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The Tradition of My Mothers (The Unfinished Basement)

TheDiscipleMD

For many, I know it’s not possible! Times change. But it was such a wonderful blessing to my life to have her. She was always available when I needed her. Her name was the first one I called out when I got home from school each day. Her name was the first one that came to mind when seeking relief from pain, both physical and emotional. It wasn’t until years later, after I had left home, that I started to fully appreciate the “tradition of my mothers”. In a family of ten kids, I’m sure it might have been financially sound if my mother had gone to work. But she and my father were not interested in building up wealth as to the things of this world, although we never wanted for the necessities of life. They held dear the “traditions of their mothers” in providing a “mother at home” to meet our needs.

A few months ago my brothers and sisters reminisced about our childhood. We laughed about the unfinished basement in which we lived. It seemed to be under construction till the day we moved out. The laughter we shared however was not of sorrow, but one of joyful memories. They were shared memories of love that we felt coming from a loving home where our parents had made us the “priority”, not finishing the basement. I doubt that a “finished basement” would have provided the same tenderness that I received from the loving arms of our stay at home mom. Nor would I have gone running to its finished doors and rooms for comfort when I fell, or had a hard day at school. No, I don’t think my memories would be sweeter if I had come home from school to find that my Mom was working somewhere while I basked in the fine paneled walls of an empty house.

I know life doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to for many of us.  It throws in our way many obstacles and challenges. But this tradition, the tradition of a mother in the home, is one worth passing on.

“As a mother guided by the Lord, you weave a fabric of character in your children from threads of truth through careful instruction and worthy example. You imbue the traits of honesty, faith in God, duty, respect for others, kindness, self-confidence, and the desire to contribute, to learn, and to give in your trusting children’s minds and hearts. No day-care center can do that. It is your sacred right and privilege”. (Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 1996).

I’m sure there are some mothers who have no possible way of staying at home with their children. We live in tough economic times. For those mothers it is painful each day they go outside the home to support their children.  To those in such a circumstance, I would echo the words spoken by the great King Benjamin who told the poor, “I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” (Mosiah 4:24). What King Benjamin taught was that the Lord “knoweth the heart”. (Luke 16:15) Do the best you can. What others may think is of little import compared to the Lords!

Some traditions are worth keeping. If at all possible, to me, having a mother in the home is certainly one of them!

 

 

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Eternal Marriage: The Backbone Of The Restoration

TheDiscipleMD

If you talk to anyone: I mean anyone,  they share a common belief. With few exceptions, it is a belief that relationships formed in this life will be there in the next. And although most believe it, the religious doctrines of their faith doesn’t match the god given instincts they are feeling. No matter what Christian denominational funeral service you attend, the preacher speaks in one way or the other, about the eternal nature of the soul who has just passed. They will say something like, ” We will miss Fred, but we know he is in a better place and that one day we will see him again!” The implication is always that loved ones will continue to share in the same relationship they have had here on earth with the deceased.

Countless movies show the eternal nature of love;  that of a married couple who are separated by death,  but whose love goes on forever. So it is a wonder to me why so many people don’t flock to the doctrine of eternal marriage and the eternal nature of families. It is a bit puzzling to me! Perhaps it is because they sense that these relationships are “automatic,” without need of an ordinance. But the reason this ordinance is not performed outside of the restored church, is because the doctrine taught is that marriage is not eternal. This might come as a shock to some. Remarkably, many don’t care if their church teaches it or not, they believe the marriage relationship will exist in the next life. Anyone who has ever loved another cannot help but feel that, indeed, love is an eternal attribute and can last forever.

In the past several years three of my sisters have lost their husbands. During that time countless others have gone through the same painful separation. If you have ever really loved your spouse, whether you have been married five years, twenty-five years, or over fifty years, the feeling is that “it wasn’t long enough,” but the love “is long enough to last forever.”

However, belief alone is not sufficient. The glory of the restored gospel is that in temples and through the restoration of the priesthood, the power is now on the earth to seal those relationships so that they can “last forever.”  And that all those who lived before us have the same opportunity! Is there any greater doctrine that could be taught! Those relationships can be sealed forever through proxy work in the temples.

