Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Lord's Hand in My Life

As I mentioned last week, I have been attending an adult institute class held in our stake.  Last week's assignment was to look for the hand of the Lord in our lives each day.

I will admit that at the end of the day I have been somewhat--what?  Not exactly discouraged, but also not amazed, you know?  Like I have thought, "Well, I saw this thing (usually something of a spiritual nature), but that's not really unusual for my life."  It sounds really ungrateful to say it that way, and I am very grateful.  But I guess I've been frustrated that I am unable to see some of the small things that I know must be there.

Today everything kind of culminated for me as I pondered the entire week.  This will be a long post, but I felt that I should write down the things that have been opened to my understanding this week (and especially tonight).  I am extremely grateful for the blessings I receive and recognize; I do try to be grateful for things all the time, but tonight my cup runneth over.

My friend, Amber, and I were talking about The Biggest Loser (of all things!).  On this week's episode, the contestants had to go shopping for just $10 a day.  I remembered a time when all of our children were very small, and our MONTHLY budget for all six of us was $60.  We received assistance through WIC, and that helped immensely for things like milk and cheese and cereal. 

But I also remembered a time when my mother-in-law, Ruth, called me.  She said that her sister's neighbor wanted someone to come and pick as many peaches off their tree as they possibly could or they were just going to go to waste.  The kids and I loaded into the van, along with several large boxes and buckets.  We picked peaches to our hearts' content, and I literally bottled peaches every day for that entire week.

The same thing happened another year, when a neighbor invited us to come get all of her peaches.  Again, I bottled for the entire week, and we had peaches for a year and some more.

Someone once called me and said, "I don't want to store these bottles any more.  Do you want them?"  I don't think I've ever had to buy bottles to can produce in.

Once my friend Charlotte called. She said, "I have a client whose tomatoes have been very prolific this year.  Would you like some?"  I think I went home from her client's house with about two bushels of tomatoes that night.  Between those and what was in our garden, I bottled enough tomatoes to get us through an entire year of soups and sauces.

What struck me this week was how merciful the Lord had been to us at that time.  And also, how blessed I have been this week to have this brought to my remembrance through the Holy Ghost.  A two-fer!

Our Taylor was set apart as a missionary 6 months ago today--did you know that?  The letter that came from Taylor this week was a little bit down and frustrated.  My brain knows that he is being cared for and watched over; I know that it is important for him to learn these lessons; I know that he is and will be OK.  But my mommy heart has been tender.  It just wasn't that long ago that I could gather him in my arms and kiss his owies better.  In the extreme, I could pull out a bandaid!  :)  Now he is hundreds of miles away; and even if he were here, there would not be anything I could really do to "fix" this.  In fact, I would not be doing him any favors to take away these growing boo-boo's, as they are important to his progression and growth.  My head knows these things, but my heart still hurts a little bit.

But, oh! how grateful I am to be his mother!  I'm so glad he is where he is, doing what he is doing and learning what he is learning.  I KNOW (and this is a sweet gift from our Father in Heaven) that he is being carefully watched over and guided and taught.

Spencer and I went to dinner last night, and part of our conversation was about each of our children:  their talents, their personalities, the things they've taught us, the ways they've influenced each other, and their differences.  We wondered about the kinds of adults they would be when they had more age and experience.  We realize that they have choices to make--daily--that influence who they are becoming and who they will become.

Today I thought about the marvelous blessing that it has been to LANDON to have his sister and brother serving missions.  He has shared experiences with us that help us to see that he has a testimony and is not afraid of standing for the right, often boldly.  We came to know and love his friend Tanner in a special way, and I know through the Spirit that that experience--instigated and followed through by Landon--is a direct result and blessing of having missionaries serving in the field.

Plus, I got to go to dinner with my best friend!  Another two-fer!

My boss's father passed away on Sunday.  Most people, I think, have bosses who are meaningful in their lives only as a co-worker.  My boss is a cherished friend.  We have shared many sweet experiences with one another as my grandfather and his father--near the same ages--have fought the good fight and endured to the end of their mortal journeys.  Like my grandpa (for whom I am also feeling very tender), Dean's dad struggled near the end.  It truly was a blessing for his spirit to be released from his old, worn physical body.  Still, that doesn't stop his family from aching with the loss of one so dear.  And that has made me a bit heart-heavy.  Again, I wish I could help to somehow ease the hurt.  It is a helpless feeling.  I was wishing I was more like my mom, who would be able to see something to do or know just what to say.

And then I thought, "Wow!  I have a great mom!"  Yet another two-fer!

It has surprised me how watching Dean and his family has played at my heartstrings in regard to not only my grandpa but also my grandma, who has been gone now for 16 1/2 years.  I am incredibly thankful for the influence of these (and many other) wonderful, loving, extraordinarily GOOD people in my life.  I recognize that much of who and what I am today is due in large measure to my grandparents, who influenced my parents for good in so many ways.  I am so grateful!

Another sweet thing that has happened with the death of Dean's dad is that we have had the opportunity to touch. That sounds creepy or weird, but it's not meant to be. Here I have this cherished friend. We share laughter and tears (mostly mine ;) ) and spiritual conversations. But we are very careful to keep our relationship appropriate, and we never touch. But at the viewing last night and at the funeral today, we were able to hug and shake hands, just to share our love and concern for one another. And just to prove that it's NOT creepy or weird, we did that with our spouses standing right next to us. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we will not touch--we each adore our spouses and our friendship is just that. But for a tender moment, it is sweet opportunity.

It is also a marvelous blessing to know of God's plan for our happiness and salvation.  How blessed are we to KNOW that life has meaning and purpose?  Extremely!  We know that our associations do not end with death.

It is also wonderful to know that many of our associations did not begin with birth.  Through tender and very personal experiences this week with a couple of my friends, I have come to KNOW (again through the Comforter) that these people are my spirit brothers and sisters, and we knew and loved and grew together in our premortal lives.  I'm so thankful that Heavenly Father put our paths back together for a season in mortality, even though our human-year ages are quite disparate.

Tuesday night was our ward temple night, and that was a tender mercy for me.  Because of things leaving my heart feeling burdened, it was absolute JOY to think that we had the blessing and opportunity to attend the House of the Lord.  I am grateful that Jesus Christ is willing to take our burdens upon Him, and I am thankful that in the temple I feel the conduit to allow me enough peace and faith to actually give my burdens to Him. 

I am also awed to know that in spite of my lack of full faith or my stubbornness or whatever it is, He will still love me, forgive me, and help me at every possible opportunity!  How I love my Savior!

These are the big things, but there are dozens--maybe hundreds--of seemingly small things which I have noticed this week.  Health, home, employment, food, adorable children, beautiful music, the scriptures, the sun (oh! how thankful I've been to see some sunshine and blue sky this week!), a good car, my family, many dear friends, covenants, laughter, reading.  The list is long and amazing.

In the end, you see, I was not completely missing seeing God's hand in my life.  Perhaps what is most apparent is that God is there so much, so often, so completely, that I take for granted the amazing gifts and blessings He gives me.

There.  My cup runneth over.


Amy said...

I love you.

Kim and Preston said...

It is amazing at the times we feel that we may not be able to see things that they are there. It reminds me of the pavilion talk from last years conference by President Eyring. I love your writings. You have a way with words that is such a talent to touch peoples hearts. Thanks for sharing.