Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Gravitational Pull of Light

So as I was thinking about the different various hardships I've had over the course of my life-- not just the physical ones, but the spiritual and mental ones, too,  and I've come to a couple of realizations.

When we feel overpowered, it is like having a giant wave loom over us and then crash and fall on us. Not a pleasant thing. It can very difficult to work through.

Just as there are times when we can feel overpowered by something, there are times where we can feel 'under-powered' too.

....I am coming to think of that as a more subtle tactic on the the part of the adversary. It is slower for one thing, it is more of a creeping, tunneling effect--  until one day, you twist an ankle, look down, and realize the rock has been burrowed through. That isn't pleasant either.

So what can we do?

Well, yesterday my youngest and I were listening/ watching (I was listening while driving, he was watching), to some scientists describe what happens to dust in space.  The pull down effect of gravity isn't such a factor, and so instead of separating, they connect.  And connect some more, and keep going until they are a massive formation. Which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense, and symbolically works for people, too.

When we focus on the negative things in life, it pulls us down.  It 'tunnels' our equilibrium out from under us.

When we have a mutual focus of light-- lifting one another, serving and caring for one another--  then our souls fill with light.  That light radiates outwards, and yet has a space-like pull that brings people together. To connect.

And when you get a lot of people together who are focused on radiating light, the world shifts.  It shifts because the way that the world turns is dependent upon how our inner selves move outward.  It creates something that I'm going to call The Gravitational Pull of Light.  And the strength of that momentum can be life altering.

Imagine that on a global scale.  It would be breathtaking!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Innkeeper

So recently, (this morning), I couldn't sleep.  Tossed and turned, turned and tossed, until I finally gave up, and turned on the light.

It was 3:50.


Now what?

Because lately I have been feeling rushed, I decided to take this time to just do something I've wanted to for a while...... and so I did.

I reached over to where on my nightstand rested a book.  I opened it at random, and started reading.

And then I read some more.

And some more.

I reread parts, too.  (Because let's face it, my eyes were still a little blurry, and this was good stuff.)

And where I read, it spoke of a man overtaken by thieves.

Most of us know the story.  A man starts on a journey from Jerusalem to Jericho-- but he doesn't make it safely.  He gets robbed, beaten, and left half dead.  Two people pass by...... but it is the third who stops his own journey.  He has compassion for him, and having this, he goes to him. He binds up the wounds, he puts him on his own animal, and takes him to an inn.  He pays the innkeeper a bit of money, and says that whatever is spent beyond that, he will repay the innkeeper.

And then the seemingly ultimate question:  "Which ... was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?"

Well, we all know that answer--  it was the Good Samaritan.  The man who helped the half-dead man and took him to the inn.

And the words that soon follow are these:  "Go, and do thou likewise."

And thus we have full understanding-- right? We go, we help those we meet, and then we go some more, and help some more. And pretty soon all the inns are filled, and we have completed our own journey.

The End.


But what if, like all the other parables, there are layers within layers?  What if as we read-- admittedly before a glimmer of the sun has even cleared the horizon-- and we see ourselves in another part of the story?

What if we see that as we are asked to 'Go, and do thou likewise', we feel the echo of other words:  'Come follow me'...... which leads me to ask:

What if we are also the Innkeeper?  Sometimes the people we are asked to help will be figuratively 'brought to our door'. And the Lord says, "Take care of him...when I come again, I will repay thee."

What of those moments?  The moments when we are asked not only to help, but to continue to help-- beyond what we have been paid upfront to do, and beyond what we thought were our very clear-cut rules of business, and the well-thought-out, must-sign contracts that we have posted on our door.

If we get into the mindset of 'I will go this far, and no more' we lose out. We stay in our comfort zone, never growing.  We become stagnant. We also begin to shrink.  Because when we refuse to grow forward (yes, grow!), we take a mindset of 'self-preservation', and that means we do what is good for the self, and that circle of friends always ends up having room for only one.

