Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Giving as a Sign of Gratitude

In looking over the topical guide on thanksgiving today....

I never realized that a sign of thanks was giving something for what was received.

Nor did I realize that fasting was a celebration or a form of rejoicing.

Maybe someday my spiritual maturity will be such but at this present place in my life fasting seems kinda....tiring.  I tend to rejoice more after it's over.

At any rate....to give thanks at one point literally meant to make an offering, a sacrifice....now it makes me think that perhaps just saying "Thank you" or praying in gratitude might not be enough but I should re-invest my blessings so I can show gratitude by blessing others and maybe....I might become a profitable servant someday.

Just a thought. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spiritual Suicide In Mortality

We all know what suicide is.

Most of us will never commit suicide and will finish our lives to the end God has decreed us

However, when we think of how we can remove ourselves from life mortally....by not tending to our covenants, not showing up to the temple, not going to church, not fulfilling callings....etc.....this is a type of spiritual suicide similar to ending our own mortal lives.   We've removed ourselves from the life God has given us.

Just as we are no longer there mortally if we end our lives, we can be no longer there spiritually and end our spiritual lives and influence....

Just a thought.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Your Way, My Way

Elder Oaks, while I was on my mission, gave us a guideline he uses to know when he is following the spirit: when the answers from the holy ghost aren't what he thinks they should be or are different than what he personally wants (obviously this doesn't apply all the time to everything....you have to use some common sense...).

Anyways, one thing I've learned is that the Lord's ways aren't man's ways.

I thought tonight that I wished that they were, but then the spirit whispered that I wouldn't have any more blessings and things wouldn't work the way they need to.

Anyways, that's just my thought for the day.


Monday, November 21, 2016

"It's Like A Sympohony"

This arrangement here has been changing my life since I first saw it.

Many of my clients are literally "The Damned."  Many have committed unforgivable sins and sins they can't ever repent from and never will, many many face a future damned for eternity.

Many people ask how can I work with them?

They are here for their own experiences just like me.

Many are my teachers in this life. 

And many more are going to be heirs of the celestial kingdom.

But really we are ALL children of our Heavenly Father - and we really are creating something here and eternally - with many kingdoms, but we all needed this experience, eternally.

Every person you meet, is creating their own story and is the main character in their own story, and a supporting character in millions of others for the duration of an entire mortal existence.....

And yet we spend so much time wondering "Who am I?" "Why am I here?"

We're us!!!!!

That's who we are and why!

No, really.....that's who and why.

Each moment in life is like a note in the score, but only the conductor - our Older Brother Jesus Christ can see everything and how it all goes together.

Some parts of the symphony are sad, some are happy, some are triumphant, some slow, some fast, some loud, some soft.

Some players are very brief only there for a moment, others spend a lot of time on the stage.

Some play very minor roles that impact  very deeply everyone around them, others have parts that others listen to and take their cues from.

Some have a part that's a crowning moment to a movement, and some provide the background accompaniment for a movement.  

Everyone plays a piece....

But it's the true connoisseur and aficionado of music who can appreciate every piece, part and person in the symphony, and....I want to be that.

I don't want to miss anything in anyone around me......and I fear how much I have missed.  I'm awakening to my part like the song says.

But that's just me.

Life really is a symphony.

You're in here.....one of these lines is yours....or another one.....

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Counting Blessings Isn't Enough

Storms bring us to make wishes....
Some of us come to earth only for a few struggles of breath and then leave this world.  Others stay to be challenged for decades by tribulation.

But from the very first moment and until it ends, life is tribulation.

So I have learned.

In 2007, my wife was permanently confined to a wheelchair and lost the ability to walk.  Neither of us knew she had a disability before we were married and the news hit us both like a ton of bricks.  We have struggled since to complete a career, make a major move only to lose the career we moved for, and raise three children as well as function and hold together a family.

 Despair, lots of depression and distress, and more helplessness than I ever care to feel again as I swam against a tide of troubles and pains to help my wife have overwhelmed me for years on end.  

I have had to work hard to not to succumb to bitterness.  I tried to stay faithful in the church, but life itsself became an exercise in resolve against a seemingly endless supply of setbacks and frustrations.

Though I was healthy, and I didn't need a wheelchair to survive, I was slowly being killed.

Stress began to take a toll on my body and I could literally feel years being taken from my life as it was shortened by stress, fatigue, helplessness, sorrow and chronic hopelessness.  The hardest part is that I was drowning too with my wife, but nobody  seemed to see it.

Cries that I was sinking were met with my attention being directed to the struggles of my wife in a wheelchair - as if I was selfish for trying to stay afloat - when in reality, if I drowned, we all go down, and I was the only one who carry us as a family.  This isn't to say my family isn't important - or that I am the most important - I wouldn't struggle if that was the case, I'd simply bail and save myself - but the most damage occurs if I go down, not that it's pretty if any of us go down.  I'm the head and am critically needed!

People usually don't see what's next to behind the wheelchair or in its shadow
I've managed to stay afloat with a metaphorical gasp here. A breath of air there. Breaks just long enough to keep me going to support our family. Each gulp of air brought another moment to try to learn how to swim amidst a storm that kills most on the inside before finally killing them on the outside.  Amidst it all, how do I find peace?

