Sunday, June 26, 2016

Born Again and Remembering

The last few weeks in Sunday School we have been talking about being born again and remembering.  Our teacher asked us all to think about that moment in our lives when we were "born again."  When we finally knew that Jesus Christ was our Savior.  When we finally knew the gospel was true.  When our testimony was finally our own and not some one else's.  Then he asked us to write it down and remember it.  Remember the feelings we had, the goals we set, the determination we had to do good for the rest of our lives.  Then he asked us to share it with those we love.

As I thought about it, I couldn't come up with a single moment when I all of a sudden knew.  I guess I have always known.  I don't remember not knowing.  I was born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I have been taught about Jesus my whole life.  From the time I went to nursery as an 18 month old baby to present time, I have had Sunday school teachers teaching me about Jesus and His gospel.  My parents always read the scriptures to us daily.  We have family prayer morning and night.  Every week we had family home evening where we would sing songs and have lessons about the gospel.  I read the scriptures on my own daily and had my own personal prayers morning and night.  I just always knew. 

I don't ever remember questioning the gospel.  There were times when I didn't always do what I should, times when I went against the teachings that I knew to be true, but I never doubted - I just chose unwisely. 

When I was 21, I served a mission for our church in Ireland.  We were taught to bear our testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and of the message that we shared to everyone we met.  We listened to the people, we invited them to learn about the Savior and then we bore our testimony.  Every time, every single time, I bore my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, mine was strengthened.  Every time I did that, I knew again, in my heart, of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the love that the Savior has for me and for all of us.  Those experiences reinforced what I already knew and strengthened me.

Why remember?  Why hold these things close to our heart?  Remembering strengthens us.  Remembering brings it back into our heart, strengthens our resolve, increases our faith and opens our eyes to how much the Lord is involved in our lives.  Remembering allows us to see His hand guiding us through our daily lives.  I know there have been so many times in my life when I have been able to remember and draw strength to press forward through whatever was ahead of me.  It gave me faith to take one more step into the darkness because I knew that He had been there in the past to light my way and He would do it again.  Remembering gave me the hope that when I reached out my hand, He would be there to grab it.  And He has never failed me! 

I am so thankful for my knowledge of the gospel.  I am so thankful for the love that I feel from my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for being raised in a home where I was taught from a very young age to know these things.  I am so thankful for all the doorsteps that I stood on and had the Spirit of the Lord testify to me as I testified to others.  I am thankful for a Sunday School teacher who helped me remember.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Swimming Fun!

This last week we had a busy, but sun-filled week.  We had our normal physical therapy, rock picking and work.  We did workouts, had library and got our shopping done.  We also got to spend two different afternoons at the pool with great friends!  We were all having so much fun that I didn't get any pictures taken, so that will be my goal next time ☺

Monday we got to spend 7 hours at the Brookings Pool.  We got there when it opened and stayed until they closed only leaving for a few minutes to go get something to eat - the kids were starving!  It was so nice to sit in the sun and visit with an adult!  The kids enjoyed having someone other than siblings to play with too.

Friday we got to go swimming again.  This time we went to Watertown.  We spent 5 hours there.  We got there an hour after it opened and stayed until closing.  Then we all went to eat together.  This time I got to talk to two adults!  And Watertown has a lazy river that I love going on so that made it even more fun.  The kids had more friends to play with and the day flew by.

I feel so blessed to have friends that I can spend time with and enjoy.  I am looking forward to more days at the pool in the near future.  The kids are too!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Michael

Today, as we celebrate Father's Day, I am overwhelmed with the blessing that Michael is to our family.  Michael and I started this journey of ours over 16 years ago.  Who would have thought that in that time we would have 6 beautiful, slightly maddening children, lived in 14 different houses, five different towns and 4 states, finally settling in the middle of nowhere South Dakota? 
Over the years, Michael has always, always been there.  He has worked long hours to provide for us, allowing me to be able to stay home with the kids while they were little.  He has helped with diaper changes, night time feedings, cleaning, cooking, playing, repairing, building, washing, drying, folding, reading, teaching, and everything else in between.  He has always made sure that I am able to get away from time to time and enjoy a few minutes of non-mom time. 

