Z is for Zigzag

While we were on our mission in England we were constantly experiencing the Lord’s hand in our daily lives. This was often manifested in our scheduling of appointments wherein we relied on the Spirit to help us get to whomever we should be visiting and when. If we had a set appointment and happened to be running late, in the beginning we would stress and fret about it; but soon we learned that God was in charge and everything would work out for the best. When we didn’t have an appointment, we would see His hand in what we called Divine Rendezvous, where we would find ourselves in the right place at the right time to run across someone who needed our help or whom we were trying to visit and hadn’t had any success.

One day early on, we had an appointment with a women for a first visit.  We hadn’t realizing how far away it was from where we were, and the Garmin was messing us up again (the Garmin we learned, was a key component of Divine Rendezvous–its quirkiness and erroneous directions often was exactly what we needed to get on the right course). This time it took us down a country lane that went under the A11 and then instructed us to “get on the A11” when there was no on-ramp there. This forced us to meander through rural byways, zigzagging back to where we could get on the main road causing us to be 25 minutes late to our appointment. This was, of course, extremely stressful for someone who really likes to be on time for everything, but I kept thinking (and praying) that it would work out well in the end. I texted her that we were running 25 minutes late but I had no signal and it didn’t go through so I called and left a voice message. When we arrived she welcomed us in and didn’t say anything about our lateness. We had a great visit with her, and realized this was a family we needed to come back to on a regular basis.

When we got home and were able to access our messages again I saw that there was a text from her that she had sent out during our zigzag course through the countryside, cancelling our appointment. Because of no phone service, we didn’t get it in time, and had proceeded to the appointment anyway, albeit a bit late. I texted back saying I’d just seen her text cancelling and hoped we hadn’t inconvenienced her. She responded, “No, it’s fine…it actually worked out perfectly. I had been running late and knew I wouldn’t be back in time for our visit, but I arrived a few minutes before you did!”

I explained to her what a Divine Rendezvous is, and that our not getting her text combined with us running late was all part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us to meet. I testified to her that He is watching over her. We all just need to learn to trust in Him more perfectly and patiently.

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Faith comes not from a one in a million experience but a million and one every day actions.

Choose to believe, then miracles come.

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Y is for Yearn

Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

…Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!…
Just as Eliza R. Snow’s hymn O, My Father [See my O post] describes a truth about where we are going, William Wordsworth in his famous Ode articulates his feeling of where we have come from, before being born on earth.  Though found in the Bible (John 17:24, 1 Peter 1:20, Jeremiah 1:5) and in Sanskrit, (shout out to Yam!) this doctrine of the pre-existence of man is not widely taught. Yet is something many may feel and have come to believe on their own. It is another of those doctrines that rings true and makes sense.
There is a children’s song that says it best:
I lived in Heaven
  1. I lived in heaven a long time ago, it is true;
    Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.
    Then Heav’nly Father presented a beautiful plan,
    All about earth and eternal salvation for man.
    Words and music: Janeen Jacobs Brady, b. 1934

As I ponder on this truth, my spirit yearns to be reunited with my Heavenly Father and Mother, and my earthly family as well, who have gone before me. We are truly spiritual beings having a mortal experience.

 

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X is for Xtra strength

Matt is a young airman who joined the church while we were in England. He experienced several miracles in his conversion process, one of which I share here.  It was a few days after his baptism.  He had to do a test at work entailing difficult physical exertions for a promotion he was trying for. He tried to lift and carry a 100# hose and couldn’t budge it. He said a prayer for help and then was able to not only lift the hose, but carry it the requisite number of feet with ease to pass the test.

But physical strength is not all we can received from God’s help. Matt also received great spiritual strength when he needed it. He shared the following with me about two months after his baptism:

“Will [the LDS airman who befriended Matt and introduced him to the missionaries and the gospel] was my rock. When he was reassigned and left the area, I felt lost and wondered how I would go on. Could I be strong enough on my own? Then the sister missionaries invited me to teach them a lesson on the Priesthood. While I was preparing the lesson, I felt the Spirit, as strong as I had when I was around Will. Then I knew that I would be okay. I had been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I could be filled by that influence as I studied the Gospel and lived it myself. It was a great revelation to me to know that the Spirit was there for me.”

