Complete physical workout
Up at 5:30am and off to the gym are words often penned into our calendars. We have become informed as a society about the merits of physical fitness in our world where physical labor may not be required. “Mental exercising” makes our minds stronger in the same way that resistance training with weights can make our muscles stronger. The words of William G.T. Shedd point out, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” What does the Lord expect of me with respect to my challenges? He expects me to do all I can do. Even though I don’t ask for storms in my life I know they will make me stronger. That is my purpose in life–to become all that I can be. Just as well-designed ships can navigate strong storms, I can also vanquish the adversary’s attacks as I prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually. I promise never to shrink from the “exercises” that God designed to strengthen me. Mary Radmacher said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.”
Safe harbor – no challenges here
Isn’t it a beautiful day to work!
Bent almost in half and barely able to walk, an old man bagged groceries at our local supermarket. He shuffled through the parking lot and insisted on lifting the heavy sacks into my trunk. Smiling, he turned to me while holding his back and exclaimed, “Isn’t it a beautiful day to work!” Through the years I’ve remembered these words and the light in the old man’s face. I was beginning to see a needed lesson to be learned by his example—reinforced while reading this line from George Eliot’s book, Middlemarch: “You must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin.” At the time I was teaching school and doing just that—looking over the edge of my frenzied days to the anticipated relief of weekends. So I decided to change my attitude about work. First, I tried to see a spiritual component in every task, allowing the Lord’s spirit to work through me to lift and help others. That’s when it became a joy rather than just a job—a delight rather than drudgery. God promised, “I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs” (Mosiah 24:14). It is the Lord’s gift to lift my burdens as I try to be His emissary. I am grateful for hard things that make me grow as well as soft moments that nourish the soul.
My Beautiful Mother
Ruth F. Jensen 1910-1980
As part of our worship services, we sing hymns as a congregation, accompanied by organ or piano. From the preface of our hymn book the First Presidency said this: “Hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord. Some of the greatest sermons are preached by singing of hymns.” A favorite scripture verse supports this teaching. “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12). My mother’s favorite hymn was entitled, “More Holiness Give Me.” The third verse contains a powerful message: “More purity give me; more strength to o’er-come; more freedom from earth-stains, more longing for home; more fit for the kingdom, more used would I be; more blessed and holy, more Savior like thee.” On reflection, I can see that my mother lived, as well as loved, these words, which formed her character. I, too, want to infuse this message into my actions.
Baby being inoculated
I winced while watching a beautiful Ethiopian baby submit to a measles inoculation with terrified cries of outrage, while adults held his bared arm steady. The little child had no understanding that the momentary, painful poke would save him from a life-threatening disease. Metaphorically, I’m like that child and cry out in pain when trials hit. But drawing from this parable, I must remember that my momentary, painful pokes of adversity serve a greater cause, allowing me to thrive spiritually, and are well worth a tiny stab of pain. These words from Richard G. Scott teach me: “When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? What have I done to cause this?—will lead you into blind alleys. Rather ask, What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?” In time I usually come to understand God’s purpose for my trials, measured in subtle increments of growth. I am a child of God—who loves me. “Know thou, my [child], that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
Family Going to Church
Do you know why Sunday is my favorite day? The Lord appointed the Sabbath as a holy day, set aside to worship and renew baptismal covenants while partaking of the sacrament. It fills my soul to mingle with fellow Christians as we learn together, sing together, and worship together. It is a spiritual feast to my hungry spirit. After church meetings are over, Alan and I return home to enjoy a simple meal, then off we go to choir practice. What else fills the hours, you ask? Lots of good options—such as studying scriptures and preparing next week’s Sunday school lessons. In warm weather we head out to the two-man hammock secluded under a canopy of trees—ahh—and gaze at our glorious mountains while reading aloud from the Ensign magazine. (Followed predictably by a little nap, of course.) I love to play the piano and sometimes Alan pulls out his guitar. Once a month we gather our local children and grandchildren for dinner and visiting. Teens join with adults while younger cousins play. The house resonates with wholesome laughter and sweet exchanges—so unifying. Before everyone leaves, we kneel together in family prayer. All these things draw me close to the Savior, adding fuel to my spiritual tank—truly reasons to rejoice!
“That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9,10).
Beautiful Sabbath day
Today, my Sabbath observance is very different from days of my youth. Being raised on a farm in Idaho meant certain chores needed to be completed each day (including Sunday) to assure that our animals had their essentials. Likewise, we had a rotating irrigation turn in the summer months which would sometimes fall on Sunday. This required redirecting water to different parts of the farm providing the needed moisture for plant growth. These activities were completed before or following attendance at church meetings. All of the other farm activities, such as harvesting, were scheduled for other days of the week. After leaving the farm, my Sabbath day activities changed dramatically. I can now spend more time with family, study the scriptures, prepare lessons, and read good books. Yes, there is often time for an afternoon nap. How has this affected me? The entire day can be focused upon spiritually uplifting activities without temporal distractions. I value this change.
A Mother’s Precious Bundle
“What do you want most for your child?”—was the question an interviewer posed to a mother cradling her newborn baby. The mother hesitated, probably because this question had not been premeditated and it caught her off guard. “Well, I guess I just want him to be happy—believe in himself—and follow his dream whatever it might be.” She wanted to give him all things leading to happiness. But maybe she didn’t know exactly how to reach this goal. I understood the heart of this loving mother gazing down at her precious bundle. How would I answer this question? I think the greatest myth about happiness is thinking it comes from getting what one wants. I believe it is a byproduct of virtue and morality. It comes from loving—from doing things that draw us out of ourselves. I’ve learned that joy can glow even through adversity and pain. Joy is not on the surface to bake or wilt according to external conditions; rather, it is nourished deep down in the roots, protected and anchored in God. What do I want most for my child? I want him to develop faith in a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, his Savior. I want him to be a covenant keeper, to love and serve his fellowmen, and see divine potential within himself. I can’t give him happiness, but if he learns to be true to his covenants and have faith in God, JOY will surely come!