Despite how tired he may be or busy he may be, he always finds time and energy for us.  He tries to get to the kids games and meets, which sometimes means getting up at 4 am so he can get chores done in time to make it a basketball tournament.  He has helped coach the boys in basketball, football and baseball.  The kids know that he is always there (though sometimes just in spirit and texts) to cheer them on.

He is always willing to help those around him.  He will be the first to offer help to the neighbors, his coworkers and our friends.  He will give up what little free time he may have to help where he is needed.

He is much more patient that I am.  (He doesn't have that red head gene like me...) He will take time to teach and explain to the children why what they are doing may not be the best of ideas. He takes the time to show them and help them understand a different way.  He is the chosen one to be in the front seat with the new, under-experienced drivers in the house. (I sit in the back and white knuckle the door handle while muttering some sort of cross between a prayer to God, my last goodbyes to my family and a death threat to our teenage driver as we take the corner on 2 wheels).  Michael calmly tells them to slow down a little before the next turn.

His funny stories and childhood "memories" bring so much laughter into our family.  The kids love to listen to his crazy stories about crossing the ocean as a baby, growing up with James (his older brother) and anything that starts with the phrase, "When I was a kid..."  The kids can't get enough of him!  His snuggles on the couch, him grabbing their toes and cracking them all at once, getting teased about what boy or girl they may or may not have a crush on, riding in the tractor with him, basically whatever he is doing, they want to be there.

I am so thankful for Michael and all that he is.  I love watching him be a dad.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Broken and Healed

Over a year ago I made clay hearts with the kids.  The idea was for them to do something kind for some one and leave a heart or if they saw someone having a hard day or just wanted them to know they were being thought of, leave them a heart.  I would often find a heart left on my pillow with a note when I went to bed at night or one slid under my bedroom door when I woke up in the morning.  Over the last year and a few months, some of the hearts have gotten broken.  They were stepped on or got something set on them or got dropped.
This morning as I was closing the windows in my bedroom I saw these broken hearts and began to think about all that has happened over the last year or so to me, my family and those around me.  How many hearts have been broken!  How much hurt has been felt!  Friends and family have been lost, cancer has been discovered, other illnesses and injuries occurred, jobs lost, belongings burned, favorite pets lost, relationships ended, so many things...  I think everyone I know has felt pain and hurt on some level.  Everyone has had their heart broken to some degree.  This last year has just seemed really tough.

As I looked at the pieces of these pretty clay hearts that my children made, my heart ached again for the suffering that I have seen around me and for the things I experienced first hand. 

Then I began to try to put the pieces back together.  As I did this, I thought about all the good that has happened during the storms.  I thought about how everyone banded together to lift those suffering up.  I thought of all the prayers that were said, scriptures that were quoted, hugs that were given and tears that were shed - all in the name of love.

I thought of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice.  I thought of His pure love.  I thought of how He, as we stumble through this life, at times falling down unable to move forward from the burdens we feel, reaches out His hand and lifts us up and helps us see the light.  He can put our pieces back together.  He can take our broken hearts and heal them.  He can take our pain and give us peace.  In 3rd Nephi (a book in the Book of Mormon) chapter 17 verse 7 He says, "Have ye any that are sick among you?  Bring them hither.  Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner?  Bring them hither and I will heal them."  In Psalms 147:3 it says, "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Isaiah 53:5 says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." The New Testament is filled with examples of Jesus healing the people - the lame could walk, the blind could see.  Matthew 14:35-36, "And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole."

Jesus Christ will heal us.  If we come to Him in humility and faith, He will heal us.  He will make us whole.  We will still have our trials and heartache, but He will provide the healing we need - from something as small as a really bad day to something as big as losing a child - He will heal us.

I am so thankful for the Savior.  As I looked at my broken hearts and thought of all that has happened in the last year, I am so thankful to be able to know and see His hand in all of it.  I am so thankful to have felt His healing presence.  I am so thankful that my wounded heart was mended and made whole again through His pierced hands.  Christ lives.  He loves us.  He is aware of us and through Him we will be able to return, whole and unbroken, to our Father in Heaven!