But there is another way--  to trust in the Samaritan.  To trust His word.  To go beyond what we had expected, what we anticipated.  To take a chance that being mindful of 'another way of doing' may not leave us with a full bag of coinage, but with something infinitely better--

We have all 'fallen among thieves'.   To help lift, care, and encourage one another may be the greatest thing we'll ever do.   Are we willing?

Luke 10: 25--37

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sub-Atomic Healing


Life-- my life-- isn't perfect, and I'm guessing yours isn't either.  There have been hard times, sad times, and times when I wonder what the point of it all is, and I want to just stay in bed and never get out again. 

But when those times come, I remember a gift that was given to me long ago.  A gift that has given me courage to get out of bed, to think beyond the gray clouds of shock and hurt. 

And then I start to think-- to remember. 

I remember that life isn't about getting what we want, it's about giving what we want.  What do we want this world to be?  Do we want to fill it up with love and laughter and compassion and heart-felt kindness? Then we need to give this to others.  Do we want to see the world come to peace with all it's people?  Then we need to offer peace. 

But how is this possible?  Especially after such down-to-the-core soul anguish? Especially if the we know other person doesn't deserve it?  Is it even possible?

It isn't enough to say, 'forget it'. That doesn't work.  That will only get us on our feet and moving for a mind-numbing season, and then we re-glimpse at reality, and we get hurt all over again.  We need a deep healing-- one that goes past the hurt, and heals us. 

We need Sub-Atomic Healing.

It is healing from the inside out.  It is changing the substance of our hearts-- our souls-- to transform into something that lets the hurt be healed.  We can't do this on our own. Not even Ant Man can get this deep.  We need a Healer.

But who would this Healer be? 

Jesus is the Savior.  He is the Savior that was given as a gift to all humankind.  He didn't come and just take upon himself the sins of the world-- that was only part of it.  He fulfilled the Atonement-- which means that the hurt and sadness we feel when we, or our loved ones, or anyone who has been, or ever will be,  the injured ones-- we can heal from that hurt.  He has felt what we feel, whether it be sickness or sadness, pain or regret....He knows.  He knows the pain intimately. He knows sorrow and sickness-- but most importantly, He knows how to heal

He works from the inside out.  He changes our hearts to feel like we can do anything-- because with His help, we can.  We can do anything and everything when we partner up with the Lord.  He has infinite power and grace-- sufficient to heal all hurts, completely.

But here is the wondrous part: He always leaves us better than we can even imagine.  He does this because He fills us up with Light.  The Light of Hope and Life is a beautiful thing.  It is feeling peace and joy and an unconquerable spirit of hope--  a feeling so strong, that you have to wonder if you are ever going to be the same again.

This Light will change you.  It will drive you to make changes in your life, to do what you have to do to feel this peace and love inside you always.  It means that your heart will soften, your hurts will heal, and the love-- the unstoppable love-- will come forth, and spread to others.

It is a healing so complete, so profound, it is what can change our world, and heal it.

"And again I say unto you, sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; And lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth; And make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you, according to the voice of the Spirit which is in you, and all things shall work together for your good...That you may be the children of light..."    Doctrine and Covenants 105:38-40, Doctrine and Covenants 106:5

Light Enters In, by J. Wester

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Classical Trash

Society has been observing a cataclysmic event: the acceptance and universal approval of ‘classical trash’.  For too long have school children been assaulted with the responsibility of reading, analyzing, and even quoting doubtful works of merit to comply with scholastic expectations.  Quality, has been punctured with trashy additives, yet we are told by the expert few, that those works are still a valuable resource for the collective knowledge. 

Should schools claiming a religious focus subject their students to this literary criteria?  No.  As an institute representing a particular religion, these schools have a responsibility to maintain high moral values that accurately reflect their beliefs. To squander an opportunity to share works of high moral merit with the students who have chosen that particular learning environment, is to throw away individuality in favor of identical conformity. 

