Building Patience

Rarely does life go as planned. I am not sure any of us could have anticipated just how drastically different our lives would be this year. In what seemed an instant, everything changed. How we live our everyday lives has changed. Our interactions have changed. For a while, our ability to buy many of the things we use on a regular basis even changed. Although the store shelves have now mostly been restocked, there is one thing that seems to still be in short supply—patience.

At Russell M. Nelson’s recent birthday celebration, he gave his family the following advice, “Build into your character the quality of patience.”1 That really resonated with me! During these past several months as the world has been battling COVID-19, I have found myself feeling more impatient than I care to admit. What has become very clear to me is that, like all Christlike attributes, patience is an ongoing process. It is a journey, with bumps and turns and detours. How many times have we been told to find joy in the journey? Being impatient robs us of the joy and happiness we are meant to have all along our journey. We cannot afford to wait to be happy until this crisis is over!

Quoting from a scripture in Hebrews, Neal A. Maxwell wisely reminded us that “we are to ‘run with patience the race that is set before us,’ and it is a marathon, not a dash.”2

The current race we are running quickly turned from a dash into a marathon. And when this race is over, another one will be “set before us.” I am not a runner, but it would seem to be nearly impossible to run a marathon without checkpoints and aid stations all along the way. I definitely need to be stopping at the aid station to build up my supply of patience more frequently!

As I read the Beatitudes in 3 Nephi 12 during my study this week, I thought about how patience affects our becoming what the Savior asks us to become. Being meek, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers will be impossible without the Christlike characteristic of patience. Gaining and retaining a testimony, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, definitely takes patience. Without patience we would not be able to endure the persecutions that we know are part of a disciple’s life. Building patience into our character allows us to trust in God and in His timing, no matter what!

I love this quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith.”3  May we continually strive to build the quality patience into our character. We have been promised our lives will be more blessed as we do.

References:

1.  Church News

2.  Endure It Well – Neal A. Maxwell

3.  Continue in Patience – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Discovering Humility

It is undeniable that we are living in a very contentious time. Criticism and comparison seem to have invaded almost every aspect of life. Harsh words have become the norm. The need to be right has superseded human decency. Hatred and intolerance are destroying neighborhoods and nations. The cause of all these troubles can be summed up in one word: pride.

We have long been warned just how destructive pride can be. Sadly, we are seeing many of its devastating effects today. Gratefully we have been taught how to counteract pride. Humility is the antidote to pride. Perhaps there has never been a greater need for humility than there is right now!

Some assume humility a weakness. How wrong that assumption is! It is a needed Christlike attribute we have been encouraged to acquire.

When we are humble, we trust in God and in His timing. We look to the Savior in every thought. We turn to Them to help us through every aspect of life, especially life’s adversities. When we are humble, we feel peace, we have hope, and we exhibit charity.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said, “We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves.”1

When we think less about ourselves, we naturally will think about others more. When we are humble, we can celebrate the successes, accomplishments, and happiness of others, even when we are experiencing temporary failures or sorrows.

Humility is submissive, meek, kind, and charitable. Pride is controlling, aggressive, combative and selfish.

When we are humble, we seek forgiveness for those things we do wrong, we forgive those who have wronged us, and we overlook the mortal imperfections in others.  When we are filled with pride, we hold grudges and point out the mistakes and weaknesses of others.

When we have humility, we are teachable. When we are full of pride, we think we know it all.

When we are humble, during the challenges and trials of life, we still recognize Heavenly Father’s goodness and the many blessings we receive from Him.

It is impossible to be grateful if we are not humble. And we can never truly be humble if we are not grateful.

In Alma 5:27 and 28, there are two powerful questions posed, ones we would be wise to ask ourselves frequently. “Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?” And, “are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God.”2

We cannot be sufficiently humble until we are stripped of pride. And that will not be possible without continual help from God. We truly need Him every hour of every day. As our loving Heavenly Father, He is anxious to bless us in our efforts to discover the Christlike attribute of humility.

