Thursday, July 16, 2015

Look to God and Live

This morning, I would like to greet and speak not only to the members of the Church but also to those not of our faith who may be participating in the radio or television audience. Thank you for joining with us on this beautiful fall morning.
Life in every era has had its troubles. Surely the Dark Ages were appropriately named, and not one of us is anxious to be transported back even to those later years of, say, the Hundred Years’ War or the Black Plague. No, we’re quite happy to have been born in a century of unprecedented material blessings and abundant living; yet in community after community, in small nations and large, we see individuals and families facing heightened anxiety and fear. It would seem that discouragement, depression, and despair are our contemporary “Black Plague.” Ours is, as Jesus said it would be, a time of distress with perplexity (see Luke 21:25).
We know that some of the world’s most painful suffering is done in silence, in the sorrow of a lonely life. But some of it has more violent expression. Millions around the world are, as one observer put it, “angry, armed and dangerous.” In too many cities, drive-by shootings are becoming as common as drive-through laundries, and too many youngsters are packing a gun to school the way they used to pack a lunch.
There is an increasing feeling that time is out of joint, that no one seems wise enough or strong enough to set it right. In many cases, governments are in office but not in power, community values and neighborhood pride are often superficial or nonexistent, and too frequently the home is an alarming failure.
Furthermore, many of the social and political medicines of our day regularly miss the mark, so those would-be physicians stand by the bedside of “feverish and delirious humanity—outwitted, discredited, dumbfounded … not knowing in which direction to seek delivered” (Charles Edward Jefferson, The Character of Jesus, Salt Lake City: Parliament Publishers, 1968, p. 17).
If I may be so bold this morning, may I suggest “direction for deliverance”? In words of one syllable, we need to turn to God. We need to reaffirm our faith, and we need to reassert our hope. Where necessary we need to repent, and certainly we need to pray. It is the absence of spiritual fidelity that has led us to moral disarray in the twilight of the twentieth century. We have sown the wind of religious skepticism, and we are reaping the whirlwind of existential despair.
Without our religious faith, without recognizing the reality and necessity of spiritual life, the world makes no sense, and a nonsense world is a place of horror. Only if the world has meaning at a spiritual level is it possible for human beings to keep going, to keep trying. As Hamlet so wisely implored, so should we: “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” (act 1, scene 4, line 39).
My testimony today is of the angels and ministers of grace who will always defend us if, as the prophet Alma commanded us, we “take care of … sacred things,” we “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). More prayer and humility, more faith and forgiveness, more repentance and revelation and reinforcement from heaven—these are where we seek remedy and deliverance for “feverish and delirious humanity” (The Character of Jesus,p. 17).
I testify this morning of God’s limitless love for his children, of his unquenchable desire to help us heal our wounds, individually and collectively. He is our Father, and Wordsworth wrote more than he knew when he said we came to earth “trailing clouds of glory … from God who is our home” (“Ode: Intimations ofImmortality”). But in far too many cases we find no modern belief in a Heavenly Father, and when there is a belief, it is too often an erroneous one. God is not dead, and he is not an absentee landlord. God is not uncaring, or capricious, or cantankerous. Above all, he is not some sort of divine referee trying to tag us off third base.
The first and great commandment on earth is for us to love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength (see D&C 59:5Matt. 22:37) because surely the first and great promise in heaven is that he will always love us that way.
So much of what so many think about God (if they think about him at all) must make him weep. In fact, we know it makes him weep. Could there be a more tender scene than this exchange recorded by Moses?
“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; …
“And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? … [How is it thou canst weep?]
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, … and … gave I unto man his agency; …
“And unto [them] have I … given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; …
“The whole heavens … weep over them … ; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these [who] suffer?” (Moses 7:28, 29, 32–33, 37).
Angels and ministers of grace to defend us? They are all about us, and their holy sovereign, the Father of us all, is divinely anxious to bless us this very moment. Mercy is his mission, and love is his only labor. John Donne said once: “We ask our daily bread, and God never says, ‘You should have come yesterday.’ … [No, he says,] ‘Today if you will hear [my] voice, today I will hear yours.’ … If thou hast been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damp and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, God yet comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, … but as the sun at [full] noon, to banish all shadows” (Collected Sermons).
Alma taught that truth to his son, Helaman, entreating him to put his trust in God. He said that God was “quick to hear the cries of his people, and [quick] to answer their prayers.” Out of very personal experience, Alma testified, “I have been supported [in] trials and troubles [and afflictions] of every kind, … God has delivered me. … I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me” (Alma 9:26Alma 36:27).
My witness this morning is that he will deliver all the rest of us, too, that he will deliver the entire human family, if we will but “take care of sacred things,” if we will “look to God and live.”
The greatest affirmation of that promise ever given in this world was the gift of God’s perfect and precious Firstborn Son, a gift given not in condemnation of the world, but to soothe and save and make the world secure: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; emphasis added).
Katie Lewis is my neighbor. Her father, Randy, is my bishop; her mother, Melanie, is a saint. And her older brother, Jimmie, is battling leukemia.
Sister Lewis recently recounted for me the unspeakable fear and grief that came to their family when Jimmie’s illness was diagnosed. She spoke of the tears and the waves of sorrow that any mother would experience with a prognosis as grim as Jimmie’s was. But like the faithful Latter-day Saints they are, the Lewises turned to God with urgency and with faith and with hope. They fasted and prayed, prayed and fasted. And they went again and again to the temple.
One day Sister Lewis came home from a temple session weary and worried, feeling the impact of so many days—and nights—of fear being held at bay only by monumental faith.
As she entered her home, four-year-old Katie ran up to her with love in her eyes and a crumpled sheaf of papers in her hand. Holding the papers out to her mother, she said enthusiastically, “Mommy, do you know what these are?”
Sister Lewis said frankly her first impulse was to deflect Katie’s zeal and say she didn’t feel like playing just then. But she thought of her children—all her children—and the possible regret of missed opportunities and little lives that pass too swiftly. So she smiled through her sorrow and said, “No, Katie. I don’t know what they are. Please tell me.”
“They are the scriptures,” Katie beamed back, “and do you know what they say?”
Sister Lewis stopped smiling, gazed deeply at this little child, knelt down to her level, and said, “Tell me, Katie. What do the scriptures say?”
“They say, ‘Trust Jesus.’” And then she was gone.
Sister Lewis said that as she stood back up, holding a fistful of her four-year-old’s scribbling, she felt near-tangible arms of peace encircle her weary soul and a divine stillness calm her troubled heart.
Katie Lewis, “angel and minister of grace,” I’m with you. In a world of some discouragement, sorrow, and overmuch sin, in times when fear and despair seem to prevail, when humanity is feverish with no worldly physicians in sight, I too say, “Trust Jesus.” Let him still the tempest and ride upon the storm. Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Specific Answers

