Of Women And Men!

TheDiscipleMD

Sometimes lessons come over time, other times they come in a flash of a moment. If I needed reminding, such was the case about ten years ago when I heard the laughter of my then 2-year-old granddaughter while I pushed her on the swing set. My wife and I had taken her out to the local playground. She climbed up the stairs and went down the slide many times as we watched and encouraged her. My wife clapped and acted as if she had won an Olympic event each time she successfully scaled and went down the slide. I was a little less enthusiastic in my praise. The whole time my wife watched over her like a hawk. I was less attentive as there was no one else within sight! Who was going to take her I thought! My wife made sure she was safe at all times by standing close by and offering support.  I on the other hand figured that if my granddaughter fell, she would only scrape a knee and perhaps learn a lesson to be more careful. We tried the seesaw, which she didn’t like but since I liked it I pushed my granddaughter a bit to do it. My wife said, “She doesn’t like it honey!” I gave up and we made our way to the swings. I put her in the baby swing that hugs them ever so tight. My wife strategically wedged in place her favorite doll and animal that provided her with company as she began to gently push her back and forth. My granddaughter seemed to be having a good time.

Soon however she appeared to bore of swinging back and forth. That is, till grandpa took over the duties of pushing her. I started to push her much higher, first from the back, and then I switched to the front so I could see her face. My wife said, “Be careful!” As I was pushing from the front her legs would come close to me and I would fain that I was being hurt by them as they brushed against my chest. I would make exaggerated sounds of pain which would send her into laughter. A whole new world had been opened up for her. I played this game with her for quite some time and I wanted to stop but each time she came my way I would say, “Done?” to which she would emphatically reply, “No!”  Finally I wore out and had to act like I really was hurt. Otherwise I might still be there!

After we were done at the playground we walked towards the car. My wife was very protective of her and lovingly held her hand. I walked a few steps behind. I helped put my granddaughter in the car seat. She gave me fits but I playfully slapped her belly as she tried to get out. She laughed and a new “game” started all over again. It wasn’t what I had in mind but…oh well. Finally I got her into the seat and we drove to the local McDonald’s for drinks and a treat. My wife knows what my granddaughter likes at McDonald’s; I don’t, so I had to be the order taker.

The statement put out by my church on the family is a wonderful document that captures the importance of the family unit and the role of each member in it. Yet, I don’t need a document to convince me of the divine nature of man and woman and the role they play in raising a child. I vividly see it in front of my eyes each day that I live. I saw it that day on the playground. My wife naturally played her role and so did I. Neither role was better or more important, but both were needed in balancing out the life of our granddaughter.

Storms By Any Name

TheDiscipleMD

I lived in Maryland for most of my life. During that time there has been a number of devastating storms that have passed through the state. “You can call it Agnes, or you can call it Eloise, or you can call it David, or you can call it Gloria, or you can call it Fran. You can call it Floyd, or call it Isabel, or you can call it Frances, Ivan or Jeanne.” Indeed, you can call those storms any name you want, but the end result was the same; devastation to the lives of those who were in it’s path.

I remember well a number of those storms. Agnes came in my childhood and I have pleasant memories attached, while others from adulthood have ravaged the home and property that I have owned. Storms come into our lives in so many different ways. They are both physical and spiritual. You can call them poverty, or you can call them disease, or you can call them abuse, or you can call them depression, or you can call them disappointment. You can call them neglect, or you can call them loneliness, or you can call them death. Yes, no matter what you call them, they bring devastation into the lives of those they visit. Hurricanes, tornados and such are a common part of this existence. No one will escape the storms of mortal life be they physical or spiritual. This might seem depressing! However, I take great comfort in the words of the Savior. Found in Luke are these inspiring words:

“Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock” (Luke 6:47-46).

It is important to note that the Savior used this analogy because He knew that storms would beat upon our houses. He didn’t promise “exclusion” because we were faithful, He just promised us that our “houses” would stand the pounding of the winds and rains. The next verse speaks of those that “heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the steam did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell: and the ruin of that house was great” (vs. 49).

I don’t know much about building a house. But I do know that building a solid foundation is fundamental in supporting the house. Note also that the Savior said something else about foundations. He said they needed to be “digged deep” (vs. 48). The spiritual foundation of our lives need to be “digged deep” so that the storms of this life will not shake our homes from their foundation. Let us dig deep, by reading the inspired words of the prophets. Let us find the time to meditate and ponder on life. Let the Lord have a moment in our lives. Give him the opportunity to inspire and uplift us.If we have a solid foundation, nothing will shake us from my testimony. Let us have faith in the promises of the Lord.