References:

1.  Pride and the Priesthood – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

2.  Alma 5

Always Remember Him

After all these years, I finally convinced my husband to take me back to see his mission. Since he served in the United States, it probably shouldn’t have taken us so long. But it was definitely worth the wait! Although we weren’t there long enough to see everyone and everything, it was fun to see several of the places where he lived and served. We were able to share all our time with a couple he had the privilege of teaching and seeing join the Church. On Sunday, we had church at one of their sons’ homes. Their youngest daughter and her family also joined us, so there were fifteen of us there for church. That was the most people I have been able to attend church with for almost six months! It was such a special experience. My husband was asked to help with the sacrament. As he knelt down to offer the prayer on the bread, I was overcome with emotion. I was sharing this sacred ordinance with some of the people Dave had taught the gospel to almost forty years ago! I remember feeling something very similar several years ago when we were at Martin’s Cove and my husband and son were asked to help bless the sacrament. On that special occasion, I could not hold back the tears of gratitude and love. Just like my thoughts then, on this special Sunday I thought of the sacrifices that had been made so many years earlier that made it possible for me to be having such a sweet experience now. Dave had sacrificed to serve a mission. Ron and Susie had made incredible sacrifices to join the Church. They and their children have continued to make sacrifices to serve in the Church. Their three sons all served missions. All five of their children married in the temple. They have all remained strong and faithful.

As I have thought about these two occasions and the profoundly spiritual experiences they were, I realized that I should be having that kind of an experience every time I have the privilege of taking the sacrament. The sacrament is symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice made by our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of His sacrifice, it is possible for me to enjoy blessings beyond my comprehension!

President Russell M. Nelson reminded us, “Partaking of the sacrament is a sacred and sanctifying privilege.”1 He said this just a few months ago, during the time when we are only able to partake of the sacrament in our homes. That seems significant to me. We don’t always have to be in a chapel. Sometimes out of necessity church is at home or in a barn in the mountains. It is the ordinance not the place that makes the sacrament sacred and sanctifying. To always remember the Savior is a covenant commitment that comes with powerful promises.

Oh, how important it is to recognize and remember the sacrifices others have made to get us where we are today! Equally important is our need to make the daily sacrifices, ones that keep our testimonies strong and vibrant. That is how we always remember Him. And when we always remember Him, the sacrament truly becomes sacred and sanctifying in our lives.

Reference:

1.  May 28, 2020 Instagram Post – Russell M. Nelson

A Gift From My Daughter

It’s hard to believe that Adrianne would be turning 35 years old today. For her birthday, I decided to share a talk she gave in church less than a year before passed away. Her words inspire me as much today as they did when I heard her share them all those years ago, perhaps more. I hope you will find inspiration in them as well.

“A few months ago, I started rock climbing. I am still learning many techniques and holds, and I still have much to learn. One of the first things I learned is perhaps the thing that I remember most: I will fall. Sometimes a hold is greasy because so many others climb the same route, and I have not sufficiently chalked up my hands. Sometimes I reach for one hold without having a steady grip on another. And other times, perhaps the most frustrating times, I am just not strong enough.

“When I’m climbing and I take a fall, I know I’m not going to get hurt, because my belayer is there to constantly catch me. But, the moment my fingers slip off the lip of a rock or my toe slides out of place and I fall, my heart sinks. Because I failed to secure my next hold, I have to reclimb a portion of the route. Sometimes, I take a fall in the same spot three or four times before I get it right. Many times, it feels superfluous and wasteful to have to retrace the sections that I climbed well before I fell. But, the moments in which I climb back up to my highest point are those that best prepare me for the remainder of the route. As I climb what I did well, I improve the fluidity of my footwork, and I chalk up my hands to prepare for a hand hold that I had no idea was greasy until I grasped it.

“My belayer, whose view is completely different from mine, can offer me beta, or advice, on what he can see. Often, he has already climbed that route, and he knows what to expect. He knows my skill level, my strengths, my weaknesses. He knows how to best guide me.

