LOIS’ POST: These last 18 months posting on our blog have brought many surprising blessings. Initially it took courage to open up our most sacred, personal feelings for public viewing. We appreciate your respectful feedback and encouraging comments. We are pleased to note that our modest posts have been read in 78 countries throughout the world. THANK YOU. As we complete our 18-month blogging goal, we hand the baton to our 21-year-old granddaughter, Madeline Dunn. We invite you to continue to visit the website, Reasons to Rejoice, as she expresses uplifting insights from her youthful perspective. As my final post, I want to share a simple statement of truth: Jesus Christ’s Plan of Salvation answers these deep questions of the soul: (1) Who am I? (2) Where did I come from? (3) What is my purpose on earth? (4) Where will I go after death? http://www.mormon.org/ This plan explains how we can be happy in this life and return to God’s presence, and how to grow up to become like Him. The Lord forgives my sins, recreates my nature, promises resurrection after death, and qualifies me for glory hereafter. He assures that all things wrong in the world will one day be made right. He promises His faithful followers a fullness of joy. That is the capstone of my REASONS TO REJOICE. “Rejoice, O my heart…I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (2 Nephi 4:30).
ALAN’S POST: As I look back over the past 18 months that my wife and I have posted on our website, “Reasons to Rejoice,” I have experienced great joy in exploring and sharing my deepest convictions. I have rediscovered and reinforced countless reasons to rejoice in my life. I am grateful for you, our readers, who have perused these posts three times per week. We now find it timely to shift our attention to specific genealogy and family history goals. As a parting offering, I want to share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of God’s marvelous Plan of Salvation for His beloved children. We left our heavenly home in order to come to earth and learn by experience. Heavenly Father knew that we would inevitably make mistakes, so He provided a Savior for us, who would atone for these errors. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and be sanctified. We are enabled through His power to progress eternally, to eventually become as He is. The scriptures and words of living prophets provide a roadmap to keep our feet on the right path. Through covenant making and covenant keeping, we are assured of joy in this life and forever. My hope is that you have been edified by reading our posts and will find future installments equally uplifting. I pray that the Lord’s choice blessings will be with you and your families. Until we meet again, we bid you ado.
The highest compliment I could give anyone is to say, “I am a better person when I am with you.” This means that you bring out my best self. Your interest in me is genuine. Your conversation is clean and stimulating. You help me see the positive among the negative, the joy inside the sorrow. You help me think my best thoughts—and open up new vistas of my possibilities. You ignite wholesome laughter and delight. You look past my quirky ways and value my soul’s worth. You take “chaff and grain together…and sift them—keep what is worth keeping—and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away” (Dinah Craik). Your humble, sincere example stands as a beacon, making me want to follow. Thank you for lifting me higher, helping me see myself with new eyes. “I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you” (Roy Croft). This describes the kind of friend I want to be. It describes the kind of parent, grandparent, sister, daughter I want to be. “There is a responsibility which no man can evade—his personal influence—the effect of his words and actions on others” (David O. McKay).
Who likes to WAIT? “Waiting” recalls exasperating images of standing in a long queue at the post office or returning an item at Walmart. But I’ve been thinking about a different kind—a good kind of waiting spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “I will wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 8:17). Making this verse personally relevant, I ask—What does it mean to WAIT upon the Lord? (1) I will wait upon the Lord like a server “waits” on a table in a restaurant. The server vigilantly watches the needs of his guests. When water glasses need refilling, he quickly steps up with a pitcher. He delivers piping hot food and clears away empty dishes afterward. He watches and attends his guests’ every need. I can WAIT upon the Lord by vigilantly observing and attending the needs of those around me. Waiting upon the Lord is to serve His children. (2) Waiting can also mean patience. The Lord’s answers come in His perfect timing, not always immediately. But I know that God loves me. He knows what is best for my growth and development better than I do. He is shaping me to become like Him. I am learning to trust His curriculum and His perfect love. I will WAIT upon the Lord in quiet service to others, and I will WAIT in patience for answers to my prayers.
What would make the world a better place? Some might seek a political answer. But my answer would be GOOD PARENTING. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” (William Ross Wallace). This “hand” includes both parents. Children need mothers whose highest priority is to be in the home fulltime (if at all possible) to teach, train, and lovingly minister to their young ones. Children need fathers who assume their divine stewardship to provide the necessities of life and teach their children correct principles. As parents provide a loving home environment, children will thrive and grow. The Lord has commanded parents to “bring up [their] children in light and truth” (D&C 93:40). This includes teaching them to understand the doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live” (https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng).
When parenting our teenagers I used to ask myself: Am I doing enough to prepare them for the challenges ahead? Is our family prayer and scripture study making a difference, when their body language doesn’t always evidence it? Am I loving them unconditionally, teaching them effectively, laughing with them agreeably, and modeling behavior commendably? Consider this example of how our efforts really DO make a difference, even when we can’t measure them immediately from external cues. “People are like hyacinth bulbs. All we can do is make a good place for them to grow, but each person is responsible for doing his own growing in his own time” (Torey Hayden). Sometimes growth is a very silent thing, like what happens when we store hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator waiting for the planting season. It doesn’t look like growth is taking place at all. Our children are like that. We can’t always tell growth is happening, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. In fact, providing a milieu of respect, love, and learning in the home is the perfect soil for development. Silent, imperceptible growth is taking place deep inside which will one day unfold into lovely blossoms. Our children will learn from what they see in the examples around them, how much they feel our love, what they hear, and what they experience as we teach and model correct principles.
“Strike one…Strike two…Strike three—you’re OUT!” bellowed the umpire. I watched as the dejected batter slung away his bat, slumped onto the dugout bench, and buried his face in his hands. In spite of his best effort and most powerful swing, he lost the game for his team because of a slight error of visual judgment. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has made provision for my inevitable errors in mortality through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Those words, “You’re OUT” are never spoken to God’s children. Through repentance and an earnest desire to do better, we are given a clean slate to try again. “How merciful is our God unto us…He stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long…As many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (Jacob 6:4). God is patient and long-suffering. He gives me multiple chances to turn and come back when I make a mistake. “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). No matter what challenges or disappointments are tossed in my path, no matter how many times I stumble along on my mortal journey, I promise to get back up and try again. Nelson Mandela said that “a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” I trust that Christ’s atoning power will cleanse and empower me.
Why is it so hard to notice our own spiritual progress? The reason: The effects are gradual and difficult to observe from day to day. For example, if I look at a photo taken of myself many years ago, I would notice a big difference as compared to now. But when I look in the mirror each morning getting ready for the day, I can’t see the subtle changes taking place. They aren’t obvious in 24-hour increments. I think that’s how it is with spiritual change. As I strive to keep the commandments, such as making time for scripture study, church and temple worship, offering kindness and service to others, change is happening even when I’m not aware of it. One way to observe this transformation is to keep a journal describing goals, challenges, and victories along the way. It’s like a photograph which can be viewed and reviewed. As I read entries from the past, I can see little signs of improvement. Some things I once struggled with have been conquered, and goals set years ago have been reached. Change is still subtle, and of course there are occasional setbacks and relapses. But as I yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the Lord helps me put off the “natural man” little by little, step by step. God is in the process of recreating my nature to become like Him. I can see it and feel it. I feel progress like wind in my hair. This is a Reason to Rejoice!