Russell M. Nelson was called as the new president of the Quorum of the twelve apostles today.  This came following the passing of President Boyd. K. Packer.  I really love Elder Nelson and had the opportunity to speak with him at a Stake Conference one time.  I felt of his goodness when I shook his hand and recognized the authority with which he spoke when he shared his thoughts.  I remember being impressed that he spoke for the better part of an hour without any notes.  From the vantage point I had sitting behind him on the stand, I could see that he was orating straight from his heart and by inspiration.  Today in BOM365, a talk of his called, "Sweet Power of Prayer" was referenced and I really loved one of the stories he shared in that talk about an experience he had with prayer once.

Elder Nelson is also Dr. Nelson.  
(He was a well respected heart surgeon before he gave up his career to be an apostle.)

 Many of us have had experiences with the sweet power of prayer. One of mine was shared with a stake patriarch from southern Utah. I first met him in my medical office more than 40 years ago, during the early pioneering days of surgery of the heart. This saintly soul suffered much because of a failing heart. He pleaded for help, thinking that his condition resulted from a damaged but repairable valve in his heart.
Extensive evaluation revealed that he had two faulty valves. While one could be helped surgically, the other could not. Thus, an operation was not advised. He received this news with deep disappointment.
Subsequent visits ended with the same advice. Finally, in desperation, he spoke to me with considerable emotion: “Dr. Nelson, I have prayed for help and have been directed to you. The Lord will not reveal to me howto repair that second valve, but He can reveal it to you. Your mind is so prepared. If you will operate upon me, the Lord will make it known to you what to do. Please perform the operation that I need, and pray for the help that you need.” 21
His great faith had a profound effect upon me. How could I turn him away again? Following a fervent prayer together, I agreed to try. In preparing for that fateful day, I prayed over and over again, but still did not know what to do for his leaking tricuspid valve. Even as the operation commenced, 22 my assistant asked, “What are you going to do for that?”
I said, “I do not know.”
We began the operation. After relieving the obstruction of the first valve, 23 we exposed the second valve. We found it to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind:Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. “The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size.”
But how? We could not apply a belt as one would use to tighten the waist of oversized trousers. We could not squeeze with a strap as one would cinch a saddle on a horse. Then a picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective. I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, “It’s a miracle.”
I responded, “It’s an answer to prayer.”
The patient’s recovery was rapid and his relief gratifying. Not only was he helped in a marvelous way, but surgical help for other people with similar problems had become a possibility. I take no credit. Praise goes to this faithful patriarch and to God, who answered our prayers. This faithful man lived for many more years and has since gone to his eternal glory.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

San Antonio 2015

We headed down to Austin and then San Antonio to pick McKinley up from EFY and decided to spend a few days seeing the sights and making a mini-vacation out of it.  Reagan was happy that we started our road trip off with a breakfast stop at Cracker Barrel.  She like the mini-bottles of syrup.

 We enjoyed Kayaking in Austin.  I wish I had gotten a picture of us actually IN the kayaks but I had tucked my phone away to keep it from getting wet.  this was after we returned.  
 We toured the Capitol in Austin.  Reagan wanted a picture in front of the "Reagan building".
 I just have to say, the Texas state Capitol is absolutely beautiful.  My iphone doesn't do it justice.










 Then we were off to San Antonio.  First stop was Fiesta Texas.  Reagan grabbed a turkey leg for lunch.