“The beauty of having a belayer is knowing that you are safe while you climb. When you fall, he can feel the rope slide and can quickly catch you. You share a rope with the belayer, and so you are attached to him; he cannot just up and walk away while you climb.

“Our Savior is our belayer and our guide. He has experienced everything that we could possibly experience. He has taken our falls for us, He knows how to guide us, and He will never walk away from us. When we fall, He, more than any other, knows how to assist us in regaining our path, and our eternal salvation relies on His assistance, which He offers through the Atonement.

“The word atonement means to reconcile. When we sin, we separate ourselves from our Heavenly Father. We lose control, we become weak, and we fall. As a result, we are imperfect and are no longer worthy to be in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Our Father knew that we would be imperfect, and so He sent His Son to reconcile our sins.

Alma, Chapter 7, verses 11 through 13 teach us:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.1

“Part of the purpose of Christ’s Atonement was to teach Him how to succor us in times of trial, suffering, and sin. The word succor comes from the Latin word succurrere, which means ‘to run to the aid of’.  Our Savior’s perfect, infinite Atonement provides the necessary reconciliation that allows every single one of us to correct our mistakes and overcome our sins, and it allowed our older brother to understand what we are suffering so that He would be able to RUN TO OUR AID.

“Because Jesus Christ is perfect, His guidance will never fail us or lead us astray. Unfortunately, sometimes we deny Him the chance to help us because we are too lazy, too proud, or too discouraged. Each of these feelings is detrimental; yet, no matter how intense, each can be eliminated with prayer.

“First, we are too lazy. Some sins are comfortable. We may find it easy to neglect the spiritual necessity of daily prayer and scripture reading. Worse, we may blame it on being busy. No worldly responsibility, no matter how crucial to our physical well-being, can compensate for spiritual deterioration and neglect. The only cure for laziness is activity. Engage in prayer, and do so frequently. Praying invigorates our spiritual connection with our Heavenly Father, and we become stronger.

“Second, we are too proud. Some sins, like lying, give the illusion of power. A person who habitually lies is generally too ignorant to notice the shaky throne upon which they sit. They may not feel like admitting their lies because it would make them seem weak. No lie is more powerful than honesty. If we are feeling too proud to change even the smallest of sins, we must, once more, pray. When we kneel in prayer, we physically and spiritually humble ourselves to connect with our Heavenly Father, and we open ourselves to His will.

“Third, we are too discouraged. Sins, especially serious ones, are loaded with frustration and despair. Some are completely addicting, trapping us in a spiritual black hole in which we let no light and happiness in or out. We become miserable, murmuring, even malicious. Worst of all, we begin to believe that we are too far gone. President Boyd K. Packer said: ‘There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.’2 Sincere prayer invites alleviation, healing, and comfort from our adversaries. When we pray, we allow ourselves the blessing of receiving the healing and comfort that our Heavenly Father waits to offer us if we sincerely strive to reconcile our sins and become whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“None of these negative feelings come from our Heavenly Father, and none are worth sacrificing the healing and strengthening powers of the Atonement.

“I submit to you this suggestion: when you are struggling with ANY adversary of any magnitude, kneel down and pray without ceasing to our Heavenly Father. Pray for the strength to overcome whatever you are suffering. Do not expect that your burdens will be instantly lifted. The Atonement is not a spiritual ‘get out of jail free’ card. We cannot expect our Heavenly Father to let us bypass our trials, nor should we want Him to. Were we to float through life without spiritual opposition, our testimonies would shrivel, wilt, and diminish.

“Striving for cleanliness through the Atonement is not a one-time process. It is as constant as breathing – we must do it at all times in order to lead a strong, healthy spiritual life.

“I know the power of the Atonement is real and true. I have felt the palpable peace and comfort that come after I have worked to cleanse myself of sin. I know our Heavenly Father loved us SO much that He provided a path for us to continually cleanse ourselves of our sins, shortcomings, and temptations, so that we may have the opportunity to be with Him again, if we so choose.”

