be role models

Remember This: Kindness Begins With Me

The other day I took my almost two-year old grandson to the aquarium. Since there were hardly any people around, he happily ran from one exhibit to the next. When we got to the penguin exhibit, there was an even younger boy with his mother. Immediately, these two little boys connected. They climbed up and down the stairs together, giggling and watching each other’s every move. Although it didn’t last long, for them playing was just the natural thing to do.

Of course, their heartwarming interaction was nothing unusual. You can see the same thing happen at almost any playground. When little children see other little children, they see new friends. Is it any wonder the Savior taught, “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”?1

Earlier this month, Gary E. Stevenson spoke to young and old alike, reminding us of “our heavenly duty”2 to be kind and loving to each other. He counseled the adults to “be role models of kindness, inclusion, and civility—to teach Christlike behavior to the rising generation in what we say and how we act.”2

Too often what we hear and see cannot, in any way, be considered Christlike. Sadly, there are times those words and actions are our own. While we cannot change others, we can change what we say and do, how we act and react.

I am reminded of the Primary song I sang as a girl:

I want to be kind to everyone,
For that is right, you see.
So I say to myself, “Remember this:
Kindness begins with me.”3

Such wise words! Even one Christlike action can make a difference! Think about the light a small candle gives to a dark room. In the very same way, each small act of kindness will add much-needed light to an ever-darkening world.

That day at the aquarium, the role models of kindness, inclusion, and civility were two innocent little boys. As often happens in life, I was being taught by a child.

References:

1.  Matthew 18:3

2.  Hearts Knit Together – Gary E. Stevenson

3.  Kindness Begins With Me – Children’s Songbook

Love should be …

If you have turned on your television or radio in the last several days, you have undoubtedly been bombarded with commercials reminding you that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you need to buy this or that to show the special people in your life just how much you love them. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t write a note or do something extra special for the ones we love this week. Not at all! We definitely should! Holidays are great times to show expressions of love.

However, the way we show people we genuinely love them is how we treat them – day in and day out, especially when life is hard or it’s inconvenient. I think Dieter F. Uchdorf said it best, “Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do. … Love should be our walk and our talk.”1

Think about it, if Heavenly Father has commanded us to love, He will help us know how to love and who to love! I truly believe that! When love is our walk and our talk, we are focused on others. We look for ways to bless those around us. And most importantly, we listen for the impressions from the Spirit. When love is our walk and our talk, the quality of our relationships will improve! Love begets love. Love begets miracles!

When was the last time you did a random act of kindness for a member of your family? For a friend? For a stranger? Sometimes it’s the really simple things that have the greatest impact. Joseph B. Wirthlin once said, “We often don’t know the reach of a simple act of kindness.”2

Imagine how much better the world be if each of us made a conscious effort to have love be our walk and our talk every day!

References:

1.  The Love of God – Dieter F. Uchtorf

2.  The Abundant Life – Joseph B. Wirthin

love life

Love Life!

Many years ago, Russell M. Nelson gave this advice, which seems especially necessary right now, “Love life! Cherish each moment as a blessing from God. Live it well—even to your loftiest potential.”1 With the craziness and chaos all around us, loving life requires us to be more thoughtful and more intentional about what we allow into our lives. It requires us to be more focused on the good and especially on God.

Can we truly love life without having peace in our life? Can we live life to our loftiest potential without striving to live peaceably? I don’t think so. Is it possible to be peaceable when contention seems to be everywhere? Yes, it is!

One of the greatest examples of this is found in the Book of Mormon. The prophet Mormon described wars and wickedness that are hard to comprehend. Yet he recognized the followers of Christ because of their “peaceable walk with the children of men.”2 Those words have always intrigued me. What exactly does a peaceable walk look like, especially in extremely challenging times? I’ve reflected on that many times but more so lately. The other day I got the best answer!

I was listening to Sheri Dew’s interview with the prophet’s wife, Wendy Nelson. One of the questions Sister Dew asked was, “President Nelson gave a talk called ‘Hear Him.’ What have you learned about hearing Him, how to hear Him, from being married to President Nelson?” This is part of Sister Nelson’s answer, “To hear Him, … we absolutely remove anything that prevents the Spirit from being in our home in full abundance. An example is zero contention. I thought that was an impossible thing. … [L]iterally, if we would be watching a movie, and there would be contention, he needed to turn it off. If there was a sporting game, but it became contentious rather than competitive, he would turn it off. So anything that offends the Spirit —contention. … Our home is designed by both of us to make sure that the Spirit can be there in full abundance so that hearing Him is always on our mind.”3

That is what walking peaceably looks like!

Begin today, as Jeffrey R. Holland challenged us, “to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace.”4

As we do, we will be among those who our prophet today will recognize as followers of Christ because of our peaceable walk with each other. “Love life! Cherish each moment as a blessing from God. Live it well—even to your loftiest potential.”1

References:

1.  Doors of Death – Russell M. Nelson

2.  Moroni 7:4

3.  Wendy Nelson Interview – Church News Podcast

4.  The Ministry of Reconciliation – Jeffrey R. Holland

love what He loves

Love What He Loves

No matter who the Savior was speaking to, His invitation was the same: “Come, follow me.” When we choose to follow Him, we not only choose to do what He would do, but we choose to, as Ronald A. Rasband taught, “love what He loves: humility, meekness, steadfastness, charity, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and obedience.”1 I think that is profound! Can I honestly say I love humility? Or meekness? Or courage? Or obedience? But that is exactly what I must do if I am truly following the Savior.

