We need each other. Probably more that we understand or realize. And yet – we often try to go it alone – why is that? In my case – it is always due to pride. I don’t want others to think I can’t do it all or perhaps see some of my weakness.
This weekend I saw firsthand how much I need others. I volunteered to help Scott’s brother with a wedding luncheon. I figured that the parents of the groom had more important things to do after the wedding than set up tables and serve food. I figured that they needed me and I could do that – no problem. They brought me everything I needed 2 days before the wedding. As I looked over the food/serving utensils I started making a list (and does that surprise you that I needed to make a list!). I realized that I couldn’t do this alone.
So I called 2 of my sisters who live in town to see if they would help at the luncheon to set up and serve. They also volunteered to bring their 12 year old daughters. I then texted 5 of my friends to see if they had crock pots I could borrow. Between the 5 of them they had 7 (and I only needed 5 and one had a drink dispenser that she let me borrow as well!). I called another friend to ask a cooking question. She had the answer I needed and helped me walk through how to prepare the meat correctly (because killing the wedding party and all of Scott’s family would be a bad ending to the day!). I called another sister for ideas and help with the table decorations (they were having a bit of a problem staying up). She had a great idea as well as some advice to go read the first chapter of a book that would help (and it helped me laugh and gain some much needed perspective). Scott was a huge help hauling stuff, putting up tables and chairs, and providing encouragement. I needed 12 people. Family and friends – if we don’t have one we always have the other – God is good to make sure we have one or both.
That doesn’t count the other people that brought food or supplies, helped with set up and clean up, offered help and expressed gratitude. Marjorie Hinckley said “Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old.” In Virginia H. Pearce, ed., Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley (1999), 254–55
We need each other.
I was thinking today of the words to a John Denver song (yup – I’m dating myself here – and for the record I did have flush toilets, running water, and color TV when I was growing up!)
“Some days are diamonds … some days are stone … sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone”
Isn’t that the truth. Some days are good – full of good memories and happy times – working hard and feeling accomplished. And other days .. well … not so much. And isn’t part of our time here on earth to prove to ourselves that we can make it through all kinds of days and emerge victorious.
Some days it is a victory to put on clean clothes before dinner and other days a victory is not yelling – even if you were perfectly justified. Some days a victory isn’t crying in the car to or from work and other days a victory is cheering up someone even when you feel lousy yourself. Some days getting one thing accomplished is a victory and other days you feel you could scale buildings and solve all your children’s problems (with them agreeing with your solutions and so grateful for your amazing brilliance!)
For me – the one thing that enables me to get up on those hard days is knowing that Christ has promised: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5 I know that sometimes the Savior calms the storm and sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms me. The history of the world is full of those who have struggled and who have remained of good cheer and steadfast to the Lord. To those heroes of mine I owe a huge debt of gratitude for those who came to the kingdom for such a time as this.
One short example – A woman from my church recently came to visit me. It was a get-to-know-you visit. She didn’t really know me and I didn’t really know her. I was struggling with a variety of things and I certainly wasn’t going to let her know of my humanity -so I put on a good face. (Isn’t that what most of us do!) In the middle of our very nice visit (it is nice to have someone want to know us better!) we found a mutual love of an author and she suggested a book by this author that I had never read. Being a voracious reader – I pulled up Amazon and soon had that book coming to me! As I read the book it occurred to me that this wonderful woman (whom I now count as a friend) in suggesting this particular book, knew exactly what I needed to read and think about to help with some of my struggling. Well, perhaps she didn’t know what I needed, but God did. And she listened and I was blessed. God never fails us or forsakes us. Never.
I recently finished the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This biography deals primarily with Lincoln’s cabinet and, as Ms. Goodwin says, “the political genius of Abraham Lincoln”. It details how he took the most able minds of the time (who were often his political rivals) and forged a team that was able to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.
As I read the book I was amazed at Lincoln’s wisdom and courage. I am not a Lincoln scholar. I knew he did an amazing work during the civil war but my knowledge wasn’t much beyond my high school American history class. He was obviously in the right place at the right time and was able to accomplish much. His ability to work with people of different persuasions and thoughts – to bring them together – was unparalleled, in my opinion. He loved the United States and desired to do whatever was needed to keep the country together. He also managed to keep his ego in place (and how often does that happen in Washington?). As US history teacher Richard Hourula said, “Finding a president who was more thoughtful or articulate a writer, more persuasive or eloquent a speaker or more compassionate a human being would be a futile task.”
Walt Whitman said: “Why, if the old Greeks had had this man, what trilogies of plays – what epics – would have been made out of him! How the rhapsodies would have recited him! How quickly that quaint tall form would have enter’d into the region where men vitalize gods, and gods divinify men! But Lincoln, his times, his death – great as any, any age – belong altogether to our own.”
How refreshing to read a biography of such a leader and person as President Lincoln. It makes me want to stand a little taller, be a little more like him, be grateful for leaders that had the courage and wisdom to do the right thing, and reminds me of my love for my country. Thank you God that Abraham Lincoln was come to the country for such a time as this.
About 24 years ago Scott and I had twins that died at birth. Last month my Dad asked me to write a letter to our family from the girls – what they would say to us living here on earth from their vantage point of being in heaven. Below is what I came up with …
We love you and are looking forward to the time when we are able to greet you and share experiences with you! Family is forever and we are so grateful that we can be with you for eternity – please don’t give up – keep moving forward – knowing that it is oh so worth it!