Adrianne’s testimony is a priceless gift to me! I love her so much and feel very blessed to be her mother! Together with hers, I share my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him! Words are not adequate to express my gratitude for the precious gift of His Atonement. Because of Him, I know I will be with my daughter again. That knowledge brings me so much peace. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Because of Jesus Christ, we will rise from the despair of death and embrace those we love, shedding tears of overwhelming joy and overflowing gratitude.”3 I look forward to that day with sweet anticipation!

References:

1.  Alma 7:11-13

2.  The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness – Boyd K. Packer

3.  Behold the Man! – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

A Much-Needed Reminder

Anyone who knows me very well knows I love the temple! I have missed being able to go to the temple so much! I found great comfort in something Elder Dale G. Renlund said in a video he posted on his social media a couple of weeks ago, “The fact that we can’t go to the temple doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us in our lives. … Keeping covenants will bring the power of godliness in our lives whether we’re able to physically go to the temple or not.”1 I loved this tender reminder!

In his closing remarks in general conference in April, President Russell M. Nelson said something much the same, “During times of our distress when temples are closed, you can still draw upon the power of your temple covenants and endowment as you honor your covenants.”2 I remember hearing the prophet say this (and I loved it because it he said it just after he shared a part of President Wilford Woodruff’s dedicatory prayer of the Salt Lake Temple asking for Heavenly Father to bless us if a time should come when we were unable to attend the temple), but those encouraging words didn’t have quite the same impact on me when I heard them in April as it did when I read them the other day. In April, the temples had only been closed for a couple of weeks. Now we are getting close to six months!

It’s amazing what time and perspective do for us!

I remember when I heard D. Todd Christofferson say, “In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact.”3 He said that only three months after Adrianne had passed away. Never before had I felt the power of godliness flow into my life with such power as I did during that time in my life! It wasn’t necessary for me to be in the temple to be able to draw upon the power of my temple covenants. Oh, how I needed and cherished that power!

Drawing upon the power of godliness is imperative in times of distress, but we need to be able to access that power every day. A definition I recently read that I especially like said that “the power of godliness is the power of righteousness, by which we come to know God and become like Him.”4 Elder Christofferson describes the power of godliness as Heavenly Father’s divine influence. He said that by keeping our covenants, that divine influence will “flow into our lives.”3

President Nelson once said, “Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint.”5 Remember what Elder Christofferson said about our covenants being paramount and our obedience being exact. I believe the two go hand in hand. When our covenants mean everything to us, being obedient will be an active part of our daily striving. Obedience is keeping covenants and keeping covenants is being obedient.  

Imagine God’s influence and His blessings flowing into our lives! When I think about flowing without constraint, I visualize a mighty and powerful river. During the winters here in Utah, we usually get quite a lot of snow. As winter turns to spring, all that snow melts. The reservoirs fill up and the rivers and streams begin to flow. Some years we get so much snow that the runoff fills our rivers and streams to overflowing. (That’s as close to a mighty and powerful river as it gets here in the desert!) These last several months of being unable to go to the temple have felt a bit like the cold winter months to me. But spring will come! I’m not suggesting that while the temples are closed I cannot feel God’s influence or blessings in my life. Quite the contrary. I have felt inspired to research my family history. I have had new and exciting opportunities to study the gospel with some very dear friends. Those are just two things I would not otherwise have done during these past several months. And my life has been so blessed because of them! Most likely we are all being blessed more than we realize. But I do think that when the temples reopen, it will be like a beautiful warm spring after an unusually snowy winter. We will feel an undeniable outpouring of His influence and His blessings.

I absolutely miss attending the temple! But gratefully, as Elder Renlund reminded us, “keeping covenants will bring the power of godliness in our lives whether we’re able to physically go to the temple or not.” 1 May we always be obedient and keep our covenants so God’s influence and blessings can flow into our lives without constraint.