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Ordinance of Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost

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W is for Water on the Altar

We were trying to sell our home in Texas and move to Upstate New York where my parents and sister lived, and where we had already purchased an old farmhouse, build in the 1850s.

I was concerned that it may be hard to sell our house in Texas. The housing market for pre-owned homes there had dropped drastically. In our neighborhood alone there were at least 20 homes that had been on the market for months. As I was praying I told Heavenly Father about this worry and acknowledged that it would require His intervention to be able to sell our home. The thought then flashed into my mind about the story in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah demonstrated there is a God in Israel. He challenged the Priests of Baal to get their god to light the sacrificial fire. He gives them plenty of time to plead with Baal, but suggests Baal must be sleeping, as nothing happens. Then Elijah douses his altar with barrels of water three times, making it all the more miraculous when God did send down fire from Heaven, which fire not only consumed the offering, but also obliterated the priests of Baal and their altar. The message to me was that each house that goes on the market is another “barrel of water” on the altar and it would show just how miraculous it was when my house did sell.

That revelation to me was in July. By the following January, we still hadn’t sold, and we signed a four-month contract with an agent to sell the house. We put the sign out on Tuesday. The agent said we were asking at the high end of the price spectrum and that nothing moves much in January, etc. etc. but that story of Elijah and the Priests of Baal kept coming to my mind and I knew we would be able to sell for what we needed when the time was right.

When two more neighbors put their house on the market nearby, I thought, “two more barrels of water on the altar! Hooray!!” and continued to have faith.

After ANOTHER year had gone by, in March I got a book from the library’s NEW BOOK shelf called, How to Sell Your House in One Weekend. It outlined how to hold an auction to sell your home. I felt this was the answer and set about doing what the book said. 

Our auction during Spring Break that year was successful–we had only two phone calls, and about 10 visitors during the Open House, but two bidders brought the price up to what we needed. The highest bidder had cash and wanted us out immediately so within 9 days of the auction, we were out, and on our way to Upstate. By staying in Texas for that extended period, we were also able to accomplish things that we could only have done in that area, so the timing was truly right. With the market still saturated with homes for sale, this was no doubt a miracle that came to us in the Lord’s time. 

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V is for Visions in the Nighttime

Have you ever had a lucid dream? Wikipedia tells us that “A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.”

I have had a few lucid dreams, one of which I’ll share here as it speaks to me of the power of heaven to be a comfort and influence in our lives, even while we sleep.

My dream was actually a nightmare, frightening and full of a feeling of evil, but I can’t remember anything about it except that it was so dark and demonic that in the dream I was distressed enough that I wanted it to end. I knew it was a dream, and I “stepped away” from it for long enough to pray to be released from it and to wake up.  An answer came into my mind that I should command it to stop. So in the dream, I commanded in the name of Jesus Christ for the dream to stop and not to torment me. I didn’t wake up, but the dream immediately switched to something innocuous and when I did wake up I didn’t remember the nightmare or have any of the lingering dreads some bad dreams leave–I only remembered that I was told to send it away through the power of Jesus Christ and it went.

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U is for Universe

My Heavenly Father Loves Me, Lyrics

Words and music: Clara W. McMaster, 1904–1997. © 1961 IRI. Arr. © 1989 IRI

  1. Whenever I hear the song of a bird
  2. Or look at the blue, blue sky,
  3. Whenever I feel the rain on my face
  4. Or the wind as it rushes by,
  5. Whenever I touch a velvet rose
  6. Or walk by our lilac tree,
  7. I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
  8. Heav’nly Father created for me.
  9. He gave me my eyes that I might see
  10. The color of butterfly wings.
  11. He gave me my ears that I might hear
  12. The magical sound of things.
  13. He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
  14. I thank him rev’rently
  15. For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
  16. Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.

