Thursday, January 22, 2015

a confession and not the "bread" I expected

Okay, I have a confession to make.  
But first a little background.

Last June when I was called to be a primary worker I was bummed.  
I'll admit it.
Especially when I found out that I wasn't even going to be teaching my own son's class.

I was bummed because the bishopric counselor mentioned to me that my name was submitted by the YW organization at the same time but that they felt I should go into the primary.  

I had just left "primary mode" 12 months before and I was super disappointed that instead of being given the chance to work with my girls and go to fun firesides and midweek activities, I would be waiting on the couch for them for an hour and half  every Wednesday night.

Let me be clear.

I firmly believe you serve where you are asked to serve.  
And you should do it to the best of your ability. 
 And I do. 
 I just was sad at an opportunity missed.

I might have even been a little resentful, if I'm being honest.  I spent 17 years working in YW.  That is, until I had a YW of my own.  Then it was 8 years of callings that kept requiring me to be gone when my family was home.  That was hard for me.  Hardest yet, was last year when I was gone three nights a week for trek meetings and the whole time I knew that it was Tanner's last year living at home before his mission.  I longed to be home with him more than my responsibilities were allowing me.

That is the confession part. 

Here goes the bread part.

As I prayed for confirmation that this was where I was supposed to be, I feel like I got an answer that surprised me.

Heavenly Father was giving me a breather.

He knew I needed it before I did.

I have been running all cylinders for so long now, I didn't realize how burned out and tired I was.

It was a gift.  a well-deserved gift.

And the kids are so stinkin' cute.  And who can really argue with a calling where you only have to spend about an hour a week preparing and you constantly get told how much they love you.

I was reminded of some scripture verses from the Old Testament that are favorites of mine and that I have mentioned here on this blog before.  

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
“Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11–13.)
This scripture acknowledges our Heavenly Father’s desire to give is the gift we need, not necessarily the gift we want.  Many times in our lives, we might look to the gift (or calling or situation) that God is giving us and think of it as a stone—when what we are actually receiving is bread unrecognized. These scriptures tell us that our Heavenly Father loves us and would never give us stone. Yet because of our imperfect understanding, we may perceive the bread he offers us—perhaps his most nourishing and filling—as cold stone. 
Now, I recognize my assignment to teach CTR 7 for what it is, a gift. 
Bread from my Father.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

latter day loaves and fishes

Here is a perfect example of latter day loaves and fishes from the life of my dear friend, Victoria.  She shared this experience in institute last year and we were all touched by it.  

The principle of tithing is one that I have a deep testimony of: it's one of the few commandments which we can claim perfection while on this earth; you are either perfect at paying your  tithing or you're not, there is no gray area. Tithing allows us to not only show our gratitude to our Father in Heaven for all that we are and all that we have, but it forces us to admit that we are not self sufficient;  we need His help in our daily lives.

In late 1974, my family and I were living in Argentina. My parents were baptized in June 1972 and a little over 2 years later, my father was called as one of the first bishops in our city. Only one of the families in our ward had been through the temple to receive their endowments and be sealed, so my dad had challenged the ward to set a goal for all of the families to attend the temple. The closest temple at that time was in Los Angeles, California. Wanting to lead by example, our family set a goal to travel to the United States to be sealed, and my parents drew up a plan by which we would save the
money to be able to make the expensive trip.

The money was saved, funds were turned over to a travel agent to purchase our airline tickets, and a reservation was made for late in March, 1975 at the LA temple to be sealed together. A few months later, my father arrived at the travel agent's office to pick up our tickets so that we could then
go to the United States Embassy to receive visitor visas which would enable us to enter and travel within the United States. Once he got there, he was informed that the person who had taken his order had in fact not purchased the tickets, but had instead absconded with all of our money.

My parents went home in a state of panic; there was not enough time to save all of that money
again and be able to meet the assigned time that we had been given at the temple. Reservations for the temple back then required doing so by mail, and mail delivery sometimes would take more than 2 weeks one way if they were delivered at all. My mom then stated that we needed to get on our knees and plead to our Father in Heaven for His assistance. My mom told us that they were diligent, full-tithe payers and we needed to have faith in the promises that are found in the book of Malachi. So as a family, we began to pray.

A few weeks later, an envelope arrived in our mailbox: it was a letter postmarked from Salt Lake City.  In it, there was an invitation from the First Presidency inviting our family to attend the April 1975 General Conference (since my dad was a bishop), along with tickets for the sessions and funds to purchase airline tickets to travel to the United States.

We were blessed way more than what my parents lost in airline tickets; that is what Malachi's promise is all about. Not only was our blessing a monetary one, but it strengthened our faith that with God, nothing is impossible.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Loaves, Fishes, and Missionary Meals

I really loved the institute lesson this morning.   
We talked about 1 Kings 17.  It's a story that most might find familiar.  
Elijah, the prophet, has gone into hiding.  His life is in danger as he has spoken out against Ahab, the king.  He survives in the desert for quite some time but is eventually directed by God to travel to Zarephath where he will find a widow who has been instructed to sustain him.  When he finds her, he calls to her and says:

10.  Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.   11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.   12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.   13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.   14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.   15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.   16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
As we read this today. I immediately thought of the loaves and fishes story from the New Testament.  Jesus had been teaching a huge crowd  (5000 to be exact).  They were hungry, very hungry.  Christ sensed their hunger but also knew they were reluctant to leave him as they desired to continue to be taught by Him.  In mercy, he inquired through His apostles who among the crowd might have food.  All the food that could be found among the entire gathering belonged to a young boy.  He had five loaves of bread and two fish.  Christ takes the young man's offering and through his intervention, 5000 are fed.  
At the conclusion of today's lesson, a humble sister in the back of the chapel raised her hand.  She shared an experience.  Her pantry was also bare on a particular occasion, she had very little food in the home and no funds to go buy more.  She remembered that she had responsibility to feed the missionaries that night.  She worried about how she would find enough to feed these 2 guests as well as her own family but was reluctant to cancel and hoped it would work out some way.  She was emotional as she explained that after she fed those two young adult boys as well as her own family, she realized that the leftovers she had were more than what she had originally started with.  Much like the Widow of Zarephath, and the story of the loaves and fishes, she had miraculously been cared for as she exercised faith.

We all can probably look back on our lives and recognize our own "loaves and fishes" moments.
Some of us may have MANY.

I can think of so many times when the Lord has provided for us.  Sometimes it has been temporal, like these examples, but other times, he has taken my meager offering and made it substantial.  He has helped me forgive when I didn't think I had it in me.  He has compensated for me and stretched my abilities with church assignments.  He has given me the words to teach when I couldn't find them myself.  With his intervention it was enough.
All that we need, the Lord can provide.  We have to exercise faith FIRST.  Sometimes he might require that we give all that we have but eventually the miracle will come.  Just like the widow that fed Elijah,  we have to trust in Him.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

a beautiful day

Elder Argyle's latest music video here