temple. As I looked to my right and saw the steeple coming closer I felt peace rush over my body. I knew He was waiting to fill my heart with comfort and guidance.

From the moment I entered I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. Chaos will be aplenty in my life. That’s the nature of a large family. The opposite of that was felt as I sat in the temple and wondered upon the purpose of my creation. I was able to slow down and just be in that moment.

This scripture was brought to my mind.

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

2 Nephi 2:23-25

 

If men are that they might have joy and joy can only come from knowing misery then…men are that they might have misery so that they might have joy.

That was mind blowing for me. Suffering and trials are essential to really truly feel joy.

When I was a newer mom I would get rather depressed when life felt very not joyful. I wanted to be optimistic and I wanted to feel joy but hard times came and days sometimes felt so long.

With some experience I have learned that a bad moment is really just a moment. Hope is always around the corner. A rough moment does not equate to a rough day or week or month or year, even thou sometimes that is also true. More often then not it truly is just a moment.

Today brings with it a new week and new hope for greater joy. Laura and I are attending the build your blog conference this weekend and we are hopeful to learn how to share our message with more people. To give to others a glimmer of hope and joy and purpose as we are striving to find it in our own lives.

As I pulled up to the temple Hilary Weeks song Find Me came on. I felt the words tell me that our Savior is waiting to “find us” we simply need to take the time to let Him.

Hilary Weeks – Find Me Lyrics
I tucked the pain away
So deep no one else could see it.
I guess I believed if I buried it
I wouldn’t have to feel it.
I tried to run.
I tried to hide.
But the shadow seemed to follow me.
Lord, won’t you please

Find me in my hidden places.
Come find me even where the shadows hide.
Strike a match, bring a torch.
Illuminate this deep divide and
Find me

I tried a hundred times
To find my way out of the darkness
But every road I took
Was leading me right back to where I started.
A place too deep
Somewhere too far.
I’m in desperate need of rescuing.
Lord, won’t you please

Find me in my hidden places.
Come find me even where the shadows hide.
Strike a match, bring a torch.
Illuminate this deep divide and
Find me

Find me in my hidden places.
Come find me even where the shadows hide.
Strike a match, bring a torch.
Illuminate this deep divide and
Find me

Susan

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tender-merciesThis week it was my youngest son, Zach’s, turn to teach a family home evening lesson.  (Family Home Evening is a weekly family meeting where we discuss family business and often have a lesson of faith.) He pulled out an Ensign magazine and taught us from one of the articles. Found here.

I’m don’t think he realized at the time, that this was such a poignant lesson to teach in our family.   The author wrote of his battles with anxiety and depression.  He spoke of feeling lost in darkness and despair, and through prayer was able to be lifted out of hopelessness if only until the next prayer.

He then spoke of reading about the account of the Jaredites crossing the “great deep”  (found in Ether 6 in the Book or Mormon.)   I have often thought about how difficult that journey must have been, almost a full year stuck in barges with no windows, being tossed about in the ocean.  They must have felt great fear and often sea sickness.  To say that it wasn’t a pleasant voyage would be an understatement.  But as I read this article with my son, something hit me differently this time.

The people who got into these barges, must have been people of great faith.  To climb into a barge, with no windows and no way of steering or controlling your own destiny must have take a great deal of trust in their leaders and faith that the Lord would truly carry them to the promised land.  Once they got in and the doors were closed, there was no going back.  You couldn’t get a month into the journey and cry “I didn’t know it was going to be like this… take me back.”  They put their lives, quite literally, into the Lords hands.

What happened on their journey is what I found interesting.

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

Therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.  (Ether 6:5-7)

Even though they had great enough faith to get into those barges and travel to the promised land, they still had moments of fear and anxiety.  But the Lord having compassion on them, would bring them up to the top of the waters when they were in greatest need.  However He couldn’t take away the trial all together, because they hadn’t gotten to where they needed to be yet.

The reason this had meaning to me, is that I feel it is a metaphor for so many of the things that we go through in life.  There are many decisions that I have made with the help of the Lord, but I later got scared, and went back to question Him again.  “Is this really what you want me to do?”  I needed further confirmation.  I worry that the Lord will be angry with me for not being more faithful and trust or remember the first confirmation that He gave me.  But He has always been gentle with me.  Giving me just a little more guidance and a few tender mercies to keep me going in the right direction.