References:

1.  August 3, 2020 Instagram Post – Dale G. Renlund

2.  Go Forward in Faith – Russell M. Nelson

3.  The Power of Covenants – D. Todd Christofferson

4.  Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual – Chapter 31

5.  Face the Future With Faith – Russell M. Nelson

Small and Simple

In a recent social media post, President Henry B. Eyring said, “Do with determination the simple things that will move you forward spiritually.”1 A familiar scripture from the Book of Mormon reminds us that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”2 Whenever I read this scripture, I think of my dad! He would smile and tell me it was one of his favorites. If you had known my dad, you would understand why. He was barely 5’4” and was raised on a farm. So, by the world’s standards, he was small and simple. But because my dad was determined to do the small and simple things of the gospel every day of his life, he became a spiritual giant with a profound knowledge of the gospel.

In order to become who God wants us to become, the small and simple things matter. Consistently doing things like saying our prayers every morning and night, reading our scriptures every day, quiet acts of kindness, and being honest really do keep us moving forward spiritually, even if we don’t recognize it. They are the needed drops of oil we add to our lamps of conversion.

David A. Bednar teaches that “conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God.”3

Of course the opposite is also true. M. Russell Ballard warned that “small and simple things can be negative and destructive to a person’s salvation. A series of seemingly small but incorrect choices can become those little soul-destroying termites that eat away at the foundations of our testimony until, before we are aware, we may be brought near to spiritual and moral destruction.”4

Little by little, day by day, the choices we make have a powerful impact. Are those choices drops of oil or destructive termites? May we be extra careful in the little things we do every day. Some of them will have eternal consequences. President Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “Each day is a day of decision.”5 The more focused we are on the small and simple things of the gospel, the easier it will be to walk the covenant path back home to our Father in Heaven.

References:

1.  June 28, 2020 Instagram Post – Henry B. Eyring

2.  Alma 37:6

3.  Converted Unto the Lord – David A. Bednar

4.  Small and Simple Things – M. Russell Ballard

5.  Decisions for Eternity – Russell M. Nelson

The Need for Greater Unity

Nothing steals our happiness more than disharmony. This is true for marriages, families, neighbors and nations. Sadly, conflict seems to be everywhere right now! Contention is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. Clearly he and his troops are out in unprecedented numbers waging war wherever they can! So how can we stop this army of animosity?

One of the lessons we learn from the war chapters in the Book of Mormon is that victory only came when there was unity. The same is true today. When we are at odds with each other, there is no chance for unity. And the Lord has made it very clear that if we are not one, we are not His. (See D&C 38:27).

In order to have unity, we must avoid contention. Differences and disagreements will inevitably arise. And while there are many things in life we cannot control, one thing we always have control over is how we speak. We can eliminate gossip, fault-finding and comparisons from our thoughts and our language.  You and I cannot control how someone acts toward us, but we can always choose how we will react to them. We can choose to not be offended. Unity is only possible when we put aside our pride. Challenging as these things may be, the rewards will be well worth it!

Marion G. Romney – “There is but one way that we can be united, and that way is to seek the Lord and His righteousness (see 3 Nephi 13:33). Unity comes by following the light from above. It does not come out of the confusions below.”1

It is undeniable that contention drives away the Spirit. Many years ago, Russell M. Nelson warned that contention “is a corroding canker of the spirit.”2 Many times since becoming the prophet he has reminded us of the need to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Perhaps the most powerful was when he said, “If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation. … In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”3

We cannot afford to let contention rob us of the essential and spiritually life-saving influence of the Holy Ghost. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can know how to better create harmony and unity in our lives. Each day as we work on being more unified with those around us, we get a little closer to becoming who the Savior has asked us to become.

References:

1.  Unity – Marion G. Romney

2.  The Canker of Contention – Russell M. Nelson

3.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

What Faith Can Do

Helen Keller said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” That is exactly what happened in the Sacred Grove two hundred years ago. There a 14 year-old boy went to pray, having faith enough to know that if he asked his Heavenly Father a question he would get an answer. And he did get an answer! Because Joseph Smith prayed in faith and then acted in faith on the answer he received, the world has been filled with the incredible light of the gospel!