The great Book of Mormon prophet, Alma testified to the anti-Christ, Korihor that, “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” [Alma 30:44]

This harks back to my Theme Reveal post, that even if you don’t believe in the Creation story of the Bible, that is not the point. God’s timeline is not like ours. A “day” to us, as in “God created the earth in 6 days,” could represent thousands of years in God’s time. What is important is that there is order and beauty in the Universe that couldn’t possibly have happened by chance.

I’m grateful to know that there is a God who loves His children, who created this beautiful world for us to live in and who is interested in helping us return to Him.

God showed Moses the heavens and all His creations and said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)

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T is for Teething, or Turn to the Lord

Here is another post from my guest blogger daughter. This one involves the same child who lost her carousel tickets, but occurs when she was just a wee baby and was written the day after the event.

We had a Heaven-sent experience last night. Baby has been having the hardest time the last couple of nights and days with teething. The night before last she was restless and constantly needing to adjust her position and literally nursing constantly the entire night long (no sleep for anyone.) But last night was much worse. She was screaming uncontrollably, not able to catch her breath, in hysterics and could not be consoled for a very long time. I was at my limit, my nerves were gone and I just couldn’t take it a second longer. I was exhausted and spent. Finally, I held her in my arms and said a mother’s prayer asking for some relief, that she could be comforted, that she would relax and calm down, and receive relief from her pain; that we would all fall asleep quickly and not wake up until it was time to wake up. As I prayed, her breathing slowed, and the screaming ceased. I could feel her body relax as the words came out of my mouth. She fell asleep in my arms and we all were able to sleep through the night. She didn’t wake up until 9:30 the next morning, smiling and laughing. Heavenly Father sure does love his little children.

As a mother myself, I am so grateful that my own children have found the peace, solace and support they need from daily communion with their Father in Heaven. 

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Mother Love

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S is for Share the Joy

I was being set apart for a new calling in the ward. [Translation for those who are not LDS: Several priesthood brethren lay hands on one’s head and pronounce a blessing to help carry out responsibilities in a new assignment].

At the time, I had been very actively pursuing my French Canadian ancestry via letters to parish priests in Quebec. I wrote to a church in St. Henri, Levis, Quebec seeking the children of my great-great grandfather, Benjamin Halle. The family story was that he had two wives, with 9 children from each wife, and I was attempting to confirm that oral tradition. I got a letter back from him with the list of baptisms for 9 children from one wife and 8 from the other. I thought, “So close! It was just easier to say 9 + 9, but in reality there were only 8 from the other wife.”

Then I was called as a counselor to the Primary President (children’s organization at Church)  and went in to be set apart. Brother Abell set me apart, then proceeded to give me a blessing. Partway through he hesitated a moment, then began again by saying, “You will received some exciting news that will help you make progress with your genealogy in the near future…”  Just that one line, then on to other topics of the blessing. It caught my attention at the time but I didn’t understand what it meant until it was fulfilled a few days later. In the mail I received another letter from the parish priest in St. Henri. On his own accord, he had gone back to the register and looked again at the information I sought. This time he found another child he had overlooked the first time, bringing the numbers up to nine for each wife.

I could imagine Heavenly Father, having inspired the parish priest to check again, and knowing this was happening, being excited for me, anticipating my joy and wanting to be a part of that good news. It certainly wasn’t any insight from Br. Abell, as he didn’t know me or my activity with genealogical research.

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Melchizedek Blesses Abram, by Walter Rane… Bestowing blessings by the laying on of hands.

For another example of a spiritual experience associated with genealogy work, see an earlier post here.

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R is for Remember

When I was in Junior High School I became friends with a Mormon for the first time. As she shared with me her beliefs, I knew something was missing in my own spiritual life, as I had no such convictions concerning my religion. My friend felt unprepared to answer my many questions, so she arranged for the missionaries to teach me.

