Sunday, February 17, 2013

Counting Blessings

I feel like I have been so richly blessed over the past month or two. I have felt the Spirit as much or more than at any other time in my life. I have been blessed with extra energy and with peace of mind that comes from striving to live the gospel. I just felt the need today to record some of my blessings that are on my mind.

1) First, I am so thankful for my family. Alfredo has been so supportive of the things I am doing. He has been such a help and I am grateful for that. My girls are becoming more responsible. There are nights when I am gone and they are more on their own when it comes to homework and practicing piano and violin. And they have stepped up to the plate. They are doing their work with less support and (for the most part) less arguing than ever before. I am proud of them.

2) I am so thankful for the public library. I love to read. I love to listen to books on CD by myself and with my children. I have a fairly extensive collection of books, but I read A LOT. I could never afford to buy all of the books that I want to read or that my children want to read. So I'm thankful for the library for that. I'm thankful for their library programs which are free, educational and fun. But I'm also thankful specifically for our library system which stocks such a rich supply of LDS materials. I have just finished listening to President Monson's biography. It has inspired me and uplifted me and comforted me. I have started a blog post about that. There are talks on CD. About a year ago, I listened to a talk by Sheri Dew entitled "The Savior Heals Without A Scar" that I reflect on often. This weekend, I've been listening to a talk by Sister Wendy Nelson (Elder Nelson's wife) entitled, "What Would a Holy Woman Do?" There are so many inspiring talks, CDs, books and other materials available. I just realized this past week that they have DVD's of Time Out for Women. I also checked one of these out and today I listened to a talk by Heidi Swinton, the author of President Monson's biography. It was inspiring and touched my heart.

3) I am thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so thankful for the guiding influence in my life. I have a list of people I want to visit...more people than I can possibly visit in any given day or week. So each week I've dedicated at least an hour (and most weeks more than that) to visiting. And while I have this running list, I just try to let the Spirit guide me to who I should visit that day. And at least twice now, I know that I was inspired to visit the sisters I did. I don't think I changed their lives. I didn't solve their problems. But I know that I was led by the spirit to visit them...which is changing my life. And hopefully, my visit brightened their day just a little bit and helped them to know that the Lord is aware of them and their needs, even if I'm not.

After listening to President Monson's biography, I felt very prompted earlier this week that I should begin reading through all of his talks at least since he became prophet...and perhaps since he became an apostle. I am paying attention to his words, and then I am looking up and reading each verse of scripture that he references. I'm keeping a notebook where I'm recording these scriptures topically and sometimes recording his words along with the references. I've only been doing it for a few days, but I have already been so touched by what I've read. Then today, as I mentioned, I listened to a talk by Heidi Swinton and she said that as part of her process for writing his biography, she did the exact same thing. I'm not sure why that meant so much to me, but the spirit just poured through me and testified that this prompting came from the Lord and that it would continue to be a wonderful experience. She shared what she learned from doing this and it was wonderful. I am excited to see what I will learn.

4) I am thankful that I am learning that I can do hard things...or at least things that are hard for me. I honestly hate to make phone calls. I don't mind talking on the phone that much...but I really hate making the call. I am not sure why. But I am making phone calls, and it is getting easier...and I've had a few really positive experiences because of it. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13

5) I am thankful for the internet. There is good and bad available...it can be both a blessing and a hindrance. But I am thankful for the wonderful resources available at our fingertips. I have come to really love lds.org. There is so much available there. I just noticed this past week that the Worldwide Leadership Training is there as well as a 5 part series on President Monson entitled "Reach Out To Rescue". (I haven't yet read/watched either of these but I am looking forward to both.) I was searching for something last Sunday and stumbled upon Emily Freeman's website Daily Closer to Christ. I have been reading it daily and it is so inspirational. I especially love that she (and Brother Butler who is a guest blogger on her site) always include an application piece...questions on how each of us can apply what they've written about. There have been so many posts that have spoken to my heart and/or that seem to provide answers/help for problems I know others are facing.

6) I am thankful for the temple. I have had a few sacred experiences there and I'm so thankful for the peace that I feel when I go.

7) I am thankful for repentance. Today in Sunday School we talked about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel...faith, repentance, baptism by immersion and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I loved the discussion on faith and how faith is a principle of action, a placing of trust in the Lord, walking into the darkness and hoping/trusting that the Lord will be there to guide and protect. But I also really loved the discussion on repentance. That President Isaac taught our youth last Sunday that we can repent right away, as soon as we sin. That Alyson shared that a former Bishop had taught her that when we remember past sins there will always be a feeling of sadness..that feeling of sadness doesn't mean that we haven't been forgiven, but is there to remind us that we should not repeat the sin. It's a gift from our Father to help us to avoid repeating the sin. That Chuck said that repentance is a reaching. It is a change not just of behavior but a change of heart. It is a turning away from the world and toward the Lord. We talked about how important the sacrament is for us...to renew our covenants and to help cleanse ourselves again. We all fall short, we all sin, but through the Atonement and because of the love and mercy of our Father and our Savior, we can repent and be cleansed from our sins. What a great blessing this is! Wade spoke about this in his sacrament talk as well... that we all want mercy not justice...that when we take the sacrament we should listen to the words of the prayer carefully. It says "...that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments...". He then read it without the word willing and it changes the meaning significantly. I am willing to always remember Him, but I don't always remember Him. I am trying. I am striving. But I fall short and repentance and the Atonement can make up the difference.

8) I am thankful for wonderful church leaders. I appreciate a little bit more how much they do for us. I am grateful for ward and stake leaders. I am thankful for prophets and apostles. I love them and I am thankful for all they do to serve the Lord and to serve each of us. The service I give is small in comparison. When I think about all that President Monson does and is responsible for, it reminds me that I can handle my relatively small responsibilities with the Lord's help.

9) I am thankful for kind and patient family members and friends. So many people have offered kind words of love and support. So many people have offered to help. I am continually reminded of Mosiah 2:16-24. Particularly verses 23-24: "And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you: for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?" I cannot possibly serve enough to repay him...as soon as I serve, I feel happier and more peace and people reach out in love and service to me... I receive so much more than I give. All I can do is give thanks and keep trying to serve to the best of my ability.

10) Most of all, I am thankful for a loving and kind and forgiving and patient Father and Elder Brother. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior.