Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thoughts at Christmastime 2011....

At this time of year I seem to do a lot of reflecting on what the season really means to me.  So many people try to change Christmas traditions and make bold statements about why the change is warranted.  One of these things is the abolition of gifts.  So many people I know have decided to not give out gifts at Christmastime.

When this trend first started to gain popularity, I was understanding.  'Of course it's hard to buy gifts for all of those people!'   'Of course you should only give gifts to the children- Christmas is all about them anyway.'  And, I let it ride....for a while....slowly realizing that I was becoming selfish.  I was buying into the idea that I shouldn't give gifts to people unless they were really important, closely related, or they were going to give me one.  How wrong I was!

You see, the less I gave, the unhappier I was becoming.  Christmastime was losing it's luster.  In fact, I was losing the spirit of Christmas!

The most joyful part of Christmas is the GIVING.  It has nothing to do with receiving or buying.  A gift is a "gift" because of the love behind it, no matter how simple or small.  The joy I feel when giving a gift to someone I love, cannot be replicated.  I can bake a cookie with so much excitement and put all of the love I feel for that person into it.  That is my gift.  My love.

I have stopped worrying about whether or not my gifts will be "good enough" or appreciated.  It no longer matters to me.  My gift will be given freely without expectations.  I do not seek for gratitude or a gift in return.  I can only hope that the receiver of my gift will feel my love.  For that is the real gift I bring, just wrapped in pretty paper.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comfort From a Friend....

Today, Eric left this life.  He fought hard for 16 days.  We will all miss him so much.

A dear friend, Tammy Ravsten, sent me some words of comfort and they are so moving, I had to share them with everyone:

This is also a time that reminds us with keen awareness------ who we are missing....
It has been helpful for me to remember the connections I've felt with loved ones,
and to review the reassuring words of the prophets regarding our ongoing bond with loved ones who have passed on.
Perhaps sharing some of these quotes might be beneficial for you as well:

From Joseph Fielding Smith:  “And may I say for the consolation of those who mourn, and for the comfort and guidance of all of us, that no righteous man is ever taken before his time. In the case of the faithful Saints, they are simply transferred to other fields of labor. The Lord’s work goes on in this life, in the world of spirits, and in the kingdoms of glory where men go after their resurrection."      Funeral Sermon for Elder Richard L. Evans  November 4, 1971
See the full Funeral talk at:

In a funeral sermon, Joseph Smith declared that the spirits of righteous people who have died “are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions….” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.326).

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The spirit world is not far away. From the Lord’s point of view, it is all one great program on both sides of the veil. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. This I know! Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.” (Conference Report, April 1971, p.18; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 33; see also President Ezra Taft Benson’s book Come unto Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983), pp. 117–26)

“God lives and his eyes are over us. And his angels are round about us and they are more interested in us than we are in ourselves. Ten thousand times, but we do not know it.” –President John Taylor (quoted by John Bytheway in his book: When Times Are Tough)

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike--and they will, you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed.”–Elder Jeffrey Holland ("For Times of Trouble,"New Era,Oct.1980,p.15)

As we know, it was through Joseph Smith that God revealed the truth that the family may endure beyond the grave—that the sympathies, affections, and love for each other may exist forever. One of the early Apostles of this dispensation, Elder Parley P. Pratt, wrote:
“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter."
“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity. …"
“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind MINISTERING ANGEL, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.”
“Yet, at that time, …Joseph Smith, had barely touched a single key; had merely lifted a corner of the veil and given me a single glance into eternity.”
(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968, chapter 36, pp. 297–98, emphasis added)

This discussion with Joseph Smith took place around 1839. In 1837, Parley had lost the wife of his youth,Thankful Halsey, who died shortly after the birth of their son.   Her death, at the age of forty, brought over­whelming grief to Parley, which he found no words to express. Later, at one point, she came to him in a dream with a message and comfort from heaven.
During the hours of sleep there is a serenity in which a person is without interruptions. Parley P. Pratt reasoned that this was a most receptive time for communication from departed loved ones / our 'guardian angels', who could communicate to us through the medium of dreams. He wrote:

“In this situation, we frequently hold communication with our departed father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter; or with the former husband or wife of our bosom, whose affection for us, being rooted and grounded in the eternal elements, or issuing from under the sanctuary of love's eternal fountain, can never be lessened or diminished by death, distance of space, or length of years.
… With what tenderness of love, with what solicitude of affection will they watch over our slumbers, hang about our pillow, and seek to communicate with our spirits, to warn us of dangers or temptation, to comfort and soothe our sorrow, or to ward off the ills which might befall us, or perchance to give us some kind token of remembrance or undying love!
…O what a comfort it is, in this dreary world, to be loved and cared for by all-powerful, warm-hearted, and lovely friends!”
(Parley P. Pratt, Key to Theology, see pages 120-124)

President Joseph F. Smith said our deceased loved ones are greatly concerned about our well-being and happiness; he suggested that it is possible that our departed loved ones may be sent to help us who yet live on earth. “Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their friends and relatives upon the earth again, bringing from the divine presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof or instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.” (See Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 436)

"The veil which separates us from the Spirit world sometimes seems very thin to us...however, surely those who have passed beyond, can see more clearly through the veil back here to us...I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly beings....We are close to our kindred...I claim we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous of our welfare, they love us now more than ever."
(Joseph F. Smith - Gospel Doctrine, p. 429)

                                        *                   *                 *
“All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided
you continue faithful.   By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it…..
we have a knowledge that those we bury here God will bring up again,
clothed upon and quickened by the Spirit of the great God; and what
mattereth it whether we lay them down, or we lay down with them when
we can keep them no longer?   Let these truths sink down in our hearts,
that we may even here begin to enjoy that which shall be in full hereafter.”
“But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death
 is swallowed up in Christ.”                                                                  Mosiah 16:8                                   Teachings (P. 295)            President Joseph Smith, Jr.  (1805-1844)

Those bound to us on the other side, are very interested in our well being and probably better able to help and influence us than they could do while with us in mortality. 
Go to the temple. The promises we receive there are so reassuring—particularly highlighted this time was the POWER to come forth in the resurrection…! And until that glorious day, they [as well as other loved ones who have passed on] may be near to us -   especially within the sacred space of the temple. (Since it serves as a portal between the worlds, a place where heaven and earth come together, many people say that they feel closest to their dear ones on the other side of the veil while in the temple.) When there, our souls feel knit together in love; we feel warmed, uplifted, peaceful; everything feels all right!

"Where is heaven?” asked President Thomas S. Monson, then answering said, “it's not very far when you're in the temple... it's right where you are."
May you all feel the heavenly presence and caress!

"Those we love don't go away.
They walk beside us everyday
Unseen, unheard always near.
Still loved, still missed and very dear."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Nephew, Eric....

This is my nephew, Eric.  He has been in the ICU for the past 12 days.  We are extremely worried about him.  He had surgery yesterday to try to clean out some of the infection in his body, but he will need more surgeries before he can get better.  Please, if you are looking for something meaningful to pray about, pray for him.  He needs so much strength right now.  We love him very much and he still has a lot of life yet to live.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Back...

So, I have been MIA for over a year now, and I am finally ready to start posting again.  

This past year has been wonderful, difficult, and quite a learning experience.

I over-extended myself beyond what I was capable of and it came back to bite me.  But, I have learned to prioritize and also endure harsh criticism.  I feel like I have grown.

There are so many lessons I am meant to learn and the funny thing is not even knowing I need to learn them.  I am amazed when a situation arises out of obscurity, completely blindsides me, causes heartbreak, and then miraculously teaches me.  My eyes have been opened to so much.  I feel that I can see more clearly and I am more open to empathy. 

I have lost faith and trust in people that I thought I couldn't live without, and I survived.  Almost unbearable pain, sleepless nights crying alone in the dark, hopelessness, loneliness, and grief, gave way to a new kind of happiness.  I learned to turn inward, trust my husband and kids more.  I finally learned that my little family is enough.  And, they are glorious.  And I am grateful.

Starting this blog again, I feel like a new person.  I don't know how it will turn out, but it will be real.  Take me as I am.