Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The power of love

We traveled to the coast last week for one last family vacation before Jacob leaves on his mission.  As we drove over the mountain pass that is the last stretch before reaching the little town of Fort Bragg, I was reminded about how green and plush it becomes the closer you get to the coast.  On this particular drive, the change is dramatic.  You come up over a mountain pass and descend into a forest of pine trees.  The effects of the ocean moisture are almost immediate, and the side of the road is full of a great variety of plants.  The picture I am posting just shows a bit of how the plants go crazy along the coast.  It seems like just about anything can flourish by the coast (and does!)

More than once, the Spirit has gently taught me that love has this same effect on human life.  Almost anything can flourish (and will!) when living in an environment filled with love.  Sometimes I wonder what I can do to have the greatest effect on my children, and on the lives of those around me.  As I drove along the coast last week, looking at the abundance of plants and amazing flowers, I could almost hear a voice in my head say, "Love your children. Love your husband. Love others. "

This reminds me of my favorite quote from the book Les Miserables. It comes at the end when Jean Valjean is saying goodbye.  He tells Marius and Cosette, " Love each other dearly always.  There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another."

That goes deep into my heart and I know it is true.  There is scarcely anything else in the world but to love one another.  Nothing else works long term but love.  Nothing else lasts.  Nothing else brings about true change.  Love involves patience, long suffering, gentleness, unselfishness, kindness, lots and lots of time, biting the tongue, giving the benefit of the doubt, mercy, humility, a sense of humor and not taking things too seriously.  It involves seeking the Holy Ghost for guidance as to how to act, rather than relying on self.

I loved driving along the coast remembering this.  I know this is how my Heavenly Father and my Savior treat me.  Oh, if I could just remember it when I am hungry or tired or hormonal or it's been a long day!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts on Missionary Work

Sorry for the long leave of anyone still out there?  I decided to try writing again because I love it and miss it.

My thoughts lately have been on missionary work.  Our son and daughter have both received mission calls to serve in France, leaving six weeks apart. (Katie France Paris Mission, Jacob France Lyon Mission) It has been so exciting to see them both make this choice, especially since that is where I served my mission. I have been excited right up until the last day or so when it became the actual month that Jacob leaves.  I started thinking about the sacrifice it will be to send off our son for two years.  And then our daughter.  And then another son.  And then probably a son or daughter every few years for a long time.  That thought makes me so sad, and I have wondered how I will be able to do it.  To be perfectly honest, I started to feel pretty sorry for myself over the whole situation.

So I had two thoughts yesterday that helped me to see things very differently.

First, I remembered that I am the product of missionaries.  I am the product of member missionaries inviting me to church and activities and into the lives of their families.  I am also the product of full-time missionaries and their great teaching and testimonies.  Everything that I have in my life, everything that is dear to me, I have because I chose to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints twenty-six years ago.  That is not an exaggeration.  I met my amazing husband at BYU.  Also, I served an LDS mission, which influenced decision-making for the rest of my life.  My life is so happy, full and wonderful.  I can share the blessings I have by allowing my kids to go find other people waiting to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There is certainly a need.

Second, I read this story.  It is from the LDS April 2013 General Conference, told by Elder Stanley G. Ellis in his talk "The Lord's Way".  This principle was a major paradigm shift for me.

For 16 years I served in the presidency of the Houston Texas North Stake. Many moved to our area during those years. We would often receive a phone call announcing someone moving in and asking which was the best ward. Only once in 16 years did I receive a call asking, “Which ward needs a good family? Where can we help?

In the early years of the Church, President Brigham Young and others would call members to go to a certain place to build up the Church there. The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go. Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more than 14 million of us where our family is needed? The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves.

I learned from this that I need to quit thinking of myself and instead think of others and their needs. I need to think of where we are needed rather than what I want or what it most comfortable for our family. President Monson has told us where he needs our help.  He has changed the age that missionaries can serve.  He needs our missionaries.  I can't personally go build up the church in France, or South America, or in the United States.  But I can send my children, who are willing and worthy to go.

So I feel buoyed up. There will be tears shed on June 26 when Jacob leaves, and more shed on August 7 when Katie leaves.  But I know that we are serving the Lord in the way we can right now. That knowledge strengthens my faith and gives me peace.