We wish we could share with you what we can see and what we know – but you still have that great privilege of walking by faith, learning from and listening to prophets, and becoming who your Heavenly Father knows you are! How lucky are you to experience earth – to have difficulties and to know through your own experiences that you can choose good – learning to understand and feel the whispering of the Holy Ghost as He guides you – knowing that you can be strong and of a good courage, being not afraid or dismayed, knowing that God is with you wherever you are. He knows you! He loves you!
As you remember people throughout the ages – did the Lord forsake His people when they were trying? Did He leave Nephi? (how many times in 1st Nephi was the Lord there?) Or the Children of Israel as Pharaohs army was chasing them? Or Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail? (just read D&C 121!) Or Esther in the court of King Ahasuerus? No he didn’t. We know that each of you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this! The Lord needs you! He knows your strengths and your weaknesses! And He will make week things strong as you believe and try.
Can we give you a few pieces of advice? Things that are not new to you – but things that we know will help you make good choices, help you to not feel alone, and to have joy.
· Pray. Often. Talk to your Heavenly Father. He is waiting and wanting to hear from you. He often cannot bless you if you don’t ask. So ask! Tell him of your joys and your sorrows. Tell him of your successes and your discouragements. Tell him of your goals and the desires of your heart. Tell him when you are hurt. He is always there.
· Read the scriptures. Every day. There is strength given to you as you read from God’s word. Some of your questions, concerns, and difficulties will be answered as you read. The Lord will often answer your prayers as you read the scriptures. Please give yourself the power that comes from reading the scriptures.
· Be where you should be, when you should be there. As you are obedient to your parents, leaders, and your conscience – you will be blessed beyond your ability to comprehend. You will be able to see Satan and his lies for what they are. You will be able to make choices that will lead you along the pathway to joy and happiness.
It is worth it to follow Christ! Remember the atonement is real – it is for you – so you can repent and so you can be comforted! Never give up! We are waiting for you! We love you!
Last night I went to a fireside where the architect and the stained glass window designer for the Gilbert Arizona LDS temple were speaking. Several things touched my heart.
President Thomas Monson said: “God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.” March 1988 Ensign
The speakers spoke about the creation of the temple and of the art work inside. It was fascinating to learn of their creative process and to see the beautiful results. The glass designer then remarked that it was his belief that many of the creative talents that we enjoy on this earth were developed before we came here and those talents are just being polished on earth. I loved that thought!
And then (of course) I had the thought that my only talents were being really good at Excel and making lists and I’m pretty sure I didn’t sit in “Listmaking 301” before I came to earth! But Heavenly Father was kind (as he is so often) and reminded me that just because one of the creative arts isn’t a talent of mine – it doesn’t mean that I have no talents that aren’t needed.
A stained glass window is made up of many, many pieces and if even one of those pieces is missing – the finished product isn’t complete. This world is made up of many people with talents to share that all can benefit from – and if one of those people doesn’t share their talents – something is missing.
God is good. We all have talents to share. Someone needs something that I can offer today!
Yesterday in church the choir sang one of my favorite Christmas songs. “Star of Bethlehem” I wondered why they would sing a Christmas song in mid-January but as I listed to the words it hit me what a perfect song it was for mid-January.
Christmas is done. The gifts are given, the paper is in the trash, and the decorations are down. New Year’s resolutions are determined and perhaps I am already noticing that the planned “new me” isn’t so different than the old model from the previous year. Satan is working hard to convince me that I can’t reach the goals I have set – that I can’t be better – that I can’t even keep my house clean!
But the 3rd verse of this song reminds me that even though I forget and stumble and fall in my path towards being better – Christ is still there – waiting for me, cheering for me, providing comfort, peace, truth, and direction. He lives now as he did then and is my Savior! What hope that brings me!
To me the song is a perfect reminder for mid-January!
Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem
Words by Sherri Otteson Bird
The night was long, we travelled far. At times I looked, but could not see the star,
Yet still it shone unveiling then the way to Bethlehem.
My heart held fear ‘mid puzzled joy, for I was only a small shepherd boy,
And on a hillside soft and green, I heard an angel sing.
I saw the midnight sky aflame with Radiant angels bathed in light, holy light,
Bringing word that Christ was born and beckoning to find Him, go and find Him.
A sweeter face I ne’er will see than of those loving eyes smiling up at me.
I found a King, I found a Friend, That night in Bethlehem.
But life goes on, years beyond one brief night of my youth—Time clouds my vision of truth.
And though I stumble and fall I can hear someone call, “Do not despair, your star is still there.”
That Christmas night so long ago has filled my life with light because I know
That He lives now as He did then A King in Bethlehem,
Whose love never ends. Shine for me again, Star of Bethlehem.
Yesterday in the youth Sunday School class that I teach we talked about how to have the Holy Ghost with us. A. Roger Merrill shared 3 things we need to do to receive by the spirit (see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/receiving-by-the-spirit?lang=eng)
1 – Seek. Elder Merrill said that “we can find ourselves coming to conference or going to church with the attitude, “Here I am; now inspire me.” We become spiritually passive.” To combat that, I need to think and ponder and wonder and ask.
2 – Feel. Direction from the Spirit most often comes from as a feeling. Learning to recognize those feelings is a process and critical to understanding what answers and direction are coming my way. (and not always as easy for me to recognize as I would like!)
3 – Indent to act. “The Spirit teaches when we honestly intend to do something about what we learn.”
There are many examples in the scriptures of people who followed the above 3 things and received direction. Noah and Moses from the Bible; Nephi and Abish from the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith in the restoration of the gospel; to name just a few. Many of my friends and acquaintances today also follow those 3 steps and have blessed my life as they have listened to the spirit.
A good reminder to me as I contemplate how to be better and do good!