I feel like I am on the other end of a particular important voyage that He led me on right now.  It is such a blessing now to be able to look back at my struggles and see how each thing that scared me and I prayed that He might take away from my life, strengthened me, and was actually for my benefit.  He blessed me to endure many hardships, but I had to travel through them.  I couldn’t just escape.

As for the man who wrote the article above, He saw that “the wind and waves” that pushed the Jaredites to the promised land were necessary, and as scary and difficult as it was for the people to deal with, it was ultimately the blessing that they needed.

We often can’t see the ending of the journey that we are called on to endure.  When we are in the middle of a trial, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, there can be times when we feel like the Jaredites, “buried in the depths of the sea,” not being able to see how we can get out by ourselves, we can follow the advice of Elder Jeffrey R Holland.

Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. …

Remember that the Lord is always with us, even if He can’t take the trial away from us completely, He can send His spirit to be with us, and help bring us up for air, giving us strength to get through the trial.

 Laura

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Before we moved to Arizona I was told that my kids had to start on travel/competitive sports teams by 5th grade otherwise they wouldn’t have a shot in high school. It was even suggested to me that I get private coaching.

Being that I am slightly competitive by nature I bought into this, at first. My daughter Sarah loved basketball and so we ended up putting her on two different teams, at once. And Jared was getting one on one coaching with the hopes that it wasn’t to late for him and that he would still be able to make the team.

Then add in the importance of piano. I grew up with music and so did Ryan. We have to make sure they learn to love it. It’s in their blood.

Life was a little crazy there for awhile. Not only was it expensive but it was taking time away from our family time. How do you do dinner time when 5 of your 6 kids have basketball, games and practices? How do you have time for games and fun and laughter when your free time is now filled with piano practice and homework in between lessons and games? How do you have quiet time together to reflect on the day and discuss weightier matters? We didn’t.

When we moved here less then I year ago I made a decision to take some time off from all the extras. The high schoolers still have their sports, but not extra teams. And the little ones haven’t joined anything.

How do I feel about that? At first I was torn. I wanted them to have all these great experiences and be able to thrive with whatever they love. But I also really enjoy being able to ride bikes with them. Or play Skip-Bo (it’s the current favorite)

But most importantly I love being able to sit down and have dinner together. Listen to them tell us about their day. The good and bad. And to have time to counsel together. Talk about the goodness of God and their worries. That is just so hard to do when you are never home.

Today I came across this quote by Richard G Scott (you can find it here)

As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give a son or daughter is to consistently nurture a growing testimony of truth, patiently nurturing each child’s spiritual capacity.

It confirmed the feelings I had been having. My kids may never be the star player or a concert pianist. But I hope they will develop a deep relationship with their Father above. I hope I can give them that gift. They may be average players but once they develop that relationship I pray they will understand where their true worth comes from.

For when we give way to expectations from the world, when we allow time in our lives for quiet contemplation, that is when we will discover who we were really meant to be. And where the world may see the average we will see the divine.

With all my capacity I encourage you to discover who you really are. I invite you to look beyond the daily routine of life. I urge you to discern through the Spirit your divinely given capacities. I exhort you to prayerfully make worthy choices that will lead you to realize your full potential.

SUSAN

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Fear-vs-Love

 

As I work through some annoying and difficult anxiety, that is keeping me from sleeping well, I have had to look rather closely at what is really going on with me.
I’ve been told that anxiety has a purpose and is actually good, because it is our bodies way of letting us know that something needs to be done.

For me the anxiety wakes me too early in the morning, worrying about things that need to be done. I hate this. I really don’t think this is the best way to operate.

It seems to me that there are two ways to be motivated to take action on life. Love or fear.

The first is to be motivated by fear. I think this is what causes the anxiety. I work hard at my job because I fear letting someone down. I rush off to work to be on time because I fear getting fired. I nag the kids to do homework because I fear their getting bad grades. Being motivated by fear is inviting this anxiety to be a part of my life.

I have carried this tension in my shoulders for years. I’ve been seeing chiropractors, and massages therapists to help me deal with it. My chiropractor tells me I have degeneration in my neck. He promised we could fix the problem, but after months of work, I don’t feel like I’m really getting better.