“And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.”

The Half-Wit And The Kingdom Of God

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“A man owned a small farm in Indiana. The Indiana State Wage & Hour Department claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him. “I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,” demanded the agent. “Well,” replied the farmer, “there’s my farm hand who’s been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board. Then there’s the half-wit who works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night.” “That’s the guy I want to talk to — the half-wit,” said the agent. “That would be me,” replied the farmer. (“The Indiana Farmer”)

The Indiana Farmer, the self-described “half-wit”, knew the order of the farm. He was the owner and the one who worked the hardest and longest with the least amount of pay. Why? Because he “owned” the farm and loved it! He had consecrated his time, talents, and energy to the “building up” of the farm. Does this sound familiar? As members of Christ’s church, we make covenants  to build up the kingdom of God here on earth. So following the example of the Savior, the order of the priesthood is that we should be last or the least. That is, we are the servants of all. It is inherent then, that priesthood callings, be seen for what they are; they are callings to be the lowest of the servants!

Upon hearing the Savior preach of the difficultly of a rich man making it to heaven, Peter lamented his eternal fate when he and others questioned their hearts regarding this matter. The exchange with the Savior is found in the tenth chapter of Mark:

“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Vs. 26-31)

And so, he that puts himself last in this life, shall one day be first in the kingdom of Heaven. By becoming followers of the Savior many people have given up or altered their relationships with friends and family. Others have given up much in time and worldly riches to serve and follow the Lord. But the promise from the Lord to those,  is that “he shall receive a hundredfold” in the world to come, eternal life. I have faith in the promise of the Lord that he that lives a life of “last”, shall be rewarded by our Father and become “first” in the eternities.

 

Five Days In June

TheDiscipleMD

Brandywine, Philadelphia, Saratoga, Fort Ticondaroga, West Point, Princeton, Crossing of the Delaware, Brooklyn Bridge and Valley Forge! What do all of these historical places have in common? All are historical places of significance that my Dad, my brother and I visited in a whirlwind five-day span from June 9 to June 13 more than ten years ago. My Father has since passed on which makes the memory more sweet.

On June ninth we visited the Brandywine battlefield located in Pennsylvania, then on to Philadelphia where we visited Independence Hall and the museum housing “The Liberty Bell”. From there we visited Valley Forge, home to the Continental Army during the winter of 1777. On the tenth we finished up at Valley Forge, than on to Saratoga, New York, home to one of the most important battles fought in the Revolutionary War. On the eleventh we headed to up state New York to visit Fort Ticondaroga, an important landmark in the history of our country. The fourth day of our trip found us visiting “West Point”, the established home of the oldest, (1802)and most elite military training camp. It was very picturesque and impressive. The fourth day was topped off by hiking over the famed “Brooklyn Bridge” which unites Brooklyn City and Manhattan. The final day we had a chance to visit Princeton, New Jersey, which not only is home to the famed university but also to an important battle of the revolutionary war. We ended the day and the trip by visiting the site of where General George Washington crossed over the Delaware River in the middle of the night to surprise and defeat the British army, which became a turning point in the war.

Spending five days on the road with someone gives you plenty of opportunities to talk, give opinions, learn, and discuss almost every topic of life. In the eternal aspects of such a trip, the places you visit are of a much smaller significance than the company you keep while doing so. In this case, it was a treat to be with my Dad and brother and have time together to talk, eat, laugh, and swap stories. I learned some new things about both my Dad and brother. I also learned some new things about my country and its history. It’s a history rich with sacrifice, courage, valor, honor, and even miracles. Some miracles of which, I became better acquainted with.

The best miracle of all, though, was recognizing the power and bond that exists as family members. Here we were, three men, traveling the countryside enjoying history while making it! I say making history, because trips like these don’t come very often and when they do they forge family bonds that last for a lifetime. My brother and my father have been my traveling companions all my life. We’ve taken similar roads, but our destination is the same.

We are much older and we look it! But our spirits are strong and we are still young at heart. We were three traveling men forged together by the bonds of birth. Bonds that are ordained of God. Bonds that are eternal! And that is the way it is intended to be.  And while we visited historical places that held the imprint of God’s hand upon them, I couldn’t help but notice when I looked at my brother and Father, that the greatest imprint of God’s greatest handiwork  was found in the family bonds we felt together during those five days in June. A bond that is eternal. A family bond that is everlasting! See you on the other side, Dad, where the days never end, and the fun is just beginning!

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