There have been many times in my life when I have had to rely totally on faith – faith is built on our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world. I know that faith in Him can give us the strength to emerge triumphant in times when we feel our world shattering is around us. Without a doubt we will all have times when we feel like our world is shattering around us, because, honestly, that is part of our mortal learning. Those are the refining moments in our lives. During those times, we get to choose if we will have faith, if we will trust Heavenly Father to shape and mold us into the person He wants us to be. While I can’t say that I have loved my trials, I can say I love what my trials have helped me become. I cannot say I have loved watching those I love go through their trials, but I love how they have come through them better and stronger than ever!

Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children. The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. … The boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation. … What will your seeking open for you?”1

Do we have the kind of faith that young Joseph had? Do we really know that Heavenly Father will answer our sincere prayers? Do we have enough faith in Him to trust how He answers our prayers? 

I love the beautiful reminder in Alma 58:11 that says, “Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”

At the beginning of the year, President Nelson issued this challenge, “In this remarkable year as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him?”2 Speaking peace to my soul and granting me great faith are some of the sweetest ways I hear Him. Trusting God, having faith in His Son, and listening for the whisperings of the Holy Ghost are things I have to do every day. Then I can hear Him better. And as I learn to hear Him better, I know He will lighten my burdens and brighten my days.  

References:

1.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

2.  How Do You Hear Him? – Russell M. Nelson

Silver Linings

The last five months have been interesting, to say the least. Life has changed dramatically for most people. There is so much chaos and commotion. It is difficult to watch and not be affected by it to some degree. The best word to describe how I have been feeling is gloomy. The most challenging thing for me during this pandemic has been not being able to go to the temple. No matter how overwhelming my life has gotten in the past, I could always go to the temple and find peace. Spending time in the temple grounded me, recharged my batteries, if you will, and gave me the strength to go back out and face the world.

Yesterday President Nelson put out a video where he talked about the weighty decision to close the temples. At the end, he said, “Even through clouds of sorrow, there can be silver linings found.”1 A friend asked what silver linings I have found during the temple closures. I knew immediately what the answer was.

About a month ago, I felt an overwhelming urge to research and study the histories of my ancestors. Almost immediately, I felt the cloud of gloom lifting. I felt a peace and strength very similar to what I would feel in the temple. It has been amazing! This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. In general conference in April, President Russell M. Nelson reminded us, “Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son. … As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional.”2 Where I hear the Savior the best has always been in the temple. I needed to trust Him more so that I could hear Him other places too. Oh that I had listened in April and not in June to this promise from President Nelson, “While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.”2

There was something else that President Nelson said in yesterday’s video that piqued my interest. “Even though temples have been closed, family history research and work has taken a huge leap forward; more names are being added.”1 Family history research has definitely taken a huge leap forward in my life. I am sad to admit that I have not been as familiar with my amazing family as I should have been. The gratitude I feel for their examples and sacrifices is overwhelming. Because of them, I have the gospel in my life. Their example of unwavering faithfulness is something I want to emulate! This has certainly been a silver lining while I am unable to go to the temple.

But President Nelson said silver linings. After watching the video, I felt compelled to look through names and ordinances I had done the month or two before the temple closed. Some of those ancestors still have ordinances that need to be done but at that time they were not able to be reserved. I decided to look for every person that didn’t have all their work done. To my delight, more had been added! I was able to reserve seventeen more ordinances for my relatives! I can hardly wait for the temples to reopen so I can do this work! What a beautiful silver lining!

We are surely living through some pretty cloudy days right now. The reality of life is that there will always be cloudy days. And there will also always be silver linings! Jeffery R. Holland said, “Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek.”3 As we seek the light and love of our Heavenly Father and strive to hear His Son ever more intentionally, every day we can feel the peace that comes only from Him. And on our cloudy days, I hope we will remember to look for the silver linings.

References:

1.  President Nelson video on decision to close temples amid Covid-19

2.  Hear Him – Russell M. Nelson

3.  An High Priest of Good Things to Come – Jeffrey R. Holland

All is Well!