Students who have made the choice between a religious school and a secular one, deserve a high level of education.  There may be some works, such as Much Ado About Nothing that are utilized in literary courses.  The schools may fear excluding such literary giants as Shakespeare, and rightly so.  However, the argument stands that schools that offer a high caliber of moral expectancy, also have the chance to reveal the value of moral absolutes—something that secular schools may skip over.  To include works that offer behavioral acceptance of moral depreciation can be a strength if at the same time, it incorporates a discussion as to why the behavior, words, etc. are excluded from acceptance within the particular religious environment. 

Historical evidence suggests that civilization is built upon strong protective and freedom enhancing regulations.  If we, as a nation, and as a world, refuse to create, foster, and support varying ways of approaching learning environments, then we are doomed to create a society of imitation and lack of ingenuity.  To foster the growth of a nation, we must foster our individual strengths.  We must not only claim, but we must expect, a rich and vibrant diversity within our culture.  This allows our collective strengths to provide a rich tapestry of literary and scholastic variety—with each subset of educational values providing enhanced focus upon the values they claim to hold to. 

Strong, diversified education enables the students to achieve and succeed within the world, and yet hold true to the values they are learning and strengthening.  To succeed, there must first be belief.  Individuals must believe that it is possible to create great works without vulgarity and violence. To step into that possibility, we must cherish our beliefs, and promote those who adhered and kept their moral fiber, while in the midst of creativity.  If the academic world chooses to ignore those who are lesser known in favor of wildly popular, yet morally weak works, then the world suffers in a lack of diversity. 

To create a world of diversity, we must protect it.  No single entity can become the expert of all.  Thus a voluntary division of what is taught can be a marketable and reasonable way to insure the survival of many types of works.  Each school has the right to create a focus and create marketing priorities to win prospective students into their schools.  Schools such as Andrews University, California Baptist University, Brigham Young University, and others have the unique ability to achieve what secular schools cannot. 

Many prospective students find a religious environment both supportive and freeing.  In Doctrine and Covenants chapter 88, verse 118, it states, “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith,” are words that promote great learning.   If we as a nation defend our values, and seek learning by diversification, we strengthen our collective knowledge and have a greater chance to make valuable contributions to society at large. 











Friday, March 25, 2016

That We May Have Light

Have you ever had 'one of those days'? Days when everything seems to be breaking down, days when the doctor appointment doesn't go as planned, and days when the world is in chaos and hope seems like a lost daydream from a forgotten era.  On those days, I often feel as if I'm drowning in the sea, barely able to bring myself up to the surface for a moment's break. I don't like those days.

Those are the days when I feel buried beneath the weight of it all, gasping for breath.

But, when those days come, I have a plan.  My plan is simply this: To remember I am not alone. 

When I remember I am not alone in my struggles, and not alone on my journey in the depths of the sea, it places in my heart a Seed of Peace.  This seed brings a calm assurance that order can grow from out of the chaos, and happiness can exist and outweigh despair. 

Sometimes what we need in life is a light-- a light that shines so bright it pushes the darkness away from us.  But where do we find that light?  And how do we make sure it is a light that can 'push the darkness away from us'?

In today's modern world we have tons of science and tech--  we have electricity to light our homes, and we have the internet to light up our intellect and curiosity.  But what can light up our insides?  Which of those things can reach into our very core, our souls, and bring such an overwhelming feeling of light into us?

"And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man...that we may have light while we cross the sea."  Ether 3:4

The answer is God. 

There are many times when life is going to be difficult.  There are going to be times in our lives when we fear the uncertain future--the sinking of ships, the bombs of the unkind, the accidents that scare and scar.  Those are the times when we are tossed in the sea, when our fears generate a power that intimate our souls.

Where can we turn?  Where do we go?

The answer is God. 

God can bring peace and healing to our souls. God can give light to the dark places in the world. When we invite God into our lives, we fill up with light.  And light loves to travel-- so much so, that when we feel ourselves filling up with light, we share it.  We reach out in kindness, we forgive, we help, we aid, we know...... We know how much of a difference it can make, and so we want to share-- because light is love. 