I’ve had people I care about suggest to me that I carry too much stress with me, and if I could reduce my stress I could begin to feel better.

Because of this I’ve also been seeing a psychotherapist. I think I may finally be figuring this thing out. I won’t get into too much detail, but I have concluded that I live my life in a state of fear. The pain and tension in my neck and shoulders is my way of always being on guard.

I have to decide if there is really something to be afraid of in my life. I have to decide who will be my motivator.

When I’m deciding which activities I will do each day, will it be out of fear (afraid of what will happen if I don’t accomplish something) or out of love (taking care of my responsibilities because I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my family, the people I work for and a beautiful home I live in.)

The thing is, that the activities I do are the exact same. Nothing much will change, except my attitude.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

I want to change the way I live my life. I want to live by love. I want to feel empowered by love. I want to feel of a sound mind because of love.

I certainly should be able to. I am so fortunate to love the work I do. I’m married to a wonderful man. I have amazing awesome kids. I want to give them what I can out of love for them and a desire to teach and care for, in a way that I can feel good about.

I’m saying good bye to the fear motivator in my life.  He may try to come back and visit sometime but I will politely let him know, that he is no longer needed in my life.

I will have faith in God, and live in gratitude and love for all the blessings he gives me, and I invite you to do the same.

Love, Laura

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When I was a young mom with only two kids I had a dear friend who was maybe ten years older and had 5 kids. Her youngest was the same age as Sarah.

During a casual conversation one day she started to tell me that she felt her mission was to be a homeschooling mom. I just didn’t understand what she meant. I was perfectly content to just be a mom why did I need anything beyond that. It wasn’t tell years later that I realized that was my mission. To be the best mom I could be. I had known that but I let myself get confused with the ideas of those around me. I let her mission distract from my own.

Now as my kids are getting older I feel my mission shifting. Not so much changing just being added upon. In each season of life I have tried to fulfill the measure of my creation in each season of life.

When my babies were all small I rocked them and sang to them and read to them. All of my time was devoted to them. Late nights were spent feeding and loving on them.

As they got into school we spent time learning and enjoying school projects. While still snuggling babies at home.

Then came sports and scouts and activity days for church. Conversations became deeper while we worked side by side doing dishes or while driving to and from their many activities.

Now they are all in school and I have time every single school day to myself. Over the last six months I have been pondering again on what my mission is. How do I fulfill all that God wants me to fulfill? What do I have to offer that is in line with my purpose?

I feel the Lord trying to teach me and guide me and make me into more then I would settle for. Like I wrote in my post last week about the mansion. I feel myself being stretched and at times it is uncomfortable.

Here is what I am learning as I strive to understand my mission.

1. I don’t know what the future holds and the more I except that the happier I am. For when I truly embrace this fact I put my trust in the one who does know. I let go of my way and let God guide my path.

2. The Lords way is always better then my own. Always. Why is this so hard to remember at times? When I willingly obey I am filled with peace and a degree of growth I am so grateful for.

3. The scriptures truly are the words of God for us. I have finally come to learn this for myself. It’s only taken most of my life, I can be a slow learner but I’m beginning to understand. When I go to His words with a question or concern I have felt Him answer me.

4. We each have a divine purpose that is unique to us.

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When the skies are full of clouds and the sun is hiding it can be difficult to feel the warmth. But have you ever watched the sun emerge? Have you felt the hope and excitement when you realize you are like that sun? That’s what it’s like when you begin to recognize who you are.

Many years ago when someone I loved was struggling to find their purpose I could see in my minds eye a valuable analogy. I remember picturing him laying down next to a stone wall. On the other side of that wall was beauty and abundance beyond compare and more then one could hope for. The problem was he couldn’t see it. All he could see was the barrenness on his side of the wall.

If he sat up he could see the tops of trees and beautiful buildings but just barely. When he kneeled there was a crack in the wall that let him glimpse even more of the treasure waiting for him.

But when he stood the view was breathtaking. It require work to climb the wall but with the view in sight the challenge felt easy because now, he could see what all the work was for.

I feel I am right on the verge of standing up. I’m kneeling and I can get glimpses of what I am meant to do at this stage in my life.

SUSAN

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