I ended my last blog with the quote, “Life is wonderful, even in the hard times, and there is happiness, joy, and peace at stops all along the way, and endless portions of them at the end of the road.”1 Oh how well this quote describes the pioneers! I am sure there were many people who sang the pioneer hymn Come, Come, Ye Saints2 today as part of their worship. We did. And as I sang, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between the lyrics to that song and the lessons I have learned from Ann Jewell Rowley, my third great-grandmother. These are a few of the insights I have learned about her as I have been studying her remarkable life.

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take – Ann’s husband, William, died when their youngest child was just six months old. She would now raise seven children of her own under the age of 12 and some of William’s children from his first marriage. After joining the Church, she and William had talked about leaving England and joining with the Saints in the United States. Sadly, Ann Jewell would now have to face that difficult journey as a single parent. These are her courageous words, “I was very grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the comfort it gave me. I knew that our parting was only temporary and that viewed from the eternities, this was but a fleeting moment. I also knew that no matter how fleeting a moment it was, I had to make the best of it. I had a very real job to do. The children had to be fed and clothed, but the big task and the one I must accomplish, is to get us all to Zion. I must be among the people of my faith and I must get the Temple work done for us.”3

Our God will never us forsake – Whether she was crossing the ocean to join the Saints or enduring her trials and struggles crossing the plains with the Willie Handcart Company, Ann always had great faith and trust in the Lord.  This example from her autobiography gives a glimpse into her incredible faith. “I watched with alarm, my stepdaughter Eliza, grow weaker each day. She was never very strong. I had always devoted a lot of love and care to her, but she passed away one day and was buried off to the side of the trail. Her long journey was at an end, but ours had a long way yet to go. … I was grateful for my faith in God, for it was only through this faith, that I was able to carry on at all. I confess, it seemed at times, the Lord had deserted us. I watched John, so cold, drowsy and sick, want to lie down in his tracks, never to rise again. In traveling at night, in the frost of that altitude, Thomas’s right hand froze while he was pushing on the back of the cart. … He could finally go no farther and I felt my heart would break as I saw him laying beside the trail, waiting for the sick wagon. By the time he was picked up, his body was frozen in two places. That night, 12 people died and the next morning, 3 people joined them. … However, the Lord had not deserted us and I was ashamed for thinking for a moment, he had.”3

And soon we’ll have this tale to tell – While Ann Jewell had many tales to tell, something miraculous happened to her little family near the end of their journey. It is quite a tale! It, in fact, has been told in the movie 17 Miracles. This is how Ann Jewell described their miracle, “There came a time when there seemed to be no food at all. Some of the men left to hunt buffalo. Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal. I asked God’s help as I always did. I got on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuits that were still in my trunk. … They were not large, and were so hard they couldn’t be broken. Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5,000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible. I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God’s blessing, then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient food.”3

All is well! All is well! – Ann Jewell Rowley’s journal includes this tender yearning, “I shall be the happiest person, if I could reach Zion, with all my children alive.” Sadly, her stepdaughter died along the trail, but she was truly blessed to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley with all seven of her children on November 9, 1856. She had completed her big task to get them all to Zion. Happily, she was now among the people of her faith. Her last big task was to get the temple work done for her family. On October 14, 1859, Ann received her endowment and was sealed to William in the Endowment House. All is well!

Ann Jewell was an amazing example of a faithful, righteous woman of God. I am proud of the heritage she left our family. The pioneers left an unmistakable heritage for all of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The sacrifices they made continue to bless our lives today.

Robert D. Hales once said, “The Lord expects us to be as faithful, as devoted, as courageous as those who went before us. They were called to give their lives for the gospel. We are called to live our lives for the same purpose.”4

May we be as faithful and faith-filled as those who have gone before us. Especially this week, as we think about the pioneers, I hope we will reflect on their examples of perseverance, long-suffering, hard work, courage and unwavering commitment to God. Their incredible examples are worth emulating every day of our lives.

References:

1.  Fear Not, Little Flock – Howard W. Hunter

2.  Come, Come Ye Saints – Hymn 30

3.  Ann Jewell Rowley – Tell My Story Too

4.  Preparations for the Restoration and the Second Coming: “My Hand Shall be Over Thee” – Robert D. Hales