The silence of doctrine offered by the religions of the world do not seem to smother the inherit belief found in the souls of man that relationships are eternal. They believe it, but the restored church of Christ is the only one who teaches it.

Eternal marriage is the backbone of the restoration. Its divine concept supports the rest of the body of doctrine which teaches man of his ultimate fate, and of his glorious reunion in heaven above.

 

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Its Time To Stop Missing What We Never Had!

TheDiscipleMD

Recently I heard a fictional character on television say, “Now, I miss what I never had!” He was ‘now’ in the later stages of life, and he was giving advice to a young protegé. He was referring to the fact that he had spent his entire life in service to his country. What he had sacrificed to do so, was the joy of having a family and the enjoyment of the small pleasures of life. He gave a slight chuckle as he finished his sentence, as if to say, “For what!”

All of us, upon reflection, sometimes wish we could  go back and change decisions we made in the past. But of course, we can’t. We can only move on with the lessons that we have learned.  “Regrets, I’ve had a few”, Sinatra sang. Perhaps it is the follow-up line he sang that carries more significance, “but then again, too few to mention.”  He captured to some degree the senselessness of ‘crying over spilt milk.” I found myself trying to teach the same lesson to my granddaughter just the other day at dinner time.  She had a few cookies for desert and a small glass of milk.  As she reached for the cookies she knocked over the glass and the milk spilled all over the table.  She looked at me and started to cry. As I got up to help her I said, “don’t cry over the spilt milk, I will get you some more.”  As I walked to the fridge to get more I laughed and mumbled to myself, “So that’s where that saying came from.” Yet, as trite as that statement is, it resonates truthfulness.

While we cannot change the past, the future is before us. Jesus Christ once told the story of two sons who were asked by their father to work in his vineyard. One said he would, but didn’t. The other said:

“I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” (Matt 21:29)

There are a number of lessons taught by this short story. One is that despite what we may have said or done in our past; we can repent, change and do the will of the Father.  Like the fictional character quoted above, some of us are missing what we never had,  and time certainly may have taken away some blessings from us that we could have had.  But today is another day and the future is in our hands. There is no better time than the present to stop missing what we never had by reaching out for greater happiness.  There is no better way of finding true joy in this life than through observance to the  teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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When Mental Illness Establishes ‘Residency’

TheDisicpleMD

Over the years, I have spoken to countless individuals who are suffering from anxiety, depression and a host of other disorders. Most were faithful members of the church, doing all that they can to keep the commandments and obey the gospel principles. Despite faith and priesthood blessings, their illnesses remain. Their stories are heartbreaking and though often filled with pain, their hope and faith is something to admire.

“How many people in your circle of friends are suffering from some form of mental illness? One? Two? None? Chances are good that your estimate is too low.

A major study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that as many as 20 percent of adult Americans suffer from a disabling mental disorder. The most serious and chronic of these disorders—schizophrenia, manic-depression, and chronic major depression—often require hospitalization and medication. In fact, serious mental disorders fill more hospital beds in the United States than cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis combined. But milder forms of clinical depression and severe anxiety can also disrupt individual and family lives and require professional treatment. (See “How Many Are Suffering?” p. 53. Jan Underwood Pinborough, “Mental Illness: In Search of Understanding and Hope,” Ensign, Feb 1989, 51) With the addition of COVID-19 issues and other stresses, I’m sure the numbers have increased dramatically since this article was published.

As we go through life we are faced with many of the challenges of this mortal life. The human body with all of its imperfections, including mental, is certainly one of them. If mental illness, in all its forms, hasn’t personally touched us, we will surely have a loved one who will suffer with such an affliction. I would hope that each of us would try to overcome the tendency to judge and condemn others who suffer under such pain. I have often found that many suffer in silence. They walk the lonely road, alone. When in doubt, do as the Savior would do; lift!

The day may come when Mental Illness will take residency in our bodies but our souls are ‘of a different matter.’ And even though most of us understand that the Lord loves us, we will still look for the outstretched arms of others for support. May the Lord bless us with the wisdom, courage, and strength to persevere such trials, be we the lonely traveler, or the loving “Good Samaritan” who is charged to help those where mental illness has established a residency!

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