As I listened to the missionaries, the things they taught sounded so familiar to me. It was what I already believed in my heart, even if it wasn’t sustained by Catholic doctrine. My sister thought I was getting too carried away and brought me literature on Catholicism to counteract all the Mormon doctrine I was consuming. She asked that I talk to our Catholic priest before I did anything rash. I made appointments and visited with him a couple times, but was disappointed in his responses to my queries. He said these things were a mystery, which we must take on faith. I didn’t understand why I should take something on faith when the Mormons had logical answers that resonated with me. I was reading the Book of Mormon, and attending the Mormon Church, all the while praying to know whether the Book of Mormon was true and whether Joseph Smith was a prophet. After school each day I would walk up into the fields behind our house and pray for a manifestation, an answer to prayer like Joseph received. Each time I was disappointed.

But it was all so logically true! My mind had a testimony of it; I was just waiting for my heart and soul to know. It didn’t come in a flash of light or a clap of thunder, but slowly I was doubting less and less until I couldn’t explain why, but I felt it must be true. When the missionaries challenged me to be baptised I said, “yes.” I had almost finished the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith’s story had touched my heart. One last time I went to the priest to tell him of my decision to join the Mormon Church.

“You know, of course, that you are joining a pagan religion, don’t you?”

“Pagan?! That’s not true! The church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! We know that Jesus is the Son of God and we know that He is our Savior and Redeemer! There is a prophet at the head of the church who receives revelation from Jesus Christ…” A short phone call for the opinion of another priest and he was convinced that he was right. But I didn’t care what he said at that point. I had heard myself aligning with the Mormons and testifying that “We know…” I knew. When I said those words, the Spirit filled me with joy–a physical burning in the center of my being I couldn’t deny– and I knew what I had to do. I left his office with these parting words calling after me, “We will always consider you one of the lost sheep and you can return to the fold at any time,” but I was floating on a cloud of happiness. I grabbed my sister, who was waiting for me in the parking lot of the Catholic church and said, “It’s true, I know that it’s really true!”

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Catholic Church where I first received a witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true

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Q is for Question

This post is based on a video of Elder Larry Lawrence talking about the scripture story of the rich young man who approached Jesus and asked, “What lack I yet?” Elder Lawrence suggests that each of us can and should ask this same question and thereby receive personal revelation as to what we need to do to grow and progress and become more like our Heavenly Father–reaching our truest potential. One woman put this to the test and bravely asked the question: “What do I need to change?” and the Spirit whispered to her, “Don’t interrupt people when they are talking.” The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.

A perfect time to ask, “What lack I yet?” is when we take the sacrament. The Apostle Paul taught that this is a time for each of us to examine ourselves.In this reverent atmosphere, as our thoughts are turned heavenward, the Lord can gently tell us what we need to work on next.

Elder Lawrence suggests that each of us participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: “What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?” Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.*

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil. … A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is.”

Be Bold! Ask God for help with the things you need! Be humble and seek to change, grow and improve. As we exercise faith, even if we have only a desire to believe, (Alma 32:27-43) plant that seed of faith and see where it takes you. I know that good things will happen to those who reach out their hand to the Hand of God, which is ever extended out to us.

As I shared with you some sacred and personal examples of my faith this month, you may have noticed that some were more dramatic and spectacular than others. The Spirit speaks to and enlightens us in various ways and intensity depending on the need and circumstances.

But in the words of David Bednar, a current apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and an especial witness:

As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will “walk in the light of the Lord”  Isaiah 2:5  2 Nephi 12:5 Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see  Alma 5:7  32:28 and direct and protect you and your family. (The Spirit of Revelation, David A Bednar, Conference Talk, April 2011)

Christ and the rich young ruler by Heinrich Hofmann, 1888

Christ and the rich young ruler by Heinrich Hofmann, 1888

[*The first time I did this, I got the message to stop finishing people’s sentences for them…]

 

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