Small Steps Can Heal the World

boy climbing stairs

Hi there,

Do you struggle, like me, to know if you’ve helped heal the world at all today?

There are great and terrible evils afflicting us in these days, and I wonder often if I have done anything to help. And even more, I wonder if my small deeds and small prayers have made anything better.

These are troubling times we live in, the world around us is seeming to go mad, even our own loved ones in some cases (like mine). The attacks of our adversary are hitting closer and closer to home.

I don’t know about you, but visiting with my loved ones over the holidays was a discouraging experience. I have family who used to be my closest allies, who now throw nasty little jabs into our conversations. Worst yet, I worry that I am guilty of the same. After all, can’t they see that their position is just plain crazy?! But of course they can’t see it, in fact, they think the same thing about me.

The fundamental divide that is wedging itself between us, encompasses every aspect of life. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you could have a civil conversion with anyone about anything as long as you steered clear of politics and religion. But now nothing is safe, not sports, not the weather, not what you had for supper, and not your little girl’s favorite color.

The constant debate is exhausting. I’m worn out. I want to reach across the divide and draw my estranged family members closer to me, but I also want to run away to a quiet farm in the middle of nowhere and not emerge till the Savior comes.

So I do what I can, I ignore and forgive the snide comments. I overcome the urge to avoid my relatives. I attempt to walk with Grace. I try to help us heal, even if it’s only a little bit. Maybe if we all do a little bit, we can close the divide a lot. After all, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

How Quickly We Fall Prey to the Spirit of Contention…

frida-bredesen-390244-vert-w-title

Hi there,

My heart is heavy today. I have fallen prey to the spirit of contention. This article is a personal spiritual chastisement for allowing my self to get upset over something so trivial.

I have a dear sister in volunteer work that, unintentionally, has made it very inconvenient for myself and a couple dozen other volunteers to complete our latest project. My reaction initially grew into outrage and contention. I was so angry at her for making it so difficult for us to do our job, and for slowing down the service we were trying to do. Grrrr!

And then a small voice whispered that perhaps she was doing the best she knew how. Which, of course, is the truth. And then I started thinking of ways that I could help her to eliminate the inconvenience for the other volunteers. And though I’m still working past the emotional flooding that comes from all that anger, I’m working in the right direction now. This scripture runs through my head:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 3 Ne. 11:29

And I realize that if the father of contention can stir me up, it means I have the power to overcome it and reach for the Prince of Peace. I am grateful for the power I have to turn away from our adversary, and I am grateful for the whisperings of the Spirit that remind me of that power.

Repent means to turn towards Christ, which also means turning away from sin. I can turn towards Christ and humbly ask for his help to reject contention and seek after peace. I know that this is a small matter, but we know that through “small and simple means” can hearts be changed and nations be saved.

One of the vices that comes with building a public following is that I spend more time on social media than I had previously. I am trying reach out to and get to know people of all walks. Sadly, digging through the media sites, I run across terrible happenings, wildly biased reportings of current events, and attacks on anybody and everybody who doesn’t agree. I am brought down in sorrow reading all the contention in these public forums.

My hope and prayer is that each of us, individually, can be strengthened to forgive, repent, turn from contention, and seek diligently after peace. As we do so, I know that our nation and our world can be healed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

Divided We Fall

samuel-schneider-222889_with_title

Hi there!

I’m going to try to keep this as neutral politically as I can, since, really, this article is more about division within self. But I would be remiss if I didn’t use as an example the political division happening within our country (United States) right now.

So enough disclaimer let’s jump right in. Our country is falling apart around our eyes. Every “side” knows it, though the reasons quoted are different. But I think it’s safe to say to you that it’s a conspiracy from all sides. The over-arching, supreme leader of this conspiracy is the Adversary himself. He is exploiting our weaknesses and egging us on in anger and hatred of those who believe differently than us. We have all fallen prey, at one moment or another, to thinking cruel things about those on the “other side” of the conflict; I know I have.