 Had fun at the water park there as well.
 Toured the Alamo.

 And Ripley's believe it or not.   





 We wore this girl out.Can you tell? 
 On the way home, we had to stop in Waco and visit my favorite tv show's (Fixer upper) gift shop.  
  

 Such a fun week.  But man,it felt so good to sleep in my own bed last night.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five Things I Gave up to be a Happier Mom (guest post by Elyssa Andrus)

Great article here.

Enjoy.  :O)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sabbath Day Observance

Recently, our Stake President asked each of the families in our stake to re-evaluate our Sabbath day observance.  His comments stem from this talk here.  Immediately, I started thinking how I could encourage my family (and of course, myself) to clean up our Sabbath day observance.  We don't shop or swim or play sports on Sunday.  Our kids aren't involved in teams that practice or play on Sunday.  So for the most part, I thought we were doing pretty well.  But as I pondered this one Sunday, I realized how much time we sleep and watch tv and it made me think there was definitely room for improvement.  So instead of thinking of all the things we COULDN'T do, I have been trying to focus more on some of the appropriate things we COULD do.

This is our Sunday so far:
6:30am: Got up and showered, started getting ready for church.
(No breakfast, Fast Sunday)
Watched a Women's Conference talk from Julie B. Beck while we got ready.
Church 8:40 - 12.  (We try to get there early to practice with the choir and prepare ourselves for the sacrament.)
Came home
Reagan and I worked on decorating a care package for our missionary, Tanner.
Made dinner, ate and cleaned it up.
Worked on Personal Progress for about an hour with Reagan
Spent about an hour looking for Kiki's book.  :O(  Looks like she might have to start over. bummer.
Wrote an email to Tanner.
Wrote a couple of thank you notes.
Brent played board games with Brady.
McKinley packed for EFY.
blogged
Watched some Family History Videos on LDS.org.  (I really need to get going on that.)
Meal Plans for the week.
Read scripture passage assignment from BOM365.
Took Brutus for a walk.

Haven't turned the tv on once!  AND we haven't even taken naps yet.  Not that naps are bad.  I plan to take a short one right about ....now.

Happy Sabbath. :O)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June 2015 according to my iphone

Holy Cow!  We sure packed a lot into the month of June.
It started with the food drive our church was doing for the summer lunch program here in Prosper.
We collected peanut butter, jelly, bread, granola bars, chips, macaroni and cheese, fruit cups, and applesauce for 155 kiddos in our town that qualify for free and reduced lunch.  These kiddos get free lunches through the schools during the school year but often go hungry throughout the summer months when they are not in school.  Prosper Ladies Association and our three Prosper wards came to the rescue!  The food drive took over our dining room for a good month but I can't think of a better use for it.  


 We celebrated Memomie's birthday.  I think it was #86 but it is not polite to ask a lady's age.
 This cute little girl became an entrepreneur by starting a dog sitting business.  We advertised on facebook and she is dog sitting this very week for her 5th dog this week and just accepted another job for two more weeks.  She sure is good with animals. Brutus thinks so, can you tell?
 Jensen had a blast in Scotland, Ireland, and England in her study abroad program and she made some new friends.  



 PROSPER HIGH SCHOOL WON THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP.  We were able to go to a few of the playoff games.
 McKinley cheered at the the football spring preview with her squad.  Here is a picture with some of her cheer buddies.  Such sweet girls.




 How awesome is this gal?  A Honor roll and a cute smile to boot.
 My favorite missionary passed the 10 month mark.  Oh how I miss him and look forward to his emails every Monday.
And he decided (with his companion) to knock something off his bucket list: coloring his hair. 
Can't wait for it to grow out if I am being honest.




 And while we are on the subject of hair, this boy got a serious hair cut.  
Before:



After:





My favorite new t shirt in honor of the fact that we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary this month.

Brady like some Pie Five when we were out one day running errands. 

 Took these cute girls to Mooyah burger one night.

 Spent the day at Hawaiian Falls for some fun in the sun.
 Loved this quote one day that I stole off of Instagram.  Good reminder when I am feeling overwhelmed.
 The girls went to Young Women camp.  Kiki enjoyed cleaning the bathroom the first night she was there.   Or at least she faked it well.



 Took my Dad to dinner for Father's day.  Enjoyed a nice long visit with him.
 Brady went to twilight camp.  He likes hanging out with his best friend, Hunter.
 Took this huge group of kids to Six Flags one day.  




 And Brent got to hang out with one of his "besties" too. 
 McKinley went shopping and to dinner with her best gal pals, Hailey and Kennedy.

 Brady celebrated his 10th birthday.  He was less than thrilled that I made him wear this "bday boy" pin at church. 
 We had a small dinner party for his special day with the family.  Uncle Kyle and Uncle Tyler found our Nacho Libre costumes and gave us all a laugh.
 This girl helped when I had to go pick up 110 loaves of bread for the summer lunch program.

 And Brent got into the action too, serving bologna and cheese to the kiddos.

Whew!  That was our crazy June.  
Stay cool!