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Mother, I’m Still Trying to Make It To You!

TheDiscipleMD

Sometimes as I am driving along a song will come on the radio that will remind me of my mother.  She left this world more than ten years ago but her powerful influence still lingers in my life. I was fortunate to have been born to a wonderful mother who enjoyed her “job”. In fact, I’m pretty sure she would be offended that I used the word “job” to describe Motherhood, because she never looked at it that way. She loved being a Mom! My Dad has told me many times that being a mother was all she wanted out of life. Some people might think that shows some lack of ambition. I think it shows her tremendous understanding of how important a role that a mother plays in shaping, not only a child, but also a society. I don’t think any serious student of the social sciences can deny that a mother’s influence on a child and society can be powerful for both the good and the bad. With rare exception, my observation is that mothers have a tremendous influence for the good. A couple of years ago a talk was given by Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy. He quoted a poem written by Elizabeth Akers Allen.

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!

I am so weary of toil and of tears, …

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,

Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you! …

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,

No love like mother-love ever has shone; …

None like a mother can charm away pain

From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.

Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;

Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep!

I think there’s nothing quite like, the warmth of a mother’s arms. I know that I miss the secure feeling it gave me, and I’m a grown man. I have no clue as to the enormous responsibilities and burden that come with motherhood. I only observe its influence and results. But I’m sure that it is God-given, and that all mothers are given their special “guardian” angel to help them on their way, because it’s just too hard and wonderful of a call, to do alone. I could try to write stories of my Mother that might best describe her life, but I would need several journals to do so. Instead, she is best described by the “feeling” that swells in my heart each time her name is mentioned. The feeling is indescribable, but is best captured by this thought:

“Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior. As Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love” (“The Love of Mother,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1910, 278). (“Mother Told Me”, Bradley D. Foster, GC, April, 2010)

So, to you Mom, the one who could “charm away my pain”, I’m laboring hard each day here on earth, because I’m still trying to make it to you!

 

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Splashed On! (By The ‘Great And Spacious Building’)

TheDiscipleMD

I was handed a copy of a very interesting article that appeared in the Winter 2011 BYU magazine. It was an article written by M. Sue Bertin entitled “The Dangerous Digital Vortex”. The article addresses the danger we all face in this technological age. Particularly children. She spoke, not only of the importance of filtering what comes into our homes, but more importantly how communication between parents and children can lead to a “spiritual” firewall of protection. I have found over the years, that for some parents, the moral decay has become so frightening that they wish to “withdraw” from the world in which we live in hopes of protecting their families and loved ones. I certainly can understand why someone might feel that way. We live in troubling times. We want to live “in the world but not of the world”. That is easy to say but hard to do when the world is invading our homes. What is a parent to do? What is an individual to do? Do we buy a plot of land, turn it into a compound, and build a fence around it? And although we might not be physically able to do so, are we supposed to do that on a spiritual level? Let me share with you a paragraph from the above article that helped shed some light on the subject. It was thought-provoking to me. The author wrote:

“I really believe that this is the fire (I believe he meant the dangers of our technology) this generation has to pass through says Knutson. (He is an associate professor of computer science). “It’s the river of filthiness in Lehi’s dream. He said the iron rod was on the riverbank, so when you’re clinging to the rod, you’re very close to the river. It’s muddy, and you get splashed. But you can’t let go and move further from the filthiness. You’re where you’re supposed to be. It’s not your location that’s safe or unsafe–it’s how you behave despite your proximity to temptation. We cannot withdraw from the world but instead are called to be in it while we hold on to the scriptures, good parents, others who are godly, and most of all, the Savior”.

This article sent me back to the Book of Mormon to re-read Lehi’s dream. I guess, in my mind, it never occurred to me that someone who let go of the rod did so in order to distance themselves away from the “filthy river” and “spacious building”. And if they did, wouldn’t that be the right thing? But, in reading the dream again it clearly states that we need to “hold to the iron rod”; not let go and try to go it alone or do it our way. In Nephi we read this:

“And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood. And I beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree..And I saw …concourses of people, many of whom are pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led to the tree….and they did …commence in path…and it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; year, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wondered off and were lost… I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; an they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:19-24).