And we know where this is leading, for Christ taught us in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”

The thing is, this is not just happening on the global and national and local scales, but this is also happening in our own hearts. He is stirring us up to anger against our parents, siblings, spouses, and even ourselves.

Be honest now, how much do you beat yourself up?

I know I could beat myself up over how often I beat myself up! Heheh. But this is not Christ’s way. Did he lecture and destroy the confidence of the woman accused of adultery? No, of course not. He knew she was repentant, she didn’t need a lecture. He simply told her: “Neither do I condemn thee.” Then he followed with the best part, “Go, and sin no more.”

That’s all. As they say in Meet the Robinsons, “Keep Moving Forward.”

Christ wants us to Forgive as we have been Forgiven. That means ourselves, our spouses, our parents, our siblings, our Mayors, our Judges, our Police Officers, our Governors, and our President. Also we must forgive our church leaders, and all those who basically drive us nuts. But this isn’t an admonishment, this is to let you remind you that you are allowed to move forward.

You are allowed a second chance. You can restart, renew, refresh your growth and discipleship. You can be forgiven when you stumble, and you can learn to let go when someone else stumbles.

You are loved dearly by Our Father in Heaven, and, perhaps annoyingly, so are they. They are human, and so are you. Maybe they should know better, and maybe they’ve forgotten, and maybe they are just being swept up in the tide of discontent. Don’t follow.

Let the world go by, because you are blessed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

I Can Learn From the Trees – How to Bend, How to Sway

brandon-kawamura-222056_with title

There’s an old song by Ani DiFranco that runs through my head when I think about my parent’s mistakes. My parents separated when I was 4, and we stayed with my mom. My mom and dad were very bitter toward each other, and my sister and brother and I often felt that we had to pick sides in the war. I was the oldest, so I felt responsible for my younger siblings and my mom. I sided with her on everything and sadly grew up hating my dad. So here are the lyrics that repeat in my head:

growing up it was just me and my mom against the world
and all my sympathies were with her when I was a little girl
now I’ve seen both my parents play out the hands that they were dealt
as each year goes by I wonder how my father must’ve felt
and I just want you to understand
that I know what all the fighting was for
and I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

every time we fight a cold wind blows our way,
but we learn like the trees
how to bend, how to sway and say
I, I think I understand
what all this fighting is for
And I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

This song has taught me over the years to recognize the valuable lessons that both of my parents had for me. And I’m happy to say that in seeking to understand my father better, we have developed a very strong relationship. I love both my parents dearly and am so grateful for the attributes and lessons I have learned from them through the years.

Now as I sing this song, I hope that my oldest son, who lives with his father, can forgive me for my mistakes as a mother and noncustodial parent. I hope one day that he can see me as the strong tree, who did not fall when the rains and snows came, who did not break when the winds of the hurricane howled around me. Though I did have to bend nearly to the ground, and I had to sway and give up much. But I hope that he can see that I worked constantly to stay rooted in his life, to show him my love; to shade him, when he was near, from the heat of the world on his little shoulders.

One day I hope that he can be like the tree, as I imagine Our Savior to be, standing firmly rooted in what is right, and when necessary, turning the other cheek.

Do you struggle to remain Christlike in the storms of life? What have you found that works for you?

Blessings,
Sarah

Venturing Outside

IMG_20170809_142833692.jpg

Something that can be hard to remember for a book-loving introvert, is to go outside, everyday (and walking between your car and house, work, store, church, does NOT count). I do remember to send my kids outside every day. I’m a big believer in the many valuable effects of playing outside. And living in the Mountain West, we get plenty of days of sunshine, so I can send them out all but 1 or 2 days a month.

But while my kids are joyfully playing in the sunshine, I’m usually seizing the moment to clean or prep something, or to write, budget, email, anything I need to do to get caught up. I have a few precious moments not being taken by the kids, so I usually keep them to myself.