With Christmas just two weeks away, a perfect way to help us follow the Savior would be to study His attributes. I invite you to make a list of the attributes of Christ and then choose one attribute each day to focus on. Find ways to implement it into your life. Look for that attribute in others. Record what you learn each day. At the end of the two weeks, see if you have learned to love what He loves even more. What better gift can we give the Savior than to truly follow Him by being like Him.

May we daily strive to follow the Savior and emulate His divine character. As we do, we will “yearn to be more meek, more pure, more steadfast, more Christlike.”2 Those yearnings will take us to our knees because we can never become who we are to become without heaven’s help. I love this reminder from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They cannot be developed without His help.”3

References:

1.  Recommend to the Lord – Ronald A. Rasband

2.  Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God – Dale G. Renlund

3.  Christlike Attributes–the Wind Beneath our WingsDieter F. Uchtdorf

Blessed by Gratitude

What an incredible month this has been! When I decided to turn November into 30 days of gratitude, I could scarcely have imagined the sweet stirrings I would feel. And what enhanced those feelings even more was when President Russell M. Nelson invited us all to flood the earth with expressions of gratitude on our social media for 7 days. I had been posting inspiring quotes and writing in my gratitude journal every day for nearly three weeks, but this challenge from our prophet changed me and deepened my feelings of gratitude in unimaginable ways. I felt greater happiness, stronger love, and increased peace. This is not surprising though because President Nelson knew that is how we would all feel. We are always blessed when we follow the prophet!

Another prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, once said, “Walk with gratitude before Him who is the giver of life and every good gift.”1 I hope November was just the beginning for each of us and not the end. Our lives will truly be richer if every day we walk with gratitude in our hearts for a loving Heavenly Father and for every good gift He gives us.

As we now turn to the Christmas season, I hope our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for God’s greatest gift to us—the gift of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Earlier this year, Elder Dale G. Renlund taught, “Each of us has received gifts that we could not provide for ourselves, gifts from our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, including redemption through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have received life in this world; we will receive physical life in the hereafter, and eternal salvation and exaltation—if we choose it—all because of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Every time we use, benefit from, or even think of these gifts, we ought to consider the sacrifice, generosity, and compassion of the givers. Reverence for the givers does more than just make us grateful. Reflecting on Their gifts can and should transform us.”2

President Nelson’s 7-day challenge indeed was transformative. Elder Renlund also gave us an invitation, though his seems to be more of a lifelong challenge.  He said, “I invite you to remember each day the greatness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and what They have done for you. Let your consideration of Their goodness more firmly bind your wandering heart to Them. Ponder Their compassion, and you will be blessed with added spiritual sensitivity and become more Christlike.”2

I gladly accept this challenge and hope you will too! And as we remember Their goodness and Their compassion, may we express our gratitude to Them by offering that same kind of love and compassion to others. Imagine how wonderful this Christmas season will be if we all will do that!

References:

1.  With all Thy Getting Get Understanding – Gordon B. Hinckley

2.  Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God – Dale G. Renlund

count your many blessings

Count Your Many Blessings…

When you look around, what do you see? What do you focus on? I can’t think of a time when there was a greater need to focus on our blessings than there is right now. You may recall in general conference a few weeks ago, President Russell M. Nelson warned against near-sightedness. Life is full of challenges and changes. When we focus only on hardships, it is easy to become discouraged. He reminds us that to find peace, we need to keep an eternal perspective and “let God prevail in your lives.”1 Last week Elder Dale G. Renlund cautioned that being far-sighted can be equally troublesome. While near-sightedness blurs the big picture, far-sightedness blurs “important things that are close to us.”2 If we are far-sighted, “we sometimes fail to appreciate that which is closest to us.”2

So, in this crazy year of 2020, how can we make our vision 20/20? I think we can find the answer in the hymn, “Count Your Blessings.” Think about verses 1 and 3. “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. … So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”3 If our near-sightedness makes us only see the tossing tempest, we may not be able to see God’s countless blessings in our lives. If we are too far-sighted, we may not see the angels, both earthly and heavenly, who are near us and help us along our journey.

We really do have so much to be grateful for! And a grateful heart and a positive attitude can certainly help us see better. As we count our many blessings, I am convinced we will see those we love and the world around us with new eyes. We will have greater courage to face our challenges today as we “look to God and live,”4 knowing there is a glorious future ahead.

I hope you will join me in making November a month of gratitude. Every day I am going to choose to see through grateful eyes. To help me do that, I am going to keep a gratitude journal. I will also be posting gratitude quotes on Instagram. Look for a new one every day of November! I truly believe that looking at life through a lens of gratitude can improve our vision, allowing us to clearly see and then count our many blessings.

Imagine if we all choose to be more grateful! And we can always be more grateful!

References:

1.  Let God Prevail – Russell M. Nelson

2.  October 25, 2020 Instagram Post – Dale G. Renlund

3.  Count Your Blessings – Hymn 241

4.  Alma 37:47

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

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