We receive directions and counsel from our leaders. And I don’t recall any counsel to date that says we need to “withdraw” our families from the world. Maybe that day will come. Maybe, the people inside the “great and spacious” building, who are both young and old, male and female who are “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” need to see those who are “holding to the rod of iron”. Maybe some of them, upon seeing examples of righteous people, will leave the “great and spacious” building, cross the filthy river, and grab the iron rod. Perhaps the people of the Lord need to be visible to the world so that they can see that when you partake of the fruits of the gospel, that it brings joy!

We need to diligent and vigorous in guarding ourselves and our families from the influence of the adversary! However, going into hibernation is probably not the best answer. Because in the end, that season will end and we, our children, and loved ones will need to wake up, come out of the cave and find food for nourishment. And understanding and experiencing the dangers involved, will prepare, and give to us the ability to grasp on even tighter to the rod of the gospel. We might get splashed on from time to time, but the redemption of our Savior will ultimately make us clean, if we repent and come unto him.

 

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The Gift Of Loss

TheDiscipleMd

It was over 15 years ago when, at the funeral of my Mother, my Father addressed across the pulpit the subject of the ‘gift of loss.’ When he sat down, the presiding authority leaned over and whispered, “They didn’t get it.” What did my Father mean by the phrase, “the gift of loss,” and why did the people in attendance not seem to ‘get it?”

Recently I read the story of a women who lost three son’s by various means. She said:

“After experiencing the deaths of three sons, I have continued to search for understanding through scripture reading and prayer. Through the loss of these sons, I have learned to appreciate the gift of the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life in a personal way.”

For this grieving mother, the ‘gift of loss’ taught her to appreciate the resurrection and the promises of eternal life more deeply. Many of us are also the recipients of the ‘gift of loss.” Often we are unaware of the great blessings that come with those losses. When temporary challenges enter our lives we may, for the first time, discover a gift which has hitherto never been recognized. For instance, many physical injuries end up being a ‘gift of loss’ as we learn that just being able to walk, or talk, or jump, or run are great blessings that we take for granted. When permanent spiritual, physical, or mental challenges are presented, we can grow and learn in positive ways if we so choose. Often the ‘gift of loss’ may we wrapped in pain, but it is the pain which teaches and enhances positive and Godly attributes that we need in order to become like our Savior.

My Father understood that the loss of my Mother was the beginning of a better appreciation of her life and their marriage, and also of a greater understanding of the important role that the Savior plays in giving us hope for the eternities as families.

Losing, in all its forms, is rarely enjoyable. But found within that loss is a valuable gift that is only made available to those who choose not only to see it, but willingly open it and then use it to bless their life. May we have the wisdom to not only accept the ‘gift of loss,’ but also the desire to embrace it!

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Being Overwhelmed Is Very Much A Part Of The Journey

TheDisicpleMD

Joseph Fielding McConkie gave a talk entitled, “Finding Answers,” at a devotional in 2006. In his talk he told a story.

The story centered around a young man who had a very difficult problem. He did not know what to do, so he visited with his bishop. The bishop listened carefully and thoughtfully. He asked a few questions to assure that he understood all that was involved. He then confessed that he had no idea what counsel to give but told the young man that he would be meeting with the stake president the next evening and that he would present the matter to him.

The Bishop took the problem to the Stake President and he didn’t know what to do with it so he met with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve who also confessed he doesn’t have an idea what counsel to give. The apostle then brings it to a meeting he has with the President of the Church, who at the time was David O. McKay. Up to this point all have listened attentively and with desire to help. The story continues:

“That afternoon he,(the apostle), met with President McKay and carefully explained the problem. President McKay listened attentively and asked a few questions to assure that he understood all that was involved and then said, “Well, that’s his (meaning the young man’s) problem, isn’t it.”
McConkie ended his talk with some sound advise and wisdom: ” If angels will not do for you what you can do for yourself, be assured that the Holy Ghost will not do it either. It is not the design of heaven that we be rescued from all difficult situations. Rather, it is the system that we grow up and learn to handle them. The sense of being overwhelmed is very much a part of the journey…. Nevertheless, the path we seek will always be clearly marked by the covenants we have made and the callings we have received. It is the accepting of our lot and moving forward with what the Lord has asked of us that we discover that the Holy Ghost enjoys our company, angels feel constrained to join us, and the heavens open to our vision.”

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