But not today. Today I tackled a mountain of weeds in my garden that were taller than my kids, and I conquered them. I ventured out into the sun and the heat (it’s not bad today, only 83 degrees, with a nice breeze) with my sunhat and my pink gloves, and I waged war with that mountain. And I won! The best part? I got them before most of them went to seed, Yay!

I’m feeling good, and maybe I’ll have some autumn vegetables planted in a few weeks. I should really go outside more often.

Now back to my desk and that blog…

Blessings,
Sarah

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

mar-newhall-226066-cropped with title.jpg

At 8 years old, I was told I was going to Hell.

It was Christmastime, and I was going to church with my Grandma (I had this opportunity once or twice a year). I don’t remember anything else that the pastor said, only that we were all sinners and were going to Hell. Unfortunately I didn’t remember the point of the sermon, which undoubtedly was about accepting Christ’s Atonement. And unfortunately still, my grandmother’s comforting words were not quite enough to put my fears to rest. Perhaps her own frustration (unrelated or not) added to my not being convinced of her comfort. To further the misunderstanding, when I got home, my dear mother explained to me that that attitude was why we don’t go to church.

So I turned my back on Christ for decades.

When I finally was ready to listen to the words and teachings of God again, it was because the message was full of Mercy and Grace. The passage that struck me deeply was thus:

Adam fell,

that Men might be,

and Men are,

that they might have Joy.

‘Original Sin’ and Sin in general are part of our process, that we might have Joy!

Sins are the tools that propel us to grow. If you have seen Mulan, there is a scene where the soldiers in training are told to climb to the top of a pole to fetch an arrow. Before they can try, their trainer gives them 2 heavy weights, one on each arm. The soldiers groan, the weights are a “curse,” a burden. The weights are “unfair,” the soldiers grumble and complain. Imagine with me the conversations that night:

  • Some of them would ask why they are being punished.
  • Some would say it was too hard, and not even try to overcome the “curse.”
  • Most would blame Mulan for putting them in this situation.

After the first few soldiers tried, they all gave up. For days or weeks no one even tried to solve to situation or overcome the burdens.

This was where I was for decades. I looked at the challenge to overcome my natural sin and turned away. I said, “No way!” It was too hard, and I wouldn’t even try. As I grew into adulthood I gave in more and more to my carnal nature. I made choices that hurt myself and others. I pushed my family away. I followed charming personalities off of metaphorical cliffs. I experimented with almost anything and anyone that was offered, and I had a wake-up call with the police.

I was in Hell.

I was miserable and empty. Lost in the dark.

And I wanted to be left alone in the darkness. I wanted to rot away, guilty, miserable, and trapped. The adversary led me willingly into a prison, because it was away from the difficult challenge placed before me at 8 years old.

Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.

In the example of Mulan (for those who haven’t seen it, or need a refresher), the challenge was eventually overcome. Mulan realized that the weights she was given were tools to help her reach the top of the pole and retrieve the arrow. She was humbled and finally looked up. Her curse became a blessing, and she grew closer to Our Loving Father in Heaven.

When we allow ourselves to be humbled by our sins, we can finally turn to Christ (Repent) and go forward doing good.

Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.

May you seek after Good and receive Blessings,
May you seek after God and receive His Blessings,
Sarah

Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

Parenting and Tempers Don’t Mix Well

rage-2317995_960_720

So I’ve been researching how to parent better for over a decade now (see my previous post, I Have Difficult Children), it’s an ongoing thing. Anyway yesterday I was reading a great article about keeping calm when doling out consequences (The Distracted Mom) and remembering the advice received in the parenting class I had to take after my dear boy, Aagh was diagnosed with O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). I took the class back in February, so I had practiced the methods that The Distracted Mom described. And I have seen them work.

However, I am not good at keeping my cool on a day-to-day basis. More often than I’d like to admit, I am frustrated with myself for hollering at the kids, again. So, I’m working on it. But I’m still human, last I checked.

Feel free to comment with your commiserations and/or techniques for keeping cool.

Thanks again!

Sarah