Well...I've hated "counting my blessings" as a "solution" to our problems.  If anything, I found the practice maddening because it didn't really "solve" anything!  Our problems - and they are big ones (Your wife can't walk, is going to get worse, and you have three kids, you need to go to school and physically care for your family? Hellooooo???) - weren't changing no matter how many blessings I counted.

I could count a thousand blessings, and she still was getting weaker towards a painful ending.

The way "count your blessings" has always been presented is that if I count my blessings, I suddenly won't have other problems, or they won't matter or affect me. But I've learned that counting your blessings is only the beginning.  

It is only the first step. 

Just counting them will not save you. 

That would be like being stranded on an island and inventorying your survival supplies and then doing nothing else with them.  Inventorying them - or counting your blessings - isn't enough!

We need to then look how those blessings can help us. The third step is to then use them.  Sadly, many have ended their lives or have fallen and who were highly blessed with many advantages - yet advantages and blessings alone weren't enough to save them - whether they counted them or not.

don't just COUNT them....USE them!
Now, instead of simply counting my blessings and feeling like nothing's changed, I can begin to do much much more.  I can be comforted by the blessings I have received and see heavenly father's love for my family and see how he works.  I can know he's here and caring and involved in my life.  But I can also see what he gave them to me for, and begin to put them to use and improve our situation. I can more effectively use my trials for growth, but I can also learn to work my way around my trials.  I suppose "counting your blessings" has the benefit of seeing the pattern of God working in our lives, so we know how we got here, and can also know we aren't alone and further derive peace, but this insight comes from a bit more than simply "counting." 

Perhaps my greatest blessing is the promptings of the holy ghost, and the things that happen around me that let me know I am really hearing my heavenly father speaking to me.  At times I'm so stressed out about things working out that I forget to listen to the Holy Ghost, and miss the signs that I'm being directed. 

While understanding this principle is a relief to me in providing me effective directions of how to act, it isn't until we are safely home that the "story" is over. My wife is still going to get weaker even if I count, recognize and use my blessings. We still have unknown miles to go, and unknown obstacles to face, and I really don't know if the equipment we have - blessings - currently are enough to see me through to the end of the journey.  Probably not, because life requires continuous and constant blessings.  But they may just buy us some time until we get to the next blessing...if I use them properly with some godly wisdom.  Oh, and if I don't forget to keep doing steps 2 and 3.  We often forget - at least I do, which is why we have to be constantly reminded through the veil with our scriptures, prayer and priesthood blessings.

There have been *many* blessings and loving helping hands and millions of prayers for us along the way, without which we wouldn't be here.  Thank you, eternally, to all who have helped, your blessings aren't forgotten or unseen or unfelt. But the way I have endured, through sheer willpower, isn't going to be able to sustain me or my family in the long-term.  

And as I try to rise up and apply spiritual lessons, as I seek comfort to find my feet under me so I can press forward, I've now learned that: Counting blessings...isn't enough.  It's just the beginning of peace - I have to decide how to apply them and then use them as well.  But if I don't even count them, I can't do anything that follows. 

But now....I'm a bit more hopeful rather than just resolved with dogged determination.

I have many blessings, we are truly blessed, but I think I have a better idea of what to do with them now.

This morning, I counted some of my blessings and found I was grateful which brought a bit of peace, which was another blessing and now...maybe I can go figure out what to do with the rest of my blessings. Or even count the ones in others' lives around me and help them with their blessings as well. 
What life feels like....hang on!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Prayers Don't Solve the Problem Though...

I've got plenty of tribulation in my life.

A few decades and millions of "catastrophes" later....I've had plenty of opportunities to pray for help.

And you know what?

I've gotten tired of praying.

It hasn't solved much at all.

My problems are still there.

I've gotten tired of being told fixing my attitude will fix my problems as well.

Well....I've changed my attitude a few million times as well...and my problems are still there as well.

Today I learned that prayer and changing my attitudes don't solve my problems: 

They are to help me navigate my problems better so I can solve them faster or more effectively.

That being said, I've found immense comfort in prayer and am feeling much more successful with it now and understanding how to use it better to solve problems, rather than expecting it to solve the problems for me. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Voices: (Lyrics By Lex De Azevedo, from "Saturday's Warrior")

Voices calling me from everywhere 
"Run over here! Run over there!"
"We've got things to blow your mind!
So I go
And what do I find? 

Pounding voices, rising, swelling,
Whispering mysteries, fortune telling!
Voices filled with books and learning, 
Crying their wares to make me "wise." 

"We've got ways to get there faster!
So I go
And what do I find? 

Voices crying under tables, 
Spreading secrets, spinning fables....

Does anybody know anything that's real? 
Something that will last for a while? 
That I can hold, and feel, and keep?
That's more than paper and the wind?
That's more than just the frost upon the ground
and when the morning sun comes around...

...it melts away...
into nothing.....

Anxious voices, begging! Pleading!
Chanting rhymes of "love and freedom". 

Voices rise in waves of air, 
"There is no sin!
"You must be free!
"Come with us and lose your conscience!

So I go, and what do I see?
Nothing! Nothing.....nothing.....

Voices drizzling into flashes
Voices dwindling into ashes...

Voices wearing wings of glitter, 
Calling me, beckoning me...
"We've got things to bring you pleasure....

So I go
And what do I see?