Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Blessings Come Incognito

I was visiting recently with a friend who asked why she was faced with so many challenges, and if perhaps God had abandoned her. It is true she has a lot of difficulties. She has gone though a nasty divorce, has struggles with her children and deals daily with severe physical limitations.

However, I have seen God's hand so often in the small details of my life, I know God will never abandon us during our biggest trials. And so I wondered how often our blessings might come incognito. They are there, we just aren't seeing them.

In thinking about this, the two following stories came to my mind:

When Lehi and his family (from the Book of Mormon) were told to leave Jerusalem in search of a promised land or be destroyed, they all left behind their riches and their comforts of home and headed off into the desert--where they lived for eight years.

Truthfully, camping one night for me is torture. Living for eight years wandering in the desert, sleeping in tents, being deprived of hot running water and eating raw meat (1 Ne 17:2) would be a HUGE trial! I totally get why Laman and Lemuel murmured!

Yet Nephi writes, "So great were the blessings of the Lord upon us . . . " In the midst of his affliction, he found the blessings. They may have been hidden (after all his brothers never found them) but they were there. They were strengthened, fed and guided by the Lord all through their journey. Their trials were numerous, as Lehi often referred to this time as the "wilderness of my affliction" but still, the Lord was there.

Never at any time were they abandoned, although there were times when some of them abandoned God.

Another story I have always gotten a chuckle from is the story of Elijah. He calls down a famine upon the people and then is told by the Lord to hide himself by a brook where he could obtain water and the Lord would provide the rest of his food.

So, then how did the prophet of the Lord eat? Did he eat off the "fat of the land" or in the style to which he was accustomed? No, he ate bread and meat delivered by the ravens morning and night. So I looked up what ravens would be most likely to bring and this is what I found.

"Most ravens eat the dead bodies of other animals. Ravens generally eat some fruit, berries and grains when they are available. They will eat any small animals, small birds and small reptiles that they can find. Ravens even eat maggots and animal poo. Ravens eat anything that is easy to catch!"

I am not sure if this is the type of food Elijah received or if the birds brought him something a bit more palatable, but the idea of living alone in the desert, eating road kill, once again does not sound like a blessing to me.

Yet, just like Nephi, Elijah was guided, nourished and protected until the Lord saw fit to send him elsewhere.

I wonder if perhaps we have the wrong idea about life. I know there are times when I think living the commandments entitles me immediately to the blessings I desire--a roof over my head, food to eat, health, and a happy family life. Yet, that is so often not the case for many righteous people. And when our worlds seem to fall apart, our health or families fail us, we cry out wondering why this has happened to us, and why God does not bless us with those things we deserve.

Raw meat and raven deliveries might not at first seem like great blessings for Nephi and Elijah as well, but they both were. Elijah would have starved with out the food the ravens brought and Nephi and his family were probably being protected by unsavory travelers who might have seen the smoke from the fire they used to cook their meat.

And so I have come to believe that during our darkest days, God will always nourish, strengthen and guide. We may just have to look a little harder to notice it.

And that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slithering Serpents! Oh my!

In the past couple weeks we have found four snakes in our house. Make that FOUR snakes!! They are little and harmless, but did I mention they are SNAKES!!

I hate snakes. With. A. Passion.

When I saw the first one, the sister missionaries were standing behind me (they live with us). I looked at them hoping one would step up and volunteer to be the murderer, but they both backed away. So I took a broom and said, "Don't worry sisters! I will protect you!" Then I beat the thing to death, while my ferocious guard dog hid behind the sister's legs.

A few days later, Michelle and I saw another snake in the exact same place!! A resurrection? I think not. We decided it was best not to tell the sisters. But then they came and told me they had killed a snake earlier that day.

So it was time to turn to the man of the house for protection. And he said, "Oh, I found one too. It was upstairs." Upstairs!! That is where I sleep!

Not a good thing to hear. Especially since the other three were all found downstairs by the back door. So if his snake entered the same way, it had to cross the entire house and climb the stairs.

How many more are in here?

I am pretty sure this qualifies as a plague.

I told my husband that he was the man of the house, that he needed to step up and kill these snakes for me. But he was not nearly as concerned as I was. He didn't see why I was upset over a few snakes and didn't think there was anything he could do about it.

So I called my neighbor. He is coming over on Monday to set some sticky traps.

And hopefully we will soon have an end to our slithering serpent plague!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am a little behind everyone else in posting about conference weekend but as they say . . . better late than never, right?

First off I LOVED conference. I think I was touched by many of the same talks and quotes that others were. I really enjoyed Sister Dalton's talk, although it made me cry for all the young women who don't have a worthy father at home to love their mother and show them the way.

I also loved Elder Cook's talk about President Monson telling him it is better to look up. And Elder Callister's talk on the Book of Mormon was superb. I was also very touched by Elder Hales talk on trials and tribulations as he was trying to comfort others who were suffering as he is. Ahhh so many good things. So much to study and ponder in the next six months.

In addition to conference, however, my weekend was brightened and made special by three events.

1. The first was being able to spend time with my mother who is not doing very well, and all four of my daughters. We sent the men off to priesthood meeting and then stayed home and ate yummy food, watched a movie, made cinnamon rolls for Sunday morning and visited. My sister Becky came over as well with her four youngest children. What a sweet night that was.

Left to Right
My two SIL, my husband, nephew, brother and father

All the girls hanging out on the bed with Grandma (my mother)

2. Next I was thrilled and touched by the enthusiasm my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter has for the temple. Carly truly believes she is a princess and deserves to be married in a castle. But her mother explained that the best place for any princess to marry is in the temple and so Carly was so excited to see a real, live temple right outside my parent's front door!!

Don't you just love all the flowers!!
We went to the Salt Lake Temple grounds as well and were overwhelmed by the beautiful colors!

A close up
Between sessions on Sunday we took her up to walk around the grounds. She was very disappointed it was not open so she could go inside, but she still found joy in roaming the walk ways and telling us about how she was going to get married there. We asked who she would marry and she said, "I don't know, but he is my friend." Later when Wes pointed out to Carly the statue of the Angel Moroni, she said she would marry him. At least she has good taste in men.:-)

I tried to get her to let me take her picture but she said, "I can't. I have to spin." We laughed at that. Imagine giving that answer next time someone asks you to do something.

And third--the very best of all was being able to be there when my wonderful, sweet, handsome son in law gave his new little son a name and a blessing. In the circle was little Camden's father, grandfather and great grandfather-- three generations of faithful priesthood holders, all coming together to bless this new little boy. And my favorite part of the blessing was hearing Dave bless Camden to serve a mission and be married in the temple. How I look forward to the day this boy will continue the tradition of faithful missionary service and help bring others to the gospel in some part of the world.

Just before the blessing (which was given at my parent's house)
I appreciate they were willing to go there since there is no way my parents could travel to Colorado.

And a close up of our little man.

So for the grandmother in me this weekend was special, for the mother in me it was joyful, and for the daughter in me, it was tender.

How blessed I am to be surrounded by such honorable sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Just that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.