God's love. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What's In A Name?

Seventeen years ago (and two days to be exact) I was laying in a hospital room wondering: what were we going to name our son?  My husband and I had gone back and forth over a hundred names, and nothing seemed to fit.  We had had late night and early morning discussions, and still seemed unable to come to some sort of an agreement. 

I imagine that those who understand the power that comes with a name, understand the dilemma-- whatever you choose, it will have a lasting impression-- hopefully for the good. It needs to be just right-- and if more than one person is in charge of the naming..... well, things can get pretty interesting.

A long time ago a group of people had a naming problem.  For them, it wasn't a child they were naming, it was a church.  A church based on the teachings of Christ, one that was founded on His gospel, and they wanted to give it just the right name. 

But what do you name a church?  Like a child, a church is a living entity-- not as an individual, but as a collective of living souls, so it too has life and meaning.  A church name needs to communicate to the non-members and members alike what the beliefs of the members are.  It needs to convey a sense of purpose. 

In 3 Nephi 27:6-8 it reads, 'And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall to, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

 And how be it my church save it be called in my name?  For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are build upon my gospel.'

Names are important things.  They can convey meaning and purpose and identity all in a few, short syllables.  It is important to know the purpose and the identity of individuals by name-- just a 'Hey, you!' won't do, and for churches, 'That nice place' won't do either.  

As for my son, just shortly after he was born I knew what his name was.  I felt at peace at once, and knew that this was going to work.  For the people naming their church, they soon had it resolved-- after all, it was Christ's church, and now they knew what to do.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Making Roadblocks vs. Building Bridges [my attempt at a chiasm of sorts]

Sometimes life presents challenges that we may not feel ready for.  When those moments strike, there are things we can depend upon when those moments happen:

Heavenly Father loves us.   
And he certainly didn't send us here to fail.
He placed us in certain times and in certain places that we may have the support we need.  
Because those moments often mean making a choice. 
"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon"  
Agency means choosing.  It means we get to choose which socks to wear (if any), we get to choose to eat healthy or not, whether or not to be happy and to be at peace with God.  The whole spectrum of choice is ours-- that's agency. 
Satan would have us believe that we are alone when we make our choices.  He would have us believe that our choices only affect ourselves.  He is hoping that we choose to serve ourselves--  live our lives as if we are the only ones involved-- and make roadblocks that isolate us from those who are ready to help.   He would also have us believe that it is diminishing to ourselves to depend on, or work with others.
Satan's best tool is isolation-- because let's face it, life is too busy, too stressful, too crazy to do it all on our own-- but when we try to do it all, that's when stress builds up, depression sets in, and sin starts to look like an enticing 'escape'. And then he wins.

Nevertheless, Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost are ready to strengthen, support, and encourage us-- always.
We are not meant to be alone.  We are meant to reach out our hands, our hearts, and our minds-- work together with each other to bring us closer.  By doing so, we build bridges-- bridges of hope, of compassion, and of healing.   All these things are selfless.  They serve God.  Heavenly Father wants us to build.
The Plan of Agency itself means that we are not alone.  It means we can work in a partnership with our Savior.  The Plan of Agency itself is dependent upon a partnership.  Our realization, and acceptance of that fact means the difference between success and failure of that Plan in our own lives. 
Our Savior has shown us how to choose wisely-- how to depend on our Heavenly Father so that we can learn faster, grow stronger, and live again with Him.  We can choose.  We can choose to serve God--  to focus on building a partnership-- a 'bridge' if you will-- to eternal life.  
"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."  3 Nephi 13:24
We have family and friends who love us, and are ready to help, if we are willing to work together.
He placed us in certain times, and in certain places, that we may reach out and receive the help we need. 
He did not send us here to fail.
He did not send us here to be alone.
Our Father in Heaven loves all of us.